Monday, 8 June 2009

Xterra Malaysia

Malaysia race report.

It’s been a busy week. I had 7 hours at home from returning from Xterra Italy, before going to Xterra Malaysia. All the travelling, stress and time difference left me pretty tired on arrival. However I was looking forward to racing at this new destination on the Global tour, and getting behind the event.

The local media were very excited about the arrival of the foreign athletes for this first edition of the event, and had hyped it up into a big rematch between Mike Vine (the current US champion) and myself, after our recent battle in Saipan where I edged him out for the win. The dark horse was Scott Thorne from New Zealand, who had the advantage of less jet lag and an extra 3 day actimatising to the extreme heat and humidity. Scott narrowly missed out on winning Xterra New Zealand this year so was always going to be one to watch out for along with the other Japanese, Malaysian and Philipino’s making up the pro field.

Still heavily jet lagged and relying heavily on some super strong local hotel coffee I got to the start line for the 8am start. The day was pretty overcast, compared to the searing heat of the previous week. Warming up 10 minutes before the start Mike Vine was stung by a Jellyfish (which we’d not seen in previous few days), he was in obvious pain, but we decided (hoped) it wasn’t a fatal portugese man of war sting. Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed at his expense because 20 minutes later I felt my hand touch something soft and jelly like and sure enough half a second later I felt a shooting pain go up my leg, wow those things hurt. Despite this I had a reasonable swim, exiting the water in 4th, 2 minutes behind Mike, and a minute behind Scott and the Japanese pro Taro.

The bike started with 7km of road, where I desperately gave chase after Taro and Scott who were working together to catch Mike. I made contact with them after 3km and we soon dropped Taro and I worked with Scott on our chase. It was a very interesting and eventful bike leg. I dropped Scott on each climb, but first missed a corner on a descent and he got back to me, then the heavens opened and he got back to me a second time on another descent. Finally I could see Mike 200m ahead and had got rid of Scott for good (or so I thought), but a police marshal sent all 3 of us the wrong way and when we found out and turned round, we were all 3 together again! We worked together on the subsequent road section and were still neck and neck with 10km to go. This did not leave me with much time to build a lead against 2 guys that were known for being top runners. When I did manage to get away on my own it was only 2km from transition and I only managed to get a 20 seconds lead on Mike and maybe a minute over Scott.

It must have had for great television for ESPN (the channel covering the event in Asia). I kept my dwindling lead for about 4km, then Mike caught me and coming onto the 2nd and final run lap we were again separated by only 5 meters with Scott chasing hard and closing. Mike eventually pushed home his advantage on lap 2 and I had to think about holding Scott off for 2nd place. It all ended in a sprint down the finishing funnel on the beach in front of the Malaysian crowds with Scott taking 2nd leaving me in 3rd with all 3 of us separated by less than 1 minute in one of the most exciting races I’ve ever been in. How so many things could have sent the result a different way and any of us could have won.

I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight (the first time in 12 days!), and having a weekend off racing and being spectator next weekend at Windsor triathlon. My next races are Mountain Mayhem 24 hour mountain bike race in 2 weeks time (the UK’s biggest and highest paying race) where I am racing for the USE all stars team. Then the following week I have round 2 of the European tour, Xterra Czech.

Thanks as usual to all sponsors, writing this on my Panasonic laptop now! Thoroughly recommend Squirt chain lube for not collecting the sand this weekend like most lubes do. Despite all this travelling, jetlag and racing Maximuscle products have been essential with my recovery and keeping my immune system strong. Thanks obviously to Snow and Rock and Cycle surgery for their support also and to Bikeboxalan for a case that has kept my bike undamaged in over 12 flights so far in 2009.

1 comment:

Stupe said...

Sam - it is very exciting to see the race from my point of view as i was the announcer and i was literally seeing how you, Mike and Scott were scrambling for top place.

I salute the camaraderie and sportsmen's spirit in each of you as the three of you hugged and congratulated each other within the 30 seconds gap that separated all three of you.

I look forward to be racing with you next year in Xterra Malaysia.