Having made the decision to at least look at the options around the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic triathlon I recently travelled to two ITU World Cups on the hunt for some ranking points and good performances.
The first was out in Sarasota, Florida with Matt Ellis. After a great season this race didn’t go so well . Firstly our flights were cancelled due to Hurricane Michael which caused a lot of damage in certain places. Luckily we managed to re-arrange everything and travelled to Orlando with all the kids going to Disney before picking up a hire car to drive the last couple of hours to Tampa. Obstacle one overcome! There was little sign of any storm damage too which was good.
I’d had a tight calf before travelling but on day one I was clumsy and stepped backwards putting my foot in a deep hole. This went down above my knee level and in trying to save myself I apparently strained my other calf. I didn’t notice much to begin with but it became worse each day we were there.
Things kept going downhill with the swim cancelled due to concerns about the water quality. There had been an algae-like issue across Florida called ‘Red Tide’ that had killed a lot of fish and caused skin irritation to humans. It had spread from salt water into the lakes, carried by birds apparently. This was a bit of a blow for several reasons: –
- The race would be a duathlon – not good with a calf injury and not good for a swim-biker like me.
- B1 athletes still get almost 2:58 minutes head start over the B2/3’s – This seems a huge amount of time when you consider it’s usually the swim where B1’s lose most time (and a bit in transition) due to lack of vision rather than running or tandem cycling. Essentially this means triathlon is only 18 seconds more challenging which doesn’t seem right.
- ITU ranking points would only be awarded at 75% of the value for a triathlon race – This also seems strange as you still race the same people, put the same effort in, spend the same amount of time and money to go to the event.
- Our race got pushed back from 8 to 10am – It would be a whole lot hotter and more humid out there so not good for us Brits.
Undeterred we gave it a go. I had an OK first run with most of the B2/3’s coming in just a few seconds apart, although was feeling the heat even warming up. On the bike we never really got going. It was probably just down to the travelling, heat and humidity. Coming into T2 we were in 10th place having made no major in-roads to the B1’s ahead. My calf wasn’t great and my head was also feeling like it was going to explode with the heat having not had any breeze on the back of the tandem. It just wasn’t happening and the best we could expect was to finish in 8th.
I had a bit of an argument with myself for a minute or so and a chat with Matt – should we continue after all the time and cost to come to Florida or should I sack it off to avoid making my injury worse before the next race two weeks later?
It’s never nice to DNF but reluctantly I decided the latter was the more sensible thing to do.
Here’s the results – They perhaps evidence why I think the duathlon factor is way off, but nevertheless well done to all those who completed the race and particularly to winner Yuichi Takahashi (Japan).
In hindsight I’m sort of pleased it wasn’t a triathlon – according to the locals there are definitely alligators in the lake we would have used!!
Oh and least we got to try kayaking and paddle boarding (who was it that fell off the board again Matt?!).