As soon as I heard of the concept for this race I fell in love. A 3k swim in Lake Jindabyne, 130k ride in the NSW alps with over 3200m of climbing followed by a 30k run with over 1100m of climbing to the highest point in Australia- what a challenge. I knew that I had to do it and the fact that it was the day after my 35th birthday made it the ideal birthday present to me. With my ever present, supportive and amazing Wife & Son by my side, together with my support racer Nathan, we made our way to Jindabyne the day before the race to be greeted by the sight of endless waves across lake Jindabyne and incessant winds. That day winds were recorded at 150km/hr at the Thredbo top station, so needless to say it brought with it quite a southerly.
As we headed down to the lake for the dawn swim start the waves had left but the cold had snuck in. The water was a beautiful 19 degrees however, the air was only 4 degrees so in the interest of athlete safety the swim was shortened to 1.5k (measured in at 1.7k). It was interesting being part of such a small and friendly race field, everybody was spread out and the single lap triangle swim was completed in realtively beautiful conditions with great visibility and to be honest, even with my 28′ swim time I wished it was its original 3k distance.
My first error of the day came in T1 when I decided against riding in my vest and long gloves. However, onto the 130km bike I started pedalling towards Thredbo and all I could think of was what an epic day I had ahead of me. The goal wasn’t to destroy myself and to spend as much of the first half of the bike ride seated and save the legs for the climb to Charlotte’s Pass. This theory was working great on the ride to Dead Horse Gap, but the longer I rode the colder I got. Within 90 minutes I could hardly grab a drink bottle as my fingers could not bend anymore. 2:05 into the ride, I saw my support team for the first time and quickly grabbed a vest and long finger gloves. This was at the start of the long descent back to Jindabyne and given my speed was hitting 72km/hr I was glad for the extra layer. From Jindabyne we climbed to Charlotte’s pass on possibly the nicest road I have ever ridden on. It was beautiful, hilly, smooth, wide and ever present views. With about 30k to go on the bike I remember saying to a spectator I wished the ride would be even longer (think he thought I was suffering altitude sickness).
Off the bike at Perisher in a little under 5 hours and I thought I was feeling good. A quick change, discarding the gloves, vest and arm warmers however, I didn’t worry with a cap as I thought the wind could have made it more annoying so I kept the headband on. The first 8km of the 30km run course was an out and back section to Blue Cow was much steeper than anticipated however, I had it in my mind I wasn’t going to walk so I kept on running regardless. Back to Perisher meant I was off the dirt and that next section to Charlotte’s Pass was the most beautiful road run and I felt great. Just had to keep reminding myself to breathe deeply given the altitude we were at. Heading into the last 10.5km from Charlotte Pass, I made sure to grab my vest & long finger gloves again and with a water bottle in each hand, off I went. The first 9km of this is all up hill and I was grateful for the knowing about Seaman’s Hut. This little hut that appeared at the top of a long climb marked the beginning of the end for me. From there it is 1.7km to Rawsons hut, then it is only 1.5km to the top of Kosciuszko and the final roll back down the hill to thefinish line at Rawsons. My legs got real heavy over these last 4.7km however, with each step I knew I was closer to running up a mountain 12 years ago I struggled to walk up. At the highest point in Australia, I had time to kiss the rock then run as fast as my spent legs could carry me back to Rawsons. The final run split was 3:06.
In total one of the best challenges I have ever done took me 8:45- very satisfying and enjoyable minutes.
It was awesome! However, I think I fell in love with everything that day- I may have even said to the girl that made the chicken noodle soup at the end just how amazing her cooking skills were… Then with my support racer Nathan, we walked back to Charlotte’s Pass (and may have even run part of the way) to be greeted by the sight of my pregnant wife and 18 month old son jogging up the path to meet me.
Thank you Elite Energy for putting on a remarkable event in a memorable part of the world. I loved how I got to spend my 35th birthday, I definitely think I deserved the post race pizza, beer and ice cream that came with the celebrations with my ever amazing support crew.