Last Thursday I embarked on a mammoth 20 hour transit to the ever popular tourist destination of Gurye-Gun, South Korea. A natural get away for the locals, I was taken back by the vivid colors of the region. I arrived at 3.30pm Friday just 40 hours from race start. I was quickly out for a run to shake the legs out and then down to the race site for the pro briefing. The race has a split transition and the pros stayed near T1, just 1500m from the swim venue. I'm not going to lie, I turned very ill one time I raced in Asia so I was nervous about what to expect, but there were plenty of western options, the city was tidy and and the swim was fine.
I spent Saturday morning doing the usual pre-race routine, feeling somewhat washed out from the travel. I was still confident everything would be fine because I had a good sleep on Friday night.
We had a banquet at the opening ceremony on Saturday night. Which was lots of fun.There were some interesting speeches from the local delegates I'm not convinced Korean translates perfectly to English, Julia was nearly in tears!. It was then early to bed for race day.
The swim was in a 20 degree freshwater lake. We had clear calm conditions. Our wave was 2 minutes behind the men and was a pontoon start, which brought back a flurry of memories from ITU.
I had a great start and had clear water early but went out way too hard because I felt overwhelmed by the fist turn bouy and lost pace rapidly. I was dropped by Ewa, who had a great swim, but I did manage to slowly edge away from the rest of the field. Remarkably, Ewa actually caught the men's field.
With Ewa up the road having the lads to pace off and Katey and Julia behind me I was on my own to hammer through the 90k. I felt like I was having a good ride but somehow managed to loose 5m to Ewa. I edged further away from Katey and Julia. I was sort of concerned that I had spent a lot of my cookies on the bike chasing on my own but I had no choice.
I guess the run was where the race became exciting for me. No one is going to argue that I wasn't frustrated going into T2. I'm pretty sure I was gumbeling negative dribble as I passed through. I was pretty cut that the gap had grown so large. I decided I had to pull my head in and forget what had happened and step-up to have a good solid run.
I managed to hold a steady pace through the first 5k section which was along a straight flat road that you could not see the end of. I knew this would have a phycological impact on weaker runners so I concentrated on holding good form and a controlled and consistent pace. I noticed I had made some good ground on Ewa by the 5k turn but catching was still going to be a big ask. The return 5k seemed easier with a slight tail wind, slightly shadier, and perhaps slightly down hill.
At the turn for lap two Pricey mentioned the gap was now 3 minutes 30. Now I had a sniff of a chance. I put the hammer down. I knew the next section would break anyone who was "on the tredmill" so to speak, so I pushed hard. By the 15k turn Ewa was probably only 300 meters ahead, I could now see her. I decided to relax for a bit and settled back a little to make sure I had enought to finsish strong. I was still slowly making time on Ewa. The other ANZ girls were kindly giving me splits (thanks lovelies). When I approached Ewa, I could tell she was hurting, so I made a strong pass to ensure there wouldn't be any doubt about the move. Ewa didn't react. I held the surge for about 500m and then settled back to a more reasonable pace. The gap rapidly grew after that.
The event in general
It was great to soak the atmosphere up at the finish. There was so much local support, with 1,000 volunteers out of a local population of 20,000. I've made a bit of a video at the bottom of the page that shows off the scenery, culture and some of the course in this very pretty region of Korea (sorry about the odd size of the video). Consider this event next year if you are keen to see regional Korea, get a touch of local culture and maybe snag a 70.3 World Championships spot.
Thanks again to the Asia Pacific Ironman roadshow team for yet another fabulous event and the logistical support provided. Eddie Kim and Phillip for such a great job looking after us and the other pros for being a particularly lovely bunch.
On a side note, It was awesome to see so many Korean's having a crack at the sport. We will see a stack of Koreans at the Sunny Coast 70.3 World Championships next year as they were all really excited to receive their spots.
Thanks to Charlie Reiwoldt from Flight Centre Active Travel for getting me over there. Scody for the stealth new Optimise Air suit that matches my bike. Endura for always getting the fuel spot on. And the usual suspects for all their support - Brooks, Avanti Plus the Valley, Orca, No More Knots, Reddog Triathlon Training, M5Management, Rudy Project Australia, Profile Design and Aussie Tom.