Matt Ellis and I travelled out to Denmark recently for the ITU Multi-sport World Championships.
We had decided to take on both the Aquathlon and Long Distance triathlon events during our stay on the island of Fyn.
The Aquathlon was first up on Thursday 12th July. It was held about an hour away from our base in Odense (the home of Hans Christian Anderson) at a place called Middlefart (pronounced as it sounds). This would consist of a 1km swim in and around the picturesque marina followed by a 5k run.
The field was very small for the Para events during the festival, but on both occasions we would be up against VI Ironman World record holders John Domandl and his Guide Paul McGlynn from Australia who are great athletes and top guys too.
As the Aussies are long distance specialists we decided to take out the swim hard and keep the pace on during the first half of the run. This worked well, but only gave us just over a minute out of the water. Perhaps we were slowed by the swarms of stinging jelly fish that made our faces hurt for another 6 or 7 hours! We gained more in transition and continued to gain a little further during the run to take the first title.
It was great to get that one under our belts, especially as I had never done a Tri as long as Saturday’s race and both Matt and I probably hadn’t done enough training for such an undertaking. It could all go horribly wrong!
In the end it went almost as well as we could have hoped for and much better than I had really expected.
We were swimming well and covered the 3km in 54 minutes, which wasn’t bad considering it was quite difficult for Matt to navigate a slightly unclear route when we were leading. I then thought I’d help out our rivals by getting locked in the toilet for a short time before we headed out on the 120km bike leg.
Once the lock smith had been called we settled into a good rhythm on the tandem. We averaged about 39.5km for the first 60km lap, at the end of which we were about 14 minutes up. Speed dropped a bit on the second lap but it was still and average of 38.5km/hour (24MPH) by the end.
Off the bike and we were running well over the first 7.5km lap taking in the town centre, residential areas and a couple of very nice parks with gravel trails. We were moving well (for me) and in fact running much better than I had at either the Wymondham 20 mile race or London marathon earlier this year despite the swim and bike already completed.
We got a call from Matthew Webb, another Norfolk-based athlete who did the aquathlon. We were about 22 minutes up. That number went up again by the end of lap two. I was still feeling OK, surprisingly, but had tried to ride as conservatively as possible without slacking. I was pushing hard on the hills and out of the corners evidence by a spike of 980 watts at one point! Poor Matt on the other hand pushed hard throughout on the bike to gain as big a lead as possible before the run and was starting to feel it.
For the 3rd and most of the 4th lap it was a case of managing our effort. Run the faster sections, walk the aid stations etc. Towards the end Matt got his second wind and for the first time I was starting to have to dig quite deep hang in there in order to run when I really just wanted to walk. It must have been the flat coke or food in our ‘Special Needs’ bag that kicked in!
It was a relief to get over the finish lime and take our second title of the week.
The Aussies were still in great spirits when they crossed the line a bit later, and even more so when they heard I was almost stuck in the ‘Dunny’ for the duration of the day’s racing!
It’s been a great few days in Denmark. We’ve have met some nice people along the way, the weather was great but kind on race day and we over-came what we thought could be our current limits.
The irony is that we almost didn’t get to go due to the issues I had getting my medical certificate beforehand…seems like i’m ‘fit to compete’ after all:-)
Thanks to Matt for his efforts in Guiding once again, sponsors and supporters such as Arctic One, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and the Norfolk Sports Academy who have helped to make the trip to Denmark possible.