How do you get inspired to race? Is it watching your brother become World Ironman Champion, coaching an athlete to an Olympic Gold medal or putting everything you have into every effort as you are missing time with your family. The Dragon Run 2012 was all these and the fact that I was defending Champion.Hong Kong, I love it. It is so different from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the culture is rich, dirty and tastes great. They also put on a bloody good race each year in November.
Coming into this years race, I prepared hard. I had to make up for lost time being away for three and a half months with Murray Stewart at the Olympic’s and pre Olympic training camps. I set myself a plan and worked at it. I have been doing this sport for a long time now and I know how to train my mind and body, push them both hard! You do this and everything else will be easy or managable at worst.
Small runs, little wind, hot conditions, red hot competition were all things that had to be over come this year in Hong Kong.
This was my first international race since The Doctor in January which I won. The saying goes “You are only as good as your last race!” but mine was so long ago!
I arrived in Hong Kong late Thursday afternoon, it was going to be a quick two night trip. I was focused on what I was going there to achieve and the short trip did not worry me. Only three hours difference to home, same Nelo ski as last year, new one week old Braca paddle, same Eload hydration. No worries!
The forcast for the race was not looking favourable for many people, it was going to be hotter and calmer than last year. Nothing that I haven’t trained or raced in before. Be prepared for all conditions. We race in the most open environment on earth, we are outdoors and on the ocean. How do you control either of them, you can’t! Be ready for anything.
I look at a lot of unfavourable conditions and use them to my advantage, knowing that other competitors are cringing about having to race in them. I use this as amunition to push myself that bit harder.
We didn’t have big downwind conditions or a cool day but when do you? The day was still perfect for a race and race we did.
Cory Hill took out the hot spot at the Nine Pins leading the charge with distance between himself and the rest of the front pack. I went into the Nine Pins 6th and came out 3rd, pushing on every backwash and bump that I could find. The next visual marker on the course, the Kissing Whales was not visable and I flew blind for a couple of kilometers as I don’t program coordinates into my Garmin. I sat with Dawid as he chased down Cory and until I got my line of sight. Once I spotted the Kissing Whales I adjusted my course and found a solid tempo that I could hold. Nothing too crazy as the day was heating up and it was still a long way from home. Staying on top of my hydration was key to racing well in the conditions that we were presented with on the day. Everything seemed easier as I had control of the race up the front with no one near, pushing for the lead. I raced hard, focusing on doing everything right, no mistakes as these can cost you the race. Focusing on what I was doing helped me relax and not worry about anyone else in the race, it is like a set of blinkers, easy to do on your own but hard if you are in a real dog fight for the lead or even just maintaining your place in the race.
The only time I looked around was as I turned the Kissing Whales, coming into the bay of Stanely and our last 5km. Well blow me down, I had about 400m on second place. I almost started celebrating then. I didn’t. With 5km to go anything can happen, gear failure, hitting the proverbial Wall or someone else coming home like a train.
It is a long, hard 5km from the turn into the bay to the finish at the Stanely Sea School. I maintained everything, rythm, breathing, hydration. Not wanting to throw away a very real chance at defending my title. It really feels like you are the hunted at the end of this race, everyone behind you can see what you are doing as it is flat and a straight line to the finish. If you show any signs of weakness in that last 5km, the chases see it and can grow strong from it. No matter how much I was hurting I wasn’t going to show it.The chance to win again pushed me on.
The wining Garmin data from the race. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/245046738
The Dragon was slain! Two years in a row I had won the Dragon Run. Grant Van Der Walt had a strong finish to come home second in front of Hank McGregor and Cory Hill who both for a second year running finished third and fourth respectivly.
Yes, it was hot and there was little wind or swell but that was the day the race was held and it was a perfect day to race in those conditions.
To watch Rambo’s video of the race click on the following link. http://vimeo.com/54179549