Newcastle’s Aaron Royle is celebrating today after winning his first Ironman 70.3 on the Sunshine Coast yesterday.
In only his second-ever attempt at the 70.3 distance, Royle showed a cool head and patience during the 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.2 km run to win ahead of some of Australia’s top long course specialists.
“To be honest, I was pretty scared for most of that race,” Royle said.
“It was a tough race and I had to battle quite hard with Max Neumann, who was outstanding today, he did a lot of work on the bike, he pushed hard and he led most of the run.
“It was only my second half distance race. The whole time I was just expecting myself to blow up but I got to about 3 kilometres to go…and luckily [the legs] had a bit to go.”
With the 70.3 distance much longer than the International Triathlon Union racing he is known for, Royle said he knew he needed to approach the race differently.
“Obviously the longer race is almost pretty well double of what I’m used to, so being patient, just backing yourself [was the key].
“There was a couple of times there where I felt good but I knew there was still a long way to go, so I just had to remain patient and, when the time was right, that was when I really pushed hard.”
Although he is still remaining focused on next year’s Tokyo Olympics, Royle took advantage of the resumption of racing in Queensland to try his hand at the new distance.
A strong start in the swim saw him exit the T1 in good company, with reigning Australian Long Course Champion Josh Amberger taking an early narrow lead, and Queensland’s Neumann not far off the pace.
From there, the trio battled it out across the gruelling bike and run course, remaining within striking distance of one another.
With Amberger dropping off the pace on the run and Neumann holding steady mere metres in front of Royle, the ITU specialist picked his moment to make his move for the title, kicking Neumann with 3 kilometres to go to sprint home for the win.
The Ironman circuit will now head to Cairns, with Ironman Cairns held on 27 September, while Australia’s Elite ITU athletes will continue their 2020 season on the Gold Coast with the 2020 Mixed Relay Invitational set to be held next week.
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