National All Schools Triathlon
SWIM 750m BIKE 20KM RUN 5KM – Thursday 26th, April – 2018
“The Senior Male event was thrilling to watch, with four Queensland athletes – Lachlan Jones, Charles Liebenberg, James Thomas and Lachlan Sosinski making a break on the 20km, four lap bike course, working together to hold off Lorcan Redmond who was left chasing on his own, finally falling back in the chase pack. With the 5km run leg ahead of him and knowing he was over a minute behind, the Newcastle Grammar School student gradually ran down the four Queenslanders, completing his 5km run leg in a time of 15:47 to win by 27 seconds to give Lorcan his fifth consecutive Triathlon Championship.”
The short summary above is accurate, but thought I’d write a summary of my season and culminating race that concludes my involvement in All Schools Triathlon.
My first race at the Australian All School Championships was at Penrith in 2013 and I finished 7th. I was absolutely stoked with this result. I had just started triathlon a few months earlier coming from a very active background in other sports but with little swimming. I was very “fit”, just not experienced and as technically proficient as some of my competitors across swimming, cycling and running. I was determined to improve and worked hard with support of my family and coaches Rod Cook and Ben Higginbottom.
Fast forward to 2017/2018 season and what do you know, I’m right in the middle of the Year 12 and it is freaking hard. I purposely decided to put triathlon on the backburner this year solely to get the most out of my free time, spending it with family, friends and in the odd free period at school studying, which requires me to attend the local beach with the boys to work on our “wellbeing” (Well that’s what we convince ourselves).
So the triathlon goal during the domestic season was to keep working on the technical aspects. . . yeah yeah, rubbish. I still wanted to win, hehe ;). …
My goals were:
- Expose myself to elite level racing – TICK
- Qualify for the World Championships – TICK
- Win National All Schools for the 5th consecutive time – TICK
- Most importantly HAVE FUN! – BLOODY MASSIVE TICK
Some of the fun involved ruthless banter, out of tune sing-alongs (so I’m told!), too much talking, nail painting (Team NSW tradition now) . . . and racing! I love racing.
So with this in mind, Higgo and I met and agreed that this year was just about getting the job done. School and family first, triathlon whenever there is spare time – but with what time we have… don’t waste it!
I achieved goal #1 by racing in the Elite Men’s field in Glenelg, Adelaide in February. It was an eye opening experience – giving me the opportunity to establish a solid framework in which to build myself. An 11th place against top international athletes has given me confidence for the future.
I achieved goal #2 by winning the Oceania Championships in New Plymouth. What an adventure that was, jetting across the ditch, arriving over a day later than initially planned due to delays, and then opening my bike bag to discover one of the airlines had smashed my Felt Bike supplied by CFN – it was unrideable. Luckily Mitchell Cycles in NP were quick to lend me a brand new bike to drop some watt bombs on! Plenty laughed at me in transition, it certainly didn’t have race wheels and the flashy gear, but a bike doesn’t pedal itself and my legs where the same ones I left Australia with.
The final race of the season was the National All Schools Triathlon, fittingly held at Penrith where I started my All Schools career back in 2013. I wanted to finish with a win and make it 5 in a row! But as always, I never underestimate my fellow competitors and know that racing is not just about being the fastest, you have to get to the start line ready to race and be prepared for any number of eventualities.
And so it was on this day, an unusual race in the sense that the QLD guys had a plan to get together and attack on the bike. The swim was largely uneventful, pontoon dive start, swim as hard as you can, get out and see what’s happening. The QLD boys executed their plan really well. A pack of 4; Lachlan Jones, Charles Liebenberg, James Thomas and Lachlan Sosinski gapped Adam White and I quickly. Adam pulled some really strong turns, until I hammered it that bit much, slightly dropping Adam. With my ears being quite useless… I didn’t hear his comments to drop the pace, which would allow him to jump on my wheel and work together a bit longer. So I found myself alone
Decision time!! … Should I wait for the massive bunch behind me?
HELL NO! There was a whole lot of “shut up legs” and “Allez, Allez, Allez” going through my mind trying to minimise any damage and deficits caused by the boys up front. Riding solo for 15 km is quite a long time in a draft legal sprint distance triathlon.Time to consider faults and failings or time to keep the end goal firmly in mind and in sight. I took one glance behind me with about 3km to go on the bike and saw they were nearly upon me so rather than smash my legs I dropped the wattage and jumped into the big bunch that had formed behind me.
I’ve been riding once or twice a week for the last two years when it’s not holiday time, but funnily enough, Higgo asked me to ride a 20km time trial 2 weeks ago, and we were fortunate the local cycling club had one that weekend. At the time I thought it was a silly idea, I’m preparing for draft legal racing, but as he said – you have to be prepared for anything. I certainly appreciated the experience.
This wasn’t my plan, not that we have race plans, but I certainly didn’t want to come off the bike having no idea how far ahead the other athletes were. I found out after the race the gap was beyond a minute. Apparently the chat over the microphone was of disbelief that I could get the win. I’m not sure if anyone tried to tell me the gap, I couldn’t hear them if they did so it makes no difference to how hard I go. I just said to myself that this is my last chance, and set out of transition determined to give absolutely everything I had – ALL the way to the finish regardless of the result.
The run course was set out as about 2km out to the turnaround and then 3km back to the finish line. I was a man on a mission and worked hard to catch the boys out front. I couldn’t even see them for the first few minutes, my eyes being pretty poor as well and they were obviously a long way in front. I was hurting but hunting and just kept going hard until I managed to catch Lachlan Jones at the turnaround and take the lead. Lachie is a superb athlete and I was chuffed to see him going strong at the pointy end.
After surging for 500m to build a gap…. And realising I had, I switched off and soaked up the last 2.5km of my final school triathlon. I threw high-fives all-around and blew a few kisses 😉cause I mean… you know.
It was one of the best feelings over the last couple of hundred metres and i wanted to take it all in.
Dropping a 15.47 5km in my Mizuno Wave Sonics in this way gives me a sense of confidence leading into the World Junior Triathlon Champs in September. It will be a tough build juggling family and school priorities with the fun, that is triathlon. It certainly hasn’t stopped me before and it wont stop me now.
Racing All Schools Triathlon for six years has been an incredible privilege and I’ve met many of my best friends through this sport and on the camps away. I love going to races and catching up with you all. I’ve been well supported by my schools, TriNSW and TA, as well as School Sport Australia who have put on wonderful races in great locations for the athletes.
I’ve also been really fortunate to have a group of local companies that assist me in my sport,
McDonald’s Newcastle and Hunter Restaurants – Michael Feros
Endura Sports Nutrition
And the local guys and gals I’ve trained with, swimmers, cyclist, runners, triathletes… especially the TriNova crew.
A few others I need to thank are Jamie Turner, the TA High Performance support alongside the AIS. Paul Sharman and Anthony Webb who help me with my swim and gym. Paul Franks who helps with management.
And of course, Rod Cook and Ben Higginbottom who have been with me since I started.
My biggest thanks go to my inner circle. Mum, Dad, my grandparents, family and David, you guys have been awesome over the last 6 years – 5 in a row – it’s all for you!