THE last 12 months has ranked as one of the toughest periods Bathurst triathlete Nick North has had to endure, but on Sunday he was given a massive confidence boost as he works towards a very big goal.
Four months after North placed 24th in his age group at the 2009 Triathlon World Championships as he wore the green and gold of an Australian representative for the first time, the promising triathlete was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
It meant he was unable to keep training as he had been and prevented him from racing. Both physically and mentally it was a tough time for North to endure.
On Sunday North finally made his comeback to racing at the Penrith Valley Nepean Triathlon and his raw talent shone through as he finished 20th overall and sixth in his 20-24 years age group.
“This was my first race back in over a year, so I was pretty happy,” North said.
“I had been training with Richard Hobson, doing a lot of running and cycling and swimming, but I’d only been back for three weeks, that’s all the training I had for this event – three weeks.
“I had no real expectations, I was just hoping to finish and feel like I could back up again the next day.”
North made an excellent start in the one kilometre swim, his time of 13 minutes, 21 seconds seeing him as the 13th fastest for this leg out of the field of 921 competitors.
While the 30km cycle (47.39) and 10km run (41.17) were tougher, he still did enough to place 20th.
His overall time was 1:39.20 while victor Tim Reed, a man who posted six top-10 finishes while racing in American this year, was first home in 1:29.14.
In his age group, 22-year-old North placed sixth, just a tick under seven minutes behind Samuel Appleton (1:32.21).
“In the swim a group of four got away but then there was a pack of us together. However I made a rookie mistake, I forgot where I put my bike, I counted the racks wrong, so I lost a couple of seconds, missed the pack and had to ride on my own,” North said.
“It was my first race back, but to do the bike leg on my own, I was really happy with how I went.
“With the run it was two laps of five kilometres and I actually felt better on the last five kilometres than the first, so it is nice to see that my training is paying off.”
The training North has done with Hobson has involved a number of hard session, while together the duo have planned what the returning triathlete will tackle in the coming months.
Rather than easing himself back, North is chasing a challenge, but the effort at Penrith will further motivate him.
“Those guys I was racing against have been racing non-stop and my training has been a lot of stop and start, but the fact I was able to train for three weeks is a really good sign,” North said.
“I suffered from chronic fatigue and a lot of other mental things that came with being unable to train and being unable to back up when I could train, but after this race, to do so well, has put me in a good mental state.
“I will do the Bathurst club event this weekend, then I am going to do the national series which starts on the 17th and 18th of December. I will follow that around Australia and hopefully make the worlds, which is in New Zealand next year.”
North was happy to see that two other Bathurst triathletes he trains with, Nathan Bankovic and Shane Thurston, did well at Penrith as well.
Bankovic (1:44.04) was 42nd overall and seventh in the under 19 men’s category while Thurston (1:52.08) was 125th overall and 27th in the men’s 35-39 years division as they formed part of a 12-strong Bathurst contingent.
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