Despite being outpaced on the run leg, Warrimoo native and elite triathlete Sam Appleton finished a creditable second (3 hours 44 minutes 39 seconds) in the Geelong Ironman 70.3 on Sunday.
The two-time winner was outdone by Josh Amberger (3:44:08) from the Gold Coast, who after five attempts and three second places, broke through with a strong performance on the run leg.
"It is early in the year and I have only been training for four or five weeks and while I am fit, when you haven't really raced a 70.3 since October, you learn that race fitness is different to being fit," Appleton said.
"I felt good on the swim and the bike and up until the 7km mark of the run, but then the lack of run training caught up with me after a hard bike. It really accentuates your weaknesses and you can't come in underdone with the quality of athletes we had here."
Appleton enjoys racing with Amberger, saying they "feed off each other".
"We have an unspoken gentleman's agreement that we will swim and bike hard and work together and make it a race between two. That is what we have done in the past and again today and Josh came off best," he said.
"Then sure enough he came through and put a surge in and I tried to go with him, but the legs just didn't respond unfortunately. I am really happy with second, and as much as I would have liked to have won, it is a great start to the year," Appleton said.