Chris Stevens looks back on Challenge Bateman’s Bay

Thought I’d give this race report thing a crack after doing challange Batemans

As with all triathlon mornings my alarm went off at a ridiculously ungodly hour. The sun hadn’t risen yet but for once, I got up feeling well-rested.

Maybe it was being away from my two kids, or not having to share the bed with my diagonally-sleeping wife, or it was just the severe lack of nightlife in Batemans Bay that had me getting to bed early the night before.

After a quick breakfast I headed down to the race and to set up transition. As I lay my stuff I couldn’t help but notice a shadowy figure lurking off the sides with a familiar face. One look at my Facebook wall and you will see her, appearing on every second post – the renowned ‘stalker of triathlon’. She was totally preoccupied by the pro athletes and their million dollar bikes so I took the opportunity to introduce myself.

I’m not sure if being in the presence of Joanne Baxas put me off my game but by the time I headed down to beach the pros were off and the next wave of competitors were waiting for the starting gun. They all had grey caps. As I looked down at my grey cap, the penny dropped. I’d lost track of time. I sprinted down the beach, barely reaching the last of the field as they set off for the 1.9km swim.

I quickly found my rhythm and settled in to my pace. I came out with a reasonable time but, more importantly, feeling fresh.

Quick transition and I was on the bike. It was now time for the 60km of effort and the ’30km of hell’. For those of you who have never experienced Batemans Bay, the bike leg is a very fast, very flat two lap course… after you have climbed a gigantic hill to get there. For someone who does not a have a climbing bone in my body, it felt as if I was climbing the Alps.

After leaving transition and heading out of town you eventually reach the bottom of the hill. You know you’re there because there is a conveniently-placed church. For those who don’t have a God once you look up at that hill you will be taking any divine intervention you can get to survive that monster.

As a man of faith I was able to continue. My goal for the bike was to stick to my heart rate zone… But like my wedding night my heart rate instantly went through the roof. Unlike my wedding night this did not last 15 seconds but what felt like an eternity.

I made it to the top and promptly set about coming back down the other side. Once I had reached the flat again I hit my rhythm, with a goal to catch the riders who flew past me up the hill. It seemed to me to be the whole field. I wish I could get my splits minus the hills because I felt strong and powerful out there. But to finish the bike leg I needed to face my demon once again. I hope it’s coming across how much I truly hate anything more than the height of a phone book.

One of the things they fail to teach you at school in physical education is that the primary function of a testicle is to produce a chemical called ego. Being male I too suffer from this affliction and see guys literally twice my age and twice my size fly past me it was extremely hard to take… Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was on that hill I learnt I could speak French. Or at least, a colourful interpretation of it. As I passed the church I felt the need to stop for confessional after using those French terms, but I needed to make up time I’d lost.

Returning home to transition and passing Brett Murray cooling his heels in the penalty box I ditched the bike for my trusty runners. It was then that I realised my second big mistake of the day. I had left my socks in my bag, which may not seem like the biggest problem when I was running but the huge blisters on my feet afterwards tend to disagree.

The 21km two-lap run is definitely not a bad one. But unlike the course my run was not pretty. There is a certainly a big difference when it comes to running between the average joes and the professionals. There is me, who looks like a new born giraffe trying to find its feet, compared to sexy gazelles.

IMG_6289That is something to aspire to, if nothing else then to look better for the official photos. I didn’t want to dwell too much on my inadequacies, but rather to survive the run the best I could. Have you ever had that song in your head that you don’t know where it came from and just can’t get it to leave … Well I was stuck with Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘call me maybe’. I’m really not sure what to think of that but it provided me with to disassociate myself from the pain. The other was to spot the fellow #‎maccax‬ members. It was great to cheer on Luke Woods and Brett Murray. Unfortunately the same I don’t think the same can be said for Anne-Louise McLean – I have grave concerns for her. No one in their right mind should be that happy while racing a half ironman distance race. Every time I saw her she had this gigantic smile across her face. She has taken our motto ’embrace the suck’ to a whole new level.

I finally reached the finishing Shute in what I’m calling a respectable time. For me this was a lead-up race for my main goal – IM Cairns. By finishing this race feeling really good, I achieved what I wanted to achieve. I got the confidence boost I needed, but even better, I got race situation training which is so much better then being on the trainer or treadmill. I made mistakes to learn from and got an indication of what I need to work on.

The Batemans Bay experience also reiterated how great Challange events are. The fact you can share the finish with your family means so much because our loved ones are so much part of the journey to any starting line. It’s the little things that Challange do better that sets them apart.

It was also great to meet other #maccax members. Everyone is encouraging and super friendly and we all share the same passion.

I want to finish by saying if you have never done this race then put it on your bucket list. It is such a beautiful place not only to race but for a holiday so I hope to see you all next year.