Columbia was my first back to back race for the year. After getting home from Rev3 Knoxville, my main goal was just to recover and freshen up. I trained well through the week but was still nervous about not being fit in the swim. I tried to cram some swim workouts in. It didn’t work – I swam even worse than I did in Knoxville. I hate it when my swim goes walkabout. I certainly hope it comes back soon. Once again, it was a tough bike course. Yoder pissed off from the start and we never saw him again. He went on to break the course record, which was quite impressive. I was quite happy with the way I rode. This year I’ve been feeling really good riding. It has a lot to do with the new Kestrel 4000. It’s a great bike. I came off the bike with Cunnama and Jones. Those two started duking it out straight away. I hadn’t recovered 100% from the week before and my run was feeling a little off. However, I just tried to keep a fast leg turnover through the hills. In the end, I managed to run down Jones to get on the podium.
I was excited to head back to Knoxville to race. I didn’t really have a great race there last year, but I really enjoyed the race course and the way the race was put on. It was a very challenging course. Once again, it was a stacked field this year, with a lot of top athletes.
Going into the race, I was really nervous the way my swim has been going. As it turned out, it was still going crap. I struggled through most of swim, but came out with the main pack anyway. Fleischmann, Reed, and Yoder had managed to put about a minute into us. Fortunately I came out with a good group of riders. Joe Gambles pushed it hard right from the start. It was certainly enjoyable to get into riding in the hills. There haven’t been many races this year that have been hilly. Gambles really kept up a high pace throughout the whole ride and managed to pull away by about 30 seconds by the time we got to T2. Going into the run, I found myself with a small group of guys to run with chasing down Joe. We really hit the first few miles hard to try and close the gap down to him. We managed to bring the time down a fair bit, but after the turn around, he saw us and picked up the pace. At that stage, I was really hurting and holding onto the back of David Thompson. With a 1 1/2 miles to go, I had a go at trying to catch Joe, but he was too far in front. I was able to pull away from everyone else though and ended up finishing 6th. I was happy with 6th. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a tough field.
It was great to have Recovery Pump there after the race so I could go and sit in the boots. It certainly helped cut down on my recovery time.
I always enjoy going back to St. Croix. It’s one of my favorite races. Unfortunately this year it turned out extremely hard to get to due to the airlines cutting back flights. It was good to travel down there with my training partner Pat Evoe. We both took it really easy leading into the race. I probably took it a little bit easier than I normally do. We got lucky with cool conditions on race day. The field was not particularly deep, but it certainly had a strong bunch of guys.
I thought I was having a good swim, but somehow Luke Bell managed to slip away and open up the gap. He ended up getting the swim prime. He also blasted the first 20 miles of the bike. I felt pretty good on the bike and tried to hold my own pace. The last 20 miles, Kriat and I really started to work hard to try and pull back time on Bell. We managed to pull back a little bit of time going into transition. This year, I wanted to try a different tactic on the run. Normally the first 2-3 miles are flat out as I’m always chasing Crowie. This time I wanted to pace myself in the run and come home strong. A lot of people always die on the second lap in the run. However, that plan didn’t work so well. I started off slow and ended up running slower. Once I realized I wasn’t going to catch Bell or Kriat, I settled in to run with Allesandro and was just waiting for the last few hundred meters to do a sprint. Turns out we miscalculated Pat Evoe’s speedy run from behind. Once Pat caught up, we worked together to get rid of Allesandro. It worked out well, we got rid of him. Pat was still on fire though so I had to dig deep just to hang on. Luckily we only had a half mile to go. We had a great sprint finish. If you want to watch it, here it is: Richie and Pat battle to the end. I’m happy to be back on the podium. I think that’s my 7th podium in St. Croix. I’ll be back again next year.