I don’t think this is going to be a fast race- the swim is easy, but also easy to screw up, the ride is bumpy and hilly and windy, and the run is un-flat and potentially hot. The times from last year make it look like a fast course- but that’s because the ride was around 5km short, and the run was another 1-2km off (…please feel free to correct those numbers Paul and Mike!), and this year they’ve added bits on to make sure we do our full 90 and our full 21.1.
It’s also likely to be a lonely race. Last year, there were 15 individual female entrants (and another 10-11 female teams). There were 144 entries in all, including teams. The slowest individual competitor did 6:31 and, as far as the ladies are concerned, there’s a massive gap between 12th place (5:42) and 13th (6:27). Basically, not a lot of depth full stop at the back of the field. This year there are about 150 entries, and I think it seems likely that the demographics will be about the same too (though I expect there will be fewer elite rower types!)
But it’s also going to be a fun race: swimming down the world rowing champs course to Lake Karapiro is something pretty damn neat. From the burning climbs to the familiar windy descents, the Maungatautari loop is undeniably a good ride. And finishing in central Cambridge on a Saturday afternoon will be fantastic (… even if it is a deserted ghost town by the time slow pokes like me are done…)
And it’s an opportunity to race a smart race- to practice swimming on feet, keeping a good consistent effort on the bike, staying aero for 3+ hours, and shutting up my CG on the run.
Since this is the beginning of my season, not the point of my season, I’m feeling less goal oriented than usual. My swimming has been rubbish, my cycling’s coming along, but I’m still useless, so all I can really count on is my run. Of course I’d love to smack my dream goals out of the water, and I’m hoping not to be too much slower than I was in my first Rotorua, but I’m not counting on anything. My guess is that I’ll be done somewhere between 6:20 to 6:30 (45ish swim + T1, 3:20-3:30 bike at 2:00-2:10ish run). Anything below that will be a bonus, and anything above that will hopefully be a lesson learned, or a challenge faced!