South African LD Triathlete of the Year 2011/2012

It has been a bit of a crazy schedule, trying to squeeze in almost 5 races in 4 weekends, but France will always be my premier destination for racing! Triathlon is big here and I just love the race atmosphere here :).

So, after my first race in Le Mans where I got a second place, we headed off to Chantonnay to race a Half Iron the following weekend. This time the weather did not play along, and it poured with rain. I detest rain and cool/cold racing conditions, and this certainly got the better of me! The race just did not start well – we had to get everything ready in the pouring rain and I was miserable to say the least. The swim was equally unpleasant – the water was cold, and I was the unfortunate recipient of a giant kick in the mouth at the start which left me bleeding from the mouth it was that bad :/. Out of the water, I ran with my bike to the mount line and discovered one of my shoes was missing – dropped the bike, ran back to the transition, had to look around to find where I had dropped my shoe – retrieved it and started riding. The rain did not cease and the roads were really wet, which made for pretty terrifying conditions. In addition, I had cleaned and polished my bike so nicely the day before that I had ended up getting polish on my carbon rims! I could not brake!!! Luckily, the course consisted of 3x 30k laps, and after the first I decided to call it quits – I had lost so much time due to the braking issue, I couldn’t ride fast and was frozen solid… Sorry for all the believers in finishing every race, but this was not one I wanted to finish!! Special, also suffering badly from the cold also pulled off when he saw me (thanks :*), and it turns out 1/3 of the field withdrew due to the conditions. We did feel a bit bad, but soon felt better when we realised how good a hot shower and tea were ;).

By 8pm that evening (and just before the start of the World Cup final), I decided I needed to race the next day (14 July – French National Day), and looked up some running races on  the internet. 8.55pm I called a race organiser of an 18k race a mere 60km away, and yes, we could enter on the day! So we arrived the next morning at Parcay sur Vienne to make amends for our previous day’s DNF. Turns out we were 2euro short of our entry fee, so 30min before the start we were driving (low flying) around all the local villages in search of an ATM in order to obtain the shortfall. We arrived back at the entry table 5min before the start, got our numbers and set off on the race with zero warm up. Interestingly, local running races in France are considered ‘big’ with 500 participants, and generally attract serious runners (mostly 40+) and few ‘fun’ runners, so the pace was pretty fast from the start. The other thing to mention is that the races are for the large part, mostly offroad which affords one close contact with the local cow poo and mud baths – I was convinced that Special (who is particular about keeping his gear clean and neat), was going to take his Asics Noosa’s off to protect them! Anyhow, after the previous day’s disappointment, I was running well, and found myself leading the women’s race, which I thought was quite awesome, until an older guy, who resembled Einstein, came trotting past me… I won the race, which was a great boost for morale, and a voucher for Decathlon, my favourite sports store in France – for South Africans, it is a bit like Dishchem for sports – you will never walk out with just one item ;D.

Next race Triathlon des Settons – This one involved a road trip to the eastern part of France. The Lac de Settons is not too far from Dijon, and if you know the area, there are a few bumps in the terrain. In actual fact, I think it was one of the hardest 40k rides I have ever done! It either goes steep up or steep down – nothing you can unleash a TT bike on. Once again, after a week of nice hot weather race day was cool and the rain threatened again. The swim start was with the men again :(, which was most unpleasant but I managed to come out with the lead group of girls, including the French long distance champion Isabelle Ferrer, who is from the region. I managed to hold 2nd/3rd spot for half the ride, until a large pack of guys caught up, with to girls comfortably nestled in the pack – I tried hard not to loose my temper, but in a non-drafting race this is utter cheating! It always amazes me how referees are too kind to these girls to actually disqualify them immediately!! DRAFTERS SUCK! I got off the bike some way back, having chosen not to just do the same, and then had to run my legs off again on an offroad course riddled with mud and tree roots which does not aid in fast running times. Not sure where I was, I just pushed to the finish, and managed to get 3rd. Not exactly what I wanted, but a podium, and I knew Isabelle Ferrer was much stronger that me on the day, so she merited the victory :).

The last race was once again a last minute decision – I had promised Special that we would go and see the TT of the Tour de France in Perigeux, and we noticed that there was a Half Iron race the next day, nearby. This was cutting it fine, as we were to catch a train and flight home to SA on the Monday morning, but what the hell!!

Half Iron Villeneuve sur Lot – I anticipated that we may not arrive at this race in the best prepared condition, mostly because of the races already in our legs, the travel fatigue and spending the day in the sun watching the TDF the day before, but I felt I had nothing to lose, and discovering a new part of France is always great! This time, finally, we got hot weather for race day! I like hot alot :). Despite the heat, the rules were a bit flexible regarding wetsuits and so we had to bake in our black wetsuits :P. I came out the water with another local girl (who I would discover is quite a champion), and despite my super fast transition, she soon caught me at around 8k on the bike while I tried to get my legs to work properly for the first 20k. I simply did not have the legs to respond, and had to make do with the legs I had on the day, getting off the bike in second, some minutes behind. I strongly thought I could make up some ground on the run…except my legs had had enough! The run was once again entirely offroad through ploughed fields which really does not suit me! I tried to make out if everything was fine, but I suffered! My legs hurt so much I was only too relieved to get to the finish in 2nd place and extend myself out on the grass like a star :P.

The thing about racing in France is not just getting up on the podiums and getting a trophy, but sharing a joke with triathletes you have never met, feeling welcomed by the local villagers who always offer the best support as volunteers, and exploring the spectacular countryside…while working off the calories from the local food heaven ;D.


One Response to “France – Race Roundup”

  1. tony on August 1st, 2014 4:39 pm

    Can’t judge from past years, but this seems like a great set of results – well done!
    the Detonator AKA Tony