Project Ambassador Luke Bell’s race report from his podium place effort at Ironman Port Macquarie.
“I headed up to Port Macquarie for the 30th Ironman Australia. This was a quick turn around (6 weeks) post Ironman Melbourne’s unfortunate day, and a day I knew that would have to be raced with the head and not the heart. With a depleted immune system post Ironman Melbourne it was not unexpected but still disappointing to come down with a virus (RSV virus) race week and all efforts were made to make the start line in as best a condition as I could.
The swim itself was swift with Graeme O’Grady from NZ stringing everyone out. I settled in quickly on Graeme’s feet from the gun with 2012 Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs tapping my toes. We exited the waters in high 44mins and a nice buffer on the rest of the field.
Onto the bike and Pete Jacobs set a solid steady pace for the first lap before letting it rip heading back out of town. Feeling the effects of the quick turn around it was a mental effort to stay focused and keep the pressure on all day. I kept focused on holding a strong power and staying positive.
Pete’s lead grew to 3mins however Paul Ambrose (2012 Ironman Australia Champion and course record holder) was on the move riding extremely well. Ambrose and I reeled in Pete at around the 120Km mark and then Ambrose set about building a lead heading into the run.
Heading into T2 it was Ambrose with a 7+ min lead after a cracking ride. The first lap of the 4 lap run course was a slog struggling to find a rhythm but slowly pulling small fractions of time. Into the 2nd and 3rd laps the legs came around and I went about trying to real in as much of Ambrose’s lead while I was feeling good. Taking around 3mins back in each of the 10km laps I was within striking distance obtaining splits of 35-40 seconds behind Ambrose. It was going to be a close exciting race!
To Ambrose’s credit what ever I thew at him to try and bridge the small gap he hung tough and dug deep. At 35km mark my run at him was slowing and felt like I started running on the spot. Ambrose hung on for a gutsy win and I came home for a close exciting 2nd.
It was nice to know you can get it done and hang tough on a day that was an effort from the gun. To cross the line knowing you have given 100% of what you had on the day and get that close is satisfying.
It is time to now recover and get ready to head to some warmer weather in the Northern Hemisphere.
*Image via First Off The Bike