By Bertrand Bridesmaid
The illusive January 2022 Kingscliff Triathlon (aka the November 2021 Kingy Tri, aka March 2021 Kingy Tri) finally happened!
Everyone was bracing themselves for the forecast rain and the usual windy ride leg but we were blessed (now that’s a Byron word, if ever there was one) with a still and dry day. The tri-Gods were with us.
Byron Breakers had a fantastic turnout – 15 competitors, the Honourable President herself, the Chairman of the Very Special Supporters Club and 3 fellow supporters. The competitors included Charlie in his first triathlon, Joni in his first triathlon for N years (where N is a large number) and Gracie in only her second triathlon. And good to see Mark representing his northern team again and Nick A taking time away from serving his delicious South American cuisine. New member, Zvi, was supposed to be competing in the Olympic distance race but unfortunately caught “the virus which should not be named”.
As usual, some of the team had challenges heading into the race.
Worryingly, Robyn’s son, Scott stepped on a snake and was bitten as he was leaving Robyn’s house the night before the race. After administering first aid and getting him off to hospital, Robyn eventually made it to bed at 11pm….not the best preparation for the 4am wake-up the next day. But Robyn is being trained by Coach “hard-arse” Paivi for the Tweed Enduro and has had to endure some punishing training sessions, so bugger-all sleep was not going to deter this athlete.
A snake bite is one thing, but the fear of your tri suit literally splitting apart at the seams during the race is a level above. Joni hadn’t competed in a tri for a good few years but courageously decided to compete in the Kingy, having done little training and wearing a tri suit last worn by his grandfather in the 1957 Helsinki triathlon (that he won, btw). Many of us were torn by our emotions. On the one hand we would have felt very bad for Joni had the suit “popped-apart”, revealing body parts that are generally not seen during a triathlon. On the other hand, wow – imagine the photos and hilarity of seeing a grown man striding to the finish line with his hands cupped over his crouch (Paivi has told me he would definitely need both hands!)
And so to the race…
The tiny kids and the temptas were first off. This was an excellent decision by the organisers as the incoming tide was at its strongest and therefore was a great demonstration for the sprinters and olympians of the challenges ahead. Everyone loves a good guinea-pig. Despite this, one poor bugger misjudged the tide and was swept passed the first buoy. He tried to swim back around the buoy but was not a strong swimmer and was not going anywhere quickly. Thankfully, the organisers listened to the unified singing by the spectators of the 2019 song by Jung, “Let Him Go”, and allowed him to continue on his merry way.
The first wave in the sprint race was the oldies men (aka 50+) – which included Greg, Charlie, Mark and Huw. The water temperature was perfect. The swim was upstream and fast, as there was still an incoming tide, and didn’t feel like 750m (did anyone measure it?) but then we had to run back to transition. Some competitors jogged back in bare feet and others with delicate British-born feet (i.e. Huw) decided to leave runners at the swim exit.
Then it was into transition, the usual frantic switch into bike mode and off on the 20km cycle course. Luckily, and unusually, there was little wind to contend with, although there were some very enthusiastic referees on motorbikes who penalised a few people for drafting.
Pacing yourself on the bike is always tough as you need to go hard enough but not too hard that you have nothing left for the run. Luckily the run course is relatively flat with just a few undulations along the river path – and it’s an out-and-back course so it’s reasonably easy to pace yourself. Despite this, the extra section along the break-wall before heading to the finish line always seems a lot longer than expected, even for the people who have competed at Kingy a few times. On the positive side it does give you the last chance to suss out where the competition is (in front and behind you) as you make the turnaround at the end.
As we headed into the final stretch it was great to see a good turnout of spectators along the finish line, which is always encouragement to try to look less knackered than you feel and put on a smile, despite the pain.
Post-race chit-chat in transition is by far the best part of the race. A lot of slapping of backs and knuckle-handshakes. Lot’s of “what was your time” and “how did you do”….here are the highlights…..
One of the most memorable moments was Greg who, having spied a 20-year-old man-boy just ahead of him with 150m to go to the finish line, decided to give him a run for his money. Greg entered stealth-mode and, remembering all of Coach Paivi’s running tips, soon caught up with just 50m to go. The man-boy realised too late that he was being passed, not just by any athlete, but by a grey one. He wasn’t having any of that and quickened his pace only to see the Gregster go into full sprint-mode. The hammies were screaming but they crossed the line together and the spectators cheered. The man-boy was heard to utter “WTF” and whilst Greg couldn’t speak for a few minutes, he had a big grin on his face.
Charlie was hoping to break 1hr 30min in his first triathlon and had an amazing race with early results showing he had finished in a cracking 1hr 20mins. Now Charlie has a habit of getting a bit lost on training runs, or at the very least going the wrong direction for a time. And it soon became apparent that Kingy was no exception. When the full results came through it was apparent that he had got totally lost and come third in the 30-34 female category. I’m guessing it was his flowing locks and smooth skin that confused the organisers. Not only that, he’d swum an astonishingly fast 7:32 for 750m (that’s 1 min/100m and not far off Kieren Perkin’s lap time for his fastest 1500m). Having convinced the organisers that he is indeed a 59 year old man, and not a 30-something year old female Olympic gold medallist, his start time was corrected. Despite that, Charlie still came in well under his 1hr 30min target in his first triathlon – well done Charlie!
And the things that didn’t happen
Joni’s timing chip didn’t work but very disappointingly for the spectators, Joni’s grandfather’s tri suit did (you’ll just have to use your imagination of what could have been).
Paivi for once did not come out of the river with blood pouring down her leg from oyster shell cuts and did not catch Huw on the course.
Youngish Jess (our club member from across the border) said she was coming to support, but the great surf was too much of a draw-card. Becky and Huw will have a stern chat with her when they catch up with her in Burleigh in a few days.
Claire’s spanking new tri suit will not be making another appearance. Despite supporting her to a podium finish, the suit decided to also give her a nice zipper-rub throughout the race. Not so bad in a sprint – bloody awful in a 70.3
Leonie did not chuck her guts (but apparently it was a close thing). She is a long-course specialist and the full-throttle nature of the sprint distance took her body by surprise. Despite that, she still came 1st in her highly-competitive age category. Reckon you should definitely focus on sprints, Leonie - for the club points of course!
Thankfully Robyn’s son did not turn into Lord Voldemort and was discharged from hospital the next day.
As the Breakers were coming across the line, it was looking like a good race for the club, with everyone finishing in less than 1hr 30mins – a fantastic achievement.
Will “come on, Jaime, give me a chance” Gleeson finished in a PB for the Kingy and Nick E’s times are improving with every race – he’ll soon catch up with the old-man.
Special mentions should go to Jaime, Paivi, Leonie and Sandra for coming first in their age categories: Jaime for is blistering 18:07 for the 5km run leg and coming 6th overall: Paivi for another great time and being the 7th fastest female on the day: Leonie for her 4:30min/km pace in the run leg (are you sure you shouldn’t do more sprints?): And Sandra for yet again frightening off all the competition in her age group (one person did not get the memo this time and turned up).
The results in time order were:
Jaime- 1st in 35-39M - 1:01:50
Paivi – 1st in 35-39F - 1:07:57
Huw – 3rd in 55-59M - 1:09:58
Will – 7th in 35-39M - 1:12:29
Nick E – 8th in 35-39M – 1:14:28
Mark – 8th in 50-54M – 1:15:47
Leonie – 1st in 60-64F – 1:16:44
Nick A – 11th in 30-34M – 1:18:32
Robyn – 5th in 60-64F – 1:20:22
Sandra – 1st in 65-69F – 1:22:56
Gracie – 7th in 20-24F – 1:25:05
Claire – 3rd in 55-59F – 1:25:56
Charlie – 3rd in 30-34F and 12th in 50-54M – 1:26:33
Greg – 11th in 55-59M – 1:27:42
Joni – TBA
The next race is the lovely Trial Bay Triathlon at South West Rocks in just a couple of weeks. Go the Breakers!