With a 4:30 a.m. wake up time I felt pretty good and it looked like it was going to be a nice hot day with light winds. Exactly the conditions I had hoped for. The pro men got under way at 6:30 a.m. With a strong field of swimmers, I decided to conserve energy and not contest for the swim prime. We broke the swim record, swimming a super-fast 24 minutes. Coming into transition, I realized there were 13 guys in the lead swim pack.
I felt lethal on the bike and decided to put the pedal to the metal in the first few miles and drop as many wheel suckers as I could. This worked pretty well as I flew through ‘hot corner’ and out of town, narrowing the lead group down from 13 to 7 people. “The Beast” was hotly contested because of the bike prime at the top of the climb. I thought I had it until Igor decided to have a little run in with me near the top, so Richie was first to the top. Descending down “The Beast”, we nearly lost two more of the riders as I witnessed some great bike handling skills with Stuart Hayes not making the sharp left hand turn and going straight into the fence and over the handle bars, along with Tim O’Donnell nearly getting caught up in the action.
With 10 miles to go on the bike, I decided to put the hammer down again to try and get away on the bike. I was first off the bike but closely following me was Dirk and Igor, we had managed to open up a one-minute gap on the rest of the field. I left transition in second position due to putting socks on for the run. I started at a nice pace but Dirk and Igor flew for the first few miles. I knew that it was going to get harder and hotter as the run went on. Around the back of the Bucanneer Hotel, my right quad muscle started to cramp badly and I was just trying to hold my fifth position. In the second lap, I could see I was gaining time on Dirk but when I tried to push harder my leg would cramp a little more. I was happy with my solid 1:23 half-marathon and I am pleased with my start to the race season and being injury free in comparison to last year.
Results – Top 10 men
1. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 4:02:36
2. Igor Amorelli (BRA) 4:03:38
3. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 4:05:45
4. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 4:07:07
5. Bryan Rhodes (NZL) 4:08:20
6. Stuart Hayes (GBR) 4:11:11
7. Alessandro Degaspari (ITA) 4:13:38
8. Michael Lovato (USA) 4:14:07
9. Wolfgang Guembel (CAN) 4:16:34
10. Ted As (SWE) 4:19:39