Wow, where do I even begin this?
Arriving in Besancon France, I was informed that there was a possibility that we would not be permitted to swim in the river as there had been heavy rains leading up to our arrival. This naturally would be a disappointment and also be somewhat of a disadvantage as I race in a category with mixed disabilities (arm and leg amps). Nevertheless, it is what it is.
On Friday it was confirmed that the river had in fact got to a dangerous speed and so the competition was officially changed to a Duathlon. Now we would race 2.5km run, 20km cycle and 5km run. This was going to be interesting. I also don’t have a huge amount of experience in racing a duathlon. For those who don’t know, it’s very different to a triathlon as fatigue of muscles play a significant role.
Race day arrived and although the weather was not great, the race was on.
The first run was tough as I ran completely out of my comfort zone, constantly trying to remind myself not to go too hard although I also did not want to fall back too far. The run was through parts of the town which presented its own challenges such as tight turns.
Into transition 1 and I was surprised and entertained to see the Dutch athlete – Sjaak van den Berg running out of transition and then back in again. I found out later on that he had arrived into transition, followed normal procedure and proceeded to take his bike to the exit of transition when he then realised that he still had his running shoes on!! So he had to do a loop within transition, re-rack his bike, remove his shoes and then try again.
Out onto the bike we went. On lap two the clouds opened and it began to rain which now meant the level of danger had just gone up. I pushed as hard as I could without neglecting safety and speed around corners etc. I managed to gain a position on the bike which was a positive for me as I knew the second run was going to pain.
Cycle done, maintained position, fast transition and onto second run!
Everything was now wet so the run course which was made up of huge sections of cobblestones became a nightmare for any amputee with a blade. Trying not to slip and needing to pick up the pace I pushed hard. So hard that I missed the turnaround point (they say it will happen to everyone at least once). This meant that I ended up running six km’s instead of five. Unfortunately this placed me last in my category. It did also provide much entertainment to the likes of Aidan McGlynn, my Irish mate and fellow athlete.
I must mention though that South Africa did make the podium thanks to a great performance by PT5 Visually impaired athlete David Jones and his Guide Phillip landing a 3 rd place after a great effort despite David running into a tree.
As they most often say, you can train as hard as you want; experience is one of the keys to getting better at anything – Lessons learnt!
Next stop, Grand Final Paratriathlon Championships in Rotterdam 22/23 July 2016.