The longest leg of the race can be the most daunting for a lot of people.
23km (or 10km) can be a tough hot slog to start your Coolangatta Gold journey, but as the saying goes “you can’t win the race here but you can certainly lose it.” Some things to remember:
- Start Fast – The start of the race is always closer to the speed of a traditional ski race rather than an endurance test; don’t be intimidated by the distance, make sure you get away fast. Give as much as you’ve got and trust in the fact that after five or so minutes the pace will settle and packs will form. 2007 winner Rhys Drury always said weather the storm early and then get to work.
- Find Wash – Never work harder than you have to but take your turn. Wash riding on the ski is the best way to get a quick trip down the coast, so look for groups that you can work off.
In saying that, if you do end up in a group, make sure you take a turn on the front. Nobody likes a leech.
- Drink, eat and drink some more – don’t get caught out racing the race and forget to take on fluids and gels. You won’t feel the effects during the ski, but you will feel them later. Take on as much fluid (with essential minerals and carbs) as you can regularly. Try not to go long periods and then take huge gulps. Little sips are the key.
- Paddle to the conditions – Depending on the weather, wind and swell, your race plan will change. Make sure you’ve spoken to your coach about how you’re going to paddle (and why) and stick to it. Remember the final 6km of the ski leg is in the opposite direction to the first 17km and while it might not seem like much, a lot of ground can be made up and lost when you turn at the northern end. Leave plenty in the tank.
- Ski to run – in the final kilometre of the ski leg, make sure you really emphasise your leg drive (although in all honesty you should be driving through your legs the entire way 😊) to really get the blood flowing into your legs for the upcoming run. Once you’re off the ski, your heart rate will spike due to the change in major muscles being used. Stay calm, focus on being efficient and try to get into a rhythm before you hit the stairs.
- Stair climb – This can be the toughest part of the race if you’re not prepared; the grind up Miami hill. Run within yourself and never push too far beyond what’s comfortable. The climb should take 30 secs at most, nothing in the big scheme of the race. Be positive, survive and head towards Burleigh.
Next time we focus on the swim.