|"Thorpey, obviously Team GB have had a proper medal rush that has literally been absolutely brilliant. Team GB innit brilliant? Team GB. Proper, brilliant Team GB, Team GB. Oh did I say Team GB?"|
The overall winner was Brian Barkhouse who is an ex-pro cyclist and duathlete, who had represented Canada racing on the world Duathlon circuit toeing the line with Normann Stadler and the best in the world. In Higashikawa he biked the 40kms in an hour flat on a hilly course - pretty impressive, but then you realise T1 and T2 are included and it is pretty insane. Kubono-san is the eldest son of Hokkaido triathlon legend Masa Kubono who won the aforementioned long course tri in Wakkania Hokkaido three times and has competed in Hawaii five times. He runs Hokkaido's best tri store in Chitose "Sports Sweat", coaches some of Japan's best triathletes and his youngest son was 2nd in the Hascup last year and won the Asian junior champs in HK earlier this year and his 14 year old daughter is swimming 400m in 4.30 and running 3kms in under 10 minutes. And no, I can't get close to either of those times....look out for her in the coming years.
|Team Niseko Triathlon!|
|Ridiculously photogenic Shigeru-san flying on the run course.|
|Go Team Niseko!|
|Saving my shoulders....or just didn't know we had to "Bansai!"|
The swim start was a narrow ramp down to the water, self seeded and I warmed up late and planted myself on the front row with the familiar rivals. Not sure Why they couldn't do a floating start - this narrow-chute system would not work for a bigger race. The course was a two loop triangle in a marina, a good honest swim course with no waves ahead to slow you down and everyone going on the one gun. It was short in length but fair. I go a decent start but 200m in, I saw two guys drifting ahead.
|Ikeda, me and Jess coming into swim exit.|
Running into T1, I saw Ikeda go the wrong side of the bike racks just in front of me, and thought to myself optimistically- 'that's it mate - you won't see me again today'. I had a pretty quick transition and was out onto the sweet flat and straight tarmac before you knew it. I had forgotten my aero helmet and borrowed Kei-san's who had come from Niseko to support and go for a ride after the race. I usually tape over all the vents when using a road helmet for aerodynamics but did not want to leave sticky residue on his lid so was extra vigilant in trying to get as low as I could and 'hide from the wind" looking down for long periods.
|Vision is over-rated.|
|Go Ken-san! Digging deep in the Team Niseko colours. He was 6th off the bike.|
RUN 8kms 32.30
I had gone into the race with a injury to my foot and decided to race with really spongy shoes - the Hoka One One shoes that would help protect my foot and also so they wouldn't collect little rocks on the off-road section of the run. I was pretty keen to run at a constant 3.45 pace and promised myself I wouldn't see a number on my watch beginning with 3.3x in the first few ks, with the aim of not seeing any numbers in the last few ks that looked like 4.2x. After 400m running scared I looked down and it was reading 3.25-30. We were running with a breeze but I kept trying to slow myself down.
|2km in, Jess in the background.|
|Indeed there is.......|
|Ness running strong!|
|Finally know it's in the bag.|
|Give it up!|
|Ness crushing it.|
|Girls - winners are grinners! They work hard for it and good on them for enjoying it.|
It was great to finally get a win, lots of people have been very kind and a few asking if it "Has made it all worth it" and "How long until you guys stop now?". I guess it's a bit different form our side - I just see triathlon like a hobby - people don't ask golfers how long they are planning to keep playing.
Sure this sport can be brutal and it has forced me to eat so much humble pie I have gagged on it sometimes, but you get the occasional good day and the very rare great day and the fact they are so hard to come by makes them all the more sweet.
|Good times with The Rip!|