Road to Recovery: Jake Montgomery completes his first race

Just five months after having been run over and sustaining head injuries while out for a bike ride, pro triathlete Jake Montgomery has just competed in his first race back on the circuit.

Jake Montgomery took part in the Robina sprint triathlon on January 21st, a huge milestone for the athlete who has overcome all odds to get back to competition. “I felt fine throughout the race,” Jake told Trizone.

‘It was really different running around for just one hour compared to four. I got over the finish line and was like ‘oh! that’s it!”

After being cleared by his neurologist and healthcare team just two months ago, competing in a triathlon without any headaches or dizziness seemed like a pipe dream until recently. “While I’d been working out on the wind trainer in my garage, I’d been super light headed. I’d find myself needing to sit down and have a rest for a while, so I wasn’t sure how the race would go,” said Jake. Throughout the event though, Montgomery made sure he worked hard without overdoing it. “I figured there’s no point pushing myself if I end up back in hospital,” he added. “Luckily during the race, there was nothing like that.”

Jake starts the race strong

Even if you’re unaware of Jake’s past, you’d still be impressed by his formidable race. “I started the morning doing some drills and stretching. I got in the water for a ten minute swim then I was ready!” he said. As a pro, Jake is accustomed to a clean start, but at Robina, he found himself starting his race in the fourth wave amongst hundreds of other competitors. “I swam hard, and as soon I got into my pace, I just kept going and didn’t slow down.”

Memory problems make transitions difficult

As Montgomery approached T1, things started to get shaky. From the outside, you wouldn’t guess Jake’s mind was working overtime. “I had to concentrate on remembering everything,” he said. “I had to remember my equipment, my sunglasses, everything I needed. I didn’t used to have to think about those things. It used to be natural habit.”

Jake’s head injury is invisible to outsiders, but for Jake, remembering certain things is still difficult. “Transitioning is definitely slower, but as soon as I was on my road bike and got up to speed, I was fine. The course was fairly flat, and I ended up finishing with a 70.3 power average.”

For the love of Tri

Like any triathlete, Jake is still motivated by the sheer enjoyment of his sport. “There were 52 riders. The enjoyment factor of being out there racing; having the wind in my face and hearing the crowd cheering was great,” remembered Jake.

After a strong bike leg and luckily having come through symptom-free in terms of headaches or dizziness, Jake stormed into T2. “The first 1.2km was shaky. I’d only done one or two runs off the bike in the past few months,” he said. “Once I got around the first turnaround though, I was feeling good. One of the photos the media took of me during the run shows me smiling!”

Running strong, Jake powered towards the finish line and ended his very first race after his accident awash a wave of pride and relief. “There was still the possibility of something going wrong. But it couldn’t have been any smoother.”

Support from all sides motivates Jake’s return

Jake is first to acknowledge his return to triathlon was thanks to his support team. “Mum and Dad were stoked. I hadn’t seen them that happy in a long time,” said Jake. “The messages of support from family and friends before the race was unbelievable. They’re all stoked to see me back racing again.” It’s not just close friends and family who have supported Jake throughout his recovery though. “My sponsors have been unreal,” he added. “I was hoping they’d stick with me throughout my recovery, but they’ve gone well beyond that. I just got a new TT bike! They always check in on me, and that’s really unreal.”

Jake has huge plans for 2017

After an impressive return to racing, Jake has his sights set on Ironman 70.3 Geelong in three weeks. “It’s going to be an impressive field, but it’s good to be racing the best all the time,” he said. His year is only beginning: “After Geelong, I’ll try to get to some Asian races to pick up some points that way. The ultimate goal is to head back to the States in early June for a three month training block again.”

Jake Montgomery has achieved his new years resolution in the most impressive way, and is on his way to staging triathlon’s best comeback. Check back into Trizone after Geelong to see how Jake’s recovery and return to racing progresses.

Shawn Smith

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.