Friday, August 22, 2014

Samoa Warrior Race

Sometimes life sucks.  Like when you are all excited about heading off overseas in two days time to race a half Ironman in the tropics and then you receive a call on your way to work to say that your little kittycat has been hit by a car and you need to go and retrieve the body.  This is what happened to me the Monday before we were due to leave for Samoa last week.
Who knows what our lovely, snuggly Sigi was even doing near the road (not even our road where about one car goes past every two hours) but luckily the people behind us were kind enough to ring me and look after her body until we could get there.  We were pretty heartbroken and buried her next to her brother who was also taken from us in a tragic accident a few months earlier.
We will miss you Sigi-Martina-Navratilova

Duff-man and Sigi Monster together again
So we set off to Samoa a few days later with very heavy hearts feeling like terrible cat parents and worrying about the remaining pussycat and her wayward habits (think crazy autistic cousin).
Not a good way to start a holiday.  I mean a race.  A race holiday...
This time we arrived in Samoa the most of a day earlier and had friends who had hired a car so actually go to see some the island which we missed out on last year.  9 people and only 5 seats in the car? No worries, just jump in the tray of the ute - island styles.  I have to say I did feel decidedly car sick after a ~1.5hr trip from one side of the island to the other watching the road from behind us.  But we went to a nice beach at Lanumanu and saw lots of the island (wildlife included).
Hello Samoa

Boys in the back

Like a postcard


The fanfare surrounding the race had been scaled down this year in an attempt to save money and I thought it was a good move - it's not a WTC race and doesn't need to try and recreate the hype surrounding one of them.  It is a grassroots race like Auckland Half Ironman or the Rarotonga Tri - no bells and whistles needed.
The race went as I predicted for me racing against two actual Professional triathletes.... The men's race was a bit more interesting with 6 of them on the start line (J-Rad and Kezzle included) and only 4 of them finishing (Kezzle being a DNF doing his usual flake out in the heat thing - was it a migraine? Was it a tummy issue? Was it a tummy issue relating to the giant piece of chocolate cake he ate for dessert the night before the race having not eaten sugar for the last month or more? We'll never know).
Two of my greatest fears for the race were 1) rain and 2) bike mechanical issues, and luckily neither of those eventuated.  I think the roads may have improved since last year and there certainly weren't as many mechanical problems and punctures as last year, or maybe we were just more prepared.  We didn't have the support of the villages that we had last year (they had a competition to see who was the most supportive with the prize being a whole heap of money) so a lot of people were just going about their daily business as we rolled through.  I was quite impressed with some of the Samoa locals improvement in bike riding - a couple of them blasted past me in the first half of the bike, although it doesn't seem like their running has improved as it didn't take long to catch them once the run began.
What was also impressive was some of the locals who were right up there in the swim - like on Graham O'Grady's feet for the whole 2km, not many people can stake claim to take.
Rodent on a bike
The run was pretty hot but the aid stations were well stocked with sponges and ice cups to keep us cool.  I started my run as Julia Grant (who was leading) came around to start her second lap.  We had a quick chat and she asked if I had punctured, I told her no that I was just slow which I found kind of funny but I think made her feel a bit awkward - sorry Julia!
Jared was having a tough time in the heat and I caught him after about 1500m (he was on his second lap). We had a bit of a chat and I assessed his mental state which seemed fine.  GOG was out already and Kezzle was walking with a medic and not looking to last so all Jared had to do was finish to be in the money.  I was feeling alright so trotted off and we crossed paths twice per lap which was made me feel better that I could see each time that he was ok, albeit very slow.  In the end he was only 4 minutes ahead of me at the finish.
Sarah Crowley put in an amazing last lap of the run to pass Julia for the win, she must have lifted her pace quite significantly because I was putting time into her at one point but she came storming past me when she had about 2km to go.
Times were pretty slow for the course, I think expediently as well - like the faster people were ~10mins slower than a normal half Ironman and slower people 20-30mins slower.  In some ways it would be better if it was a more random distance (ie.70km bike to eliminate having to ride laps through town) then it couldn't be compared to other half Ironman times.
Post race I was much better off than last year (when I had an undiagnosed femoral stress fracture and could barely walk but was trying to pretend I was ok), other than some sunburn and chaffing but sadly Jared wasn't keen on McDondalds so I had to settle for some fries and an iced chocolate at the hotel restaurant.

Prize giving was dinner and a speech by the Prime Minister (he said he had come to say hello and goodbye which is what he basically did) and some traditional Samoan dancing and throwing fire around.  The Samoan's don't seem to be big on dessert so we had to go to the restaurant down the road to get our fix of banana fritters and chocolate cake.
Meeting Miss Samoa.  Seriously.
The next morning our friends Claire and Malcolm just happened to be staying at our hotel so we met them for breakfast and in doing so assembled our Kona crew in it's entirety but in Samoa - how cool is that?!

So now we are back in the cold of NZ with the 30 degree heat of Samoa a distant memory.  A bit of a rest week first up and then I guess we need to start thinking about the NZ triathlon season which will be here before we know it.

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