Thanks to Graham Pemberton from Free Radicals Triathlon Club for this wrap-up.
It was a cold morning start in Mooloolaba for the Sunshine Coast Ironman 70.3 and Townsville athlete Samuel Murphy’s first professional triathlon race — a race that was a long time coming and has taken years of preparation. It was also Scott Nielsen’s first 70.3, stepping up from standard distance, and a couple of athletes were completing their second 70.3 this year having conquered their first in Cairns.
“But it’s a long day and this race is all about the run and what you have left. This is where you can either excel or not — this is where the race is won and lost”
With near-perfect conditions and a water temperature of 20.6C, Sam Murphy came out of the 1.9km swim just behind the main professional pack with a solid time of 27:50 (23rd place), flying up the beach and ripping the wetsuit off for a 500m run to transition — then the chase was on. Sam is very strong on the bike and even stronger on the run, but so are the rest of the seasoned pros, training anything from 20 to 30 hours a week. Sam was clocking up over 40km per hour on the first 20km of the 90km ride, with a slight headwind curtailing him to 38km/h.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Townsville team was now on the course. For the men, Troy Argent went hard coming out fifth in the swim in his Age Group in 26:43, followed by Danny Miles (31:26), who eats Eveready Batteries and never stops; Jarrod Owen (31:53), Anthony Marano (33:58); young gun Zac Ryan (34:04) and Josh McIntyre (34:30).
For the ladies, Carmel Linning (30:05), Joanne Koy (32:53), Alison Bethune (36:46) and Gill O’Malley (39:40) all had a great start to one of the hardest days in racing that this sport has to provide. Everyone is also super proud of Christy Guinea (1:03:35), who has been training so hard over the past year and made her second attempt at the 70.3 distance over the weekend. It’s hard to appreciated how difficult Ironman is unless you’ve tried, and while Christy gave it her all once again, she just missed out on the cut-off time on the run leg — with her level of determination, we know she’ll be back!
Back to the pro race: Off the bike, Sam was now in 16th place having smashed this leg in 2:24, and — with only a few other seasoned professionals in front — the chase was heating up! It’s worth noting here that more than 2,200 Age Group athletes started the race with the largest pro field of over 50 seen for a long time. The reason? This will be the scene of the 70.3 World Championships next year and they all understandably wanted to qualify.
Watching from the VIP tent this year (just thought I would drop that one!), it gave a great perspective on the whole race, with some of the top AG athletes really stepping up and giving some of the pro field a push. While, just as impressively, at the back end of the pack you just wonder sometimes how people make it to the finish line (the oldest AG athlete was 73 years young), but they do!
By this stage, Sam was moving up the field getting his run legs after coming off the bike, settling into a blistering 3:41 per/km pace. Next Jarrod Owen was onto the run, followed by Troy Argent (now this boy can run!). Then there was Scott Nielsen who had the race of his life at his 70.3 debut (finishing in 5:00:27), followed by Joanne Koy just behind and looking strong (finishing in 5:41:48). But it’s a long day and this race is all about the run and what you have left. This is where you can either excel or not — this is where the race is won and lost.
Now all the team from Townsville were out on the last leg of the course — a simple half marathon (21km) to finish the day off. Well, it’s not so simple — they would have burned about 5,000 calories in the swim and the bike, and possibly another 3,000 on the run. It takes a complex formula to keep the body functional and fuelled.
Sam was now in his element, stepping up the game with some great run splits — 3:21 per/km! It wasn’t long before Sam came over the line looking great in 4:12:11, rendering him the 17th professional across the line — an amazing feat in his debut professional race. Jarrod Owen wasn’t far behind in 4:14:12, coming seventh in his Age Group.
It was a brilliant race from all the team members — you never forget your races as they are just as much an emotional event as a physical one. Well done to all the Townsville athletes. For the full results, see here.
If you would like to complete one of these events come and join the Free Radicals Tribe Triathlon Club and seek advice from the club coaches: Pam, Mat, Rik and Graham.