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Author Topic: Gibraltar Super-sprint Triathlon  (Read 273 times)

mitch

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Gibraltar Super-sprint Triathlon
« on: November 01, 2017, 08:39:12 AM »
As many of you will know Berit and I moved to Gibraltar at the end of August.  As luck would have it, the annual Gibraltar triathlon was scheduled for about three weeks after we got here.  As bad luck would have it Berit was scheduled to work that weekend.  Although it is a supersprint (300m swim, 10k cycle, 2.5km) intended really for novices they are happy for anyone to enter as long as you describe yourself as a "practicing" male/female to give the novices a fair crack at the prizes. I didn't feel much like a practicing triathlete given the general lack of training and overindulgence in the lead up to the move.  We had at least got the overindulgence under control for the last few weeks, if not exactly got totally back in to the training.  We have managed a short run most mornings and a few decent cycles once our bikes eventually arrived.  Despite the excellent, free, swimming pool, I'd hardly swum a mile in total since getting here.

With the race being so short, transition times would have a big impact  so I decided I would practice the flying mount and dismount.  The challenge here was finding a quiet, flat space big enough to do this.  Even the dead-end road where the run section of the race would be seemed to have a steady stream of cars just going to the end and turning.  Despite this, I managed a couple of sessions and felt pretty confident in both mounting and dismounting.  Obviously there would be no socks, gloves or tops to put on, and a quick swim the week before confirmed that there would be no wetsuit to take off.  Wetsuits were optional on the day, and few folk did wear them, but the majority didn't.

Race morning was a bit cloudy and windy and from the registration queue we could see that they waves on the beach looked pretty big.  Not Edinburgh IM 70.3 big, but pretty serious and there were a lot of nervous looks from the many first timers.  I overheard the organizer reassuring one lady that if she found the waves too much she could just turn around and get out and she'd be allowed to cycle and run anyway - its about enjoying the day not putting yourself in danger.  As far as I know, no-one took him up on this and everyone finished safely, but it was nice to hear. I don't think I'd have fancied that swim for my first triathlon.

The race was a beach start and a few folk got in for a splash about and warm up before the off.  I did a token stand in the waves and splash my face job.  This was probably a mistake.  When we ran in, the water was too shallow to swim for a bit. When I started swimming the first wave knocked me off my stroke and then I was practically beached as the wave receded.  So I stood again, just in time to get slammed by the next wave.  A moment captured nicely by a photographer (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gibwheels_eric/36574208604/in/album-72157689514837275/).  The combination of being winded, the cold shock the lack of wetsuit buoyancy had me questioning some of my recent life choices as the waves continued to batter me.  Eventually I got into my stroke and was making up ground on those who had a better start.  Surfing the waves back in was fun, but I probably stood up one wave too early and nearly got knocked off my feet again.

Through T1 and there were still a respectable number of bikes in their racks and I sailed through leaving any number of folk sitting around struggling with various items of clothing and shoes.  The  mount went smoothly and I was soon closing on my first target.  After I'd picked off a few and was starting to think I could do well here, I saw the mass peloton of the leaders coming towards me, abut a half a lap ahead.  The race was draft legal, and there was no way I could compete with that on my own.  The first guy I passed tried to hold my wheel for a bit, but had fallen away quickly on the first hill. With no-one to work with I just had to go flat out all the way. I passed a good few folk and found the habit of 40 previous triathlons hard to break as I tried to overtake each within 30 seconds without taking a draft.

The lap ends with a sweeping descent, perfect for getting my feet out of my shoes ready for the flying dismount into T2. I could hear the rising urgency in the voices of the marshals as I approached the dismount line without looking like stopping.  A good sign that they're doing their jobs, but adds slightly to the pressure to get the dismount right. My practice paid off I was off on the run in no time.  The rough sea made its presence felt again in the form of an awful stitch from my seawater filled belly and the distinct lack of brick sessions was felt in the jelly legs.  Basically an awful run.  On the first lap I passed the finish line for the first time, just in time to be overtaken by the race leader on his way to cross the line. I recovered a bit by the second lap and manage to pass a few folk, but lost one place a few hundred meters from the line.


Overall time was 35:04, no official splits but I was roughly 9 minutes in the swim, 16 minutes in the bike and 8 minutes in the run.  23rd place, out of 59. 

Good news is next year they are doing a Standard distance race in July as a test for the Island Games which come to Gibraltar in 2019 (Gib isn't an island, but they are still allowed to take part).  It will be limited to 100 places though,  so if you fancy an away race in the sun next year get your entry in as soon as registration opens.

Mitch

 

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