GEMMELL WINS ON KEYWINS! - Auckland World Cup
You all read my email before the race, and well, I'd like to say I did my best to honor every word I wrote down! I think you all saw it written over my face, and heard it in my voice after the race, what that all meant to myself and my family.
Trying to gather myself after the race on live TV was bad enough... But trying to reply to all these emails and messages from complete strangers over the last days, has been heart wrenching. Its amazing how something that feels so normal (wanting to race my heart out) for myself, can give some stranger a moment of pleasure, and produce a smile in what can seem to be a hopeless situation. You know I spoke of the personal meaning's for myself before the race. It brings me some happiness, that the emotion of the day, spread even wider than I ever considered, before, or even post race for that matter.
To keep everything in order for what I felt I needed to do. I had to get back home after the race. Basking in what happened on Sunday is fine, and I will never forget this feeling, forever. But keeping it in prospective, is about how, and why, its so important to me. I'll be back up in Auckland in the next week or so to catch up with you all. But the Riverdale school sports day was calling for Uncle Kris. And his surprise visit!! There's also a certain someone I want to catch up with, and if things work out that will be very soon when we have the green light!.
What I will do, as always, is try to give you all as much of an insight from the race on the inside. It maybe a little bit of a struggle, as most of you saw the great coverage live on the day from TVNZ and I could be repeating myself. To have our sport portrayed like that just makes me smile. The public were also amazing, and a huge part of why the event was so successful. The weather played nice, and all the athletes knew they were up against a course that would test why they challenge themselves day in, and day out.
The day started off well. I was really relaxed after catching up with my Family ( Mum, Dad, Nicola and Michelle) the day before, for coffee and dinner. I also had my great friend Tyler Butterfield who had been training with me in Boulder, Colorado, over the last 5 weeks, as my roomy. It's the little things that keep you calm and clear before a race like that. And I was really enjoying being back in NZ, having a pie or two, and just chillin out. As we sat in the hotel and watched the girls race, I thought this is just an amazing setting for something special. The crowd was great, the athletes ( women) were hurting up the hills, and Ang was stamping her mark, as I hoped to later on. As we rode down to the course, I could see Ang was running away to another great victory in a stunning year. And knowing her throughout her whole career... be sure everyone, there is more to come!
The swim was my first mark on a special day! As we took up our positions on the Pontoon, I decided before the race I would start on the right hand side looking out at the bouy. I was convinced there was a current, and had spoken to some local boys having a fish off the wharf when I was warming up. They all agreed with me that it could make a difference. As I went out and walked over to the right ( every one lined up to the left) I stood there and never once thought you've made a mistake. I could here people whispering "what is he doing" but this was me racing how I wanted to, right from the gun!
As we dove into the water you can easily spot me to the right, getting left behind. However I didn't have to fight with anyone, and I slowly got into my work. After 100 meters Im still nearly dead last! Then I start to move up, and as we hit the current everyone gets pushed left, and I swim directly to the first can. I arrived at the bouy in 2nd or 3rd, and from that point on, just swam very comfortably and saved as much energy as possible. Tony Dodds passed me on the second lap, and I was able to follow him all the way into T1. As we rounded the entry into transition, I could see we had a small gap. It was maybe the chance I was looking for. And so had to put the foot down right away.
When we got together on the bike, myself, Tony, and Tom Davison caught early swim leader Richard Varga from Slovakia. The 4 of us started to work very well, and quickly hit the first of 8 challenging laps that had hills all over it. After the first long hill, I could see, and gauge from the publics support, we had maintained a small gap. But they were charging from behind, and they were motivated to catch up. I looked at my numbers( power meter) and they were very good. I had great power today, and I thought if someone or a group catches us, they will have worked hard to get here. On the first time through transition I could see Bevan was driving a small group hard up to us. I think most of those guys got pretty lucky to be honest that he was there. But on the other hand, they are also probably hating him right now with how hard he made them ride to catch us. As we ended the second climb on the second lap, Bevan and the group ( or what was left of it :-)) caught us. I had a quick smile to Bev, and said 'what took you so long'! Its pretty normal between us to have a little joke.. it keeps us in the moment. From this point on we were all working really well, and the time gap just kept growing to all the big hitters in the big chase pack. We were all very committed, and I felt like no one really looked comfortable when the pressure was on. I had no pre conceived plan to attack, but I did say that if I felt good, I would look for a moment to test myself. On the 5th lap up the long hill, Bevan really attacked. It was very hard to follow, and caused the other guys a lot of stress. After that hill he gazed at me, and I had the feeling that was him saying to me 'that was my go at getting away'. The next hill I just attacked and went for it! I knew they would all be smashed from Bevans acceleration, and I tried to use this to my benefit. When I went over the top, I just kept going. As I rode back to transition, I kept looking over my shoulder, and tried to gauge are the catching me? can they catch me? do they even want to catch me? Its a dangerous move, and they could have just left me out there to hang. I was still only really 80% committed, but I was using more energy than them. I decided I would hammer it through the technical section, and try and expose the gap for what it was worth. As we looped back on ourselves, I noticed Tom had also slipped off the front. This was the chance I was waiting for, I soft peddled a bit and waited. When he caught up, I jumped on his wheel as he sped past, and it was on. I tried to motivate him right away, and knew we had a small chance If we could get to the hill with a gap still intact. That way I could drag him up there, and we would be away! So the second to last time up the long hill, I rode very hard, and Tom to all his credit hung on for dare life. From that point on, we were gone. I also knew Bevan would know help us out indirectly. By him being isolated in that group, he was not going to drag all those guys around on his wheel. But at the same time, they needed him to. He was the strongest amongst them, and the only who could likely close the gap. So it just panned out perfectly for us at that point, and we cashed in.
The last lap of the bike was really fun. Me and Tom spoke most of the way round, and I knew we had made the right move. You always feel good about that when presented with a chance. However, we still had to run. And to be honest, this was the only time I lost any amount of concentration during the whole race. As we rode into T2, I spotted out of the corner of my eye, an ITU Offical standing in a place I hadn't noticed before when we did our laps. I jumped off my bike with close to a minute lead at what I thought was the dismount line. But I was about 50 meters to soon! Rookie error. I tried to laugh it off, but it actually made me focus even more. I lamented with myself as I ran to rack my bike. 'It's not over yet mate' I said!
The run started well, and I felt as soon as my legs hit the ground they felt rigid and strong. After a bike like that, you always wonder how the pins will feel. But they were great. I'd been running well, and my sessions had gone great in Boulder. I was saying to myself, 'don't sit on this lead'. I needed to use the gap I'd created, and put pressure on anyone who thought they maybe able to catch me. After the first lap I could see I actually made time on most of the guys closest to me. That gave me even more confidence as I went back up queen street and into the crowd. There are some great races we do around the world, but running up and down Queen street will be something I'll never forget. With one lap to go I'd stretched out my lead to nearly 90 seconds. I felt great, and I was really in control. It seemed like I could increase my pace at any time if I needed to. The last lap was something special! on any cold, hard, wet training day over the next 10 months prior to London... that is all what I'll think about. I saw all the smiling faces, mostly strangers as they leaned over the barriers, cheering me on over the last lap. I tried not to look at them, but over the last lap, most of the time I found myself lost in it. The two most important moments came within a hundred meters of each other that day. The first being the high five with Bevan! Iv'e been through nearly everything he has in his career, and Ive been through it with him. I have lived, trained, and breathed the same passion he has for this sport. He knows I respect him more than anyone in this sport for what he has done, and the legacy he will leave behind. It's the small moments like that you can't buy with any amount of riches!
The second was of course my signing to TIM on the TV... I'd thought of how that moment could pan out in my head, a hundred times over in the last 4 weeks. To have it happen as it did was just too surreal. Ive looked back through the race to see some key moments for my own interest. But I found myself replaying that moment, over, and over again. Thank god I can spell!!:-)
As I ran towards the finish line It just felt amazing. I've won World Cups before, and big races around the world. But some of them I really have to think, what did I do as I rolled up to that tape? This one will be firmly etched in my memories forever.
That fist pump at the end, will now become a mark of something that started for myself when many tried to count me out! I kept saying ( and you all stuck by me) I'll get off the floor when I get this sorted! and when I do, I'll stand there like any prize fighter... with my hands in the air, ready for the next fight, if someone wants to take this from me!
This summer will be great, and training will be fun. The Olympics is close there's no doubt! but I'm not about to rest on this... or just jump in the ring and just start throwing haymakers left and right because I can.. Lets get in with a plan, lets execute that plan, the rope a dope is over! Lets get on the front foot from now on Timmy.
I need to make a special mention to those of you who have been effected directly ( You know who you are) or indirectly personally by Cancer. Your words over the last weeks have been great, and I Look forward to sitting down with Tim and telling him of all your special words you have passed on to me for him.
Olympian and Professional Triathlete
FACEBOOK @ Kris Gemmell