An annual event in Golden Bay where we have our cottage, I’ve never been around when the Tinbum triathlon race was held. This year the stars lined up for me this year so I was able to participate. It was also the first day of my taper towards Ironman Australia so what better way to start but with a small, local race. Small and local yes, but like all other triathlons in the area very competitive … for some.
This was not your normal triathlon. It was a sort of sprint distance with a 300 m swim, 8 km bike ride and 3.5 km run. I told my wife Lis that with transitions it would take me about 50 minutes so it was quite the contrast to my 13 h Ironman races. I had been told about the bike route—some serious off roading—so it was not suitable for my triathlon bike. I dusted off my 20 year old 18 speed mountain bike at the cottage the night before and checked the brakes: I would need them.
The race started and finished in the local camp ground by the beach. The transition area was as relaxed as the race. You just put your bikes on the ground, against the fence, anywhere you wanted. There were a lot of teams and young people in their teens doing the race—a real family event.
After a race briefing, which emphasised the importance of not underestimating the dangers of the ride and potential for injury on the downhill sections, we went down to the beach for the start. It was a fine morning, ideal for racing.
The individuals lined up on the beach, to be followed in 10 minutes by the teams. At the sound of the horn we were off into the cold waters of Golden Bay. It was very shallow—you could walk out to the buoy—and, in spite of the small numbers, there was the usual melee as we rounded the buoy. I went out too fast as I always do and it was only about half way through the swim that I got into my rhythm.
I came out of the water after the lengthy swim of 7:31 and crossed the beach into transition. Unfortunately, there was tree root well obscured which I hit at full speed in the arch of my foot which hurt to no end, and will be bruised for a while. Bother.
My wife Lis joined me in transition where our friend Anke got the action photo below. Good news: there were still a lot of bikes in transition which meant I was not too far off pace! It was then out the gate and onto the road for the 8 km bike.
After 500 m adjacent to the beach, where I passed the woman who came out of the water ahead of me, we turned and started climbing up to the hills behind Pohara. I passed three more people on the steep climb as I went flat out. After all, it would only be a 20 minute ride so what the heck. Soon the road turned to gravel and then we entered the nasty bit: the former Golden Bay Cement factory works. The warnings were not hyperbole and it is a good thing that I had a robust bike: it would have broken my road bike.
The ‘road’, as such, was large gravel, and often ceased to exist when we entered areas of the quarry where there was just fist sized chunks of stone strewn about. It was horrible. My bike didn’t have front shocks and so I felt every stone on the road, and my wrist was hurting from the bouncing of my watch. I kept on telling myself to take it easy as I didn’t want to crash in a silly local race two weeks before Ironman Australia. I was passed by one young fellow—no fear (or brains)—but was very thankful to exit the quarry onto the road again without crashing. I passed the youngster (after enjoying a bit of a pull in his draft) and was again in transition.
I chucked down my bike and helmet and ran out in a record transition time of 20 seconds. Helped that I didn’t have to change shoes. As I passed Lis she called out ‘glad you are taking the race easy’ and was then onto the beach for the run.
With four knee operations behind me I don’t like beach running. We had about 1.8 km along the beach and then 1.6 km on a hard packed gravel path back to the finish. I saw a woman in front of me by about 150 metres and another fellow about 500 m away. I ran the woman down and then concentrated on trying to catch the fellow.
At the turnaround I had the distance down to about 150 m when I saw that it was Nigel, the local who runs the Golden Bay Kayak company. Blast. He was in my age group and I didn’t think I would be able to catch him before the end, but I would try! I was glad to get onto the gravel path and I then went flat out to catch Nigel. As we entered the camp I had the distance down to about 30 metres and eventually passed him. I wasn’t sure if he had any kick in him, I knew that I sure didn’t, but kept up my run, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t going to catch me. He didn’t and I was very thankful to cross the line.
I was third overall at 47:17 and first in my age group. The first two were teenagers with incredible times—the finished some 4 minutes ahead of me. Hard work but it was worth it. We watched some other finishers, it was great to see all the young teenagers racing, and then I headed back to our cottage for a shower while the ladies used the opportunity to explore the quarry area on foot. It was quite convenient to have a 1 km ride home after the race 🙂
The award ceremony was at the Sands Cafe and it was very well attended. They had an incredible number of spot prizes, a good sign of the local support for the event—which was a fund raiser for the local high school. Lots of beer, wine and honey and I won a shirt from a local winery. I gave this to a Japanese fellow I had met at World Naked Bike Day who was given an award for the toughest competitor. A tourist, he did the ride on a borrowed bike which broke in the quarry. He took the bike and ran with it. When there was a loop, he left the bike with the marshalls and then ran the loop, eventually running all the way back to the transition area. They had an engraved trophy but it was only a loaner and had to be returned. At least the shirt would remind him of the day.
And for me? I got the fancy trophy below which will sit with pride in our cottage until at least this time next year. Hopefully longer. (BTW: The picture to the left is the front yard of our cottage and the bike I rode).