Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to find the words that our team actually deserve after the day they had in Oklahoma!
The results were amazing, the conditions brutal and the toughness shown by the 5 others that I am lucky enough to coach was unbelievable!
As the day broke they were greeted with a day that the race organisers had never seen over the previous 11 years of the race – Windy & HOT!! Windy is normal in Oklahoma, but 34c at the end of September definitely is not!
Due to the temperature the fresh water swim was deemed non-wetsuit. Combine that with the 30+ km/h winds and there were 100’s of very concerned people before the race who were facing the 4km Swim.
And how was the swim? Tough. Really tough. The toughest swim I’ve done by a long way! And this is coming from someone who is normally in the top 5 or 10 swimmers in my age-group over most distances.
As the gun went off it was instantly noticeable that the strong swimmers would have a big advantage onto the bike. A couple of missing swim buoys and a course that ended up rather long and a HUGE tailwind for the first 40km of the bike wasn’t going to help! All of the team made the cut-off (there was a lot of people who didn’t even finish the swim), in the washing machine-like conditions and all swimming under 2-hours.
If I was giving points for effort here, I thing Troy would be the winner with a cracking swim in the conditions in a leg that is far from his favourite or strength!
Heading into T-1, Jodie’s day took a twist, with someone deciding that they liked 1 of her running shoes more than she did, and borrowed it (well stole it is the correct term really). Yes, you read that correctly, took one of her shoes from transition!! Luckily her Husband and Dad were there and with the help of the event staff, they went and bought a couple of pairs, so when she returned from the bike she could pick and choose a new pair! Not ideal!
The first quarter of the ride was proper fast with a couple of the team heading out at just under 40km/hr with not a hard effort, but what goes out, mu
st come back and this was where the moves started in the field. Those strong cyclists and those mentally prepared to deal with it were rewarded with big leaps up the field, and also where plenty of people cooked themselves too!
The course was described as fast and rolling and that’s exactly what it was, plus plenty of cracks in the road thanks to Oklahoma’s average of nearly 5 earthquakes a day…….Thank you Fracing….
Jodie’s day didn’t get any easier here with a flat tyre mid-ride adding to the challenge of a missing shoe! Sherry posted the fastest bike split in her age group, riding an impressive 3:52 for the 120km to put herself well into contention as she headed back into town! Dwayne & Koach rode within 28secs of each other to both be in the top 10 off the bike, Troy was happy not to get chicked by the flying Rooster with a 3:48, Jodie’s 4:16 including the flat shows her bike is on the up, and Sue’s 5th fastest age group ride of 4:15 proves once again she is one tough cookie who is only 12 months into the sport!!
Although the run was flat, it was a complete sufferfest! Hot, windy & no shade saw most people walking the aid stations and for those who the tough swim & bike had taken there toll on, there was just a lot of walking!
The run in a triathlon is where it is won or lost. Sometimes just getting to the finish is a win! Non of of our team were immune from the challenges that can happen in long course races – Stomach issues, cramps, heat, fatigue all had a good crack at slowing them down, but this is why I am so honoured to have played a small part of this journey with them!
Not one of them gave up or gave in. I saw the looks on all of their faces, and there weren’t too many smiles. There was pain, there was “WTF do I do this for?”, there was just sheer exhaustion. But they kept finding a way to keep on keeping on. In these conditions, it is so easy to pack it in and pull out (Nearly a third of the field didn’t finish this race), it’s just easier than the suffering you go through for 2, 3, 4 hours. But I think deep down this moment drives us all, wondering what we will do when it happens, when you face both your own demons and the external forces driving you to quit and just throw in the towel.
I was never happier to see a finish line! And I wasn’t alone! As I watched each of them finish – Dwayne 8th, Troy 13th, Sherry 4th, Jodie 10th and Sue in 5th place – you could see both pain, relief and then satisfaction knowing that they left it all out there and gave it there all!
Our results that day were amazing. Although there may not have been any podiums it was such a massive performance from a small group of athletes, who are all from the same small town. When you consider that our worst place was 13th (in one of the toughest age groups M35-39) it shows that on the tough days, those that work hard and are prepared, get the results they deserve!!
I’ve never been prouder.
Kephren Izzard – 4th M35-39
Sherry Ey – 4th F45-49
Sue Phillips – 5th F50-55
Dwayne Mckay – 8th M35-39
Jodie Brighton – 1oth F30-34
Troy Austin – 13th M35-39