Jake Birtwhistle finished second in the Noosa Triathlon last weekend after an impressive win at Nepean the week before. Trizone caught up with Jake to unpack his Noosa performance.
“I went into Noosa knowing I could possibly win. I had a similar plan to Nepean, but more of a focus on the swim,” says Jake, sounding tired after a huge year of racing. “I’m never really happy unless I win but after looking at it as a whole, I’m really happy with what I did at Noosa.” And so he should be, coming from the tail-end of the swim pack to take second place at the finish line.
Jake Birtwhistle’s Training Preparation for Noosa
After the huge Nepean triathlon, Jake knew he had to maintain his conditioning in the week separating the two events. With no extreme changes needing to be made, he opted to return home to Tasmania and spend time with his family. “I knew [that] if I headed home it wouldn’t affect my training at all, I just kept it as similar to normal as possible. I just really wanted to go home,” says Jake happily.
“This year I knew the demands of Noosa. Not just the race but the media and sponsor commitments too. I got all my commitments done, then settled in before the event. I did it better this year.”
For Jake, the week in-between the iconic Aussie events comprised of three and four-minute time trial efforts and short sessions. He then set off for Noosa, with just one day before the race to work on applying some small tweaks. It’s not just the race at Noosa that can tire out the athletes though; for the pros, the commitments are extensive.
Race day preparation
His first alarm went off at 3:30am, followed by five more alerts over the next twenty minutes to ensure he wouldn’t miss the race by mistake. After starting the day with some muesli and yoghurt, he quickly headed to the transition to get organised – taping two gels to his bike, though he guessed he’d only need one. He prepared his one water bottle, filling it with rehydration fuel and then left the transition – confident his gear was ready for the race.
Next, Jake went down to the beach for his warm-up. “The more swimming I can do the better, so I try to get in as much as I can,” he told Trizone.
Noosa Triathlon’s stages
“Beach starts work well for me, because I’m a bit taller than the others and get an extra stride in before the water,” explains Jake. “I was lucky I got into a good position from the start, so I was able to get some clear water.”
Jake found himself near the lead before the first buoy. He was conscious of being strong during the swim leg, as he knew how powerful Ryan Fisher would be during the run leg. Despite powering through the water, Jake found himself near the back of the pack by T1.
As the bike leg commenced, Jake had made up plenty of time at the transition and was surging towards the lead pack on the bike. “I wanted to ride hard and even if I couldn’t catch Amberger and Wilson, I just wanted to lessen the space between us,” he remembers.
As Jake flew through T2, he heard people on the course yelling out time gaps. “They said we were about 1:30 coming into T2,” he recalls. “I was pretty confident I’d be able to catch the two leaders but I knew it wouldn’t be easy.”
Starting relatively conservatively, Jake consciously picked up his pace towards the middle of the run as he knew this was the time he needed to add speed. “I was hoping I’d have some left for the end, but I did slow down a bit at the finish,” he says modestly, almost forgetting he placed second on the event podium when the dust had settled.
When asked about the incredible race performance of champion Dan Wilson – who will be leaving the ITU circuit at the end of the year – Jake was full of praise. “I never expected Dan to run like he did, especially after such a strong swim and bike,” he adds. “He was just a better athlete on the day.”
Grateful for a break for the next few weeks, Jake will be basking in the glory of his Nepean win and his second-place finish at Noosa.