In December, RTS finished up the 2023 triathlon season with Lesley, Tamara, Nick, Jackson and Marc all racing 70.3 Indian Wells-La Quinta on December 3, then the boys continuing down to Ecuador
Let’s start at the very end! Here’s what Marc, Jackson and Nick had to say about Challenge Salinas
Why, after such a long season, did Marc, Jackson and Nick head all the way down to Ecuador for a season finale at Challenge Salinas?
For starters, this was a silver tier race with good points and what seemed like a super fun trip. It turned out to be a great success for our whole squad with a near-podium sweep.
Marc and Jackson had a great battle where they ended up 1st and 2nd, with Nick fighting onward to hold onto 4th place. The professional field wasn't a total lay-up either, with some very fast swim, runners in the group. As can be the case with South American racing, there were many obstacles to tackle on that bike course.
First, the roads COULD have been an issue with their level of quality, but ended up being fine. The overall support we saw from Challenge Family was so incredible, which made this such a success.
We are all so happy to be finished racing and we have really loved our races in Ecuador this year as their fan base is lovely, charismatic and very much a fan of RTS
And here’s what the team had to say about 70.3 Indian Wells:
Tamara, 2nd place women’s race I guess I’m just going to have to keep coming back to this one to go after that title because I’ve now been 2ndthree years in a row, every time to a different athlete!
Indian Wells is one of my favourite races on the North American circuit. The desert around the Palm Springs area is just SO beautiful in early December. My impression is always of comfortable temperatures, pink bougainvillea and beautiful mountains.
I felt that my race was sort of an A- rather than A+ effort and I am happy with it, but not 100% satisfied. I felt a little bit worn out managing a few little aches and pains at the end of the season. I had fun during the race, but am so excited for a little break to refresh and restore my energy for a powerful 2024 season.
I’ve been asking for the past couple of years, “But where are the Norwegian women?”, and Solveig definitely showed us that they are here with her strong debut long course performance and excellent bike split.
Marc, 2nd place men’s race
It was an all-around great day and I couldn’t be happier with another podium and how deep I dug to close my last mile (~4:50 pace) moving from 4th -> 2nd.
SWIM: Thankfully, the water was warmer than originally expected but still a chilly 57 degrees. We had some super strong swimmers in the field so I knew it would be an aggressive start, but worth the energy to get into position for when it settled. I was able to finally settle and relax in a position I was comfortable with for the last 600 meters. I came out of the water in 7th but made it through transition and on the bike in 2nd. Job Done
BIKE: Again, I’m super stoked with bike legs. I was 308 watts average and tactically I felt like I did everything perfectly. The course has a handful of U-turns so I could see Jackson and Sam clawing their up to us so I knew I had to be ready. I told myself “This is for the win” and hung on for dear life to go with Jackson and Sam Long as they passed our group of 3 around mile 45. It was roughly 6-8 minutes at 355 watts before they settled a tiny bit. I was stoked with the bike split but extremely happy to get my two feet on the ground. Job Done.
RUN: The course was surprisingly tough with a punchy golf course section, so I stayed on my pacing plan and let one Norwegian go up the road. Job done on lap one. As I started the second loop I was able to catch one and move into 4th. I started seeing the battle for 2nd and 3rd happen and had some serious FOMO. I got out of the Golf course and onto the last out-and-back section where Sam Long and Vetle Thorn would see me again. I told myself it was now or never for the podium and tried to ignore how much a 50-second gap was to make up with 1.2 miles to go. 1.2 miles to go - 4th and 50 seconds down from 2nd 800 m to go - 4th 400 meters to go - 3rd Finish - 2nd 1:11.32
Lesley, 4th place women’s race
Indian Wells 70.3 had been on my North American race bucket list for a few years, and it proved to be a great experience! The swim was chilly but ultimately very comfortable in a wetsuit and smooth as glass. After getting a bit disoriented during the swim start, I worked my way up to the group of ladies I was aiming for so that is always a win. After stumbling around in T1, I played catchup on the bike the first 30-40 minutes, which was what I needed to do to stay in the race. The run felt a bit flat but it was good enough to hang onto 4th.
This season was somewhat of a roller coaster at times, so I was so glad to cap it off with an overall positive experience
Nick, 18th place men’s race
I think overall we see end of season race strategy as a bit of a FOMO and a bit of ending on the highest note possible and sometimes, it's hard to blend it all together with an already busy schedule. For me, I just plainly lost a lot of time on the swim. I had a bit of wheezing over the past few days so, my lungs were a bit tight and then once I got going, there wasn't much BOOST in my stroke...so, I lost a LOT of position. On the bike, I'm still working back into form and while I was near 30th place off the bike I was just happy to run into 18th with a strong effort I could be proud of.
No matter what, this team keeps my energy high and I love seeing our talent take a podium slot! This was a big success for the team and that means, I'm happy.