IM 70.3 Cairns – Aaron ‘Aaronman’ Hewitt

Can a race report be too long? I don’t believe it can.  Team member and fast guy Aaron Hewitt shares his report from the 70.3 at Cairns.

You can also check out his page on Facebook

The last four weeks of the my training block was severely interrupted with a massive work load and my ability to have any consistency limited. I arrived in Cairns the Thursday before the race off the back of a less than ideal training block and questioning the form I was in. Adding to the self doubt the weather wasn’t looking promising either with predictions of strong winds and rain. Far North Queensland wasn’t looking like or feeling like paradise.

With having so little control over so many things leading into the race, I decided to try and focus on controlling as much as possible, including hydration, nutrition and sleep and try and ease the self doubt and have a good race. In step the Triathlon Gods with a more than playful mood to throw every possible curve-ball at me.

Curve-ball one was thrown as soon as I arrived to Cairns. I thought it would be best to build my bike and un-pack to settle in as quickly as possible, how wrong was I. This was the first time I have travelled with this bike and I made some rookie errors in packing, leaving bolts loose not unplugging cables, this made for a stressful rebuild. At one stage I had to MacGyver the seat-post clamp out of the frame with a coat-hanger. I eventually won the battle.

Curve-ball two wasn’t thrown until the day before the race but it was probably the best one. To paint the picture, the event course involved the swim and transition one being in Palm Cove 25 kilometres north of Cairns where transition 2 and the finish was. Needing to spin the legs out I decided it would be a good idea to casually ride up to Palm Cove to rack my bike overnight and catch the shuttle bus back, simple. I had just rolled out from the hotel bound for Palm Cove when I heard the sound no triathlete wants to hear, a tyre exploding. In a stressful panic I changed wheels (an example of my over preparedness), raced to the nearest bike stores and begged and pleaded for the mechanic to save my race and glue a new tyre on. A massive thanks to Trinity Cycles. I eventually made it to Palm Cove racked my bike and made it back to Cairns with enough time to relax before having an early night.

Finally it’s race morning!

3:10am ALARM, and with it comes the usual self cursing, why do I do this stupid sport why didn’t I race yesterday, I cant believe I paid for this. Then the very small rational thinking side of my brain kicks in: Remember you love this sport, remember to control the things you can, have fun, relax. by about 3:20am I am race mode, and nutrition and hydration is my first step to charging through the forthcoming race.

4:00am I am on one of the first shuttle buses bound for Palm Cove. 45 minutes later we arrive to a cool but firm breeze and light rain
5:00am Transition open and this is where reality hits you, 1000 plus athletes roll in to prepare their war horses for battle. A quick wheel change, the days hydration and nutrition is put on the bike and I am ready to head towards the swim start.
6:30am The professionals are off and the day is ready to start for the rest of us. A final few words from my coach and a warm up swim before we are corralled into the starting gates.
6:45am I am running across the timing mat and into the water. This year event organisers decided on a rolling start based on an honesty system and expected swim finish time, this did allow the ability to swim swim very little traffic and I could settle into a rhythm early but I do like the chaos of a mass start where arms and legs go everywhere and looks like piranha’s in a feeding frenzy. The conditions were pretty rough with plenty of choppy swell.

After what felt like a pretty average swim I looked at my watch and saw that the time just snuck under my upper limit. A fairly long run up the beach and into transition to find my bike, doing the usual but highly entertaining art of removing a wetsuit on the move. I arrive at my bike, remove the rest of the wetsuit, put my helmet on, grabbed my bike and took off towards the mount line.

Aaron with Jo 'the Stalker' at the finish

Aaron with Jo ‘the Stalker’ at the finish

Out on the bike I soon realised how windy it was, for now it was behind me. The most scenic part of the course is the 30 kilometres north around the headlands to just short of Port Douglass. During this part of the bike course I was battling with myself and my coaches orders, knowing I had a 60 kilometre return trip to Cairns into a headwind I decided to conserve a little early to help me later on the bike. Hitting the turn around point, nailing my my nutrition I felt pretty good. The group that I was in then just splintered on the hills and wind and I managed to take off in pursuit of a reasonable bike time. My decision to conserve early on the bike paid dividends as I passed so many people heading back to Cairns. With about 10km to go on the bike the heavens opened up and it rained very heavily, this was a welcome relief to the earlier sun and humidity.

A quick, wet final kilometre passing the growing crowd I was off the bike and the running shoes where on.Not feeling great I ran out at a pretty solid pace for the first few kilometres, this was to hopefully run myself into some form or it meant I would be closer to the finish line in case things got worse. A surprise verbal attack from my stealthy coach, who was cruising around the course on an electric bike, I suddenly found some comfort in running even though my pace was now slipping to behind race target. Falling to bits in the last 5 or 6 kilometres it was a matter of digging deeper to try and minimise any further losses in placings or time. Finally I turned onto the red carpet, pretty much spent, I crossed the finish line.

Race specifics

Swim: 28:37
Bike: 2:27:05
Run: 1:30:52
Overall: 4:31:40

10th out of 133 finishers in my age-group
37th out of 1157 finishers in the race

What have I taken away from this race:

1 – I would be a very handy Professional Female Triathlete, could have claimed another podium!
2 – I am still getting chicked – ok yes they are professionals
3 – Consistent training helps
4 – Cairns isn’t always paradise
5 – Schnitzel and beer are the best for post race recovery
6 – Austria is closer than it should be but have amazing schnitzels and beer