Professional triathlete Taylor C. Reid kicked off his season on Sunday, March 18, with a ninth place finish in the Campeche 70.3.
A Slow Start?
It certainly didn’t look like Reid was off to a slow start when the gun went. He spent approximately 24 minutes in the water, emerging behind fellow Canadian Jackson Laundry. Reid held on to seventh position as the athletes made their way into transition.
At the seven-mile mark on the bike, Reid seemed to be performing well, moving up through the field to take over fourth place. Shortly after that, however, things took a turn for the worse.
Falling off the Pace
Shortly after arriving at the seven-mile mark, Reid seemed to fall off the pace. He began to go backwards through the field, being overtaken by athletes such as Raul Tjeada and Alan Cirillo, of Mexico. Terrenzone Bozzone, who was attempting to go three for three in as many weekends, had overtaken the lead. Jackson Laundry continued to move forward through the pack.
Reid moved back into fifth, and then sixth place by the time the athletes moved into T2. The bike course in Campeche is mostly rolling hills, and the wind was rather strong on Sunday morning, making for some tough conditions for the competitors. There was also some complications on the bike course, as the pro fields had to cross the course on their loop back. These situations always put pro and age group athletes into contact with each other, often as they head in opposite directions. This always creates the potential for accidents, which are thankfully kept to a minimum when athletes exercise caution and care. Of course, this also slows them down and, as any athlete can attest, it can also break your concentration. Athletes often find a “groove” as they settle into the pace and rhythm of the race, but interruptions can throw them off.
Field depth was another challenge, obviously. Terrenzone Bozzone is a formidable competitor, and he proved racing two weekends in a row before this race was no impediment to him. The Canadians in the field included Jackson Laundry and Trevor Wurtele, two top-form athletes who always represent serious threats on the race course. Other contenders included Matt Hanson of the United States and Martin Weiss of Austria.
A Plan of Attack
Beginning the run, Reid was aware he’d lost his pace on the bike and had perhaps overextended himself early on. Heading out of T2, he planned to pace himself more through the run portion of the race. The run is often Reid’s strongest suit, so he strategized to make use of his strength as much as possible.
Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent Reid didn’t have the extra gear he was hoping to find. Between the flat-out run course and the heat—which exceeded 35 degrees Celsius by mid-morning—Reid wasn’t able to pick up the pace and make up places any more than he had been able to on the bike course.
In such a deep field, any athlete in such a position will inevitably find themselves in the dust of their competitors. Reid was no exception here, falling backwards through the field to eighth. By the final five miles of the run, Reid had fallen off the pace to 4:11 per kilometer. Behind him, Wurtele had climbed up into ninth position and was closing in. There was about a twenty-second difference in the two athletes’ paces, and in the last few miles of the run, Wurtele made his move. Reid surrendered eighth place to his former teammate.
Reid held his position for a ninth-place finish when he crossed the line.
Searching for a Better Result
Ninth place wasn’t the result Reid was looking for, and certainly not the finish he was expecting from how he started his day. Prior to the race, he said he felt very confident in his training. Reid switched coaches in December of 2017, and working with Craig Taylor out of Guelph has brought both change and challenge. It takes any athlete and coach some time to adapt to each other, and it’s likely Reid and his coach will tweak their training and race preparation.
Other factors were likely at play, although overall fitness may have played a key role. Reid only began intense training about a month prior to the race, when he arrived in Tucson, Arizona. Arizona’s had unseasonally cool temperatures this year, however, which may have affected Reid’s preparation for a hot race in a location like Campeche.
In contrast, Reid began his intensive preseason training in Jaunuary 2017, giving him about two and a half months before his first race in Puerto Rico. Reid won that race open his 2017 season.
Reid’s 2017 season seemed to position him for great things, but some miscalculations and a knee injury in August 2017 had his season take a turn for the worse. He DNF’d Steelhead in August 2017, and he finished fifteenth at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga a month later. He missed Cozumel and Miami. He raced in Austin, Texas, at the end of October, and then again in Los Cabos to end his season in November.
After a frustrating second-half of the 2017 season, Reid was hoping for a much better result out of the gate in 2018.
A Long Season Ahead
As much as Reid isn’t satisfied with the result in Campeche, he acknowledges there’s still a lot of work to do for the season ahead. A ninth-place finish in a deep field isn’t a terrible showing, although Reid always aspires to do better.
In this case, Reid’s putting his head down and getting back to training. Since he suspects fitness may have played a role, however minor, getting quality training time in before his next race will be key. While he doesn’t expect the field to be any less competitive in Galveston in three weeks, he does expect himself to be more ready to tackle the race.
Sometimes, first-race jitters can also come into play, even for an athlete of Reid’s calibre. With such a frustrating end to the 2017 season and the memory of the injury lingering in his mind, nerves may have played something of a role in Reid’s Campeche performance as well.
Never one to over-analyze, Reid says he’s putting the race behind him. With the first race of the season out of the way, Reid hopes to soon find his racing groove again. Reid has nine more races currently planned for his 2018 season, so he’ll have plenty of chances to test himself once again.
With that in mind, there’s not much to dwell on. While ninth place is never the goal, Reid will take it as he works onward to what he hopes will be better performances throughout the rest of his year.
Reid’s next chance to test himself will be in three weeks, in Galveston, Texas. The Texas 70.3 promises to be just as challenging in terms of field depth. It’s also a race Reid hasn’t yet participated in, so the course will present new challenges—and new opportunities as well.
Ironman 70.3 Texas
April 8, 2018