I had been waiting for this day for a whole year and come race morning I am sure I was showing signs of the pressure and nerves, most of which were largely self-inflicted... Bar the pressure from a few mates whose constant reminders of 'if you aren't first, your last' were always at the front of my mind!
I had my best preparation yet and a number of factors contributed to that; pressure, competition, experience and of course the desire to defend my title. It was a cold and calm morning, which meant a flat and even colder swim.
I got straight in to things early and settled in to a good pace. I had 4 minutes on the first chase guys and 6 or so minutes to the likes of Richard Ussher and Matty White, who I knew would be two of the main guys to watch.
The start of the ride was freezing and it meant the pro field dwindled in numbers early.
No matter how often you hear it Wanaka truly is a course that suits those who know it and who are familiar with the terrain and elements. I wanted at least 5 minutes off the bike if I could, I figured the best guys would run that in to me if they sensed half an opportunity, so I was pretty happy and got a good boost of confidence when I was holding around a 7 minute time gap.
The ride was rather uneventful, 20 odd thousand pedal strokes, too many energy gels, a few sheep here and there, and the standard highs and lows that come with 180km on a bike.The standard Wanaka wind and heat never made an appearance and my body seemed to appreciate that with no bodily issues like last year to report.
Getting off the bike and having held that 7 minute gap was a dream outcome. It meant I could find my rhythm early on the run and worry about myself.
It was awesome to have my mates out there yelling abuse at me on the run and they kept me pushing. I was having a dream day, the kind of day you want to bottle and drink a little every other day you race.
At the 10km mark I had 9 minutes to Ussher. It was then that I knew, barring a complete meltdown, that I could defend my title. It was more relief than elation to cross the finish line, but an awesome feeling none the less to have everything come together like it did and to live up to my mates expectations!
Now the daunting task of trying to emulate that form again!
- Dylan McNeice
Challenge Wanaka Title Holder 2014