IM 70.3 Sunshine Coast Tricks and Tips

Bike racks, trailers and joggers- Get out there.

RPG Coaches, Reedy and Steve as well as many of the athletes they coach have had their share of success at the Mooloolaba event including 2 x victories for Reedy, fast flying 2nd place for Steve a few years ago where he finished in a tight second to Braden Currie, professional Sam Betten scored a 3rd place in the era before before he entered full time work as well as dozens of age group wins and podiums. These are the best tips the RPG athletes voted most helpful to help you maximise the day.

Pre Race

Kicking off with race week. Acknowledge the background anxiety that is starting to creep up on you. It might be so annoyingly obvious you’re doing much more than acknowledging it. Respect and understand that this is your body starting to prepare to dig far deeper on race day than you ever could on a standard training day. The athletes we’ve worked with who have the biggest jump from training to racing performance all have a reasonable level of pre race anxiety. However, they’ve also learnt to manage and control the nervous energy with different techniques to put it to good use rather than let it it take over the lead up and make it really unpleasant.

It’s nauseatingly cliche but take time out of each lead up day to the race to do some mindfulness and bring your mind back to the present moment. Race day is an incredibly simple day but uncontrolled race nerves have a way of transforming it into an overly complex mathematical equation if you don’t reign the brain in.

The Swim

Likely the most exhilarating or concerning part of the race for many as Mooloolaba can throw up some swell, waves and the race kicks off with a beach start, potentially into a nice set of waves before you hit the clearer water out the back. Athletes then swim in an anti-clockwise rectangle in the relatively shark free water before likely having the opportunity to catch a rolling wave back into shore.

Take the time to check the beach start run in. In the warm up, wade out and identify the likely point where you’ll dive in. No point running up to your waist and losing all your momentum on the entry.

If you need to work your way through the waves, chill out. Before you start, focus on breathing out so you’re not loaded to the eye balls with carbon dioxide before even putting your head under water. Don’t sprint into the set of waves as the fastest way to get through them is underneath rather than over the top of them. Avoiding the oxygen debt a sprint will bring on will really help you briefly (or lengthily) dive, streamline kick or porpoise under the waves.

Almost certainly a wetsuit swim, combined with the salt water, you’re going to sit very high in the water and will rip along like a human boat once clear of the waves. If you haven’t swam a lot in your wetsuit in salt water, know that your kick ‘if’ usually very propulsive in a pool may not be so effective due to the legs sitting so high in the water. You may find holding a higher stroke rate combined with a less taxing 2 beat could get you from A to B with a lot less energy for a similar swim pace.

Remember that every time you surge into the red/anaerobic zone it has consequences. The classic sprint over the final 200m of the swim and through transition can be fun but could be adding a lot of time to the back half of your bike and run. Unless you really need to, stay steady and save the sprint work for the final portion of the run 🙂

The Ride

Image Credit- @koruptvision

Unlike the World Champs course which ventured off into the hinterland in 2016 the two lap bike course is smooth and fast ‘almost’ the entire way.

There are some rolling hills coming in and out of town before you hit the main motorway where most of the riding is done. Similar to our advice on the final portion on the run, unless it’s really necessary avoid spiking your power too much on this section. The body’s usage of stored glycogen is certainly not linear. As you get closer to and beyond your anaerobic threshold you could be burning your precious glycogen stores up to 3-4 x the rate of lower intensities and eventually the glycogen debt collector will want his rent. Likely about 7kms into run 🙂

In regards to hydration and fuelling on the bike; the weather on the Sunny Coast can be anywhere from cold to mild with some likely humidity. In cool races it can be risky to spread your race fuelling out over several bottles in case you’re simply not thirsty due to minimal sweat and being cold. Additionally, if sweat rates are low, your electrolytes losses will be less. Because electrolytes and your carbohydrates compete for osmolality you can likely add more calories and less electrolytes than a hotter event. For our RPG athletes we typically make up individual Infinit mixes for our athletes that vary somewhat depending on the likely race demands and their individual tolerance for fuel/electrolytes.

There is some predicted rain at this stage scheduled for race day and some rather slippery corners to be aware of in town. Take it easy and get through the course safely. An attempted 10 seconds of time saved in wet corners can end a day pretty quick.

Unfortunately 10 metres between bikes is certainly not enough to mitigate the advantage to working in a group. Sure, it’s an individual sport but any athletes on the podium in their age group knows how much this will play a role to their podium positions on the flat, fast course. The brave solo time triallist has to be truly exceptional to out-bike a group legally working together. So, if you’re targeting a podium position, the ride will almost certainly be tactical from working out when is the best time to kick off your race with the rolling start to whether the group you’re legally working with is going fast enough or whether you should ditch them, bridge to the next or go it solo.

Legally working within the rules is one thing that drives many out of the sport is the general apathy towards breaking the drafting rules. Call people out in the race and/or have a gentle word to them after the race. People need to know that cheating is noticed and that while they could get away it, they’re losing people’s respect for doing so. Also, we were shocked to find out that very little, if any, of your TA membership fees go towards the TA officials policing the draft zones. It’s a volunteer role and most of them are doing their very best purely out of wanting to contribute back to the sport. It certainly is possible to get caught out in an unlucky situation and penalised on flat busy courses but keep in mind the official has their best intentions in mind and is doing the job largely at their own time and expense. So wind back the rage and make the best of what’s left of the race.

It can’t be too far away that the apathy towards drafting changes with an objective electronic system that keeps things in check and people coming back year after year to enjoy fair racing.

The Run

Image Credit: @AsiaTri

A run for some fast times typically but thanks mainly to lovely race temps not because it’s a super easy course.

Athletes complete 2 laps of the run course meaning they’ll go up and over Alexandra Headland four times. It’s fast running for the most part outside of that hill but an innocent hill has a way of seeming much bigger when you’re 3-5 hours into an event compared to jogging it in the days leading up to race.

Timing your fuelling to not be thrown down right before running up and down the hill can have it’s perks as when going down the more pronounced vertical oscillation and resulting stomach jostling can make it tough to digest as can running up the hill where your intensity will inevitably increase.

Even though your might not be sweating on the bike too much, even in cool conditions most people sweat quite a lot at running race intensity due to less evaporative cooling. Focus on getting in sips of fluid despite a distinct lack of thirst in the first 10km is important to maximising the second half of the run. By the time you’re really thirsty, you’re likely already seeing a performance decline due to mild to moderate dehydration.

It’s easy to see why IM 70.3 Sunshine Coast is one of the favourites of the Aussie calendar, a brief holiday in warmer conditions than what most are dealing with, a logistically super easy race once you’re up there with everything being super central and only one transition and a growing number of great restaurants and bars to celebrate a great race. Best of luck from the RPG crew.

Power up your pre-race hydration.