Grounds were presented in first class condition. Not a ripple, til we entered the pitch.
The game went to plan for the first third. Came out of the water in 1:07 I was confused by the slower time than previous years but realised that the swim was longer, going around into the river to the boat ramp.
First lap on the bike was ideal conditions split in 2:56 started thinking about a sub six hour bike split then Taupo enacted a strategy to wear down any ideas of a course conquering bike split. A strong headwind out bound on the second lap added around twenty five minutes over the outbound on the first lap. But it was still good to know there would be a tailwind back to T2. Serious chaffing in the jock box region that two aid station stops for Vaseline was unable to relieve. Taupo went one up in the middle third.
Started the run with my mantra on repeat. Be Strong. Looking good to get one back with a sub four run. Overtaking heaps of O group competitors but not any of mine (Q). Started to think they had all hidden their calf markings. However, Taupo delivered the killer blow at thirty three km into the run. It went something like this, I was bursting for a leak but the sphincter would not release any.
Me: “c’monnnn let it go, it’s killing my pace”
sphincter: “No way I did NOT sign up for this today”
Kidneys to sphincter: “Dude let it go, we’re swimming back here”
Sphincter: “Sorry dude, I’m on strike until further notice”
Kidneys: “Everybody: we’re shutting down!”
At which point my kidneys start screaming, my fingers were tingling and I could tell I was becoming disorientated. Survival mode kicks in. I reasoned there’s a difference between being tough and being stupid. Time to walk to the next aid station about two km away. At the aid station I attracted the attention of the medical staff. Fearing being stretchered off the pitch, I assured them I was OK to continue, after some salts, electrolyte, oranges (awwww they were good) and a sit down with iced water. My game plan was shot and it was now all about finishing the game in one piece. Death before DNF n all that. I started running again from the aid station, though to the spectators, running might have been a generous description. I happened across a fellow TriTraveler also in distress and tried to help him and me get to the finish line.
The final whistle blew at 12:00:30.
Taupo 3-0 Foz
After three attempts without a favourable result, Taupo is still my favourite destination race in ANZ. How lucky am I to have jagged three great weather years (the headwinds are a given here). In hindsight, I was very dehydrated, but that didn’t seem possible at the time as I thought I was taking plenty of water and electrolyte at each aid station.
This race lesson: Just because you can usually handle hot conditions, don’t take it for granted.