Words By Jan Eccles
The slogan for the ITU 2018 World Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast was “Ride the Wave” – and ride the wave we did. The 2017/2018 had been a good season for me, starting in the WIT course, competing in 10 events, training in a club environment, meeting new friends, people with like minded interests. Joking about qualifying for the “worlds”, I hadn’t even heard of this event let alone have it on my radar. A joke became reality, I had qualified, had nothing to lose, so why not put an application in, I had qualified for sprint and standard so why not apply for both!! If I was going there for one race, why not do two? Afterwards I found out not many people do that!. The event was to be in Queensland, and I have family there, so tick that box because I got to go to see my relies at the same time. So on this wave I went, the training was hard, in the back of my mind were the words that coaches inspired me with “just get the job done, focus, focus, focus, one discipline at a time, enjoy the atmosphere take it all in”. Holy crap I was so nervous, what the hell was I doing, all of the big guns had come to play. All the Nations were here, USA, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, France, New Zealand, Columbia, Japan, Republic of South Africa, Ireland, Brazil, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Italy, Russia.
Myself and hubby arrived late on the Tuesday night, my daughters, grand daughter and Nat Fletcher from WIT group came in on Wednesday – my support group. Wednesday morning I rode off to sort my bike, the gears were not quite ticking over properly, after the dismantle, flight and reassemble. There were so many classy bikes and riders out and about on the GC roads that morning. Ok flat, flat, flat, one little “technical” side blip, (Resolute on the NCTC coastal morning ride would of made this look tame), that done I felt sooo much better. Bike check, registration, swim familiarity, bike racked, nerves calmer – so I thought. Sprint race day, Thursday middle of the day, cried at the gear drop tent, what the hell was I doing, thank goodness for Nat who was there to support me through that. The swim was declared wet suits allowed. The gun went off the swim start was on, we were off, OMG the watch said 16 minutes on exit, I could do this, the ride happened the run leg was in front of me and all that training had paid off, I was about to cross that finish line, amazing.
There was a Celebration of Champions Dinner on Thursday night. What an honour for Sue Scott from our club, to be a recipient of the Rob George Award to honour the technical Officials program contribution to the sport. How fitting as Sue Scott had encouraged me to apply for the worlds and had mentored me from the WIT course earlier in the season. Congratulations Sue.
So with one race down and one to go, I was more relaxed, started to enjoy the event. Noting that I should try and connect with other fellow NCTC participants Stephen Holmes, Rachael Dodds, Sally Pilbeam. WOW on looking up Stephen Holmes’s sprint results he had come 3rd in his age group category males 35-39 (he had represented GBR), his gun time was 1:01:29. An unbelievable time, the overall winner had clocked 57:05, that’s just 3:30 mins short of that!
On the Saturday conditions remained ideal, and Nat and myself went off to take in the paratriathlon events, just inspirational stuff, and we were cheering Sally Pilbeam, watching her take out second position in the PTS4 Women’s event in a time of 1:14:43!
The weather was beautiful around the 25 degrees mark, there was some talk that Sunday was going to be windy. But those forecasters must have got it wrong. The bike was racked again, I did notice my bike was looking a tad under done next to all those disc wheels. Some serious $$$$$ there in that transition. At 9pm that night pre-event bikes racked, a message comes in via event feed “Important Update! Standard Distance Athletes: due to forecast high winds tomorrow, disc wheels will not be permitted. All athletes with disc wheels will need to bring an alternative tomorrow morning”. The facebook feed was a buzz, not happy campers at all. Then this happened – “to accommodate athletes who were not able to source replacement rear wheels, an additional wave has been created to allow you to borrow a rear wheel or bike from team mates racing in an earlier wave. This new wave will start at 8.44am………”. The program started at 6.15am.
The weather was fine, no wind at this stage. My swim start was 8:30am. It was a deep water start. The countdown was on, the gun went, I started but it wasn’t the swim I had visualised. The 1500m was in a straight line down the broadwater inlet, on an incoming tide, that was the good part, we were swimming with the tide, and it was wetsuits permitted. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. Panic set in, just keep moving forward were the words of swim coach Janine, which were going through my head, breast stroke was working, so after a confusing swim of breaststroke, free style and I don’t know what, another two wave starts coming over the top of me, I finally pulled up out of the water, to a 34 minute swim leg. I tell you this so you will continue to move forward and never give up! The wind did come up and we were punching into it on the ride, return circuit 10-20kms, and 30-40kms bike leg, with it increasing. The bike circuit over and the wind was still there for the run, but not as troublesome. I beat the cut off times and stayed out of that sag wagon, I rode the wave to cross the finish line.
The feeling was amazing, the support I received from my family, friends and club was what made it possible.
Congratulations to Rachael Dodds who also had a fantastic time participating in the standard distance at the finish line gun 2:13:20, just 9 minutes outside of the winning time of 2:04:06. NCTC can be proud of its members who participated in the 2018 Worlds.