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Matty White on IM Melbourne

 Ironman Melbourne, what a fantastic event and one which I am sure will be around for a long time to come, especially now that an Australian course can lay claim to a historical sub 8hr performance. No one really talked about a sub 8 on this course and they were careful to do so as it was untested and no one really knew how fast the Eastlink would be, plus there was the unreliable Melbourne weather which if things were bad the winning time could have been about 8.20, with Eastlink being so open and if there was a north wind runners could have faced a block headwind for 42km! But with all that being said conditions could not have been better as there was hardly any wind and it was favourible giving runners a gentle push toward Saint Kilda.

On a personal note I could not have been in better shape for this race and was so looking forward to hitting it hard. I arrived in Melbourne and was staying at the Mercure Swanston in the CBD courtesy of a generous Ricky Jeffs who made my stay very enjoyable (so much for staying away from all the shops!) as I was righty in the middle of Cllins Street mall.

The field for this race was in no uncertain terms absolutely stellar for this race headed by Craig Alexander who at 39 years old is just getting faster and stronger! I will not name all the big names but give or take a few Germans you would not be far off the Hawaii 2011 field.

The race started at Frankston pier which caused a bit of mayhem as competitors had to travel down on Saturday to check the bikes in. A big shout out to the Melbourne Mullet, Tim Bradley who ferried me down there on Saturday. The set up in frangas was great with a bustling atmosphere not to dissimilar to the Busselton area.?Race morning dawned early for me on Sunday as I had to travel from Melbourne CBD and I was lucky enough to have a good friend Ryan Harris come and pick me up and take me down to Frankston, so it was a 4.15am kick off for me as I walked down through Elizabeth Street to meet Ryan at Flinders Street Station. The irony hit home as I was heading down to one of the biggest races of my career all the while passing a drunken reveller with his head in a garbage bin throwing up his what looked to be Yiros!

As I walked further I tried to hold down my SIS Rego Bar which I had for breakfast and hastily got out of there toward Frankston. In transition I was lucky enough to have my great sponsor Shimano there who helped with my mechanical needs prior to race start and with a few more pre race routines I found myself in the dark water of Frankston, and I say dark as there were 47 pro males on the start line all yelling to a 15 year old life saver on a board “where do we go”! this was very hard as he kept saying go straight, but with no lighted buoys straight didn’t mean too much. I got off to a great start swimming well and having a clear run to the turn buoy, I settled in to a rythm and came out in 50min flat with Alexander, Brown, Rix, Ogden and a couple of euros. Once on to the bike the pace was on as I sensed the urgency in Crowie as we had a few minutes to make up on the likes of Lanos, Van Lierde, Mckenzie, Bell, Bennet, Mathews and Gambles etc who were another few minutes behind the lone wolf Fettel. I really think that this group let a chance go begging as there were some strong riders in this group and coming out the water a few minutes up on Crowie they really should have dropped the hammer and put him away. In saying this the pace was ballistic for the first 40km as I went through in about 56 minutes quickly bridging across with Brown, Rix and Crowie plus the euros.

Once the main group was caught this left Fettel out front and a large group of about 14 hovering about 2-3min back. At about 120km we caught Fettel and the pace really turned up with Van lierde trying to make a break, this caused the group to splinter causing a lead group of 7 to enter T2 and that included myself, Gambles, Crowie, Brown, Van Lierde, Matthews, Lanos and Bell. The last 40 -50km of the ride was really fast but personally I felt quite good and was a good sign of things to come as running for me was my strong point. Coming off the bike I noticed that my time was a huge PB of 4.24 which was 3rd fastest for the day only 20 seconds off fastest set by Crowie and Brown.

The pace out of T2 was insane and I decided to let the guys go and just hold back to my 3.50 pace with a plan of running a very strong last 20km. I was losing drastic time at this point so essentially these guys were running 3.30 – 3,40 range! At about 8km into the race I felt some uncomfortable sensations in the arches of my feet, I just put it down to the joyous feeling of being in an ironman and trying to run off a 4.24 bike ride! But things got bad at about 10km which I went through in about 38 minutes and I had to change my gait to compensate for these huge blisters which had formed. At 18km I had to stop and check to see what was going on and I apologise to the spectators who had to witness this! I knew it wasn’t good and had to start walk/running which was disappointing as I was in 9th place at this point.

I decided to try and get to the finish the best I could and I was lucky enough to have my Cairns mate Guy Besley encourage me to get going at every hundred meters, and I don’t think I had a choice as he wouldn’t let my dirty sweaty body in his new Mercedes to get back to the finish line!

Overall I am disappointed with what happened but I should have checked my socks when I placed them in my gear bag as I used an older pair which essentially caused the issue. I can take some great positives from this race with a solid swim and an all time huge PB bike leg, my run is where it needs to be so for now its just a matter of recovery for a week then ease back into things to get ready for Busso 70.3 and Cairns Ironman. I was 2nd in both of these last year so I would love to go better, and hopefully the 2.41 marathon that Brownie ran will still be in his old legs come Cairns!

Also on another note I am patiently waiting the birth of our first child which is due in the next few weeks, so its a busy time in the Whitehouse! We don’t know whether its a boy or girl so this will be a huge surprise for me and something cool.

My next few races are extremely important and I know the fitness is there so stay tuned for some big results, just need a bit of luck!?Have a Happy and Safe Easter everyone.

Matty