CES Sport’s Brand Ambassador Brett Halliwell Reflects On His 2019 Season
WHAT A YEAR!
When I sat down with my coach last year we had 2 simple goals. Qualify for the 70.3 World Championships and gaining my first 8% result to go towards my pro license. So how did my year pan out?
Well it was a pretty EPIC year for me. I met both of my original targets and then had to make knew ones early in the season to keep motivated throughout. My opening race was in Aix en Provence France at the Ironman 70.3 Pays d'aix, a fantastic location and a challenging course from start to finish made for a fun race. I came away with a 2nd place finish in my age group and 3rd non pro overall which was the confidence booster I needed to kick start the season and my 70.3 World Champs slot ticked off.
I went from Pays d'aix to my biggest race early season the Challenge Championships out in Slovakia. A strong field is always guaranteed here, but with adverse weather in the lead up to the race it was a question as to whether we would have a swim section at all. Luckily come race day the water was good to go excluding the strong current but a chilly 14 degrees water temperature made for a refreshing dip before being smacked in the face with the 30 degree air temperature. Going into the race I knew I wanted to podium in my age group and get within the required percentage to go towards my pro license, but didn't expect to go on and win the overall age group race after almost putting together a perfect race for me. So what did winning this Championship race mean?
Well the rules set out by British Triathlon are simple. Either 2 x <8% results in an Ironman/Challenge race or 10% in a Championship or the other option is winning the overall age group race at either the Ironman World Champs/70.3 Champs or the Challenge Championships. So yep you guessed it I had managed to secure my professional license in my 2nd race of the season. What a RESULT!!
The question for me now was, do I see the year out as an age grouper? For me it was a no brainer, I would continue to the end of the season as an age grouper before a solid winter and then targeting 2020 as my first year racing as a professional.
Everything after the Challenge Championships was geared towards the World 70.3 Champs in September, during this time June - September I raced 5 times coming away with a podium on each occasion including winning my first Castle Triathlon Series Gauntlet race. As mentioned earlier I had to readjust my targets having ticked both of my earlier once off within 2 races. The new target was a medal at the World Champs.
The 70.3 World Champs was going to be huge, the best and biggest professional fields assembled and the location couldn't have been better in Nice. The course was going to be epic however had a real twist in the bike where you would climb over 1300m up the Col de Vence in the opening 45km and then descend back down the other side, this didn't only require bike strength but also bike handling to make sure you remained rubber side down.
The day was a hot one and I was in the 3rd from last wave off which meant for a busy course. Being it is the World Champs you want to give yourself every chance of doing well, in my head this meant going to the front row of the swim and being one of the first to hit the water knowing faster swimmers will come past me. Was it the right decision? Who knows but for me it felt right. I exited the water and just legged it through transition to make up places before the bike course and just stuck to my game plan up the climb, I knew people would blow themselves reaching the top and I mentally prepared myself to just let the bike go on the way down. With fast sections congested you had to remain focused at all times, it was CRAZY!! Come the run I felt good coming off the bike and the adrenaline was flowing so set out strong up until 2km in when I started heaving and thought I was going to throw up. Why was I heaving? I had no idea but my body didn't want to take on nutrition so I resorted to water and coke for the next 3/4km to hopefully settle the stomach. After 6km my body started to improve and I was able to start taking on my nutrition slowly but my pace had slowed slightly and for me it was about keeping focused and try to get the nutrition in quick before I erupted with over half the run to go. The run was the toughest part of the day with the heat and the flat course it took it's toll, I remained positive until the 5km to go mark where I royally blew up making for the longest 5km of my life but there was no way I was walking or stopping at any point. I powered through to the finish line knowing I had given everything I could on the day but came up short.
So there we have it my overall season I would say was a success minus the Worlds but I have learnt a lot and improved on last year far more than I had ever expected. Bring on 2020 and my first year racing as professional!!
Thanks for reading.