As predicted by Pete Jacobs the day before the race Macca won and White was second. Chris McCormack wins Cairns Airport Challenge Cairns in style after being over 3mins down in the swim.
As predicted Fettell, followed very closely by Graham O’Grady, lead the swim and hit the bike with a solid early lead. It didn’t take Macca long however to catch Clayton Fettell and New Zealand’s Graham O’Grady on the bike. Once caught the three rode the rest of the 180kms together. McCormack powered out of T2 to take an early advantage and make the rest of the field work hard to catch him. They never did.
McCormack’s performance at Challenge Cairns was clinical and he knew that he always had the race covered. Whilst his current form leading in to the race was not as well known those that knew him saw that the signs were there for a win. Macca caught the two leads guys fairly quickly but didn’t pull away as expected. He knew where he was and who he was racing and calculated exactly what he had to do to win.
The chase pack on the bike never made inroads in the the three leaders. The talk was that Matty White was doing a lot of the work in this group. The group consisted of Matty White, Tim Berkel, Dvid Dellow and Jonathan Hotchkiss. They remained around 4:30 to 6mins down for the entire ride.
Off the bike only just over 6mins separated the top seven overall finishers. McCormack pushed hard from the start and looked comfortable for the entire run. Early leader on the bike, Graham O’Grady hit the run feeling good and settled in to a steady pace until the 6km mark where he felt like he was ‘hit over the back with a baseball back’. The next 22kms were brutal and O’Grady hung in there until he started feeling cold in the 30 degrees heat. At this point he knew he had to pull out and seek medical help. In hindsight O’Grady says that he would have rather sat by the roadside eating and drinking for two hours and then walked to the finish. The good thing about the race for Graham was that everything was perfect apart from a case of salt depletion.
Tim Berkel pushed hard to run through the field and got as far as Matty White but he had used up all he had to catch Matty and fell back with one lap of the run to go. White looked fresh at the end while Berkel was out for the count.
At the start of the run Kiwi Jamie Whyte slipped back to 8th early in the run due to the fast pace the
ensued from the start. He had his own plan and knew that he would pick
up some places as the day wore on. He finally caught Fettell in the late
stages of the run and they ran shoulder to shoulder for a while before Whyte pulled away to take 4th overall.
Clayton Fettell’s result was outstanding considering he only decided to enter the race (his first ever iron distance race) on Friday. Not many people get to Friday and think ‘What shall I do this weekend…? Maybe I will race an Iron distance triathlon’. Nice day at the office Clayton!
It was a good day at the office for the team from Aeromax Team who are trained by Grant Giles. 2nd, 3rd, 5th in the long race, 1st in the women’s half and 2nd in the men’s half.
Slideshow photo credit: Jeff Akers
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