Saturday, 25 April 2009

Tagaman road tri, Saipan

Writing this very tired and weary from Saipan airport. Not looking forward to 48 hours travelling home.

It's been a great trip, we've made many new friends and caught up with old friends too. Thanks to Tyce and Angie Mister and Joshua and Mamiko Berger for putting us up in home stays and making us feel so welcome. Thanks also to two of the best hotels in the Pacific, the Hyatt in Guam and the PIC in Saipan for housing both us and the races.

Tagaman road triathlon consists of a 2000m swim, 60km bike and 15km run. I've got to admit, that after winning both Guam and Saipan Xterra's it was hard to totally motivate myself for this event. Fatigue was catching up from all the racing and travelling, and 4 days scuba diving doing our PADI course didn't help!

However the prize for doing the 'double' of fastest combined time in Xterra Saipan and Tagaman is return flights to here for next year and 7 nights accomodation for 2 at the PIC including a gold card for all meals and also another $500 cash. So it was essential to defend the 12 minute lead I had over Australias Andrew Noble and win this challenge.

In the swim I lost about 4 minutes on the leaders and exiting the perfect Pacific waters for the last time I set about getting this time back. I managed to catch Andy Noble at about 1/2 distance but I was still 2 minutes behind the flying Japanese competitor Masauki Matsumaru. I worked so hard in the searing heat, but only inched closer to Masa. I had the quickest bike split, but was still 2.5 minutes down as we entered Transition 2. After a terrible transition losing my shoes I set about chasing Masa on the run. After about 6 km, he was well in my sights and I was only a minute down. With another 9km of running to go I thought I had the better of Masa. Andrew was not closing on me and I knew i had the 'double' crown, barring any major problems.

However I didn't manage to get any closer, Masa ran the last half superbly and I faded slightly. With a mile to go, the gap was still one minute and I resigned myself to 2nd place and jogged home.

It was a great end to the Saipan sports festival and I urge any Brits wanting to do the races to join us there in 2010.

My main goals on returning to the UK are the 2nd round of the Mountain bike National points series, and then Xterra Italy in 5 weeks time. Let's hope the season continues as it's started.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Xterra Saipan 1st.

It was a mixed British result at Saipan after our great race in Guam.

I had possibly the best race of my Xterra career, winning my 3rd international Xterra race and 2nd Global tour race (Guam didn't have Global tour status). World champ Julie Dibens crashed heavily on the bike and sustained some nasty injuries but nothing broken we hope and started the run in pain but with a slight lead over Renata Bucher from Switzerland, unfortunately Renata got in front on the run and Julie was left to salvage 2nd place. Jim McConnel had another consistent race with 6th place despite nursing an injury and against a quality pro field.

I managed to exit the water in 11th place and set about chasing down the guys ahead in the blazing Saipan heat. It took almost 1/2 a lap to catch last years winner and ex world duathlon champ Andrew Noble from Australia and he announced the Mike Vine (the current US champion) was leading just ahead, with this spuring me on I managed to catch and pass Mike, and worked on building as much of a lead as possible before the run, where I knew Mike would be hunting me down.

I left transition 2 with a 3 minute advantage and ran as hard as I've run, even with a mile to the finish when I knew I had it in the bag, I still pushed harder, knowing every second counts for the Saipan sports festival double competition which takes the combined times for Xterra and next weeks Tagaman race, I wanted as much of a cushion as I could get. I was amazed to only lose 5 seconds to Mike on the run in the end and win by close on 3 minutes.

With Mike now deciding to go back to the States and prepare for the first US race in Vegas, and 3rd place Sacha Wiggenfield of Germany returning to Europe it now leaves me with a 12 minute lead over Andrew Noble for the double competition. The prize for the fastest combined time is a free flight to the event next year from anywhere in the world, 7 night accomodation and food at the Pacific Islands club where we've been staying and also an additional $500US.

Watch this space for next weeks instalment of the Pacific tour 2009.

Big thanks to all sponsors as ever, Cannondale bike was faultless, Schwalbe tyres have had no punctures or crashes all trip, Maximuscle kept me hydrated, Sundog eyewear blocked the rays, big thanks to everyone else too.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Xterra Guam 1st!

Today was the first race of our Pacific racing tour, Xterra Guam.

After an eventful week, where my bike never made it further than Dubai before getting delayed, let alone the other 3 flights!

Good job it was in it's new Bikeboxalan hardcase and arrived eventually unscathed.

Still suffering with Jetlag due to arriving on Weds and a 9 hour time difference, I was not sure quite how I'd perform on the day.

Luckily it went totally to plan. I even managed to get on two times Xterra world champion, Julie Dibens heels in the swim for 100m which helped me break clear of the pack behind. Prefering to draft and conserve energy, I eased up and swum in the lead pack, with Julie blazing away on her own ahead.

A swift transition and I left T1 with fellow pro's Michael Le Roux from Australia and Takahiro Ogasawara from Japan, hitting the 3 1/2 mile road climb I went on the offensive and left the other 2 guys. Knowing that Jim McConnel from the UK would soon be chasing us down and not wanting to be near the whippet on the run I worked hard to get a decent lead.

Julie mean while was on a mission and it took me 20 minutes to catch her and pass her. Infact she was still in 2nd place as we entered T2, and Jim had moved up to 3rd place with all 3 Brits in the top 3.

On to the run and I knew as long as I didn't do anything stupid I should have the race in the bag. I successfully negotiated the slippery run down the waterfall sections and then while concentrating too hard on my line along the rocky stream, I missed a course arrow taking me left up the bank. I realised this 30 seconds later and quickly retraced my steps in a panic.

Luckily no one got by and I ran home the victor, Jim chased down Julie and finished 2nd, and Julie rounded out the British top 3 and won the womens race convincingly from Renata Bucher of Switzerland. Michael Le Roux of Australia rounded off the mens podium.

Tomorrow we are off to Saipan for 2 weeks training and then Xterra Saipan, which features top Xterra pros Mike Vine (who won the US champs in '08 and has won Xterra Saipan before) and Andrew Noble (Ex world Duathlon champion and winner of last years Xterra Saipan) amongst other competitors. Then Jim and I are racing Tagaman road triathlon in Guam, while Julie is returning to the US for St Anthony's Olympic distance non drafting race.