Ironman 70.3 Western Australia has been one of the major races in the Asia Pacific triathlon scene since 2004. It takes place in the scenic town of Busselton, in the south-west region of Western Australia. Busselton is famous for its beautiful jetty, which stretches 1.8km out to sea and forms the focus of the swim for both the 70.3 and the full Ironman.
This race had been my focus for training throughout 2017. Having done one 70.3 previously, I was keen to see if I could improve on my time. The day started early with a 03:30 alarm call and arrival at transition at 04:30. The sun was coming up and with the first rays of sun you could sense how hot the day was to become. We all collected on the beach and shuffled ourselves into self seeded groups according to our swim speed. Looking like little beans in our multicoloured swim hats we stood nervously waiting for the start.
The gun went off and the first swimmers entered the water. Before I knew it I was being moved forward and off I went, running into the turquoise sea and looking ahead to the red buoy in the distance marking the point at which we would swim under the jetty before heading back to the beach again. I was feeling good and although the sea had some chop to it, I was managing to keep my stroke steady. As I looked up to sight the buoy I noticed the life guards were pointing at the jetty. I thought nothing of it. With the next look up, I noticed the helicopter above me and heard the whistles of the life guards. Everyone around me was swimming as fast as they could away from me and towards the jetty. Shark! Get out of the water! That was my quickest 50m swim sprint ever! Everyone was evacuated from the water and we walked back to the beach along the jetty feeling very disappointed.
The race was started again from the beach, with a rolling start into transition. There was a fair amount of standing around waiting my turn and finally I was called forward and I ran into transition and went through the motions of helmet, shoes, bike etc until I was ready to run out of transition and jump on my bike.
Out into the forest roads we went. Along the coast and then more forests. The course is one of the flattest, which also makes it one of the fastest. There’s no respite here. You go on full power for 90km. Drink stations came and went but I stuck to my own fluid and nutrition regime, eating and drinking every 10km. I couldn’t quite believe that I was hopping back off the bike after 2 hours 30 mins.
Off the bike, the heat hit hard. It was now 34-35 degrees and with very little breeze. The run was on the coastal road and footpath and the sun radiated off the tarmac. You could see that everyone was struggling. Every aid station became a game of ice down the front, ice down the back, water on the head and water in the mouth! Local families stood in their font gardens with their hoses cooling us down. I kept hoping that my body would suddenly get used to it and give me some more energy, but alas it didn’t and I had to simply push on to the end.
The support was amazing. Family, friends and club members all out to support each other. The noise down the finishing shoot was amazing and I was delighted to cross the finish line and be able to make the most of the free ice-cream in the recovery tent! With such a poor run, I didn’t even bother to look at my result until I was on my way home. To my utter astonishment I had come second in my age group and 14th female! We headed straight back to the awards ceremony and I excitedly accepted my place at the Ironman 70.3 championships in South Africa next year! No rest for me!
Natasha Pertwee is a Sundried ambassador and competes as part of the Team GB Age Group team in triathlon.