Kate Bevilaqua reports in on her dramatic win at the Sunsmart 2010 Ironman Western Australia, which will be forever remembered for her stubble down the finish chute, and collapse under the finish line tape.
By Kate Bevilaqua
“OMG!! It is only really starting to sink in although it has been 3 days since the race.
Where to beginâ€¦â€¦?
It has been a big year for me with 6 Ironmans in 12 months. A ‘come back to racing, get some fitness back’ kind of year. After the disappointment of Hawaii I was looking forward to racing WA to finish the year on a high before a break over Xmas. It was going to be great racing in front of my home crowd, family and friends.
Leading up to the race I was pretty relaxed, sure I had expectations, but it is always about executing my race plan and hopefully the rest will follow. A trip to Margaret River early in the week to relax before driving to Busselton and begin dealing with the hype which is Ironman!
Race morning was the usual rituals although a lot earlier than normal. With a 5.30am race start for the Pro’s the alarm went off at 3am! That is even early for me! My normal breakfast and we were on our way. The water was calm and I was looking forward to a great swim. I have been working hard on my swimming and this has been reflected in my times in the pool. But again it was not to happen in the open water. After staying with the main pack for a few hundred meters I was left to swim the rest of the 3.8km solo, which was definitely not good! Reflected in my very slow swim time!!
Onto the bike and I was well aware of the margin to the lead girls and that I had my work cut out for me. But Ironman is a long day and I was, as always, going to give it everything I had! After a short mechanical stop at the first roundabout I was back on my bike in what was ideal conditions and on my way. The nature of the bike course allowed me to see the margin at each out and back and it was encouraging to see the time come down. Riding back into town after each lap was incredible with the local support.
By the time lap 3 came around if I continued the way I was riding I had calculated I may have the lead into T2 and was pretty excited about that prospect. With my head down I went for it. Coming into transition, I still felt I had cycled within my limits and was ready to run a solid marathon.
The plan was to take it out slowly!! I have a habit of flying out of transition, and beginning the marathon way too fast! I would love to negative split the 42.2km one day, but that will have to wait for another day! When Bec went running by I constantly told myself, my pace, my race plan! I need to stick to that. So I did. I was surprised to see after the first lap the gap between Bec and I closing and before I knew it I had made the pass and all of a sudden I was leading the race! Oh my god!!!
By the third lap of the run I knew the mental games would begin but I just continued to put one foot in front of the other and soak up the amazing atmosphere and crowd support. The last lap I was still doing okay and taking in gels and fluids at every aid station. With 2 km to go I began to feel the quads cramp and after the last aid station they were beginning to buckle underneath me. It was not a nice feeling at all! I was unable to run! The last km was taking forever! It became a fast walk, then a pull along the railing! All I could think to myself was â€œnot now!â€ â€œplease not now!â€ I am so close and I am not letting this one go! I remember hearing the crowd cheering and screaming loud as I entered the finish chute but to me the banner was not getting any closer. It was a struggle as I pulled myself a long! I then realised there was a ramp up to the finish line which I had not noticed before. As soon as I tried to walk up it, the legs completely buckled and it was all over. I was still not there though! Crawling was the only option left! Once over that line, it was absolute relief! I did it! I was not moving. I was completely and utterly spent! This was the moment I had been dreaming of my entire Professional career but I didn’t even have enough energy to stand up on my own 2 legs! To wave to the crowd or take in the moment.
A win is a win though and I will take it!
After the medical staff brought me back to life and I was able to open my eyes, a wide grin came across my face as I realised that I had won! I was the Ironman Western Australia Champion for 2010!! I still can’t believe it!
It has been the most incredible year! After 18 months of injuries and not knowing if I would ever have the opportunity to do what I love again to winning an Ironman, I have experienced it all. But with endless amount of support from family and friends.
To my sponsors for believing in me K-Swiss, Novatron, Ryders, Computrainer, Blue Seventy, FELT, Selle SMP Saddles, GU, Nuun, SKINS, Tony Bence and Ruth Chang.
To Andrew Budge who got me involved in Ironman in the first place with the passion he displays with every athlete. And coach Jeff Shilt, what can I say!! You took me on board after 3 stress fractures with a strong belief of what could still be achieved. Although I totally hated the word patience this year, the results speak for themselves! This is just the beginning and what a great start it has been!
To mum, dad, Aunty Janice, Uncle Neil, Darryl, Wesley, Jane, Peter, Chris, Bec, Kerry and Shannon (and Mackinley) for your support on the weekend. I know you have had to deal with a lot over the years, but that definitely makes it all worth while.
To Guy for looking after me after the race, which believe me, was not easy in the state I was in!! Thank you
And now, it is time for some R and R! Mentally and physically the body needs a break so I can come back faster and stronger in 2011!
It was a day that I will never forget!
Photos by John Marsh of Northside Runners, Crows Nest and www.born2run.com.au.