berkel-70-3-busseltonWhat an incredible day. A course record to take out the 2014 Ironman 70.3 in Busselton, Western Australia. I couldn’t be happier right now.

It was a picturesque morning in Busselton on Saturday yesterday and it unfolded as I had hoped it would. But before I jump into how the race went I wanted to share with you how I almost didn’t make it to the start line.

My preparation leading up to the race had been really good. I’d put some solid sessions in and I was feeling comfortable at where I was. As you can see by my data I didn’t end up training during the last week.

I nearly wasn’t able to make the start line at all as my final week of preparation was thrown into chaos. The timing was terrible. Two weeks out from the race I came down with a bug which went through the squad. I ended up having it the longest, which in hindsight, may have done me well given that I had forced rest and plenty of sleep. Hats off to my wonderful wife, Bel, who looked after me while I was ill.

The start gun went off in Geographe Bay for the open water swim beside the famous Busselton jetty. The water was glass-like and not a breath of wind could be found.

Courtney and Sam lead the swim out of the water. I felt like I had a great swim and was able to stay in the front bunch which really helped to set up the rest of the day for me. This is something I have worked a lot on over the last 6 months or so.

Out on the bike Tom Rodgers and James Hodge put some hard work in early. We were very fortunate again to have have any real wind hitting us.

Coming out of T2 and onto the run was a group of 9 which consisted of Guy Crawford, James Hodge, Courtney Atkinson, Sam Appelton, Alex Reithmeir, Tom Rodgers, Sam Betten, Casey Munro and myself. This is where the race is really going to begin as there was only about a minute between all of us.

Halfway through the second lap I managed to shake Sam and now I was moving in on closing down the gap between myself and Courtney. By the end of 2nd lap (14km) I’d passed Courtney and from there, it was up to me to hold on and ensure the win.

For the curious minded, I was fortunate to break the course record by a few minutes which was held by Brad Kahlefeldt at 3:45:38 with my winning time of 3:43:07. I’ve finally got one over my good mate and training partner. This one’s for you!

Defending my Australian 70.3 Championship, Mandurah, Western Australia

This year I was heading back to Mandurah, Western Australia, to defend my title against a field of competitors who were much stronger than last year. I’ve focused a lot of my year on being fit and ready to come back to Mandurah and defend my Aussie title, while trying to keep the race in perspective and treat it like any other day.

As a course, it suits me to a T, with the canal swim, flat and fast bike segment and the hot and windy run and I was feeling good going into it.

The start of the race went well, coming out of the water with a time of 21:19. I was on par with the main front pack which included, Bozzone, Reed, Kahlefeldt, Appleton, Bennett, Munro and Jurkiewicz.

Onto the bike the pace was fast, I pushed it pretty early trying to split the field up a little bit and by the second half of the bike I was really starting to feel it. The wind was picking up on the second lap and the heat was coming at me from every angle. I made good time of 2:03 with a couple of the boys absolutely flying along. Bozzone was super strong and really showing why he is number 2 at 70.3 world champs.

Off the bike, Bozzone was the first to get running. It was down to us, Appleton, Bennett, and Jurkiewicz, we were only separated by a few seconds at the start of the run. I was off in 3rd position and it took a while to get my legs going. I was really feeling the pace of the bike start to bite and a few of the guys were really taking off and began to leave me behind.

I slipped back to 4th position during the first half of the run. Finally, when my legs came good, more than half way in, it was a battle to try and shake a few of the boys off. I gave it my all and managed to push my way back up to second. I was moving in and out of bad patches all day and the standings continued to swap around through the second half of the run.

Once I firmly made my way into second position it was then a battle of wits and a few mind games with the young pup Appo to get rid of him and put a bit of space between us. I pushed to catch up to Bozzone who’d made his way up the road in front of me. Unfortunately, he’d been able to get a good minute on me and there was no chance of catching him. He made it to the finish in 3:42:58 and I came in at 3:44:30.

He managed to steal the Aussie title off me and I had to settle for second place this time around. Although he is a kiwi, so I’m still technically still the Aussie champ…right?

Thanks to the Asia Pacific team for a great weekend. I look forward to going back to Mandurah next year and trying to steal the championship back.

Samoa Half Ironman & Yeppoon 70.3 Ironman Race reports

Originally Samoa was not on my race calendar however Guy Beasley convinced me to head over and try out this new race. Samoa was a destination I had not been to before. It wasn’t a long trip so figured I’d give it a go. Samoa was some what an eye opener for me. The Samoan people were lovely, there food was really tasty and I loved drinking there fresh

The temperature on race day was hot and it was a non wetsuit swim. I had an ok swim then onto the bike where my day ended. I had a flat and I was one of the many casualties during the day. I was able to fix the first flat with a pit stop but after it blew completely so that my day over. I was in second place and was lucky enough to receive a police car escort back into town. To make the trip not a complete waste of time I decided to do the run.

Overall my experience was great and I thoroughly enjoyed the race and the people. But all in all I would recommend this race. PS: I highly recommend taking your training wheels with some seriously good tyres on them. I think my Giant cross bike would have even been more appropriate. I want to thank Seti and Emily for making me feel so welcome in there country.

The following week I headed up to Yeppoon which is based in central Queensland, Australia. Race morning was lovely and Yeppoon really turned on the weather. My swim wasn’t too bad coming out in the tail end of the first pack. Onto the bike I set out on my merry way chasing down the boys. I caught the them and moved into 3rd place only having to catch Casey Munro which I did and of course Tim Reed was up the road.

I was then riding on my lonesome on the third lap and this is where the controversy started. A Technical Official (TO) rode up to me and gave me a blocking penalty. I questioned this by asking “WHO”, as there was only a bunch of age groupers near me, riding 2-3 abreast on a narrow course. I thoughtfully moved to the middle of the road to pass them (common sense) which obviously was what he was trying to pull me up on.

I got off the bike some 3 and a half minutes behind Tim Reed. I served what felt the longest 5 minutes of my life which of course caused my legs to seize up. I slowly watched my place get eaten up, dropping me back to 8th spot before I was able to going again.

The boys took off quickly with Mitch Robbins pulling up the road at a very fast pace which I knew I would have my work cut out for me in order to catch them. I slowly started to tow the boys all in and I managed to get my second spot back again around the 8km mark.

I ended my day with a disappointing 2nd place, 4 minutes behind Tim Reed. I take my hat off to him, and credit where credit is due, he ran a professional race and well done on back to back victories.

So back to my questionable penalty of 5 minutes. I feel that the TO could have observed the situation and responded more accurately. Anyway what’s done is done and I’m now back training and looking forward to competing at Metaman in two weeks.

Thanks again to my amazing team; Wife & fur babies, Scody, Giant, Newton, Daikin, Endura, Shimano, Oakley, Garmin, Blue Seventy, Altitude training systems, Continental Tyres, Scicon and my coach Grant Giles

Cheers Berks

Cairns 5150 and Ironman Cairns Race Report

About a month ago, I had a rethink of my season, and made some midseason alterations to my calendar, and my focus for the remainder of 2013. Rather than bore you with the details of the next six months, I’ll try to cover these races as they happen.

Several weeks ago I began my preparation to do an Olympic distance race (i.e. Port Douglas 5150) on one weekend, then back it up the following weekend with the Cairns Ironman 70.3. The reason I decided to do these races is that it had been such a long time between races and also coming off a chest infection, I just wanted to see where I was at in terms of fitness. The 5150 was mainly a hit-out event, and I was preparing myself to have a good crack at the Ironman 70.3.

So the 5150 race was great, I felt good and enjoyed it, I got a 6th place there, which was what I expected for the field of athletes, and my ability in short course racing. I spent the week in Port Douglas (about an hour drive north of Cairns, Queensland) training with Clayton “Clayto” Fettel and Joey Lampe. I had recovered so well and was feeling on top of my game. Clayto was racing the full Ironman, while Joey and I had booked our start for the Ironman 70.3, which was being held simultaneously with the full distance event in Cairns.

Then, in a moment of sheer stupidity, the thought came into my mind to give the Ironman a crack. With no proper Ironman-build in my training, and only six days from race start, I tossed out the idea to my Team. Weirdly enough, I got the support of my coach, manager, and wife, which mutually supported the idea, and with less than six days to go, I got the go ahead to do Ironman Cairns. My preparation for this race was not what I usually do, as it was all about the 70.3 distance, so it was to be interesting to see how the body would hold up.

Race morning/wife’s birthday, I was lucky enough to see a nice clear ocean , which I was told was infested with Croc’s (the reptile, not the fluorescent foam shoes) and only a little whisper of breeze. My swim was pretty crappy and I came out further back than I normally do due to missing two weeks of swimming (as I had a chest infection leading into this race). So after a quick transition I was onto the bike and looking forward to a scenic ride up the coastline and seeing the gorgeous tropical North Queensland …I wish!!!

It was “balls to the wall” to play catch up to just get back onto the main pack of riders I was expecting to come out of the water with. So I caught New Zealand ‘s Cam Brown, Matty White and Todd Israel around 15km mark. Knowing that Luke McKenzie, Clayto, and Chris “Macca” McCormack weren’t in that group, I knew I had caught onto the group riding in equal forth.

Another 15km up the road we caught Macca. Feeling quite good, I was driving the group up into Port Douglas. Macca took a turn up front and I was sitting second with Cam, Matty and Todd still intact. We approached a bit of a tight spot on the road, and we naturally bunched up, and there was a Technical Official sitting off the back of our group. He rode up to me and issued me a drafting penalty. It was a silly mistake, where I wasn’t able to drop back quick enough in a technical section of the course. He might not have had the best angle to see it, but he made the call, and I had to cop it.

It was a little disappointing as I felt I had been off the front of my group for most of the ride and this happens in such a silly spot. So I then decided to surge forward and haul a$$ up the road as I had to get into the penalty box, knowing I didn’t want to lose the ground I made to even catch these boys in the first place. Plus I knew I still had Luke and Clayto out front, which is a scary combination, as they both are strong cyclist. In my angered state, I was able to gain around 2 mins by the time I jumped into the penalty box (…with a gorgeous view might I add).

When I saw the boys go past, I might have uttered a few choice words, and I apologize to the Technical Officials which were staffing the Penalty Box. My emotions may have gotten the best of me in that situation, but I had already worked so hard after a poor swim, to have to claw myself back again. After my penalty was served, I was out of the box on a mission. I caught the boys back at around the 130km mark.

On the ride back into T2 us boys were having a little friendly banter when Matty White decides to pull a turn… Coming past me, he says “I’m a #@%ing cheat”. LOL. Makes the ride a lot more enjoyable when you have good guys out there, keeping you motivated, and talking a bit of smack.

Back into the transition I was told a few splits and McKenzie was 21:58 up the road. Geeeeezzzz, I thought to myself – I’ve got a bit of work, and it was going to have to happen quick smart. So Macca and I ran together for a bit, before he took off. I let him go, but soon caught back up to him. Macca didn’t seem his usual self, which was understandable due to him being in hospital at the start of the week with a Kidney infection.

We ran together for around 4km and Macca was feeling worse, telling me he was pissing blood (…maybe that’s too much information), poor guy. I then dropped Macca and whilst running I saw McKenzie on the way back from the Yorky’s Nob loop, and it was pretty clear to me he had a massive lead. I thought to myself the only way I was going to make time up was to run hard into the head wind.

I overtook Clayto which put me in second place. I kept getting splits from the awesome spectators lining the course. It’s a long run into town, then multiple loops along the foreshore, so the end of the race is full of spectators. I was consistently reducing the 21:58 deficit that Luke built on his Swim/Bike combination.

I ended up crossing the line in second, and was only 4:38 back, taking over 17 minutes of Luke’s lead at T2. I ran a 2:44:24 marathon which was over 10 minutes faster than the second fastest Marathon of the day. I guess looking back now the results it could have been a little different if I didn’t get my drafting penalty. As I could take 4 minutes off my time, and possibly fresher legs at not having to play catch up twice during the bike leg. But all-in-all, I can’t complain and I have lived and learned from my mistakes …until next race!

Well done to Luke McKenzie on a champion effort. Also, I take my visor off to Macca – legend, and tough as nails!

So for me now the game plan is a few easy days then back into it as I head back to the states for a couple of races in a few weeks.

Thanks again to my wife-Bel, family and supporters, my Manager (Mike), the doggies. Sponsors; Scody, Giant, Newton Running, Daikin Air Conditioners, Endura, Shimano, Oakley, Garmin, Blue Seventy, Altitude Training Systems, Continental Tyres, Hypnotic Zoo, Scicon.

Special mention to my coach-Grant Giles. Thanks for always believing in me and pushing me to succeed when I thought I possibly couldn’t. He is a great mentor, friend, and supporter and the number one coach. Go Team Aeromax!!!

Galveston & New Orleans 70.3 Ironman Race Report

Galveston 70.3 Ironman
I arrived Friday into Huston, Texas to then be picked up by Mitch Robins and his home-stay family The lovely Gibbons. I firstly wanted to thank them for making me feel so at home and looking after us Aussie boys over the weekend at your beautiful property.

So game day went like this. I had a reasonable swim, coming out in the middle of the second pack. I then went onto ride the fastest bike split of the day with a 2:07:58 helping me ride myself into 2nd position. Many thanks to Ivan From Retul for getting me dialled back onto my stead (Giant Trinity).

Earlier during the week Andrew from Newton gave me the opportunity to test the a prototype of a newton shoe that they gave to the Olympic runners to wear. I found the shoe to be very light weight and fast but also stable enough for me to have the confidence to go hard. I went on to post the second fastest run time being 1:14:24. Overall I had to settle for 2nd place, not a bad result considering I only got to the states 2 weeks earlier.

New Orleans 70.3 Ironman

Following Galveston 70.3 Ironman I had two weeks to prepare for New Orleans 70.3 Ironman. So the weather in Boulder hasn’t been ideal for training due to the sever cold and constant snow, I also had a niggle in my hip that was not 100% come race morning.
The swim went to my usual swim standard of around front of the second pack, I was happy where I was positioned thus far in the race. Onto the bike I wasn’t feeling the way I did in Texas, my hip was pinching me but still managed to do a 2:08 putting me in 4th position off the bike. My run was damaged due to my hip, I didn’t have my usual spring in my step, in turn causing me to fade to 8th position. Lets just say I was happy to see the finish line!

Now I’m back in Boulder and I’m getting some much needed treatment done on my hip. I will be here up until I my next race back in Australia at Busselton 70.3 Ironman.

I also wanna give a big shout out to my boy Mitch Robins for his come back after a year of racing getting 6th and 5th and posting a Smokin 1.12 at Nola.

Big thanks again to all my wonderful sponsors: Scody, Giant, Newton, Daikin, Endura, Altitude Training Systems, Shimano, Blue Seventy, Oakley, Garmin, Continental Tyres, Jet Black Cycling and of cause my Coach Grant Giles from Team Aeromax.

Looking forward to getting back to Australia.

Missing my girls!

See you all in Busso