By Karl Hayes
The men’s half of the SiS Port Macquarie half ironman could be won by at least 6 different people this weekend. Adam Holborow, Mitch Robins, Matty White, Ollie Whistler, Tim Berkel and Tim Reed all have the talent to win on Sunday. Matty White is talking himself down but Tim Berkel is having none of that. Berkel hasn’t had the best preparation since coming back from Boulder. Mitch Robins and Tim Reed are possibly the two that the punters may have their money on.
Up there also is Ollie Whistler who came third at Gold Coast recently and will be going to Port Macquarie to win but will his quads be small enough and his run fast enough? Tim Reed isn’t so sure. â€œOllie and Gavin Scott will have a strong influence on the race but may not have the run speed to take the title. Although with every centimetre Ollie loses from his quad circumference his run gets a minute correspondingly quicker and it’s only a matter of time before he puts it all togetherâ€. But there is one that Reed feels will only lose if he lets it happen. â€œIn my mind it’s Mitch’s race to lose. He is really firing at the moment. His only downfall could be that he has been doing a lot of racing and may be tired. If he is fresh he’ll be flying. Those long centepedal like legs seem to flow at speeds when everyone else is spontaneously combustingâ€.
â€œBerkel and Matty shouldn’t be near peak form with Berkel travelling back and forth to the States more than from his home to the Port Mac swimming pool and Matty has had a good break after his very successful U.S season. In saying that, their experience and training base means they could never be discounted for the top spotâ€.
That just leaves Tim Reed. â€œIf I have eliminated some inconsistency with how I feel in latter parts of the bike, I hope to be somewhere near the front as I’ve had a better prep than usualâ€.
Adam Holborow and Michael Murphy may not be in their top form right now. They will still be ones to watch on Sunday.
Matty White is down playing his chances after coming back from Boulder and a tough USA season. â€œMy motivation is low at the moment probably due to the fact that there were many people to train with in Boulder. I was living with Tim Berkel which made training easier on a day to day basis, plus having people like Crowie, Dirk Bockel, Matt Reed etc in the area certainly made life easy on the long rides and runs. Coming back home to Adelaide is hard, it is such a beautiful place to train with great facilities but the lack of full time pro athletes here means that I predominantly train “man solo” style and that takes time to get used to again after being in a triathlon town such as Boulderâ€.
â€œI am really looking forward to racing again in my home country where people know who you are and I get some great support from my Australian Sponsors such as Scody, Ryders, Saucony, Merida Bikes etc. I also get great crowd support here in the long distance races which lifts me to another level when racingâ€.
Tim Berkel says that the race will be all about Mitch Robins and Tim Reed this weekend. â€œI haven’t had the best preparation and only really got in my first weekend of solid training last weekend. I have had a very interrupted few weeks. Gold Coast was not a great race for me, I went to Hawaii to do some sponsor work and also have not really been able to settle down in to regular training. In saying that I do have the fitness and I am feeling really good right nowâ€. Tim is looking forward to this weekend for many reasons. â€œI can’t wait to race at home again and also the SiS guys are organising a question and answer panel during race briefing with myself and Mitch. I am really looking forward to that. My big focus is Clearwater (Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Florida on Nov 13 this year)â€.
Tim is going to be doing a mad dash to Clearwater, arriving the Thursday before and leaving on the Sunday to get back for Ironman WA. â€œShane Smith managed to convince me in Hawaii to do IMWA. I had planned to race in Phuket but Shane wouldn’t let me. So now I am doing Ironman! I do love Ironman in WA. Last year coming 49th but deciding that I was going to finish was an amazing experience. Most pros pull the pin when they know they are out of contention but this time I decided to hang in there. The response I got from the supporters was amazing. Although I could have done without all the â€˜I’m passing Tim Berkel’ commentsâ€.
Ollie Whistler is coming to Port Macquarie with thoughts of a win and is hoping that Tim Berkel and Matty White are not quite at their best. “Although the field doesn’t read as deep for the SiS Port Macquarie Half Ironman as it did for Gold Coast a few weeks ago, it is going to be another very close and exciting race to watch and be a part of. For the majority of the professional athletes lining up for a chance on the podium, we are what I would call Australia’s up and coming, or junior long course triathletes. The average age of the guys is much younger than what usually makes up the numbers, and it would seem like a good opportunity for one of the boys like Mitch Robins, Tim Reed, Adam Holborow or myself to claim our first Australian Half Ironman title. It is great to see the depth of the younger or new generation of Australian long course racing and to have us all coming together this weekend”.
On the other hand, whilst still being young, you have more experienced athletes like Tim Berkel and Matty White who are always going to be in the mix and the guys to beat on the day. “I am not sure what level of performance these two are going to bring after a long season in the US and having breaks only a few weeks ago, but you can be sure they will be on the start line fit and looking for a win”.
Ollie wasn’t interested in talking trash and trying to predict what to expect on Sunday. I wouldÂ rather focus on putting my own best performance together and leave the talking for Sunday… this being done, I know it will at least put me in the hunt for the title and will require a very good performance for someone to beat me. That being said, there are another ten or so guys that could potentially take this win and it will depend on what happens on the day. I am feeling very relaxed about it though and have total confidence in my preparation and improvements throughout the season and am very excited to be racing. I wish all the boys luck, and may the best have bragging rights at least for Sunday night. Good luck to all competing and I hope you enjoy your day out!”.