2017/2018 race reports

2017/2018 race reports


Tash Sorensen – Busselton Ironman 70.3 – 6th May 2018 – Race Summary

My alarm went off at 4.30am…but I was already awake, listening to the wind howling through the trees in the Tuart Forest right outside my window. To say I was apprehensive was an understatement!

I went through the usual pre-race routine; nice big brekky, quadruple check that I have everything, apply sunscreen (which on this day was laughable really!), trisuit on etc. I step outside to round up the support crew and my eyes fall on the wind soaring through the trees. “Oh-my-gawd” I think, “today is going to be far from easy.” I try to distract myself and continue to get ready to leave.


We get in the car and head off…and I think to myself, “I’m ready, I’ve done the training, I’ve trained in the wind and swum in somewhat wild waters, today is no different.” As I’m thinking this the heavens open, drenching what was already a pretty soggy effort at an optimistic self-pep talk and washing it away. The rain is coming down so hard on the windscreen Luke pulls over and waits for it to calm. Once it has, we pull away and continue to head down to the jetty. 

At this stage, I’m pretty much mortified. We get there, and park and I just don’t even want to leave the car. I shakily scroll through my Facebook feed and see a post from Angus, who’s hanging out in the main tent watching the elements come down on the transition area. It doesn’t fill me with hope. Eventually the rain subsides, and I see the hooded, unmistakable figures of Alex and Daniel heading across the car park. I jump out to join them, clinging to them like a life raft (emotionally, not literally - although that would have been comical).

The next few minutes were a bit of a blur. I’m sure I saw familiar faces heading into transition, had a few anxious conversations but I don’t remember them. I do however, remember looking over to the ocean and seeing the swell and feeling the unease literally swell inside of me. “Look the other way, look the other way”. Transition isn’t much better. Everyone looks stressed, the technical officials are yelling something about not having plastic bags which is making everyone grumpy. I pump up my tyres and start to set up my gear, covering it in my towels in a feeble attempt to keep my shit dry from another downpour. “Ha! As if that’s going to make a difference”, I think to myself.

I’m just about to leave transition, giving my setup one more lookover when I hear over the PA system that the swim has been cancelled. Suddenly everyone is up and talking to each other. None of us know how to feel… “Is this a good thing? I guess it’s a good call…necessary.” Some people are pissed. I feel kind of relieved…we were going to be climbing those waves if we’d had to get in that water. We hear the voice on the PA system again, this time saying that there will be a 3km run to replace the swim and that there will be a briefing at 6.45am. I hear someone complain about their choice of breakfast and how it did not suit a fast 3km run. I panic and start to question whether I’ll have the same problem…I push away the thought. It’s amazing how we can so easily influence each other!

Okay, I reset my thoughts. Duathlon; run-bike-run…I can do that! I grab my shoes and head to the transition exit. I pass by some other athletes I know. The PA system hasn’t reached them, and they don’t yet know the swim has been cancelled or about the run. I roll with them on the emotional rollercoaster I’ve just spent the last 10 minutes enduring… “At least I’m not the only one”, I think.

We head over to the briefing, piling ourselves into ever corner of the tent. You can cut the tension with the knife, but I get the feeling most athletes are happy we aren’t getting into that ocean. I listen to the important parts of the briefing, but the other wishy-washy bits are a bit of a blur. I’m considering my strategy. “How do I go out on this first run? How will it affect me if I go out a bit faster? Do I use it to warm up instead? What will everyone else do?”


We head out to put our stuff at the team tent, only to find the team tent must come down because it’s a hazard in the wind. The wind has picked up and the rain is really coming down again. But I don’t want to stick around to deal with that, so I head off for a quick 1km warm up run. We have just enough time to head to the loo one more time. I’ve needed half a dozen nervous pees by this stage, damn my tiny, nervous bladder! Gaby and I get a quick photo before we head off to the start line…we look so nervous!

The start line is chaos. No one knows where they are meant to be or what age group is up next. People are yelling out age groups and I’m just trying to find a few other girls in the 30-34 age category. It seems to work because suddenly, we’re a rather large group of girls and we’re headed to the front. We get sent off one at a time…it all happens so fast I don’t have time to fret. Those first few kilometres fly by, the adrenaline is racing, and I wonder how much it’s masking what I should be feeling in my legs. “Should this feel easy?” Next thing I know I’m in transition. I’m grateful for the spot I got allocated in transition because it means I literally don’t have to run with my bike for more than a few meters before I’m out of transition. I’ve already put my shoes on because it’s so wet and I want to keep my socks dry for as long as I can (I’d say they were dry for all of, maybe, 5 minutes, thereafter they were soaked for the rest of the ride!).

I head round the first bend and onto the straight that runs along the foreshore. The wind behind me is beautiful! Everything goes kind of quiet, even my breathing isn’t as heavy as it usually is coming out of the swim. It makes a nice change to be somewhat dry too, especially because I’m already kind of cold, I have been all morning. We’re all flying, the wind is literally carrying us. I try to enjoy the break but all I can think is “This is going to hurt so much when we have to come back into it!”. I try to settle my mind. I’m expecting to be on this bike for over 3 hours and I know that at least half of that, maybe more, is going to hurt like hell. I know I need to dig in for my mental toughness now because if I try to access it when it actually gets tough, it is more than likely going to abandon me. And so, the self-chat begins. The first 22.5km out are mostly cruisy with only a few rougher bits of crosswind. I get right on top of my nutrition, sticking to the plan Gaby gave me, having a bite of something every 5km. So far so good.

Nate passes me just before we turn to head back in. He comments on how amazing the tailwind was and we both know what that means for us coming up. As I approach the U-turn I notice Nathaniel has stopped…I’ll be interested to see what happened there and why, in his race report. (Editor's note: race reports were written in parallel.) It doesn’t take long for him to come past me again but this time we’re both working quite a bit harder. In the forest the head/cross wind isn’t too bad, considerable but not terrible. It misleads my thoughts because as soon as we’re out of the forest the headwind hits me like a slap in the face. To add insult to injury, it starts to rain, hard, bitey rain. I can barely see out of my sunglasses, they’re wet and they’re foggy. “I’ve had better days…” I think to myself.

  I check my watch, I’ve got about 12km until I reach the half-way turn around. I can do this, I just need to get there and then I can have a bit of a rest in the tail wind again. But I hit 10km out and the wind seems to just get worse and worse. I’m at about 40km and I feel wrecked; not a good sign! I try to stay focused…I’m focusing on that ‘rest’ I get to have. Suddenly we’re in the back streets of Busselton and there are people cheering and I start to feel re-energised. As we turn into the straight where all the supporters are piled up against the fences I feel this surge of adrenaline. I here my name called out by a few people, my physio, one of my coaches, friends and then my mum and Luke.

Suddenly I feel like I’ve just started the race again. And then we’re back out there, tail wind behind us, legs pumping with ease and I feel like I’m riding a wind-wave. Once we’re out in the open, I decide to pair it back a bit and give myself a bit of a rest, catch my breath. I’m watching the riders on the other side of the road coming into the wind and I want to call out to them to encourage them! They all look like they are in so much agony! But I don’t waste my energy…they probably wouldn’t hear me anyway.

I start feeling a bit of fatigue at about 65km out. I’m being good and staying on top of my nutrition and I know it’s doing its job. I giggle to myself…I’m screwed if I think I’m tired now. I keep noticing how wet I am. I am wet, and dirty, sooooo dirty and my socks are sooooo soaked. I’m pretty keen to finish this ride. I decide I need another pep-talk. I’m fairly certain a few people dropped in on my little self-pep-talks…I wasn’t holding back. I hope it brought them some joy in a rather dreary situation, to listen to me babbling like a mad woman at myself. I round the final U-turn and head out on to the final stretch. My pep-talk continues, and continues, eventually internalising. That wind in the final stretch made me want to give up. Those last 10km were hell, my legs burned like they never have before. And after what seems like an age of pushing and pushing, I’m in the supporter alley again and I’m getting out of my shoes and I hear my name being called and all I can think is “Do not crash on your dismount, Tash! You’ve gotten through 90-sodden-soaked-kilometers, you can handle a soggy dismount.” And I do! Thank fark!

I get into transition, rack my bike and start taking off my socks…they’ll never be the same again! Fortunately, I have a somewhat dry pair…putting them onto my soggy feet is a pain in the butt! But in no time, they’re on as are my shoes and I’m off for my half mara. Lately I’ve been loving the long training runs, so I’ve been telling myself the whole race that I’m going to enjoy this bit. However, I can’t help but think that my legs must be shot after all that work on the bike. My first kilometre feels, almost comfortable? As does the 2nd and the 3rd. But, again, on that first turn at 3.5km, I know I’m going to hit a headwind. I accept that going West, my pace will need to be backed off a bit, and I feel happy to just stay comfortable.


The kilometres tick over and even in the headwind I don’t feel too bad. I come to the end of my first lap feeling good and ahead of time. The support from family and friends is like a drug and I come out of the U-turn feeling amazing. I try not to get carried away, I still have two thirds of this run left and I don’t want to over cook myself. Before I know it I’m half way and I’m not only executing my run race plan, I’m exceeding my planned pace and I still feel somewhat comfortable. Turns out all those long, slow runs might have built that strength I needed after all. The only trouble I’m having at this stage is that my stomach has finally had enough of the gels and the sweets and the bars. I try to stay focused and just hope that the stomach cramps hold out till the end of the race.

On the return of the second lap, I take the opportunity to distract myself with thoughts of how much I’ve learned about myself and my training this year. I’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but I’ve learned so many valuable lessons. Before I know it, it’s just 7km to go…easy-peasy! My physio and strength coach, Kate yells praise in my direction and tells me to dig deep and ramp it up. I decide I’ve got it in me to ramp up the pace and I do. The last lap goes by so quick. At this stage people are really struggling around me. This time the headwind doesn’t even bother me. I’m on such a high to finish this race and I’m so happy to come into the finish chute and cross that line. It feels amazing! 

It’s a flood of emotion and tears as I see Luke and my mum. I look down at my watch and I’ve narrowly missed breaking 5 hours; 05:00:49. But I’m so happy with that result in those crazy conditions, I don’t even care! And I’m literally bursting with pride for finishing at all. Those conditions posed the greatest physical challenge I have ever endured. A few times, I considered a cry on the pavement in the rain instead. I’m so glad I didn’t give up!

The finish tent was all happiness and blow-by-blow recaps. I’m so happy to see everyone so happy and just thrilled we all got through that alive. I also find out my split on the bike was 02:47:37, only about a minute slower than last year. And in those conditions, I call that a victory!

Thrilled with the outcome! What a race! I’d even go so far as to say, I wouldn’t change a single thing. The good and the bad brought me a little bit closer to whatever it is I’m chasing!




A Wet and Woolly Race Report - Angus Duncan, Busselton 70.3, 6 May 2018


The first things I always reflect on after a triathlon is to look back on some of thoughts I have during a race which on this occasion included some of the following:

- Is this what it’s like for Nick to run 3:30 pace for 10km

- how do I reply to someone that says ‘nice beard’

- *sings selection of Run the Jewel songs

- Why did I drink so many liquids when I’m not sweating

- How do so many people know my name.

I’m always so curious as to what goes through another person’s mind during something like a 70.3. It is a long time to spend in your own head with nothing but your thoughts to encourage you to keep plodding on. Its fair to say, however, these are some of the more civil thoughts I had worth sharing.

As to the race itself everyone who was there would agree that conditions were far from ideal and any thought of a pb went ride out the door with the first big blustery shower that passed through at about 5:21am. Even during the drive from my accommodation in Nannup at 4am I could tell this was going to be a tough day. My only real concern prior to the start was how to keep my shoes and socks dry which I achieved by stuffing the socks into my shoes, turning both pairs of shoes over and covering them with a towel. I also kept a spare pair of socks in a zip lock bag if I needed it.

Then came the news that the swim leg was cancelled. Not being the strongest swimmer with my very slow splash and dash swimming style I was marginally relieved, but also annoyed that my second attempt at a 70.3 was going to be without a swim leg despite a big effort this season to improve my swimming ability.

As the start approached I got into my zone which involves blocking out the world and visualising the activity I’m about to do. The substituted 3km run at the start was fine. Other than starting very cold, I sprinted out of the blocks running at record pace in order to get my heart rate nice and high for what I knew would be a very challenging ride.

Transition 1 was a struggle. Whilst we all practice going from the bike to the run, I hadn’t practiced going from a run to a ride. Owning only one pair of medical orthotics I have become rather skilled at taking them out of my cycling shoes and putting them into my runners quickly. I hadn’t, however, practiced the other way, but somehow fudged my way through it without a problem.

If there is one thing I love about riding it would be power and a good tail wind, and boy did Busselton turn it on, but only for the first 35km or so of each lap. The minute the head wind hit with 10km to go, no matter how aero you were the wind likely knocked 10-20km per hour off your speed. At one stage I turned around to see a gentleman on a p5x with an aero helmet drafting behind me which I think says it all about the conditions. The only thing you could do was to tuck in, head down and pedal. I will add that being on an adapted road bike, which is great for climbing hills, is no match for a well step up tt machine in windy conditions.

I stuck with my nutrition plan of a gel or LCM every 20 minutes. One thing I didn’t anticipate is that with the conditions being so cold, wet and windy meant I didn’t sweat nearly as much. Whilst on a warm summers day I might drink 2L an hour I had to adapt my liquids intake to compensate for the lack of sweat. Nonetheless, for the first hour I continued to drink an excessive 750ml every 30 minutes which meant my bladder filled very quickly- uncomfortably so. I’m not admitting to it, but some people might have had to relieve themselves on the bike which I’m informed after 40km in the aero position is a difficult and painful experience.

After a challenging bike ride I transitioned to the run without a problem knowing that I could make up some time. Straight out of transition I was holding 4:05 pace thanks to a strong tail wind and stuck to my nutrition plan of water and electrolytes at every aid station with a gel every 5kms. However, at the first turn and into the headwind my pacing dropped somewhat and from thereon it became an effort as the wind sucked the energy out of me. Even at the next turn and with a tail wind I was slower than expected as I tried to recover after a hard slog into the wind. It was only at the 15km mark that the thought did creep into my head as to ‘why are you doing this?’. However, this thought was quickly brushed aside as a person from my age category ran past.

I always really enjoy the last 2km of a 70.3. My pain receptors and brains seem to switch off and my legs just take over. With only 1km to go and with the finish line in sight I found myself sprinting for the finish line, squeezing my way down the narrow finishing shoot trying to stay out of the way of runners savouring the moment receiving high fives from the crowd. Once I crossed the finish line I went full Velociraptor as my legs cramped and gave way- a big thank you to the volunteer who let me lean on her until feeling retuned to my legs.

And I was done! Months of training and not going out all for 4.5hr of competition. Totally worth it. I love the 70.3 distance, achievable and all so so so challenging. This certainly won’t be my last 70.3, I enjoy it all too much.

In the athlete’s area I started my recovery and grabbed my street bag which contained a defrosted 1L chocolate milk, a protein shake and an icy cold celebratory beer. 10/10 would recommend you all buy a small esky for your street bag!

I just want to end by answering some questions I’ve had throughout the season and during the race as to my beard:

  1. Why do you have it?- branding, you always remember the bearded bloke.
  2. Does it make you go fast?- if I got a faster time than you than yes.
  3. Would you consider shaving it?- if offered enough money for a good cause.
  4. Does it impact your race?- during the swim it gets in my mouth and chafes my neck when I breath.
  5. Did it impact your 70.3?- No, it just kept me informed that it was windy.




Busselton 70.3 May 2018 Post race report: Nathaniel Wells

Short version: This race went incredibly well. The terrible conditions were just another part of the day, and I was absolutely stoked with the result and the hard work I put in. I raced by feeling and not by pace. Finished second in my age group and was incredibly stoked with my personal performance. Overall time: 4:26:27


There was a lot of anxiety before this race, particularly centred on my run due to my tendency to get really painful stitches off the bike. A week out from busso I still hadn’t puzzled out why I was getting them. Then, on my last brick run before the race where I was doubled over with a stitch again, I finally had an epiphany – before the ride that day, I had cereal with milk and an iced coffee. Before every tri, I have up ‘n gos and coffee. I finally had a common factor which hadn’t already been ruled out: milk in my diet. I had gone through seemingly every other possibility, including bike positions, swim-related muscle tension, literally not eating on the bike (a terrible idea), and the idea that milk before a race was causing me stitches on the run seemed to line up perfectly. Therefore, I decided to not eat or drink anything with milk the day prior, and the day of, the race. Then I would just hope no stitch would come on the run.

For this race I took a much longer taper than I have before. I took the whole week to wind down, taking it easy after my last long run. The consequence of the long taper was me feeling like absolute crap basically all the way up to the day before the race. This just added to my pre-race anxiety, but it worked wonders. By Saturday I felt fantastic, and by Sunday morning, I was more than ready to race.

I was going to do the funky trunks 1km swim the day before the race to get the arms ready for the wetsuit, but ended up leaving my wetsuit at home by accident when I headed to Busselton on the Friday before the race with my grandparents. That meant I couldn’t do the swim anyway (which ended up being a good thing), as my parents were bringing down my wetty the next day after the swim when they came down to Busselton to spectate. It was a good thing my parents were coming down later, because if the swim hadn’t been cancelled, I would’ve been absolutely screwed. Lesson learnt: make a list of things I need to take before leaving. Instead I went for an easy ride, which really helped get my legs alive the day before the race. It also familiarized me with the course, given the difference between the May and December courses. So it all turned out well in the end.

I got a big batch of spaghetti Bolognese and garlic bread in my system the night before, and crashed into bed early as I detoxed from caffeine that day as well. As with all the previous races I’ve done, the caffeine detox was well worth the massive withdrawal headache before the race. And it made me sleep like a baby.


Race Morning

As usual, I woke up to Heat of the Moment and powered out of bed 3 hours before my race was due to start. I slept well considering Edwin snored in the bed next to mine practically all night. My pre-race breakfast was now modified, to get rid of any milk. I had a juice, two muesli bars (Uncle Toby’s, sugary and delicious), and a small long black that I bought the day before and left in the fridge overnight. Any other day, that cold long black would have tasted dreadful. But after two days of no caffeine, it was worth its weight in gold. I think I may have a serious coffee problem, but that’s hardly race related.

I could already hear the wind outside while I ate brekky and started to get a bit worried. I pretty much accepted at this point that the swim was going to get cancelled. Hell, I even expected it when I signed up for the race. Whatever major event I seem to go to, the swim seems to get cancelled by some force of nature. At least at Rottnest I swam faster than the damn shark. Seems I can’t outswim gale force winds, unfortunately.

When we left the hotel the rain hit, which made my mood drop just as heavily as the water. When we got to transition it seemed to calm a bit. I was informed by a lovely shouting lady that no plastic bags were allowed in transition, so my plan to keep my shoes dry died with her commands. I turned my shoes upside down on top of my towel and hoped for the best. I had to basically tie my helmet to my bike handlebars so it didn’t blow away in the wind, and secure my race belt/gels/sunnies in there as best I could so they didn’t take off. I also had to secure my bike to the rack by the handlebars instead of the seat or the wind would have taken it off, which wasn’t ideal. I just told myself that the conditions change, and I had to adapt. If I took longer in transition than usual, that’s just how it’d be. A little longer would be better than my bike being blown over.

And then what I dreaded all along finally happened; the swim got cancelled right as I was walking out of transition. I had a little sigh to myself, but I knew it was going to happen. I don’t think I’ll ever get to do a swim at an ironman 70.3 at this rate. Some people in transition started cheering when the announcement came out. I made a mental note to channel that anger and smash them wherever else I could on the course. The bastards.

Anyway, I went to the new briefing, set up transition again accordingly, and got set to go onto a 3km run instead of the swim. It was itself a bit of a blessing; it meant I could put on my arm warmers before the bike, which I was planning to skip and go without. I also got to put on my wool socks early, which I planned to ride in. I also got to put all my gels in my pockets and put my race belt on, so it wasn’t all bad. It ended up giving me a much faster T1 than I would have expected off the swim.

Before I got to the start line, I needed to go to the toilet far worse than I usually need to before a race. This was one of the downsides to the run instead of a swim – you can’t just go in the water. But it also gave me a nice warmup run to the toilets from the start line and back.


Run 1 (3km) (13:16, pace 4:25/km)

I was itching to get running as it was really bloody cold outside. My teeth were literally chattering, and I was bouncing on the spot to keep as warm as possible. When I finally got the front of the rolling start though, I ran off in the zone almost straight away.

The run was short and altogether pretty uninteresting. It was basically just a warmup. I was very careful here not to go too hard from the get go. A lot of people around me flew off at practically a sprint from the line. I just stayed comfortable and kept it to the same pace that I would have liked my last leg to be at, which turned out to be a comfortable 4:20ish pace. I just plodded along, getting warm, and actually caught everyone who sprinted past me, as they dialled back tremendously compared to their starting paces. Figures.


Transition 1 (time: 1:29)

T1 went fairly quickly. All I had to do was get my helmet on and put my shoes back in their spot, all of which went smoothly. Everything else was already on my person. I ran out of transition with my bike in socks, which got them wet, but the wool still managed to keep my feet quite warm on the ride. They were a really good choice given the conditions, and really saved my feet going into the run. I lost a fair bit of time because some idiot had stopped with his bike right in the middle of the path I had to run my bike down, and he took ages to move out of the road.

The mount line was an absolute disarray of people who had run out of transition with their sh