David Deakin’s Race Report from Ironman 70.3 Melbourne

I couldn’t have had a better or harder return to Triathlon, post Covid, than what transpired in 2022. I changed coaches and my performances have gone from mediocre to getting close to the pointy end of the age group. Going from 4:45’s pre covid, 5:15’s post, down to the 4:20’s and 4:30’s across a period of 8 months. This of course comes at a cost of time, perseverance and money, but its worth it.

My coach Tim Ballentine, who is a 8 x age-group 70.3 champion, and I decided after Ironman 70.3 Melbourne, that I would have some time off my legs. So as I sit here consuming chocolate biscuits and popcorn, I have some time to write about what turned out to be a stunning race down at St Kilda beach.

Personal race overview

I came across the line 13th in my age group, with a time of 4:37:16. This was a bit disappointing coming off a 4:26 a couple of months back at Sunshine Coast. My training preparation going into the race was hard but very high quality. I maintained an average 932 TSS for the key 12 week training block which was evenly split across a 18 hour week average.

My swim was solid at 30 minutes and I came off the bike 7th with a 2:19 bike. This is where it all started to fall to bits.

Being the old fella, I came down with a calve injury trying to out pace the kids at track. So my running was underdone and my new carbohydrate loading regime didn’t sit well. I ended up feeling very bloated for the race, all of which affected my run. Coming in at 1:40 with an aim of being 1:25 – 1:30, all up, still a great race but the figures weren’t there on the day.

Its raining cats and dogs and faecal matter on the swim course

As Australia’s east coast experiences its heaviest rainfall in 50 years, Melbourne has had a very wet start to summer. For the non locals, most of our beaches have been closed for months. Understandably, there was a lot of chatter on the socials that the swim was going to be off. My coach and I started prepping for a duathlon.

On the Saturday morning, much to everyones surprise, Ironman announced that the swim would be on. Ironman did independent testing and deemed the water swimmable against the World Triathlon guidelines.

Who is more trusting?

So, as we strolled down to the start line past the EPA signs warning us of faecal matter in the water, most of the athletes were understandably jittery.

None of the jitters were warranted though, as once again Melbourne put on a hell of show. I’ve race four 70.3’s this year, and I’m starting to think Ironman has access to a weather making machine. Melbourne had been blowing a gale and raining non-stop for weeks up to the race.

Mysteriously on race morning the wind simply turned off as did the rain. Magnificent.

The Swim Itself

A chilly but manageable 18 degrees caused a bit of a chill at the start but as the washing machine fired up, you quickly didn’t notice.

The water was noticeably dirty, with a strangely familiar, but not pleasant smell. Erasing this thought from my mind wasn’t helped when I was hit in the head by a box of children’s wet wipes out in the middle of the ocean. Another reason to recycle people! So suffice to say, we all swam fast, mouths closed to get to T1 as quick as possible.

T1

T1 in Melbourne feels like a dualthon anyway. The 500 meter run out of the ocean onto a driveway seems to take an ages and is pretty taxing on the feet. But this is Ironman, so you just get on with it.

Transitions were well managed as usual, although they felt quite compacted compared to other races on the calendar. After taking my usual time for tea, biscuits and a small chat, I dawdled my way out on the bike.

bike courses

The bike course is a two lap out and back from St Kilda to Mordiallic and back. Its usually a fast course with a couple of small bumps on the way out and back in. With the lack of wind, this course was fast. I averaged 40km/h without a strained effort, but as any Melbourne local knows, its always blowing a gail on Beach Road – certainly an anomaly.

I have to give a big shout out to the marshals here. Coming of the back on Sunshine Coast where there were several packs drafting, the Marsheals were right on it here. They spaced people out and from what I heard post-race, issuing cards and DQ’s. I don’t know what happened later on in the day, but a big shout out to Ironman for managing the starting groups.

T2

T2 is a much shorter transition. I only had time for me to grab a quick coffee and read a small book. Yet I was out with a Transition PB (its now a thing) and onto the run.

run

The run is a out and back again consisting of 2 laps – out to Brighton and back. It’s very flat and well supported. There are people cheering every step of the way, so its a great spot of athletes and spectators alike.

I managed to help drop my nutrition on the way out, but the well stocked aid stations got me back and running. I now have a new appreciation for the Maurten Caffeine gels.

Running well at 4:20 pace, I was on for a PB, but unfortunately, I couldn’t hold on and dropped back to 4:40 pace. As the heat picked up (27 max on the day) I started making excuses. I started walking aid stations, grabbing ice, loo breaks etc.

I noticed that the heat was starting to break people down after the chilly start, so its a factor if your thinking of racing.

The Melbourne wind started to kick in on the last lap of the run, which made me feel for those still out on the bike. I trotted home and started looking forward to a well earned sit down and potential trip to the doctors after the swim. 😊

All up, Melbourne, is a fast, fun and well put together race. I can see myself doing well into the future and if your wondering, I did get a bit of a sore throat post swim, but nothing more. I’ll take that one.

Stay tuned for my race report from the Inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Tasmania!!

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