Leading into the race I was pretty confident that the heat wasn’t going to get to me this time and heading out for the odd pre race sessions felt good so I was all amped to get to the start line. I thought the main factor was going to be the road surface conditions as the tsunami that hit the island in December destroyed a vast majority of the roads and it has taken a lot of work to get them reinstated in places. I was pretty sure that I would flat or get a mechanical at some point so factored that in to my race prep – getting to the end of the bike without any hiccups was going to be goal number one!
The swim went well I managed to get a little bit of a lead on the rest of the field, probably not my fastest swim but it was going to be a long tough day so it didn’t worry me to much.
Out onto the bike I was straight into the fluids. The first 20km was on smoother roads as opposed to the final 70km out of town so it was probably a lucky choice to get through my first bottle as it didn’t take long before the rest went flying. It’s always good to have a plan ‘b’ so the handful of gels I taped to my bike meant I could get nearly enough calories that I needed. Hitting the turn around still in the lead I started the clock to see what gap I had, I thought at a couple of minutes oh this is good, then it got out to 5 or 6 and I started worrying that I’d gone the wrong way somewhere. A couple minutes further down the road I saw the first Pro female Sam Warriner, Sam passed leading the woman’s field and second over all! I could only speculate that Cameron and Tim my main threats had flats or something major happen and it wasn’t till I got back to transition that I got word that Tim had suffered a mechanical and was on the back of a Ute somewhere and Cam has suffered not two but THREE punctures and was now 40mins away from transition, so it seemed luck and the big man upstairs was on my side this day.
Rough roads aside this bike ride is by far the best ride I have every experienced in any triathlon around the world. Every village we passed on the 35km out and back section represented a different country, the villages were alive, the locals were dressed up and everyone of them out on the road side in support, there were road paintings, flags, drums, kids screaming, dogs casing you, even pigs crossing the roads. What an experience, it was hard to stay focused on riding hard and watching the road while smiling and acknowledging everyone but it was so amazing to be apart of.
Heading out onto the run I had a pretty sizable lead before the next male and with Sam and Gina flying in 2nd and 3rd overall it was more about not getting “chicked” and just playing things safe and taking my time. Well I wouldn’t say I over came the heat; it still had the better of me during the run. The temperature hitting 32 turned my easy slow jog at the start into a very slow slog to each aid station to stock up on water and ice just to reach the finish. Well I did that and made the finish in first and what a relief that was!!
So for the inaugural event the team did a great job, its hard work putting on an event but to see the support from everyone was amazing. Yep there are things that need ironing out and the roads are pretty hard work but being aware of that and considering the uniqueness of this event and the atmosphere on the course the pros far outweighs the cons. I had an awesome time in Samoa and hope to make it back next year!