After a stressfully Saturday afternoon sorting out my entry I went to the athlete’s briefing. I felt out of my league, this definitely was the next level! After uniform check I went downstairs and had a quick briefing with my coach, Michael Pratt, to stop my head spinning and plan out the next day. And who else should walk past in the foyer but Emma Snowsill and Emma Moffat, at least I didn’t have to line up with those champions tomorrow.
Sunday morning I got to enjoy a sleep in. It felt strange starting at 2pm compared to 6am bike check in as an age grouper. I made sure I was in Geelong with plenty of time so I got to see a number of my training mates completing the 70.3.
I have been competing for most of my life in various sports at all levels, I don’t remember being this nervous for anything!
It was pretty exciting to hear; “Penny Hosken, Australia” as I ran down the pontoon and dived in for a deep water start. I had a great start and was out in with the front girl who I think was Emma Jackson. I moved onto her feet as she powered off. After the first few hundred meters most of the pack went past and I settled onto some feet at the back.
Around the top swim cans I saw that the bunch was splitting into two groups. I managed to hold onto the back of the second pack on the return to the pontoon. I pushed hard through transition hoping to make up some time. Shortly after mounting the bike was two ninety degree bends followed by a short, sharp climb. As I started the climb I saw a girl on the front of the lead pack slide out on the sharp corner at base on climb and hit the road, so I took it a bit easier. Within the first lap I had made a caught and formed a pack with Turner (AUS) and Pallant (GBR). After another lap I caught the next pack so now I was in a pack of six behind the lead bunch.
I loved the bike course; four laps, lots of tight bends and a great crowd. Each time through the technical section I made sure I was leading the group as I did not want to get held up and involved if there were any more crashes. On the third lap I accidently rode away from the group as I was loving flying through this technical section; “Damn, one lap too early”. Unfortunately when I tried the same move on the final lap it didn’t work. I lead into transition and ran straight past my bike rack! I was not used to having transition so close to the dismount line.
Once out on the run the pack split straight away. The run was three laps on the same climb and technical section of bike. I didn’t have much left in the tank but was very happy to finish a respectable 14th overall and 9th Aussie putting me in the top 10 at the National Elite Sprint Distance Championships!
It was a fantastic experience racing at this level and on a multilap course with so many friends and family cheering me on. Thanks to everyone who supported me!