Wollongong Olympic Tri Race Report

Event: Wollongong Triathlon Festival

Distance: 1500/40/10

Date: 5th March, 2017

Courtney Thurgar crosssing the line - 3rd in her age group!!

When I was planning the 2016-2017 season Wollongong Olympic was just a race to do because it was local and easy to get to. Also, when Miss 9 does an event I like to do it too so she feels it’s more like something we are both doing together. Initially Husky Ultimate was meant to be the race that I gave it my all, and Wollongong was just a filler before the big first Ironman in May. When I came down so unwell for Husky on the Friday I knew my goals needed to change; Husky was then just to complete and I would give my all at Wollongong Olympic in two weeks’ time.

The week leading into Wollongong was a very wet one. We had over 200mm in about 5 days and the ground could take no more water. The reports had always said that Sunday would be the driest day, Nope! They got the forecast wrong again! Surprise Surprise! I was initially worried about my long ride on Saturday and riding in such wet conditions, though I manned up and got out there on the Saturday and rode my programmed 120kms in absolutely sheeting down rain, at points in my ride the puddles where coming up over my shoes on the down stroke. Although it was wet on my Saturday long ride I knew I had to get it done because if it was wet on Ironman day or even tomorrow I need to have riding in the wet practice; I also had Debi Hazelton in my mind; the super mum doing the 100 half Ironmans in 100 days in Centennial Park Sydney to raise money for the red cross. She has completed these in 40+ weather and flooding and anywhere in between. Pure grit and determination!

So, Saturday before race day was relaxing being a local. After the drenching long ride, I met Miss 9 and hubby at the Mini man event in still; yep you guessed it, pouring rain! They cancelled the kids bike leg due to the being too much water on the road for the kids, so it was an aquathon for all the brave Ironkids that showed up. I then collected my race pack and it was home to prep for my race and get warm and dry for race day tomorrow. Oh, and clean up my TT after its thorough soaking through.


I woke at 5am and had muesli and an instant coffee. I never have either of those things before a race but I think because I was at home and not in a hotel I just had what I would usually have before work. It was raining lightly when I hoped on the Dino the TT to ride the 1km to transition. I felt like the queen just rolling on down to transition on my bike! Haha. As normal transition was buzzing with chatter and nerves of first timers, newbies and old timers. Rain seeming to be the main subject line. I set up my transition with a towel over it as the rain had really picked up now. I was even hopeful it would clear and left my sunnies with transition (wishful thinking).

In the time I was waiting for the race briefing I saw two girls come off their bikes riding them into transition, the roads where just that wet and slippery. I even slipped in a huge pile of run off mud on the way to the bathroom. There was just mud and puddles everywhere already! I also meet gorgeous Ironmum Stephanie in race briefing because she was wearing the Ironmums trisuit that looked wonderful on her. I wished her a great race.

I wasn’t nervous really it was only my second Olympic (same course last year) although I have done 3 halves’ now. I was just buzzing to be local and I found myself giving some girls that where nervous about riding in the wet some tips on where to watch out for in the road.


They had changed the swim course due to water conditions and made it 3 laps in the harbor instead of 2 longer laps going outside the harbor. I was happy with anything really; I swim with the Tri Club in the harbor every week so it didn’t faze me. I was in the second wave 7.03am which was great, I love getting in as early as possible. At this stage, it was bucketing down, girls where really getting concerned how they going to ride in it. And the hooter goes… It was a beach start so off we run, the tide was out so far, we had the dolphin dive numerous times to get some decent depth. Straight away I noticed the terrible water conditions compared to our usual clear clean harbor. It was so murky and I felt like in my catch of the swim I was picking up buckets of sand in my hand! Just don’t swallow any water was my motto!

The swim being my weakest leg I’m usually almost last out of the water. Although lately I been working on swimming harder for longer and a coach at Tri Club had said I would find I can probably push harder in the swim and not feel it later in the race. So as instructed for Husky (but now Wollongong) I pushed harder in the swim. It was a rough swim with some swell and lots of stray arm and legs. I just kept pushing my hardest. The rain was so hard while we were in water at times I couldn’t even see the next buoy when I tried to sight.

Before I knew it, I was done my 3 laps and heading into the shore line to get out of this gross water. On my way out of the water my running buddy Jess was there doing her long run in the torrential rain taking photos of me! Hahaha what a gem! Made me laugh and feel loved as hubby and kids where going to stay home if the rain continued.

I then went to look at my swim time and press “lap” on my watch when my beloved Fenix 3 came off into my hand! WHAT! On closer inspection the buckle had broken, I tried to do it up again but it wasn’t going to happen. So I would be racing naked.

I ran up into transition watch in hand. Got to my bike and removed my wet suit fairly easily for once. I started the bike leg on my watch before I left transition so I could put it in the back pocket of my tri suit for the ride.

In transition I had heard some men in the wave before us say “Great swim girls” In my head I was like “ great swim? Who is he talking to?” As I didn’t get to see my swim time I had no idea what time I had done.

Swim Time: 28.43-5th in age


And I’m off! Straight away I felt I was flying, overtaking bunches of people, and telling myself not to be stupid. I didn’t listen to myself and just kept pushing and pushing. It was a 3 lap bike course with what I would call some rolling hills and one small hill. I felt great on the bike and was pushing hard but felt good. I had to remind myself to drink as it was raining really hard now and typically wasn’t thirsty. My friend Jess kept popping up all over the course in her bright pink rain coat yelling only what I think is encouragement.

Near the turnaround point of the first lap I notice there wasn’t too many girls ahead of me, wow, had I had a good swim? I was feeling like I was flying on the bike. Just keep pushing Courtney don’t get yourself excited. I had company most of the time on the bike and even asked the guy I was riding with most the time what we were averaging and he said 32/hr. Sweet Courts now to just keep it going! Again, I knew lots of people so was continually yelling out encouragement at passing bikes going the opposite direction. I felt on top of the world.

There were lots of people off their bikes, with flats and other mechanical problems. The roads where pretty flooded in parts and I am glad I had the home town advantage of knowing where the pot holes and danger points are. I was so great full I had done my long ride in the pouring rain the day before, I am sure it gave me confidence of steal.

The 3rd lap I was tiring, I had been overtaken by only one female the whole 3 laps so I felt proud as punch. Well done Dino (the TT) I said coming into transition.

Since being out on the bike, transition had turned into more a mud bath than it was before. As soon as I stepped foot off the road into the grass area it was a mess. I couldn’t stand up right, my shoes and bike where instantly covered in mud and I couldn’t even run up the small hill to rack my bike because I would just slip over. Slow and steady to put my bike away.

The rain had eased to showers now but to be honest I hadn’t even noticed I was on cloud 9 (I love riding). I don’t even remember taking my cleats off and putting my joggers on.

Ride: 1.14.06 2nd fastest time in age, 11th fastest female time of the day.


Again, before leaving transition I had to remember to take my watch out of the back of my Trisuit to press “lap” and onto the run.

I come from a running back ground and used to think I was an ok runner. Since taking up Tris though the ride has become my strong leg with my running now suffering and I always struggle to keep a good pace now, after always killing myself on the bike too, I never leave enough for the run. But today was meant to be the day of pushing it! Not being able to see my pace was great.

They had altered the run course due to the rain and now we were running on the footpath instead of a grass area we usually run on. It was a great 2 lap out and back right next to where the riders where riding. Now the second wave groups had started too I had lots of mates out on the bike that I could yell at or they could yell at me. At the first turn, around I noticed a few fast girls coming up behind me, there was no way I could hold them off. They were flying. You know when you looking at girls and wondering “are they in my age group” haha. I felt strong on the run, although like I said I am not fast so although I felt good the whole 10kms about 10 women or so did over take me.

At the turn around in town hubby had turned up as the rain had eased and he encouraged me 1 more lap. I said I was trying to hold this spot and not lose too many spots on the run. I also pointed out to him I had no Garmin on, trying to fool him I had lost it.

The last lap was just about trying to keep up pace and please no other girls pass me! I encouraged a lot of people I knew and received the same. With 500m to go I pulled Mr Garmin out of my back pocket to stop him at the finish like. The run to the finish line was puddles and mud swamps, lucky it was the end it didn’t matter now if I was muddy.

I crossed the finish line and saw hubby standing there and heard 3rd in age group! I could not have been happier! I had had a great race I so badly wanted in Husky. I got it on my home turf though.

Run: 56.27. 3rd in age

I got a massive 8 minute PB over last year. I had a slower run than last year as expected although had improved on the swim and the ride.

A really great day out and was home within half an hour to eat and shower and even relax before going back down for presentation.

This is my last race except for club races until my first Ironman at Port Macquarie in 9 short weeks.

Thanks for reading.

Courtney Thurgar

#WollongongTriathlon #RaceRecap #RaceReport #OlympicDistance #Raceday

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