Don has 18 more years growth in the sport – and what looked like several more weeks’ worth on his top lip – but couldn’t live with the footspeed of non-drafting specialist Goodwin over the challenging middle distance course and conditions at Thoresby Hall.
“I think he’s got a better moustache than me,” Goodwin admitted after clocking a 1:13:49 half-marathon to see off the veteran Ironman record holder, who aged 42 also showed he’s lost none of his enthusiasm for the sport.
Having won Ironman 70.3s in both Staffordshire and Weymouth last year, Goodwin clearly relishes racing on home soil, but the result was far from a formality as the duo lead the race out of T2 together.
“He set off really quickly on the run and I thought: ‘The old boy has still some speed in his legs’,” Goodwin added. “I was fiddling with my watch, sunglasses and gels and told myself to keep calm and work up to him slowly.’
“I ran the first lap strong, the second lap with the most effort, and just kept something in reserve on the last lap in case someone came flying up from behind.”
The swim had been shortened from 1.9km to 750m due the chilling water and air temperatures, and it played to the strengths of Goodwin. “I know if I get out of the water in a good position, I can tick it off and then it’s time for ‘my bit’,” he explained. “Tim was putting the hammer down in the first 10km of the bike. After half-an-hour we started switching turns and when I looked back we had a big gap. I couldn’t drop Tim but we were riding strong.
“It was windy and I’d describe the road surface as ‘British’. Racing in Britain is nothing like racing abroad, there’s never any free speed here. Coming into T2 I knew I had Adam Bowden and Tom Davis behind. I know I’m running well but it’s always nice to have a buffer.”
Davis produced the fastest run split of the day (1:13:09) to cross the line third, just a few seconds behind Don, but due to the staggered swim start – with athletes diving off the pontoon at 8sec intervals – he knew it would be enough for second. The evergreen Don secured third, with former steeplechaser and ITU World Series athlete Bowden in fourth.
Goodwin had shown he was in solid form a fortnight earlier in finishing runner-up to Alistair Brownlee in Helvellyn – the double-Olympic champion a late withdrawal from Outlaw X as he targets a World Cup event in Italy and ongoing Olympic ambitions.
“I was happy with Helvellyn as it wasn’t really my sort of course,” Goodwin said. “I’ve ridden quite a lot of time trials which has helped me get the race head on, but it was my first 70.3 of the year today, so I was a bit apprehensive about that.”
Goodwin has also benefitted from the Professional Triathletes Organisation backing both Outlaw X and Helvellyn with pro prize money as it continues to support its members during a year of cancelled events. Ranked 40 in the PTO rankings, he can now eye another payday in December having scraped into the last automatic qualifying place for the $1,000,000 PTO world championship race in Daytona, Florida.
“What they’ve done is mad,” he said. “This is a grassroots event and if you think about it in terms of other sports, it’s like the F1 season being cancelled and Lewis Hamilton turning up to your local go-kart race – and them paying him to do it. To see it in triathlon is pretty cool.”