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2013 XCM National Champs

Dicko's picture

By Dicko - Posted on 23 April 2013

Re: This ride meeting: 
2013 Australian Marathon Championships
Position (Overall): 
Race Category: 
Men's Full Marathon Master
Position (Category): 

Well this journey starts way back in December last year. After some disciplined training and racing in 2012 I wanted to take this a step further. To do this I had a chat to Ant Shippard, outlined what I wanted to achieve, and asked if he was willing to help me get there. My goals were quite ambitious, but Ant agreed to help and said that he would do what he could to put me into a position to achieve these goals, but all the hard work depended on me.

For those interested, these goals were:

1. Be faster than Jenny Fay in an XCM Marathon
2. Win the Australian XC Marathon Championships (Masters Category)
3. Finish Top 20 overall in a XC Marathon

To achieve these goals, the support of my wife and family, for the time and commitment required to train and compete would be critical.
We discussed the commitment, and Taz basically agreed to become a sole parent of 3 children for the next 4 mths. Thanks babe !

My life has revolved around work and training for the last 4 mths. Every spare minute has been dedicated to some facet of improving or enhancing my capabilities on the bike. Ant tailored a program, to build my endurance and performance with one target in mind the Australian XC Marathon Championships. The other goals would be secondary, and would come naturally if I stayed focus.

After some good results in some lead up races, I reached my first goal in beating Jenny at this years Capital Punishment, albeit by just over a minute. I knew I was getting stronger, and slowly but surely getting more confidence. I saw Jenny as a key benchmark of performance, and my results relative to hers a key indicator on how I am going.

With that, all focus came down to the Australian Championships. We knew it would be hard, but with 3300m of climbing the course suited my style and endurance. Given that the Wombat 100 was no longer part of an XCM series, we chose to miss this race and use the time to head to Nth Queensland early. This would give me some time to acclimatise, do a course recce, and basically prepare for the race.

On arrival in Cairns and then Atherton, the first thing I noticed was the heat. Leaving Sydney in the mid 20's and arriving into a humid mid 30's was a big shock. Luckily Atherton being further inland was less humid then the coast. A pre ride on the Sunday before the race had me rethinking my goals. It took us almost 7 hours to ride 90km, averaging less than 15km/h. Given all races leading up to this race (even the hilly ones) I had been averaging 20 - 22km/h and riding for less than 5 hrs, this was going to be one hard race ! The good news was if you could pick a course tailored for me - this would be it. 12km of climbing (200m) single track, 15km of climbing (900m), 7km of techy XC downhill singletrack. After brief call with Anthony, updating him on the course, he reassured me, that my training would get me through, and if I found it hard than good luck to everybody else.

Race day finally arrived. bike was prepped, nutrition sorted, water bottle drops arranged. Some final words of encouragement from Ant/Kyle/Brian and the team and we were ready to race. As were called up in order of category, I was positioned next to the reigning masters Australian Champ and World Masters 24hr Champion - Jason McAvoy. I had marked Jason as the key competition for this race, and my plan was to be with or in front of him and his team mate Garry James for the race. Little did I know there were others that I needed to worry about. Given the race was 3 laps, I had planned to race 2 laps conservatively, hitting the climbs hard and the techy sections fast and leave enough to bring it home on the 3rd lap.
The forecast was going to be 32 degrees, this was going to be hard.

The race started, in the usual flurry, and given the pace into the first single track and climb it was obvious other riders didn't have the same race plan as me. Knowing the track well I quickly got into a groove, and stayed close to the lead of the age category rides, with the elite and open categories already creating a gap after the first single track climb. McAvoy and Garry James were close behind, maybe 3 riders back, and I wouldn't to keep it that way.

The group hit the first major fire road climb, around 200m ascent, and the screws started turning. I knew from pre race practice this climb was one of the two hardest climbs in the course and was always in full sun. I kept up a fast tempo, and got over the top, ready for my first bottle drop. Already I was over heating, picked up a new bottle and had to keep moving. Macca was on a hardtail, and therefore had 2 bottles, so before each bottle change I needed a small gap, to give me enough time to get a new bottle and maintain my lead. We then hit the next climb about 1.5km at 10.5% average.

I was surprised to see Ant, suffering enormously from the heat - his day was clearly already over. Some words of encouragement from Ant had me relaxing up this climb and getting into a steady rhythm - calming me down. How's that for a coach - Ant you are awesome.

The next section was a little more technical and I tried to stay smooth and fast, utilising the every advantage I could get from the Sworks Epic dually I could. Macca was on a hard tail, so I knew I definitely had an advantage on the epic over technical ground. Some more climbing, for what seemed like eternity, I came to the last descent. It was basically an illegal downhill course which had new xc friendly lines cut around the bigger drops / gaps. I knew this section well, and it was critical here for me to get any time gaps on the opposition. I hit this hard and fast, passing 5 or 6 riders on the descent, only to finish the descent to find my chain wrapped around my pedal and foot. I quickly tried to get the chain back on
but the cranks still wouldn't turn. I couldn't work it out. I then notice that the chain had also jammed between the frame and outside cassette sprocket. After quickly removing the wheel, and getting the chain back on I was ready to go. By this stage all the people I had over taken on the descent had gone past, and something like a 2 min lead on Macca had eroded to maybe 30 secs - I could actually see him on the last stages on the descent.

I hit the last bit of singletrack fast - too fast - and I put the bike down hard on one of the corners. Picking the bike up, I thought to myself, slow down, calm down you still have 2 laps to go. I entered transition with just over 10 secs lead over macca, little did I know I was now 1 min down from the leader in my category.

I started the 2nd lap the same as the first, but now macca and Garry James could see me, they picked up the pace and were closing fast. We finished the first section of singletrack and started on the big climb in full sun again. They were right behind. I thought this is it, if I can't hold them off on this climb it will be hard for me to maintain the pace for the next section. I put head down, clicked up a gear, and put every bit of power through the pedals for the next 13min. I reached the top, looked behind - no one ! I couldn't believe it at first. Where were they - surely they can't be too far behind ? I wasn't going to wait, I changed bottles and then hit the next section hard. The rest of the second lap was a blur, and I began to suffer from the heat. All I remember was I was back in transition ready for my 3rd and final lap.

Getting to transition I was welcomed by Ant. He calmed me down, got me off my bike, got me to eat, drink, whilst he lubed my chain. I just wanted to get back out there. He slowed me down and said 'You have this, if you finish this lap, you will be the Australian Champ'. With that I left transition and pushed hard for the next 2 hours. I was suffering, and somewhat emotional and felt a sense of obligation that I was not only going to let myself down by not finishing, but everybody who had help get me here. Whilst everybody appeared to be going slower, I was going faster. Each climb became a little easier the closer I got to the finish. With 500m before the entering the last descent, I overtook another rider, I turned and noticed that he was in my category. SHIT - with that I hit the last 7km fast, got to the bottom looked behind - no one.

Entering the last straight I was looking around, and then my name was called as finishing the race. I didn't know I had won, until Ant stopped me
and said you are now the Australian Masters Champ. 50 odd secs later the guy I had over taken crosses the line in second. I still could not believe it until Ant showed me the official results on his phone. I then find out I finished 19th overall in a very well credentialled elite / open field another one of my goals ticked. Jenny did beat me this day though, albeit only be a couple of minutes.

Special thanks going to Anthony, for getting me here, mentoring, and telling me what I could achieve,when no one else thought it possible. There is more to coaching then just writing a program mate you are the super coach. Taz thank you, maybe I can now start helping in the parenting department again - thanks for all the support - I don't know many wives that would have put up with the last 4 mths. Finally Brian - well done on a great personal result, but for getting me where I needed to be, all the training rides and the personal effort you have put into riding, for me to achieve my goals. Specialized - Sworks Epic - what an awesome bike !!!

What's next - 2014 Cape Epic - watch out !

craked's picture

great write up super D, sounds like one tough event ,you so deserve this victory and I reckon a few more as well!

Antsonline's picture

Mate - you did the work. Sure, some of the goals seemed a stretch (and maybe even conflicted me a bit - coaching Jenny too!) but if you set a plan, stick to it as rigidly. and with as much discipline as you did, then most people can acheive the incredible.
It was a great race, and as you know, I thought you had it covered from lap one. If there was ever a course made for the likes of you and Jenny, then this was it.
She might have beaten you on the day, but she was on a special ride too - she had some points to prove and chapters to close. She was always going win this one. You would have literally had to kill her to beat her.

Anyway - congratulations. National Marathon Champion 2013. That will never change. The records will show it forever. You can share that with Taz and the kids for a long while - and no doubt you will Eye-wink

Both you and Jenny made me very proud on Sunday. You both had the Pepper.

Lach's picture

that is a seriously good result on a seriously tough course.

Brian's picture

Well done Wayne. Less then two weeks to the convict and then you can have a well earned rest.

jp's picture

Great work Dicko, really inspirational stuff.

And Anthony - there's that word again: "Supercoach" - wasn't that mentioned at the Fling?

Congratulations to you both and to Brian.

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