Andrew Finney at the Triathlon World Championships, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Triathlon World Championship

Get inside the head of a full time worker, parent and part time triathlete as Davey Black Triathlon Club member Andrew Finney recounts his lead up and race at the 2019 ITU Age Group World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“There’s nothing like the feeling on the morning of a triathlon… there are so many unknowns. I just love it! You can see that, for many, the feeling is more aligned to fear, the others, the nerves are more of excitement. I’m all excitement.

Head Coach Steve Davis has done an amazing job working hard with me, using a blend of standard distance speed and half ironman training program strength. Words can’t express the appreciation and I’m so grateful for the program that he’s crafted with a focus to ensure my “banged-up-body” doesn’t cave in. We’ve done the work, I’ve trusted his process, and there’s nothing more to do other than put the googles on and let rip.

This morning’s race is a little different than most races – we’re at World Champs and I’m in Green and Gold. For many I’m sure it’s become the norm to represent their country, personally it’s a first and one that I’ve always aspired to do.

Walking into transition is a great activator. I just PING! Today at the entry to transition, there are support staff checking competitors to ensure that helmet, timing chip, team tri suit and number tatts are in order. Many of the competitors at the entry to transition are in absolute disarray. Some can’t find timing chips, forgotten helmet stickers… what a nightmare for many. What a shocking way to start the day. I love the walk through transition seeing what everyone is up to, my confidence is up and I’m on the lookout for the Davey Black crew to ensure they’re ok.

As I pass Chrissie, she’s like a worker bee in the hive. Working mighty fast to get her transition in order. Looks like organized chaos, perhaps she’s running late. I yell out (Sorry Chrissie – I’m pretty loud and embarrassing) wishing her luck and she responds with a big grin. I take the look from Chrissie as she’s all sorted.

Next stop is the specimen…Keysy. I couldn’t resist… in a loud voice I yell out “BIG DAY FROM YOU RYAN KEY”. Ryan’s head rotates and the facial expression is pretty funny – it’s either “who is that wanker” but I believe that it was more of a “yeah buddy… bring it on!!!”

I’m in and out of transition quickly – after getting the tires pumped, helmet/sunnies ready and run kit set. I don’t like to fluff around.

On the way to the swim start I check my Davey Black group chat on my phone and notice a message from Ryan Martin with a comment about Ryan Key’s shoes… I’m tempted to put a note out to suggest Id moved Ryan’s bike in transition to another row… but today’s not the day. Not the best thing for Keysy to read if he checks the messages.

At the swim start, Mum, Dad, Kell and the kids are there as well as a few of my old tri club mates. Plenty of photos and positive chatter. James Straw appears and is super calm and he wishes me well. Im really grateful for him tracking me down. There’s a different sense/communication between your training mates as you’ve all gone through the process together. They just get it.

I do my standard warm up – get the heart rate up and get the body loose. Excitement levels are getting up there and it’s not long to go.

As we get corralled into the starting area a few are jostling for the better spots. I know I’m not the fastest swimmer but I always get up the front. Personally like a bit of rough and tumble early on – elbows, legs… love it. Horn goes and it’s on…

I’m conscious that the swim is a little different today… fresh water = less float and a bit of chop. I keep my head up a lot to ensure that I keep a ‘neat’ course and I’m constantly working to get on some others feet to help with the effort. The swim feels like a long one and soon enough we catch up to some other athletes in the first half of my AG wave that started before us which always helps the ego.

Transition is a good run in (Noosa esq) and before I know it, skid-lid is on and bike is in hand. Weaving through a few of the slower folk in transition, I start thinking about the bike mount. Being on a rented bike – it’s not the same as at home so fingers are crossed not to do a faceplant. I hit the mounting line and launch on – it sticks. It was wicked. I smirk to myself thinking if Coach Steve saw that I know he’d start tearing up. No seriously… there would be so many happy tears.

Bike leg is my stronger leg and before long we’re climbing and descending. There are a few competitors moving at comparable speeds so I pick them out to help with pacing. The climbs are good fun as they’re pretty steep so the legs are building lactic at the top so you work quickly to get the cadence up. The descending is always something I’ve enjoyed – who doesn’t! – and being on the rental, I’m quick to ensure the brakes bite enough before letting rip.

Through the bike course there isn’t as much cheering so I’m on the lookout for Aussies in the saddle to impart support. As I pass team our Aussie mates I ensure that I give them a rev up and support… C’mon Aussie!!! Doing so helps me mentally as much as I hope it encourages them.

Last of the two laps down and I’ve taken two gels on the bike which is one more than normal… body has been asking for some help which is an interesting note to self.

Another wicked dismount heading into T2, and again in my head, I can hear Coach Steve screaming “that’s one of my boys!” hugging fellow onlookers in the crowd. For entertainment value, I always keep an eye out for the funny dismounts going into transition as the dismount strip appears quickly sometimes. Not to disappoint, I notice one bloke from the US brake too hard and his groin flies into the head stem. Full endo! I still laugh to myself thinking about the groan he let out (but I do hope he is OK)…

Mindset into the run for me is always “quick feet – quick feet” and into it we go. The legs are pretty slow to respond and have to work hard to keep the cadence up.

Cheering from all supporters is just amazing. I was quite taken back from all of the support from foreigners (in their foreign twang) cheering “Go Aussie”. You quickly assess that there is absolute love for Australians as many of the other competitive nations don’t seem to get anywhere near the cheers that you do. Maybe I’m just biased… perhaps they feel sorry for us that we’ve had to travel so far… perhaps they just think I look amazing in my Aussie tri suit!!

As I ran down the promenade, I near the garden section and before I know it, I’m staring at this hill. “Really!!!” There were a few other words that entered my mind as there were competitors in front of me walking up and pushing themselves up with hands on knees. Many looked like they were trekking Everest.

A few kms have lapsed and the hammy and calf have started to abnormally tighten. I recall thinking to myself “this will be interesting” and attribute it quickly to the ride and bike set up. A bit earlier than normal, I take a my last gel. I normally take it at 5-6kms but take it hoping that it offsets the tightness. Up/down/up/down and back into town on the promenade.

Nearing the turn, one lap down, there’s plenty of cheering and few cheers of “Go Finney”. Such a nice feeling knowing that family, friends, fellow countrymen and “wannabe Aussies” are cheering you on. I’m feeling pretty anxious at this point wondering how the body will hold up and the mental monsters have started enquiring. At that point I get a glimpse of Joey Ritson just before the turn for the second lap with a ripper grin. Just like James, another training buddy who “gets it” and a sense of calm and confidence prevails.

The last lap did its thing and It was a real treat seeing the family cheering and the Davey Black Crew hanging over the fence and all screaming. I’ll remember those images forever.

It was an amazing day out and I learnt a heck of a lot. Interesting to see how the body reacts to different courses and what 1 percenters make a difference. It all helps when putting the puzzle together for the great sport we participate in.

On the Australian stage, there are some incredible athletes. Add to that, a coming together of the worlds best age groupers, and the bar gets raised to a different level. There was nothing like being part of the World Champs event.

Feeling proud to have put in the effort to get there, traveling a couple of times interstate to qualify and be selected for the Aussie team. I’m very grateful for the sacrifices that Kellie and the kids have made to let me participate in this amazing opportunity. I hope that my kids take something away from watching the race and realise that if you want something enough and put the effort in, awesome things can happen. Perhaps that something might be an opportunity to represent their country one day… and that they have the confidence to do so because Dad proved that you can do it.”

Andrew Finney can still be found training consistently with the Davey Black Triathlon crew. He is now building up to a half ironman training program to get additional strength and endurance in those legs! Great work Finney, excellent race and always great to have you around entertaining us at sessions!

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