Motatapu Off-Road Triathlon one week after Ironman NZ
Wanaka athlete Dougal Allan is no stranger to putting himself through a little pain, but in amongst his track record of herculean multi-sport efforts, competing at this weekend’s Macpac Motatapu Off-Road Triathlon just seven days after Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand must rank right up there.
Photo - Nicola McCormick
Allan has had a busy start to 2020, due in part to the onset of Corona Virus jeopardizing his plans of travelling to China for multiple multi-sport and adventure races. And while it means he is busy with those back to back weekends; he is more than happy to turn to events closer to home to get his racing fix.
“My year is a little uncertain right now, so it is a bit of a case of making the most of my summer fitness by doing all my favourite events, then assessing how the rest of the year looks in due course.
“Adventure racing in China each year tends to be a big part of my income as a professional athlete and looks unlikely these races will happen in 2020. My result at IRONMAN New Zealand over the weekend was really a chance to gauge how I compare in the sport at the moment and plan the rest of my year based off that result.”
That uncertainty later in the year means making the most of the New Zealand summer, and hard on the heels of that superb fifth place finish in Taupo over the weekend, Allan did not hesitate to put his hand up to race so close to home, in an event he loves.
“It is another reason I have come back for the mountain bike and/or triathlon event so many times. I chose to live in Wanaka because it’s the best place in the world to do off-road multisport both from a training point of view as well as an event perspective. The Motatapu event weekend brings people from all around New Zealand and the world and I feel very lucky that it is literally in my backyard.
“Macpac Motatapu would present one of the most spectacular open water swimming settings anywhere in the world. Riding a bike through the Motatapu Station is a special privilege and a beautiful and varied mountain bike course. Then the finish line vibes at Arrowtown’s Wilcox Green are right up there as far as race atmospheres go in any event I have done.”
The question for Allan however might be how much fuel is in the tank. Finishing runner up at the Coast to Coast in February and fifth at Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand last weekend must surely leave a sizeable deficit in his energy levels?
“I will no doubt carry some fatigue into Motatapu this year, but I will simply adjust my expectations accordingly and continue to focus on the enjoyment of being involved in such a magnificent event on the day.”
“I have always said that I only race as a pro because I seem to be good enough at this stage in life. I would still be doing all these events even if it wasn’t at a level to be a pro because quite simply I love to race and to test myself against a challenging course and the elements each race presents on the day.
It should make for a fascinating race as no doubt the competitive juices will kick in for Allan in what looms as a great battle with XTERRA star Sam Osborne, with the added excitement of the Triathlon New Zealand Suzuki Off-Road Title being up for grabs.
Given his experience as an athlete but also as an endurance coach of some repute, Allan also took time to offer some great advice for the thousands of social competitors coming to town to enjoy the many events on offer, especially the 1km swim, 47km bike and 8.5k run making up the Off-Road Triathlon.
“Clothing choice is important. It’s often a cool start to the day and its worth taking extra time after the swim to put enough layers on to stay warm in the backcountry on the bike. Often these layers need to be stripped before the run as its usually very warm by the time athletes arrive on the Arrowtown side of the hill, but again I think the key to a safe and successful day is dressing for the conditions.
“Using equipment (bike parts, running shoes etc) you have used before and trust is important too, rather than being tempted to use something for the first time on race day. Finally, eat plenty! We ask a lot from our body on the day, so it makes sense to fuel ourselves for the entirety of the race.”
The Off-Road Triathlon takes place on Saturday of the two-day multi-sport festival, with athletes swimming 1km in Lake Wanaka before riding the mountain bike event course from Glendhu to Arrowtown and finishing with the 8.5km Sawpit Trail track back to the finish line at Wilcox Green.
In total close to 4,000 competitors will descend on the Central Otago region to participate in the six events on offer this Saturday and Sunday, as the iconic Macpac Motatapu continues to grow in its 16th year.