So here we are again, sitting in the post race afterglow of another event.
As I usually do this will be a bit of a first impressions type blog with a proper race report coming later in the week.
So first up how was my day. In short, tough but satisfying. I very seriously looked at pulling out of this event a week ago. I had been struggling with plantar fasciitis for a few weeks and then to top it off I got a cold, it all just seemed too hard. If I didn't have a non refundable airfare I would never have got here. So given that, I am quite happy with how day went, 8th in the MPRO category with a time of 4 hrs 23ish. But that is only part of the story. For the first time I was able to stick with the lead bunch on the swim and on the bike. In fact I came off the bike in 4th, which is a big deal for me. Yes I absolutely cooked my legs for the run and had a woefully slow run as a result, but I learnt so much from riding with that group. It was the first race I have done where I have felt like I could mix it at the pointy end. As a result I feel like I really earned that 8th place.
So what about the race. Well where to start, there is so much to say about this event that some of it will have to wait for the proper race report, like just how do you host a race in an airport? For now lets just say it is tough and technical, very. They designed a new course for this year's 70.3 to remove the repeated laps of previous events that resulted in much drafting. They replaced the laps with an amazing trip winding through rice fields, over tiny roads, around many, many hairpins and up and down numerous hills, and that was just the bike. The run had more rice fields and a lot more hills, 13km worth to be exact, with a couple of hundred metres of elevation gain and a number of serious slopes.
Actually I think the above description sells the course short. The whole ride I was alternating between thinking this course is crazy and this course is a huge amount of fun. I am still not entirely sure what my final opinion is, but I can say this I have never seen a ride course like it. In fact they just announced at the presentation that next year they will have more motorway and less rice field, which I think would be a pity. I can fully appreciate the safety side of the argument, and in the end that has to take priority. But there are plenty of motorway bike legs in triathlon and a lot of them are fairly dull. This race is the only time I have ever raced down narrow lanes before turning onto slightly rough bitumen service roads between flooded rice fields. Unique is the word.
All those hills and tight manoeuvring take their toll though and sitting here at the end of the day I can quite confidently say I am stuffed. This race made for a deceptively solid day out.
So that was Japan 70.3 in a nutshell. It has been a great day and I have gotten to know some awesome people, but now it is time for sleep.