Its funny how as endurance athletes often times the amount of pain we inflict on ourselves is directly related to how much fun we have. Now I don’t mean that is some sadistic weird way, although one would argue maybe Ironman is a bit of that, but I just mean we love to push ourselves to the limits, and when we can do it in a new and different way, its all the better. That is basically Island House in a nut shell.
Three days of super fast, short racing, against both the clock and the other competitors to determine an overall winner. I can easily say that after going down there for my second trip this year that it is the most unique and enjoyable racing experience I have ever had. Nothing brings out the competitive fire like toeing the line with the absolute best of the best from the ITU, Ironman, and everything in between.
The first day was individual time trials in the swim, bike and run. All the legs were sprint distance so 750m, 20k, 5k, and we’re done with roughly an hour in between. I had a solid swim that put me in 4th place. Smashed out a decent big leg that moved me to 2nd. Then followed that up with a very pedestrian run that left me in 6th place after the first day.
The second day was the enduro stage, that is made up of 750m swim, 5k run, 40k bike, 750m swim, 5k run. It is exactly as hard as it sounds. The first swim went well, as I was able to stay with the ITU guys and get out of the water in the front group. Knowing they can run like the wind I paced myself and kept them in sight but didn’t blow myself up trying to run above my ceiling. By the end of the run I had been caught by the class of the 70.3 gentleman, but was able to slot in and run conservatively with them. I made the decision to stay at the front of the group as we headed to mount the bikes knowing that once aboard my Ventum I was going to be full gas to try and catch back up to Richard and the like who were a bit up the road. I rode hard, and was able to overtake everyone and gain the lead as the beginning of the last lap of the bike and come into the next swim leg in the lead. However, once in the water I was dealing with some cramps and basically just arm muscled my way through, and unfortunately give Mr Murray a free tow around the buoys. Once back on land the pain started as immediately my hamstrings started to lock up. Really the only bright spot was that Richard was complain of the same issue as we headed out in sort of a run/hobble. Once I got moving things loosened up and I was able to find my stride and finish the stage with a decent lead on 3rd and in a comfortable 2nd. The big thing was that I had made the top 10, and would be shortly loading a sea plane to head out to Highborne Cay to get ready for the final stage of the race the next day.
The final stage of the race is a sprint distance triathlon, done in the regular order, and the send offs are in the order of your cumulative time. So that meant that after days one and two I was 1:06 down on Richard and would thus start the race that bit behind him. Aaron Royale was only another 45 sec back of me so it was going to be full gas till you finished. This was the first guy across the line would be the winner, with the fastest three day time.
By the end of the swim I had made up about 20 seconds, and was rearing to get on the bike. As always that was going to be my chance to catch Richard, and I knew that I needed to do it as soon as I could and hopefully be able to get a lead heading into the run. I did catch him after two of the three laps, but by the end of the bike was only able to gain about 30 seconds leading into the 5k. If you had asked me before the race I would have said that I needed at least one minute on Richard to have a chance, and it turned out to be correct as I finished about 30 seconds behind him on the day and in the overall classification. The silver lining to my 2nd place was that I had once again had the fastest time on the stage. Last year I out split overall winner Javier Gomez, and this year out split the winner Richard Murray. Those two are some of the best in the ITU world, so getting the better of them in a sprint was a nice pat on the back.
Overall the trip to the Bahamas is an amazing experience both for the race and the sights. Another cool thing we did this year was visit a local school and with the help of The Island House, and Do More than Sport, we were able to donate 50 bikes, and teach some of the young ones how to ride. It was really cool to see the faces light up as some of the kids rode a bike for the first time.
Lastly it was a great way to end the season as my wife was able to come along for the ride, and we were able to stay a couple extra days and relax and celebrate another good season.
I have no doubt next year will bring new experiences and races, and I can’t wait to see what it holds.
As always none of this would be possible without all the help from my friends and family and my amazing sponsors. I will try and put up a post soon going into detail about what things made a big difference for me this year.
For now though I need a beer!