Completing Our First Olympic Distance Triathlon!

Not only was completing the Noosa Tri (over the weekend) an event we could say we’ve done this year but it was a feeling we haven’t felt in a long time… probably since our first ever marathon!

Besides being a bucket list item, an olympic-distance triathlon (a.k.a. 5150 triathlon — 51.5km) is something we’ve deliberately added to our endurance-for-cancer project this year just to make things a little interesting with our first tri.

And it turns out that the Noosa Tri isn’t only the largest olympic-distance triathlon in Australia but in the world! Therefore, it beats the London Tri and the NYC Tri!

The Noosa Tri is sold out within a year but we were lucky enough to get a spot each going through Cancer Council QLD as one of the charities associated with this year.

Neither of us have stayed in Noosa before but what a beautiful location to host this event. The water is incredibly blue in a scenic beach town with competitors from all over the country and various parts of the world.

Little did we know until a few weeks ago that you have to check the bikes in on the Friday or Saturday beforehand. We would’ve just rocked up early Sunday morning otherwise haha…

Fortunately, we found close accommodation 5km from the start line! Good ol’ Airbnb came to the rescue and we managed to rent a room at someone’s house in Sunshine Beach.

Sunshine Beach, Sunny Coast

After collecting our race regos and checking the bikes in, we had 4–5 hours to kill in Noosa before heading back to house and resting.

The Pelican mobiles during check in

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you’ve got a couple of Pelicans with a few hours spare in a different city on a beautiful sunny beach day? Beers.

Some people are superstitious when it comes to the day before race day and don’t drink or have to eat a specific food but we don’t care. Just a good excuse to get those carbs in us haha.

We did meet up with a mate, James Costello who’s in the worlds off-road triathlon team who watched the Criterium cycle at 5pm with us.

James ‘Coxy’ Costello

Now, these guys are fast. If you have no idea what the Criterium is — it’s a lap course where 20–30 cyclists will aim for the most points around a 2km lap course for an hour or so. The thing is these guys are travelling at 50–55km/h!

Then it was rest and head back to Noosa Heads the next morning for our first triathlon…

The morning of the triathlon was havoc. First step was getting into the jam-packed transition area where our bikes are checked in to drop off our helmets/ water bottles/ shoes/ bike tops/ gels and whatever essentials we’d need when we’d switch to the bike and run leg.

When we say jam-packed, there were thousands of bikes in this area…

Bike transition… can’t even see all the bikes

After it was meet up with the Cancer Council crew at their tent to drop our stuff off then check out the elites take off at 6:15am but Tofes (Chris) forgot to bring any gels for the transition so the next 15 minutes he was asking around to see if anyone had any spare… thankfully, a nice triathlete who had a couple she didn’t need lent the forgetful bastard a couple of energy boosters for the bike leg which were well needed before hitting the mountain uphill.

Then it was get back into transition quickly and get the gels with the bike gear. The race marshals are quite strict when you have to get into transition, you have to wear your helmet but it was already with the bike. They understood that this oblivious idiot was just in there and let Tofes get back to his bike.

Fast-forward to 6:15am and it was time for the elites to take off. There’s a reason why these athletes are in the elite category. They get the job done in under 2 hours which is beyond impressive!

Professional triathletes that were recently in the Rio Olympics this year and from other countries were in the first wave.

Within 20 minutes, they were already on the bikes and ready to tackle the next 40km in an easy hour, if not quicker.

Too busy being astonished with how the pros were taking off, our nerves started to kick in…

Both never have done an open-water swim nor cycled more than 30km had us a bit worried but it didn’t bother us as long as we get decent times.

As mentioned earlier with Noosa being the pinnacle of 5150 triathlons, it meant there would have to had been other friends of ours competing in the tri too.

Maddi Martin and Kaz Landry, whom are both friends of ours in the running community were taking on the triathlon and could definitely feel the heat withdrawing. By 7am, it was getting quite intense knowing we’d be battling the warmth for the next few hours.

Maddi Martin & Kaz Landry

Both Maddi and Kaz started much earlier than us because of their waves and we weren’t till 8am because we were in the ‘Platinum Charity’ category being through CCQ.

We’re used to starting our races at 6ish so it definitely felt weird having to wait a couple hours before our turn.

Then within 15 minutes of starting, we decided to have a quick open-water swim to see what it’s like being in the ocean paddling. It was fine, but don’t forget we’d only lap-swam before this haha.

For some reason they put Tofes in the 8am timeslot and Ant in the 8:04am timeslot which kinda made it a little competitive seeing if Ant could catch Tofes (which he did).

Now, this was one choppy open-water swim. It was not calm at all and was a nightmare in the water. People swimming into each other, waves everywhere, and Ant even managed to lose his goggles at one point…

Even breathing was out of whack in this one. We’re used to 3 or 4 strokes in the lap pool but Tofes ended up doing, 1 stroke then breathe as this was the only way he could get through with it.

Noosa Tri Swim Leg

After it was the bike leg. Triathlons have a set of guidelines you need to follow or else you’ll get disqualified. One is that your helmet must be on before taking your bike out and you can’t pedal until you get to the ‘MOUNT’ area. The same applies when you return to clip your shoes off for the run leg.

The one thing we noticed with the bikes is that they easily ranged from $2,000 — $25,000! Ours were entry level bikes that we got for $350 because we can’t afford better ones and just needed something to get us in the competition.

It did feel pretty good passing people on our cheap bikes with their expensive ones!

The bike leg was interesting with a 3.2km hill up the mountain in the first 10km. At this point, Ant was flying through until the 21km mark and his chain came loose…

Being on the side of the road fixing his chain is something he wasn’t happy about because he had a great lead but in the moment, it meant don’t panic and think it through with getting the chain back on.

He said “I got the chain back on but just stayed in the same gear for the rest of the ride because I didn’t want to risk it again.”

The funnest part of the bike leg was the epic downhill at the 30km mark — “CAUTION RIDERS, STEEP DESCEND AHEAD” would be the next sign followed by a very steep downhill.

Even coasting down here can get you an easy 60+km/h. It is definitely fun but would be a different story if you had speed wobbles.

There were even hay bales at the bottom of the hill. Curious to know if anyone ended up using them…

By the end of the bike leg it was time to run 10km.

Tofes spent a few minutes extra in transition as his forgetfulness kicked in again and he forgot his race bib. If you don’t have it on then you’ll get disqualified.

Having to run back to the bike wasn’t the happiest of moments but it’s better than not successfully finishing…

For Tofes, this was the one leg of the race where he’d dominate. He’s not the best on the bike and we’re runners so it made sense to smash this one out.

Noosa Tri Bike & Run Leg

Ant is definitely quicker than Tofes on the bike and the thought of when he was only 2km ahead of him on the run did strike a bell to why he wasn’t further than expected. Little did Tofes know that Ant had a dilemma with this chain…

By the end of the run leg, it was all smiles and fast feet to pass anyone else on the way. Locals would have hoses spraying into the runners to keep us cool as the heat was not nice with this one and did it feel amazing having water sprayed all over you!

Crossing the line did feel bloody amazing! No injury in the way after a dodgy couple of weeks and knocking something off the bucket list is always a feeling that only a smile can show. No wonder the nerves were kicking in this one!

The Wounded Pelicans finish Noosa Tri 2016

By the end it was cool down at the CCQ tent then head off for the 2 hour road trip back to the GC.

Even though Ant managed to get some stoppage time due to his chain, he still finished in 3:04 but was upset that he didn’t get the sub 3 hour mark and Tofes completed the triathlon in 3:13 — he just wanted a finish haha. When it’s a new style of race, it’s hard to gauge on a time for the first time but after that then it’s much easier.

It’s the same for when we ran our first marathon. It’s hard to get that time originally but after it’s much easier.

Safe to say we’ll probably sign up for another olympic-distance triathlon in the near future so we can break 3 hour times.

Ant 2016 Noosa Tri Finish
Tofes 2016 Noosa Tri Finish

Next up, Sand 2 Summit 50km trail run…

Were you at Noosa? Leave a comment on how you went


Tofes (Chris) & Ant — The Wounded Pelicans

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