Following our first race together in London, Iain Robertson (Torq Triathlon Team) and I got a late call up to race in GB colours at another World Paratriathlon Event in Iseo, Italy (July 18th). We’d be part of a small but not so perfectly formed squad of just 6 Paratriathletes and 2 support staff.
In London we’d gone fairly well over-all, taking 3rd place but with room for improvement. With Iain winning Norwich Triathlon a week earlier in what’s proving a great season for him and my form seemingly improving too, things were looking positive. I was hopeful we could pull off a win.
We arrived in Italy two days before the race with our hotel situated only a few hundred metres off the clear waters of Lago d’Iseo (lake Iseo), Lombardy where the swim leg of our triple challenge would take place. Never mind that though. Priority number one for the team was lunch, and since we were in Italy it had to Pizza!
Apart from filling up on pizza and pasta, we completed all the usual preparation; swim course recce (made all the more interesting by the total absence of any buoy’s on the first attempt!), building the tandem, taking a quck look at the bike course and little light jogging. One thing stood out from day one though – it was bloody hot!
Race day arrived quickly with local weather reports advising to ‘avoid sporting activities’ which was always going to be tricky. It was 36 or so degrees and pre-race we were simply trying to stay as cool as possible…I used my trusty cooling hat, cold towels, ice cubes etc. It offered a little relief but it would only ever be a temporary measure…
Probably wisely given the air temperature – and in line with the rules – the swim was declared ‘non-wetsuit’ as the water temperature was 28.7 degrees, or in other words warmer than a lot of public pools! This was the first time a mandatory non-wetsuit swim had been enforced in Paratriathlon which allows wetsuits to be used up to 28 degrees. I wasn’t too worried, although swimming sans wetsuits is slower for most people, me included.
Iain and I (we are now just known as ‘The Iain’s’ it’s seems) had a decent swim over what proved a long swim course. We managed to collect a load of floating weeds along the way but gained about 38 seconds over the French team (who beat us in London) to lead out the swim.
Out on the bike course (which was amended on the morning of the race) and we were moving fast. It was a decent course with a few hills, technical turns and straight fast sections. Iain did a great job on the front and I was pushing hard/feeling good. We gained another 78 seconds to give us a lead of almost 2 minutes ahead of the run – perfect!
That should really have been enough, but things went downhill rapidly once I was on two feet. Despite Iain’s best efforts at encouraging me, I could barely run. My brain was working fine, but the legs just didn’t want to know – such a contrast to the swim and bike. I’ve felt like this on one or two occasions previously, usually when it’s hot like it was in Iseo, but I really had expected to run A LOT better this time. In the end I only managed 23 minutes for the 5k run which was very poor for me.
Post race it became evident the conditions were taking there toll. Iain I both felt a cold which seemed ridiculous given the temperature, others were in the medical tent with heat stroke and one or two unfortunate athletes had collapsed before they reached the finish line.
Happy with 2nd place? Yes and No. Yes because I couldn’t do any more on the day and No because I felt like we should have won, so I was a bit annoyed with myself
Con1gratulations though to the French guys (Arnaud Granjean and his Guide) who put in a great performance to win and also to Federico Sicuro of Italy in 3rd.
Other British results: –
Lizzie Tench (PT1) – 1st place
Joe Townsend (PT1) – 3rd
Mark Conway (PT1) – 6th
Steffan Hoggan (PT4) – 8th
Chris Frost (PT4) – 10th
Thanks to GB team staff Andy Bullock and Luke Watson who did a great job of supporting the team, especially in such hot conditions on race day. Also thanks to Iain for some great Guiding and being so patient with me during the run:-)
I’m not too sure where I go from here in terms of triathlon as there is apparently no chance of getting to the World Championships in Chicago this September given the current selection policy…we’ll see. I do however have plenty of other interesting events lined up for the second half of the season so watch this space.
Incidentally, prior to racing in Iseo I had never been to Italy. Ironically, less than two weeks later I’m heading back there with Jill and some friends for a nice holiday. Yes that’s right a Holiday with no triathlons attached! Running during the hottest part of the day will definitely be off the menu too!