Gunslingin' in the West...

Retirement. Like a short-sighted clock-maker straining to see if his new masterpiece has been hoisted to the top of the town hall, it can be hard to tell when your time is up. Not so for me, I’m unequivocal with my mindset, and the choice is easy – my clock is at the top of the town hall. More on that later, I’m going to leave that dangling for another post. I won a race on the weekend, my last race, let me spin you a yarn about that first.

Pic: Korupt Vision

Pic: Korupt Vision

Ah Western Sydney. Home of the Penrith Panthers World of Entertainment and Krispy Krème donuts. Does one need any more alluring carrots than those to make the pilgrimage to the Riff? I don’t believe so, but the Asia Pacific Champs gave us something to do in between being entertained at the World and ploughing donuts.

 

Pic: Korupt Vision

Pic: Korupt Vision

It was my last race, and I wanted to win. I really wanted to win. However, being the Asia Pacific Champs had brought many a gunslinger to the West. We had Tim Reed, Michael Raelert, Sam Appleton, Aaron Royle and Braden Currie to name but a few, and by my reckoning those names have got at least 4 World Championship golds, multiple podiums as well as Olympic and Commonwealth Games credentials. There was more threats than from the parent of a child with an untidy room. I’d had a preparation that usually works well for me – long, hard training block, followed by a few hard races to sharpen up, I thought I could do it, but against this quality field, I needed to be smart and make good decisions. Like taking off a jumper with a small neck hole, this was going to be hard to pull off.

Pic: Delly Carr

Pic: Delly Carr

The swim started out well, I slotted into 2nd on Busgy’s (Royle) feet. At around the 500m mark, he dropped me cold, to swim off into the distance by himself, which was unfortunate but not unsurprising. He’s one of the best swimmers in the sport, and the more 70.3’s Bugsy does might make a few more people realise quite how good he is. At that point, I made what turned out to be a good decision. I pretty much stopped chasing Bugsy straight after I got dropped, leaving Appo to come around me and force the pace for the rest of the swim. My theory was that both Appo and Royle were huge threats, but I was happy for Royle to go off the front by himself, as with the quality of the field behind him, it was a super hard way to race. I also wanted Appo to have to swim quite hard, hoping to prevent him from being able to torch me early in the bike as he’d done earlier in the season. As it was, I came out with Appo feeling quiet fresh, with a gap up the road to Bugsy, and a gap behind us to Raelert, Reed, Currie et. al. At this point, I had a brain fart, and forgot to take off my swim skin in T1, and wore it for the whole bike (see first pic). As Korupt Vision put it, ‘kook of the day’! I don’t recommend it. Chafing...

 

Out onto the bike, and I had no interest in trying to catch Bugsy; he was doing it the hard way out the front by himself, and with a big group behind us, I still figured it was going to come together by the run, so the longer Bugsy stayed out by himself, the better for me. I stayed with Appo, who drove it pretty hard to pretty much catch up to Bugsy by the first turn around, where he saw the group behind us and I think made a similar decision to me and took his foot off the gas. As it happened, Jake Montgomery and Raelert bridged up to us, with Monty riding really hard for the next 40 kms or so which took us up to Bugsy and away from the chase pack. After pumping out enough Watts to power a medium sized country town, Monty probably got sick of dragging us around by around the 60km mark, and no-one was willing or able to keep the pace going, and so the chase pack caught us with around 10km go leaving all the big names together and in contention for the run.

 

First thing was first, I finally got out of that bloody swim skin. Happy days. Out on the run, and I had bit of catching up to do out of transition, thanks to my swim skin faux pas, and Braden had made a small gap by the time I’d caught up to Reedy, Appo and Bugsy. I stuck with them for a while to catch my breath and suck down a gel, but at this point, I was feeling pretty good, and having trouble holding back the urge to surge, so at around 5kms in, I let it go and hit the front. I got a gap quickly, and if the Ironman timing splits are to be believed, went through the 10km mark in just under 32 minutes, and was feeling pretty good. From there, I was just hoping I didn’t stuff it up. I managed not to, and took probably the biggest, and last win of my career, which means a hell of a lot. If you might be wondering why finishing on my own terms and on a high means so much, have a read of this post from around a year and half ago. Reedy and Braden had a sprint finish for 2nd. Poor bastards. Horrible way to finish a race, but good lads and happy to see them race well.

 

Pic: Korupt Vision

Pic: Korupt Vision

All in all, I was super pumped. It was my last race in a Maverick suit, and I’m happy to retire a Mav. Thanks to Chris from Maverick and the team of sponsors throughout the year for their support. Was great to have my parents down there for my last race, who have been there the whole journey, and my beautiful fiancé Tash, who has always been there for me during the ups and downs of the last couple of years. Also, another win for the weekend, when we went back to my sisters after the race, my nephew didn’t cry upon the sight of me for the first time, so that’s another win.

 

Stay tuned, I think I’ve got one more post in me in a few days, where I’ll wrap things up and talk about the future. Thanks for all the support and messages I’ve received over the last week or so, it means a lot!

 

Take care friends,

Willy