Zone 3 Latest News

30 March 2015

Dan Wilson recaps his second round WTS race in Aukland

Well, it was across the ditch to NZ for the second race of the WTS this year, to a country abuzz with the excitement of reaching the World Cup cricket final, fittingly, against Australia. Let it never be said that the Kiwis aren’t passionate about their sport, and their zeal for beating the Aussies in the Cup Final carried over into their triathlon spectating, with some interesting heckles directed to the green and gold during the race. More on that later, but a tip of the cap to the Kiwi sense of humour is in order. 

Auckland is the bastion of the ITU circuit – a course that delivers more pain then a sandpaper jockstrap. I was excited to land in Auckland again this year, although whether that excitement stemmed from my desire to belt myself against for two hours until I was marinated in lactic acid, or my desire to sample some of the locally roasted coffee from a few speciality haunts around the area is a subject of some debate. The fact that I bordered on excess baggage on the way home, possibly in part to a few bags of lightly roasted single estate coffee, might lend weight to one side of that argument. Another tip of the hat, this time to the Kiwi coffee culture. Enough about coffee, I hear you cry, this is ostensibly the website of a triathlete! Okay, the race:

It stung, as they do. My swim was ok, but I dangled off the back of the front pack, and I certainly didn’t have the legs to bridge across out of the water, which would have been my only change to get in there all day. Nay, the legs were hurting, and I was struggling, in particular over the first few laps, as our second pack dangled at around 30 seconds off the front for most of the ride. Lamentably, this meant I contributed about as much as a neglected superannuation fund to our group’s progress, which was lead by some strong riding from Viain, Blummenfelt, and my Barbados brother, Jason Wilson. On the last lap our progress slowed somewhat, and our deficit blew out to around 60 seconds by the end of the bike. Out into metatarsal based transport, and my run was similar to the rest of my race, it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great, and it hurt. I ended up crossing in 18th for a real middle of the road race, I certainly wasn’t super stoked about it, but it wasn’t a disaster either. If I were to describe it with a non-verbal action, I’d shrug. But that doesn’t lead to entertaining blogging. What does, is recounting some of the heckles by good-natured Kiwis, clearly with imminent cricketing rivalries on their mind. I got a few “Australia sucks!” chants, and Cam Good got an “Australia’s doing shit in the cricket as well!”. I thought it was pretty funny, but I should take the time to point out that given the score in the World Cup at the time, he clearly knew as much about cricket as he did about polite spectator etiquette. 

So from here, I’m travelling back to Brissie, currently waiting at Auckland airport after my melancholic pick up time of 3:45 am. There’s another 2 weeks before we get to race a WTS on home soil on the Gold Coast, which should be super fun. It’s only a two week turn around, but there’s some important training to be done to get that spark back that was missing for Auckland. 

In the meantime, shoot me a message if you want some tasting notes for the coffee’s I’ve acquired. 

Take care friends,

19 March 2015

OTU Oceania Cross Triathlon Championships with Guy Jones

Roosting singletrack at the Oceania Cross Triathlon Championships

Coming into this race I was not exactly brimming with confidence. My preparation has been, to put it bluntly, woeful, due to ongoing training disruptions and injuries (I’ll talk about these in another post soon). However, I knew I was swimming okay (not great) and my mountain biking skills have improved a lot since I took on this race last year. One can’t always be in career-best form at the start of every race, so the only thing to do is put the setbacks out of one’s mind and focus on executing the best race one can.

Cool temperatures and a little light drizzle greeted us as we drove up the hill from Jindabyne to Lake Crackenback resort in the morning, however by the time I’d registered and set up transition the clouds had parted and the sun was out. With an ‘adjusted’ water temperature of 18 degrees wetsuits were the order of the day for pros and age groupers.

After sending the open men off at 10am and the open women one minute later, it was the turn of age group men at 10:04am. I was a shade slow off the mark when the hooter went for the beach start, but it worked out in my favour as I slotted straight onto the feet of the fastest swimmer in the field and we quickly found some space and pulled away. He was slightly quicker and gradually eased away, but not before we’d both opened a significant gap on the field in the first 3-400m. This is where things got confusing.

The tight swim course was littered with a number of superfluous buoys, presumably intended to mark out obstacles in the shallow lake. However, from in the water it appeared that these were part of the course. In summary, this resulted in a lot of confusion, a few short stops to get my bearings and swimming around buoys I didn’t need to in order to avoid unintentionally cutting the course. I still exited the water a clear second, but I probably gave up 30 seconds or so than I didn’t need to.
I was through transition quickly, but struggled again with getting my feet into my bike shoes with the uphill start to the bike leg (more practice with these shoes required!). Once that hurdle was overcome I focussed my mind on getting my ‘eye’ in and relaxing to allow me to ride precisely and minimise mistakes.

My first of the two 15km laps felt a little sloppy early on, but I seemed to be making good time and passed some open athletes early on. I was caught by Ryan Lennox (AUS, M40-44) about 5km in, and I picked off the early leader Jonathan Grady (AUS, M30-34) as I turned onto the out-and-back river track about 10km in. On the way out along the river track I was passed by Martin Ralph (NZL, M45-49) and almost put my front wheel into a wombat hole attempting to pass an open female competitor along the tight river section of the course. On the way back along the river track I was caught by a hard charging Josh Roy (AUS, M30-34) who was moving very quickly, and I passed two elite competitors as I came past transition at the end of lap 1.

I had a bit more breathing space in the early part of lap 2 and was starting to really get into a groove, lowering my dropper post and treating the early singletrack section like a pump track. I knew I needed to take advantage of the good concentration level but not kill my legs for the run. It wasn’t until I was nearly at the far end of the river track that I heard the familiar accent of Paul Stapley (AUS, M45-49). I let him past at the turnaround then jumped on his wheel, hoping to get an easier ride back into T2 to save some legs for the run. Shortly before T2, young mountain bike specialist Jayden Ward (AUS, M15-19) rode past us.

Paul and I flew through T2 together and Paul led me out onto the start of the first of three 3.3km laps. The course was brutally technical and bore more resemblance to a hilly obstacle course than a triathlon run course, including a ~30 metre wade through the Little Thredbo River on each lap.

Running the creek

Immediately upon starting the run my legs felt like rubber, and I realised I was in trouble early on when I was struggling to engage my major hip stabiliser muscles and had to rely heavily on my quads, which were somewhat toasted from the bike. I stayed with Paul through the first lap but started to really struggle on the second – not only was I having trouble with stability, balance and power, but I was also becoming quite dehydrated and a little low on sugar. I ceded almost a minute to Paul on the second lap as I struggled to pull myself together, downing whatever fluid I could get my hands on and taking a gel at an aid station. At the end of lap 2, Dave Stallan (AUS, M30-34) passed me up the final hill.

Lap 3 was marginally better than lap 2, but only just. The dehydration had subsided, but my quads were cramping badly. I clawed back about 20 seconds on Paul, but otherwise it was about consolidating my position. I finally crossed the line in 2:37:41, third in M30-34, 8th age grouper and 23rd outright. However, by virtue of the top two in my age group not being members of the OTU, I was surprised to be awarded the title of M30-34 Oceania Champion at the presentation ceremony.
It was a tough day at the end of a tough period, but as my good friend and former coach Gary Rolfe reminded me, my race performances this season have been incredibly solid given the disruptions I’ve had this season. However with talk that the Lake Crackenback course is under consideration to hold the 2016 ITU World Cross Triathlon Championship, I will realistically have to find another 10-15 minutes by then in order to put myself in contention for a podium.

As always a huge thanks to Zone3 and Solestar for the ongoing support, as well as the crew at Ride365 in Belconnen who have really looked after me lately.

17 March 2015

Zone3 Ambassador Simon Gill shares his account of the Santa Cruz Half Triathlon

This was the first race of the season and over 200 athletes were on the start line in the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz.  My hope was to use this for a qualifying time for the ITU Age Group World Championship.

The forecasted strong winds didn’t arrive, but there was quite heavy calima (sand from the Sahara hanging in the air – reducing the purity of the air as well as raising temperatures).  However the one lap, 1.9km open water swim took place at a sheltered beach with a sea wall protecting us from any swell or chop.

I got a good start and settled into a more comfortable rhythm after the frenetic first two hundred metres.  It was the first time I’ve used my Vanquish suit in a race and it didn’t disappoint.  The flexibility is amazing and the balance it gives me in the water meant I felt like I was cutting through the water easily.  Just before the end I lost the feet of the two athletes ahead of me, which was a mistake, but I sensibly let the guy behind me pass and settled on to his toes instead!  Following closely to the beach I finally came out of the water in 26mins 56secs in 14th place.

T1 went smoothly and then I was onto the 5 lap flat bike course.  My plan was to average around 295w but I actually had to fight hard to keep my average to 290w.  I think this was probably due to the calima in the air making breathing more difficult than normal conditions.  I guess everyone’s bike was affected a little because I completed the 80km (according to my Garmin) in the 3rd fastest split at 2hrs 06mins and started the run in 3rd overall.

Despite feeling it on the bike my legs felt good after T2.  I’ve consciously being trying to increase my cadence on the bike which seems to keep my legs fresher for the run.  My run training has been going really well and I was really pleased to replicate this on race day taking off two minutes from my previous half marathon split.  My run split of 1hr 25mins 47secs was the fourth fastest on the day.  Unfortunately the fastest split was ran by another triathlete in my age category who passed me at around kilometre 13 or 14.  However my run was still enough to secure me 4th place in the general classification and second in my age category – Veteran 1. 

All in all I was really pleased with how the day went and it’s always nice to celebrate with the support of my family and girlfriend watching.  Hopefully this should be a good enough result to qualify for the ITU Age Group World Championship – registration is done!  Next up is Ironman 70.3 Barcelona in May!

10 March 2015

Words with Wilson - Dan's account of the WTS Abu Dhabi Triathlon 2015

Well, another year rolls by, and all of a sudden it’s time to run around another major world city wearing nothing but lycra and an unsightly grimace. The first race of the season is always a nervous time, no matter how much work has been banked during the off season, there’s still doubts running rife in everyone’s mind as to how the training form will actually translate into racing. Or maybe it’s just me. Regardless, as any with an WTS race really, I was as edgy as a dodecahedron on my way to Abu Dhabi for the WTS opener. It was my first venture to that neck of the woods, and the Emirates were impressive. As always, it was fun to become less ignorant of an unfamiliar culture and learn about Sheiks, arabs, oil and stonings. And eating dates. Lots and lots of dates. 

And so the race. Taking heed of Mossy’s advice that the right hand side of the pontoon was faster required what felt like a courageous move to leave the safety of the top seeds lining up on the left. As it turned out, it was a genius move that made my race a hell of a lot easier. Thanks Mossy. I was gifted the benevolence of Henri Shoeman’s feet, who’s metatarsal’s are arguably the most sought after on the circuit, and it was a rare pleasure to be deposited at the first buoy without being subject to overt aquatic malevolence, and swam comfortably near the front for the rest of the swim. Thanks to the Shoeman Express. Having being blessed with the good fortune of pontoon position and South African feet, having a good swim had a big an impact on the rest of the race. Rather than chasing with burgeoning lactic and desperation rife, I was able to ride comfortably at the front and stay out of trouble in what was a fast and very nervous and twitchy bike leg. In what was a decidedly dangerous sprint into T2, I was able to get off near the front, almost chopping Gomez into the gutter at one point (Sorry Gomez!) and head out on to the run in the first few. The boys chasing champagne were absolutely honking, with Mola almost breaking 14 minutes for the 5km, and banging his proverbial fist on the table for the year to come. He was fast. Faster than a hipster mocking a popular band. Back with the mere mortals, I ran encouragingly well, particularly over the back end of the 5km, to come across the line in 12th position, and a very satisfying start to the season. 

From here, I’m straight back to Brissie (as usual, I’m writing this from a Boeing) and will prepare for Auckland WTS in 3 weeks time, where we go full Olympic distance for the first time this year. More nerves, more fun!

Take care friends, 

Check out more from Dan over on his website:

5 March 2015

Selecting a Triathlon Podcast with Zone3 Athlete Phil Ellis

If, like me, you are just mad to ingest as much triathlon information as possible, podcasts are a great source of fuel. It took me a while to get into podcasts as I never really warmed to the non-live concept of their production. But the following list of best triathlon podcasts have without doubt turned me to the other side. I downloaded the app 'Pocketcast' on Google Play for €2 and have never looked back. The podcasts I listen to offer me insight into a sport that I am still getting to grips with, keep me company during those long hours on the turbo trainer and make the morning commute that little bit more tolerable. Let's get into it.

1. IM Talk

I probably should have left these guys 'til the end but what the heck. IMTalk has got to be your first port of call. Everything about the episode rocks. I have only been listening for a few weeks and every Tuesday when my app auto-downloads their next episode, I sit and figure out which session I am going to use it for. The truth is I end up listening on the way to work on Wednesday morning. John and Bevan are hilarious as they are knowledgeable and have quickly brought me up to speed in the world of Ironman. What I really enjoy is not just their overwhelming knowledge of the sport and its competitors, but how they incorporate the regular Joes like you and me into their show. From Age-Grouper of the week to a designated Patrons section on the website, these guys had my backing the moment the offer came. 9/10 and the only reason I dock them a point is because 1 episode a week is not enough, WE NEED MORE!!!   

2. Zen

Zen and the art of triathlon is another podcast I look forward to every week. Some of the episodes that Brett bashes out can come close to 3 hours on occasions so in this case you are getting some real bang for your buck. In some of the episodes I have listened to, Brett has had some big name triathletes which is always great to hear for a newbie like me. On a more intimate level, Brett does some of his episodes while actually out training and, more recently, gave us a minute by minute breakdown of his son actually racing an event. It makes for great listening and offers a unique insight altogether. 8/10losing two points as its just not IMTalk and there is a huge focus on US specific events (from the episodes I've listened to anyway).  

3. EN Nation

The reason I love Endurance Nation podcast is because of coach Rich's voice. I don't know what it is but it is super relaxing and even when he stumbles over words his authority remains. I have been tempted to sign up to his coaching but I am spending far too much money on this sport already so I have not gotten around to it yet. EN Nationprovides a far more technical analysis of triathlon compared to the other shows I have mentioned. Coach Rich starts by offering intros to his discussions. This forms the basis of his podcasts and then he reverts to a closed platform system where only members can hear the rest of his talks. As a result his episodes are short but very insightful. They are great for a quick fix of triathlon information and updates. 7/10

4. Ben Greenfield

The Ben Greenfield podcast is what really got me into triathlon podcasts. To be more accurate, it was his YouTube videos. I was researching how best to store food on the bike during Ironman 70.3 (I had my first one coming up) and I came across Ben's videos. I was amazed and delighted by his range of advice and quickly became a fan. Now before I go on, please not that I am aware these guys need to make a living, heck I even support the guys at IMTalk, however, in more recent times I find Ben to have become the complete salesman. I don't mind a quick product mention before, after and even halfway through a podcast, but Ben has begun to do it so frequently, it has now become hard to differ between his advice and his sales. I still listen to the episodes but I just don't love them as much as I used to. On a positive note, Ben is one super positive guy and has a sick amount of knowledge so as a resource, he is well worth the listen.7/10 

5. Cup of Tri

Ok, so coach Rob and Helen are new to the game but I have listened to all their podcasts and I am a big fan. There are lots of pros to this podcast. They run nice short episodes so if you're tight on time (average 30mins per show) Cup of Tri works. I think everyone will agree that the voice on the other end of a podcast is super important. I have come across podcasts where I have turned off instantly due to the voice behind the show. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio shows and I am a sucker for the British accent. Rob's is super relaxed and as a triathlete, he knows his stuff. The show is in its infant stages so to speak and some of the earlier stuff clearly shows that, but this weekend I listened to the Matt Molloy episodes and really loved them so do check out, Cup of Tri.8/10

I know there are a bunch more triathlon podcasts out there but I thought my top 5 would be enough to get started. If there are any glaring contenders I have missed do drop me a mail on or catch up with me on Twitter. Check out this article, and more from Phil here.