Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival 2017 Race Report - Adrian Pavlou @ 19 Nov 2017
The Noosa Triathlon has the largest participation of any Olympic Triathlon in the world with around 8,000 entrants, but the Tri is not the only race. There are plenty of other events in the lead up to the Sunday including the Fun Run, 1000 Ocean Swim, Legends Tri, elite criterium and 5km run race with some of Australia’s best and more. All of us Nunas who attended had good reason to cheer in a couple of the events with Lyndall van Ree running in the Breakfast Fun Run (sporting her new Nuna kit in a sea of pink competitors) and the Clarkson family swimming in the Ocean 1000 event.
There was always something to do, whether it was cheering for other Nunas in the festival events, visiting the expo, collecting kit, final ride or race preparations. I have heard someone say once that although Triathlon is an individual sport, being part of Nuna Tri Club makes you feel like you are part of a team. This sums up exactly what it feels like to be at the Noosa Tri with fellow Nunas.
Sunday morning’s early wake up brings nerves. A quick trip into transition to set out my gear and nutrition for the race reminds me again not to forget where I racked my bike. The walk out of transition sends us up over a bridge where every person’s jaw drops at the view of so many bikes. A quick obligatory selfie doesn’t slow the queue down because everyone else is taking the same photo.
After reaching the beach it was the standard pre-race feelings; ’I haven’t done enough training’, ‘why did I sign up for this’ and ‘I need to go to the toilet again’. The first wave start went off at 6:15 and I was lucky to have an early start at 6:50 with the final wave starting at 9:38. I had a couple of quick photos with other Nunas then headed into the swim start area receiving a last bit of encouragement from Lyndall and Russ.
As soon as the starting horn went off it was a mad rush to get into the warm clear water. There were a few waves crashing in that I had to dive through before it was waist deep but as I was doing this I noticed fish in the shallows, which was a welcome distraction early. For the entire swim I could see the floor of the ocean and fish that wanted to get in on the action. Coming in from the penultimate turnaround I felt the currents and waves pushing me around but after the final turn they worked to my advantage. The swim exit was easy to sight as it was the only section of beach that was not jam packed with people cheering. My swim was not as quick as I would have liked but I was still happy to make it out of the water in under 30 minutes without a wetsuit and without swimming unnecessary extra distance.
The run to T1 is quite long in Noosa being around 300m to my bike however the entire length of this run was along a blue carpet pathway with many people cheering along. Having no wetsuit to worry about made things much easier once I got to my beloved bicycle and it was not long before I was heading to the bike mount line.
Out on the bike it is hard not to get over-excited. The first kilometre is lined with spectators and their energy spurred me along faster than I thought I could go. The bike course at Noosa is not the fastest course but it is certainly one of the best. It is broken up nicely into a 10km section from transition to the base of Garmin Hill which is through suburban Noosa with plenty of people spurring you along. Garmin hill is a 3km climb which winds up at a gradient like that of the 1 in 20.
Upon reaching the top it is a 7km undulating ride to the turn around point. It was lovely at the turnaround point to hear Mack call ‘Adrian’ out to me, I’d been working my butt off to this point and being supported by a familiar face was a great pick me up to power home in the second half of the ride. Around 7km later I’d reached the top of the famous Noosa Tri descent. It is steep and fast but quite straight meaning I almost reached 80km/h. As I had suspected I did get over-excited and was spurred along too fast but I knew I was on for a good bike split so pushed like I had no run to do in those final 5km of the ride. Coming back into transition I could hear the crowd cheering from afar and almost stopped and started partying with them when I saw my bike split PB of 1:03 pop up on my Garmin. Leading those social spins had really worked (everyone at Noosa who went on social spins beat their previous bike PB’s at Noosa!).
Once I had racked my bike and started running it was clear that I had nothing left to push. I had gone far too hard on the bike leg but did not care one bit because of the split time I’d achieved. I felt like I was being cooked alive in the heat and was running 30sec/km slower than my goal pace while still giving it my all. Early on in my run it was heartbreaking to see Harrison limping back to the finish line not being able to run after his blistering bike leg. This was upsetting and didn’t help me at all.
The Noosa Tri run leg is the hardest of any Triathlon that I’ve done but that is part of what makes it the best. After 1,500m my running pace was distracting me, so I had switched my watch face back to an analogue clock and after around 3km I settled into a rhythm. Although I felt like one of those people running forever into the desert horizon in the movies there is always something on the course to take your mind off the pain.
Whether it was the random house playing death metal music full blast out front, spectators calling my name (and other names like Aidan, Andre, Andrew) off my bib and giving me high fives the whole way or the residents of a local estate cooling me down with their sprinklers and garden hoses from their front yard something kept me going. As I saw the km markers tick down I slowly got faster and reached that final 9km marker. Once I saw that final sign I knew I was home. The final kilometre is filled with fanfare. The final 400m felt like only 40 and running down that finish chute with so many people cheering was very emotional and made me feel like a superhero. I was home in 2:27, a personal best for me at Noosa and no-one on course had even noticed that my arm tattoo was upside-down.
There’s a huge buzz leading up to the race and the atmosphere of the main race is incredible. As I started early I finished early and hung around at transition supporting Shaun, Laura, Daniel, Maree and Narelle heading out on the run. It was also very enjoyable to cheer Laura, Maree, Narelle and Sam into the finish chute on the run. A special mention goes out to Afiq who decided 4 days before the race that he would do the swim and bike legs only as he had not trained for the race. I watched him come into T2 and then surprisingly run out onto the run course, which he went on to complete in an inspiring effort showing the power of the mind and positive thoughts.
Noosa may be an Olympic distance triathlon, but it tests me every year. The heat and hard ride make it a huge challenge and going as fast as I can here is harder than any other race that I have completed. It makes a great family holiday and start to the season and I can’t wait to go again next year with my family (both wife and Nuna). Oh, and I won’t lose any money on horses.