Forster Long Course Triathlon 2008

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					Forster Long Course Triathlon 2008
By Bruce Rose (Danielle Welsh)

Forster. Underdone, under prepared, unfit, overweight ... whatever you
want to call it, we were scared.

On top of our lack or preparation, this was   Bruce's first long race in
12 years, and Danielle's longest race ever.   It really did seem like a
good idea back a few months to enter a long   and scary race in order to
motivate us back into training.... pity the   motivation (read: fear)
only kicked in 3 weeks ago.

We arrived on Friday morning in Forster for the NSW Long Course
Championships. The weather was magnificent, 26 degrees with a light
onshore breeze. We scored with our hotel - our room overlooked the race
Forget the beautiful view of the beach and frolicking whales, what most
excited us was with our own bathroom 200 metres from race start, there
was no need to brave the portaloos on race day!

It was shaping up to be a fairly tough course. A 2km open ocean swim
and a 15km run course with no shade looked challenging enough, but
having driven over the 60km bike course on Friday our fears went up a
notch. We stopped worrying about the slow country road surface, and
started worrying about disappearing bike and all down a pot hole, never
to be seen again!

Race day arrived, and the support crew were lined up. Who knew Bruce's
family would be so useful? The NSW-based family members arrived armed
with massage table, qualified massage therapists, naturopaths, hand-
painted signs (and some small children to hold them up), cameras and
very loud cheering voices. Danielle was a bit worried that there would
be witnesses to her performance....

Our race plans were very simple, reflecting our fitness levels: take it
easy in the swim and treat it like a tempo session, take it easy on the
bike and then take it easy on the run .... except if we felt good in
the last 5km, then we could try to push it home. How's that for hard-
core, driven, focused athletes???

The morning of the race dawned beautiful, a light onshore breeze and
not a cloud in the sky. The water temperature was 20 degrees with the
air temp probably about 25 at the start of the race. Unfortunately
during the night the swell had picked up so there was a bit of a roll
out on the turning buoys, which meant that you were unable to see the
buoys more often than not (the inadequate number of buoys did not help
- who would have thought that swimmers would find it hard to see the
next buoy 350 metres away in swell, heading towards the rising sun??!).

We both took the swim as planned, Bruce managed not to have a panic
attack in the water so was happy. Danielle spent the whole swim talking
herself out of seasickness and watching out for whales (you have to
keep yourself amused somehow). Both were not that happy about the 300
metre uphill sand run to transition - and despite REALLY wanting to
walk up the hill, we did not want to lose face in front of Bruce's
family so pretended to be all tough and hardcore and ran until we were
out of sight around the surf club building.... Bruce has learned that
next time he needs to kick his legs harder towards the end of the swim
so as not to fall over when he gets out of the water....

Into transition, which went relatively easy thanks to several walk-
throughs the day before. Suggestion to race organisers: lay carpet over
the razor-sharp surface of transition ... it helps not to have the
soles of your feet bleeding on the bike.

Out onto the road. The initial road surface (for 1km) was smooth and
This quickly disintegrated into a typical country road with some
massive holes, bumps, and the odd dead animal. Poor Bruce hit a hole so
hard that he is sure his first child will be born with a headache.
Apart from that he had a good ride. Not so good for Danielle who was
making vows to herself the whole way that she really should do some
bike training...

We were both interested to note that NSW seem to have a completely
different interpretation of the bike drafting rules than does Victoria.
From what we observed, to be caught drafting you must actually have to
be physically attached to a car or the bike in front of you. Most of
the competitors spent the ride in drafting trains - we both saw big
packs of up to about 12 people drafting. The official motorcycle would
come past and nobody even blinked, they just carried on and no
penalties were awarded.

While we are having a bit of a go at the bike course, we were also
surprised at the quality of the 'road closures'. The marshals stationed
at intersections were letting traffic cross the course when there were
gaps in the field. Unfortunately one marshal's spatial awareness was
not quite as good as it could have been and he allowed a car through to
T bone a rider (we are not sure the extent of his injuries, but he did
not continue the race). This was not surprising after we witnessed a
total marshalling debacle at the previous day's sprint race, where
spectators took it upon themselves to assist the official marshals
after witnessing one too many very close calls. We hope that these
issues get ironed out before next year, because it really is a great
course, and the Forster locals love a triathlon and were really
supportive out on the course.

So, on to the 15km run. The day had really heated up by the time we
(gingerly) off the bike to tackle the very sunny run course. Bruce
learned another valuable lesson on the run - nutrition (i.e., have
His plan was to have a gel at the very end of the bike, and then
another half way through the run. He felt fine for the first run lap so
threw his spare gel to the support crew.... oops. He should have stuck
to his plan, obviously he was suffering from lack of oxygen to the
brain ....
rookie error. So after a great ride, Bruce was just happy to struggle
through the stitches and fatigue to cross that finish line. Danielle
had a better run, felt very comfortable the whole way, but could not
speed up when she wanted to on the second lap due to calves that were
threatening to cramp at any change of stride. Ah well, another happy
All in all we were happy just to have finished the race. We were not so
happy about forgetting to put sunscreen on. Gotta love having your race
number sun burnt into your arm.

Forster is a great location for a triathlon, and has a long history
with the event. Despite the teething issues, we would really recommend
the Forster long course to anyone who wants an early season hit-out
without the crowds of Gold Coast or the bushfire smoke and heat of

See you at training (we promise!).