I said a lot in my race preview below about how I came to be on the team, and about my expectations for the race. I'm not going to go into that again, but looking back, I can say that while I only somewhat delivered for my person, I totally delivered for the team. I finished 11th, & completed the full Australian team results of 1st, 5th & 10th. This result is mighty, and the world has certainly taken note. People may have doubted my position in the team or wrote me off as a contender, but it never bothered me and still doesn't.
I say I only somewhat delivered for myself, because my run clearly let me down. But this does not make me unhappy. I gave myself every opportunity to be ready with the time I had available, and my tactics and execution on race day were perfect. Come to think of it, the word unhappy is not pertinent in any context when talking about Auckland. Why? Because I had an absolute blast. It was hands down one of the best racing experiences I've had in Triathlon, and I have no regrets of taking the opportunity to race.
The course was sublime. The location and ambient city vibe was majestic. The crowd was inspiring. This is why I have called Auckland the bastion of ITU racing, because this city has set the bar for ITU events to come.
A lot of old friends and competitors asked me at some point if I was returning to ITU racing. To answer frankly, I'm not, but I'll continue to compete in a few one offs. I don't want to close this chapter just yet. Part of the reason why I stopped ITU racing was that I lost my love and passion for the format. I was angry and frustrated during and after every race, and there was nothing to inspire me to continue. I had been ostracised and kicked from team after team, & removed from funding. Ultimately I had to move to something different to consolidate my love for the sport. Auckland however showed me that there is still opportunities to enjoy ITU, and that the ITU can still turn it on when it wants to.
So cheers to Aaron Royle, world u23 champion. Congratulations mate.
Swim: Nice two lap swim in chilly 14 Celsius water. Clean harbor water, a little swell and some tidal current. Not overly hard, but certainly not easy.
Bike: Eight laps of sting. Very technical, very hilly. Strong legs and very good skills needed to stay fresh on this course.
Run: Four laps, exposed to winds, mild gradient and three u-turns a lap just to drop some extra sting in the legs.
^having some end of season weight problems in this picture
(thanks to all who's pictures I've poached)