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 start.... 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 either - 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 fast. 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 jumped (gingerly) off the bike to tackle the very sunny run course. Bruce learned another valuable lesson on the run - nutrition (i.e., have some). 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 finisher. 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 Shep. See you at training (we promise!).