Cozumel Crescendo

It was all the way back in 2004 when I pulled on a green and gold race suit for the first time. It was ill-fitting, I had to get the parent of a another athlete on the team to run some stiches underneath the arms to it would fit me properly. It was in Maderia, Portugal, my first Australian team on the junior squad. I was a bit disappointed with my 10th, as I’d wanted to challenge for the podium. I swapped the suit with a competitor from another country after the race. Kind of wish I didn’t now. I’ve probably had at least 50 race suits over the years, but that one would have been nice to keep.


On the weekend in Cozumel, I received my last ITU green and gold suit. I think I’ll hang on to this one. I’d decided for a while that this year would be my last year racing on the ITU circuit. Having gone through the injury patches over the last few years, which have been rehashed ad nauseam on this blog from time to time, it gave me great satisfaction to be able to finish on my own terms and take the opportunity to savour my last outing for the ITU elite team that I’ve been part of for so long. I got an overwhelming amount of messages both leading up to, and after the race. As someone who in the past has always set quite high standards for myself, I’d always look ahead to my next goal, wanting and expecting more things from myself, I guess there’s been times I’ve been quite dismissive my achievements and representations over the years. To get so many nice words really meant a lot and will make me reflect back with more pride. 

From here, I won’t be toeing too many more ITU pontoons, instead I’ll be sticking my nose into the wind a little more, and seeing how my game transfers to the non-drafting circuit. I’ll keep you posted on those developments later, but in the meantime, just how did Cozumel pan out?

It was hot. Hotter than a Porsche in Inala. If you don’t know the suburb of Inala, rest assured, that means it was more than hot enough for Snoop Dog to drop it. It was hot, but what made it brutal was the humidity. I’m used to pretty hot and humid conditions in Brisbane, but things were next level in Cozumel. It was a rude shock to arrive from the icy conditions of Edmonton, only to be punched in the face with all the heat of a fistful of Mexican habaneros. 

 

Additionally, amid some mild peer pressure from the team, I took the opportunity to try to appease the Mexican gods of weather by paying homage to the host country by sporting an outrageous, filthy Mexican handlebar moe for the race. Whilst it did little to quell the meteorological conditions, it did garner me some additional support from the locals, with one band of spectators yelling out ‘el moustachio!!!’ every lap. The aerodynamics tested very well, the aesthetics… not so much…

I swam ok, despite losing my cap at about the 200m mark and spending the rest of the swim cursing my lack of haircuts over the last few months. I was out at the front of the second chase pack, and I felt pretty good on the bike, although there was a distinct lack of willing punters willing to chew the stem. Or even remotely nibble at the stem for that matter. Consequently, we rolled into T2 with a decent deficit to the 9-man group up front. With the conditions still oppressive, it was a blood bath out there for everyone. My run was ok, everyone seemed to be in survival mode, in what easily the hottest race I’ve ever done, see the Brownlee’s antics as Exhibit A. 

I finished up 22nd, not my best race ever, but definitely a race I will remember fondly. It was very satisfying to have finished my ITU career on my terms, and I really relished my last race with all my friends from the ITU world. Thanks to all who made my journey in that domain special. 

From here, my next race will be on the hallowed turf at Noosa. Meanwhile, I’m on a plane back to Brisbane, and I’ve got a TT bike to jump on, a thesis to write, and most importantly of all, a beautiful girlfriend to see! Can’t wait!

Take care friends, 

Willy

Pics: Delly Carr