Sam Betten Reflects on ITU Long Distance World Championships 2016
Original article on sambetten.blogspot.com.au
Having raced the ITU Long Distance World Championships over the last 2 years finishing 9th in 2015 & 8th in 2014 I felt like I was in better shape in 2016 to improve on these performances. I chose to spend the final few weeks in St George, Utah in order to get used to the heat and the long travel from Australia to the USA. On paper the course looked quite ‘easy’ in regards to the 4KM lake swim, 120KM flat bike course with a few rolling hills and 30KM pancake flat run course. However, come race day the weather conditions proved to be a major factor making the race a tough battle.
It was good to see that the strong winds across the lake had resulted in a very choppy swim which I knew would play to my advantage. The swim course was like a washing machine with no rhythm to the choppy waves and was unlike any other swim leg that I have done.
I sat in around 4th place for the majority of the swim leg and emerged from the water just a few seconds back from the lead.
I was excited to get onto the bike leg and push the pace early on. In the opening 20km the tempo was quite solid and two athletes dropped off leaving myself and 3 others leading the race. At this point the speed slowed up a little and I chose to go to the front for the next 20km and just ride to my own power numbers.
I went through the first hour with an average speed of 46KPH and was hoping that this would be the status quo for the remainder of the bike course. However the winds really started to increase along with the heat.
I really focussed on making sure that I was getting in enough gels, water and electrolytes as well as staying consistent with my power output.
I came into transition in 5th pretty spent from battling the wind and heat out on the bike course but right next to the defending World Champion Cyril Viennot.
Exiting transition next to Cyril I knew that I needed to run with him to have a shot at the win. The 3 loop out and back run course meant that we faced a decent headwind on the outward journey. I managed to run with Cyril for 5km before dropping off.
I was really cramping badly and just tried to run with a good turnover. After the first 10km loop I was holding my own in 5th place and motivated to try and stay inside the top 5. Just before the 20km turn around point Craig Alexander made the pass on me and soon after that I lost 2 more spots. In the last 10km I managed to hold my position and came across the line in 8th place.
In all honesty I was somewhat disappointed with the result as I had higher expectations of myself in regards to the overall result. In saying that, I couldn’t fault my preparation or race execution and know that I gave everything I could on race day. This result was my 3rd ITU Long Distance World Championship top 10 in as many years, which at least shows that I have been a consistent performer at the World Championships. Add the result to a top 3 at the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships a few months ago and it has been a very positive year for my performances at major championship races.