“Those conditions out there today were brutal. I’ve never had a head wind that strong during a run….” World Champion and 70.3 overall winner Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander sums up the conditions athletes endured on the weekend.

By Tri Alliance Coach & Athlete Scott D’Aucourt

The talk in the week leading up to the Geelong 70.3 Half Ironman and 5150 Olympic Distance had all been about how hot is was going to be and how much the wind was going to blow.  After Challenge Melbourne’s tough conditions the previous week some knew what to expect.

The briefing on Saturday calmed some of our worst fears with race organisers saying that it wasn’t going to be as hot as predicted (only 30 degrees) but it was going to blow.  The course would remain unchanged but a couple of extra aid stations were to be installed so athletes could remain hydrated.  After checking in and racking our bikes Saturday afternoon, few of us who had not raced this course before took the opportunity to drive some of the more technical sections around the park and the seafront to familiarise ourselves with it – a good job as there were some sunken manhole covers on a descent into the town which we did not want to hit at full pace the next morning.

Driving down on Sunday morning from Melbourne the temperature had not abated – the car said 34 most of the way down and the wind was blowing hard from the north….

Transition was the usual hive of activity with everyone setting up, checking and re-checking, and everyone wanting to borrow my foot pump – maybe I should start charging! Transition was closed 07:15 as the 70.3 was about those racing the 5150 (me included) had another 1.5 hours before we hit the water so we could sit relax and watch the action.

The course set up in the heart of Geelong centred around Steam Packet gardens and Eastern Beach reserve with the swim in Corio Bay, the bike leg a return heading out towards Portarlington and a run through the gardens and along the sea front.


The swim was an odd shaped course but designed so that you’d not be looking into the sun to sight.  The pros went off and as usual hit it hard – watching them come through transition gave us a buzz and it was soon time to suit up.  We had some tips from those in a team coming in from the swim that there was a good amount of swell out to the first buoy so not to go to hard from the gun – handy advice.  The choppy waters made sighting the second turn tough which made for some slower times, but most enjoyed the waves on the way back in which helped for a quicker finish.  The conditions also returned quite a number of unprepared athletes to shore with assistance. (Note – train in all conditions, as you don’t know what you will get on race day!)

Out on the bike and you could feel the wind already, the immediate left switch and a couple of short inclines got the legs going.  With the wind behind it was time to push it out as it was going to be tough coming back.  A spur out past the salt flats made for an interesting side wind, and made having a drink and going sideways a bit of fun. Back out on the straight heading to Portarlington some hills up and down with scenery – no evidence of the previous weeks drafting issues which was good to see.  At the turn around with sun beating down it was time to get right down and just keep the pedals turning – a dead straight 14k stretch into gusting 40-50k/hr winds was brutal.  The amount of bottles at the aid station on this stretch was testament to how tough it was.  Seeing the turnaround was a relief and a short buzz through town with a nice tailwind and the crowds cheering lifted the spirits on what had started as a tough day at the office.


The run also started up a couple of inclines which the legs did not like at all, some shade and wind respite in and around Eastern park before another battering head wind and sand blasting along the seafront.  The turnaround was another relief and you could stretch it out downhill and downwind to the finishing chute.

Credit to those doing the 70.3 as they had 2 laps of both the bike and run – I think I had it easy by comparison.  A number of athletes pulled the plug choosing to focus on Ironman Melbourne in a few weeks and even the organisers cut the bike leg off when the wind was blowing some of the metal railings over making conditions unsafe.

Pro Athlete and winner of the 70.3 distance Craig Alexander summed up the conditions well in his post race interview “Those conditions out there today were brutal. I’ve never had a head wind that strong during a run…. Everyone out there today is earning their money.” When one of the best Ironman athletes in the words say it was brutal, then you better believe it! 🙂

Thanks for all the support on and off the course, and the knowing nods and encouragement as the Tri Alliance crew passed each other – seeing familiar faces helps you through.  And maybe next year it won’t be so windy…….

Click here for our picture gallery from the event


70.3 HALF IRONMAN (1.9km/90km/21.1km)

Name Surname Overall Age Place
Mattew Fox 5:21:39 M3034 36
Daryl Clemson 5:21:49 M4549 8
Adam Murone 5:25:19 M3539 25
Jed Shiels 5:33:42 M2529 31
Simon Madden 5:39:42 M4044 48
Darren Schonewille 6:21:31 M3539 87
Jon Ratcliffe 6:37:02 M5054 35
Lee Bethune 7:21:07 F3539 31
Michelle Grocock



Name Surname Overall Age Place
Gordon Hassett 2:34:13 M3034 2
Scott D’Aucourt 2:44:24 M3539 5
Peter Tucker 2:48:25 M3539 7
Jimmy Tyler 2:55:41 M4044 12
Shane Buntman 2:58:25 M3539 13
Brianna Laugher 3:27:56 F3034 15

Evalin Ling, Tim Watts, David Plush, Simon Gronow, Nola MacGregor

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