This was my first Ironman of 2017 and there was no better location to do it other than Taupo (New Zealand). Great Lake Taupo is an awesome hub of outdoor activities and sports, and depending on the weather you’re either in for a very quick time or not. I’d chosen to stay away from meticulously checking the weather forecast for race day as in New Zealand it constantly changes and each day you end of up with every season in 24hours.
My preparation for the race had gone to plan and I woke up on the morning ready to go with the normal pre-race nerves and the wind rattling at the windows.
We headed down to transition early (as always). Normal bike checks and last minute run throughs. Standing by the lake in the dark you could already see the chop on the lake, but watching the traditional Maori welcome seemed to settle the nerves.
The mass start kicked off without any issues. There seemed to be plenty of space with everyone trying to pick their way through the chop and swell. You may think it can’t be that bad in a lake, but the size of the lake and strength of the wind made it the hardest swim to date (including IM Wales and swimming in the sea at Southsea). I struggled to find my rhythm with my stroke and was battling the chop from the start. Coming out of the lake and seeing 1hour 10mins frustrated me as I’d hoped to have gone faster (but given the conditions, I was maybe a little hard on myself). I came out the swim 4th in my age group. On to the bike and heading out to Reporoa and back twice. It’s not the most exciting bike course I’ve done and it was a course that easily exposed weaknesses. Tail wind all the way out but conscious of still having to push hard. Once at Reporoa head back to Taupo with 40km strong head wind and uphill gentle climbs. The main aim here was patience and to just hold the numbers on the race plan. By lap two I found myself in 2nd place in my age group, but still with a lot of work to do to get first place. There’s not really much more to say about the bike and I’m not sure where those 5 and a half hours went. The last 40km into Taupo really hit the legs but everyone else was in the same position so it was mind over matter at that point.
Into transition I found myself up there with a few pro females whom had set off 15mins ahead of me, seeing them was a little boost and knowing I was only 4mins behind the lead age grouper I set off on the marathon, three laps following the lake front and back (undulating…well, a few slight bumps). Again, the word of the day for me was ‘patience’ something of which I’m not sure I fully understand the meaning off, but I stuck with the plan and held off going out too soon. The support on the course was amazing and just the boost I needed. Everything was going to plan on the first and second lap, but coming into the third lap and knowing that the lead age group was pulling away from me, the battle kicked in, physically and mentally. Being the stubborn, determined person that I am, I got on with it but saw the pace slipping away, it was now damage limitation- just finish. The support from my friends and club members at Triathlon Tauranga got me round and I crossed the line somewhat disheartened (as you can see from the photos).
Hands down- the hardest race to date. It was hard out from the start, an unforgiving course in somewhat less than ideal conditions…probably just like racing at home in the Yorkshire Dales, it took true grit.
9th Female overall and a time that contends with some of the pro females. Yes, I’m happy- I think. Gutted to miss out on Kona, but lots to work on and more race experience to be gained. Huge congrats to the age group winner, she stormed it; alongside everyone else that crossed the finish line on a tough day.
I want to say a huge thank you to Colin at Raceskin, Mark Turner at EdcoWheels UK, Laura Sloman at Threo, Gareth Richardson at KiwiMultisport for believing in me and to everyone that cheered me along on the day.
But most of all to Philip Hatzis, my coach at Tri Training Harder. Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Next in line for me is another race to attempt Kona qualification and back to the drawing board to iron out those weaknesses. Excited and motivated!
Ali Wilson – Triathlete
Love life, my family and my bike. I'm blessed because my hobbies and passion for sports (in particular triathlon & cycling) is also my business. We provide clubs, teams and companies with the ultimate custom triathlon, run and cycling clothing.