TWeb_J244412RIATHLETES Phil Hanley and Raeleigh Harris will depart for the United States next week to contest the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Wonthaggi duo will race on September 8 as part of a five-day festival attracting the best triathletes from across North America and around the world.

Hanley qualified for the 60-64 year-old men’s race in Geelong in March while Harris sealed her ticket for the 40-44 year-old event back in November at Shepparton.  The race begins with a 1.9km swim in Lake Las Vegas. Athletes will then embark on a challenging 90km bike ride through Lake Mead National Recreation Area that includes several steep climbs before finishing with a 21km run with views of the Las Vegas Strip. “It’s crazy that two members from the Barracudas are competing on the world stage,” Raeleigh said. “The international contingent is going to be the small one over there so you have to have your game face on.”

The achievement of reaching the World Championships has not been lost on Hanley, who will once again pull on the green and gold of Australia.  “This is a quality event and the thing that strikes me is that we Aussies probably qualify a little easier than what they do in North America,” Phil said.  “In our age groups there are 27 from Australia which is really strong. There are 120 triathletes from around Australia that will contest the various races in what will be a bloody hot and humid race.” Temperatures in Las Vegas are tipped to reach mid-30s consistently next week, posing a serious training hurdle for the duo coming from the Victorian winter. “I train with several layers on but no matter what you do you can’t match that intense heat,” Phil said.  “It’s a tough, undulating course and it’s going to be tough for both of us, but I know my opposition and I’m feeling good and happy with my form so hopefully we can get over there and give it a good crack.”

Harris has been simulating training in desert conditions in an attempt to be ready for the harsh environment.  “You can only train so much for the heat but until you get over there, you don’t know how your body is going to cope. You have to do all you possibly can to put the odds in your favour,” Raeleigh said.   “I have been doing some heat training to get used to the desert conditions under effort which has been interesting through the winter.”   Both Hanley and Harris won their respective classifications at their lead in event, the Latrobe Valley Triathlon Club Winter Triathlon held at Hazelwood Pondage on August 18.  “We have both been doing a very heavy training program,” Phil said. “Raeleigh has been training hard with Matt Tippett from ETPA while I have been riding with the Leongatha Cycling Club and the Inverloch Cruizers to improve my bike leg.”

The trip to the USA would not have been possible without the support from the Bass Coast Barracudas Triathlon Club, the Wonthaggi Lions Club and the Wonthaggi Power Football Netball Club.  A recent trivia night helped raise enough money to go towards their airfares.  “We are both very appreciative of the support that we have received,” Phil said. Harris agreed, saying she will be carrying the energy of the entire region.  “The sense of community has been mind-blowing and all that energy is going with me on the plane when I fly out next Tuesday. I’ll have everyone in mind when the race gun goes off, it’s very exciting,” Raeleigh said.   Both were eager for the race which will come in 12 days.   “I feel really strong mentally and physically and I think that’s the key. Sometimes you can underestimate the mindset that is behind performing on such a big stage,” Raeleigh said.  Hanley said “it will be on” against the host nation.  “The US athletes will be out there supporting one another and being patriotic – they will be up for their home event but so will we.  “We hope to wave the Aussie flag for the area on the other side of the world.”