After Xterra NZ I had a few days to relax over Easter at home before heading over to Jervis Bay, Australia with my mum and Josh Kenyon to take on the best at the Xterra Asia-Pacific Champs.
There was big prizemoney for this race so, as expected, a stacked pro field turned up. We were lucky enough to be staying with Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack and family for our time their so we were sorted, staying only a few hundred metres away from the start.
We arrived in Jervis Bay on Wednesday, after heading over directly from Rotorua to Sydney on Air New Zealand on the Tuesday (so convenient and easy flying from home), which meant we had a bit of time to get to know the course. The swim was two 750m laps in Jervis Bay which was generally pretty calm. I was most nervous about the sea life, after seeing dolphins playing in the waves only 20m off shore. Hopefully I wouldn't be last in the swim....
The bike was generally flat but had over 70% singletrack which made it pretty fun...although a bit more elevation gain would have been appreciated! The run was pretty long (13.5km) but very flat which was going to be interesting as most of the pros would have preferred a hillier course.
On race day and we got a bit of a surprise, the pros swim would be wetsuit illegal, while the amatuers would be allowed wetsuits. The water temperature was just above the 20 degree mark, so we were in swim skins. This didn't suit me as I knew I would lose a bit more time to the better swimmers without a wetsuit.
I had a great start to the swim, and for the first 500m managed to stay with the main pack. Then the pace got picked up a bit and I got dropped. I really struggled on the second lap of the swim and was surprised to hear I was only 1.40 down on the front when I got off the beach.
Out on the bike and I went out pretty hard. The first part was all roads so I knew I had to minimise my losses to the group ahead who would be working together. I wasn't feeling that great but hoped I would feel better a bit later on. Once into the singletrack I wasn't riding smoothly at all. I seemed to be clipping every tree and making stupid mistakes, just not able to get into the flow required to ride these tracks fast. I still managed to pull a few people back though so was slowly moving up the field.
Once I got to the run I heard I was in 8th, with a couple of people only a couple of minutes ahead. I felt good early on in the run and managed to pull back Craig Evans. I still couldn't see anyone up ahead though so my motivation dropped a bit and with the run being constantly flat, my pace dropped. I had a flat patch for a few k's but then I started to feel better again and finished strongly in 7th.
With the stacked field I was relatively happy with 7th, although not with my performance, and I know that if I had a good day I could have been further up the field. It's all experience though, and racing week in week out with these top guys is going to be beneficial for me in the future, no matter the result.