Why send one Club member to international events when you can send a posse to take on a bunch of them? Jayne goes first...
'As some of you know, I like to ride my bike through mud. In November 2017 I took part in the Cirencester Off-Road duathlon and finished 4th but 1st Veteran Female. A chance conversation in the car park and subsequent email led me to qualify for the 2018 Cross Duathlon GB age-group team.
Fast forward nearly twelve months and I found myself sitting on the balcony of my apartment, watching elite cross triathlete Nicole Walters sob as she crosses the finish line. I knew why she was crying, I’d recced the bike course two days before. Steep and like the surface of the moon!!
The run was tough too, with about 30% being on the beach, 35% on a rocky path over to the next cove and the remaining run down a storm drain with obstacles.
The age-group race began at 3:30pm and the women’s race was set off at 4pm. By this time, the temperature on the beach was around 28 degrees Celsius with little or no breeze. When the gun went, the women’s race started at a blistering pace. We had to run three laps of the run course and by the end of the first lap, I was starting to suffer from the pace. My race strategy could best be colloquially described as ‘**** or bust’, so I kept running as fast as I could.
I survived the first run and went into transition in 4th place in my age group, only a few minutes down on the leaders. I jumped onto my bike and almost straight away hit the bottom of ‘that’ climb. Immediately, it became apparent that I was suffering from the heat and effort of the first run and about halfway up, unable to choose my line because of other racers walking up, I had to dismount and join those pushing up the climb.
As the course started to descend, I saw that another woman in my age group had punctured and I was now in bronze medal position. I continued to push as hard as I could to the end of the first lap and up the hill for the second lap. Just before the climb began, I was passed by the woman who was in fourth place in my age group. I tried to respond but I had nothing to offer. It was now just a matter of surviving to the second run.
The third and final lap came to an end and I entered transition and set off for the two final laps of the run course. The support throughout the race had been fantastic with Brit holiday makers and racers' families cheering us on. The support was vital for this last run as the brutal course had taken it’s toll on everyone.
I crossed the line 4th in my age group and pretty pleased with my performance as this was only my third ever duathlon. A tough, challenging race with fantastic support from the spectators in a beautiful location, all made for an unforgettable experience'.
At the same venue, Tom donned his GB kit for his first international duty in the aquathlon.
'Wow what a week! So much learned and a great deal of fun had. My first time racing for GB is certainly something I won’t forget and I have a lot to take into future events.
A crazy couple of days began with a race briefing the day before a race. A Portuguese gentleman telling me exactly where to put each of the 4 tattoos - along with his favourite line of no tattoo no race. I was quickly learning 30 different ways to disqualify myself from what seemed like a simple swim a bit and run a bit. Then came the GB team meeting. Another run through of the course and the moment it all became real ‘anybody racing their first event, stand up’ the moment of self pride was somewhat crushed shortly after to find a lady competing for the 44th time in GB kit.
Next a quick drive across the island back to a swim familiarisation around the bay. Oh dear... nobody is putting a wetsuit on. I timidly walked into the sea pretending that I'm not at all bothered by the lack of neoprene to keep me above the surface. To my surprise it wasn't that bad and I was able to stay in the group drafting a few of the quicker guys.
Watching the elite guys fly out the water and breeze round the run I was beginning to feel out of my depth. Finally it came to 5.30 the last wave of men from 18-55 were due to board the boat to take us to the middle of the bay... only no boat. It turns out getting 400 people to jump 2m out of a boat to a start was taking longer than expected. Finally we boarded at 6.10 and became the journey out to the start. The journey was completed with a eclectic playlist featuring any song related to a boat you can imagine. Arriving at the start buoys the sun was setting and suddenly I was ushered to the ‘plank’ at the front and jump. Quick get near the start before the horn blows.
“Take your marks” go. The swim began with all the grace you could expect from 100 men who had waited all day for the race. I quickly found myself in a swim pack with an Irish guy and a Brit on my left. We seemed to swim a similar pace and stayed together for a good chunk of the way.
Climbing out the water, finding my shoes was easier than expected... not many left to choose from! Looked at my watch and happy to see less than 18 mins for the 1k swim without a wetsuit. Starting the run I could see at least one other GB athlete from my age group going the other way. I’m catching you. I could see I was gaining on him at each turn and I managed to catch him with 1k to go. A quick sprint finish past a Croatian and I’m done. I knew I wasn’t last in my age group after passing someone on the run and was pleasantly surprised to find that I had been ahead of a few out the water and had in fact managed to finish 10th in my age category.
The support on the course was like nothing else! Every other family shouting “go GB!” and running straight through the middle of Cafe del Mar at sunset was amazing. The evening began with a pint of Irish dustbin and rapidly declined from there...
Racing for your country is something I would recommend to anybody. Meeting like minded people from both GB and elsewhere is great. There are so many members of TTC who could qualify for one of the championships. Do it! I certainly fancy another trip soon...
3 things I have learnt from a great trip:-
Swimming without a wetsuit is not as scary as it sounds
It’s easier to find the energy to chase people if they have FRA or GER across their bum
I’m never doing cross triathlon after watching Scott and Claudia hurtle down those hills!
Finally thanks so much to all the coaches at TTC who have helped me in the last few months to build up to Ibiza.I certainly wouldn’t have managed all this without the backing of the club.
Finally, Scott and Claudia decided an on-road triathlon was for wimps.........
Taking on Toms mantra of not wishing to do Cross Triathlon , I totally agree. It is aggressive, brutal and you will get hurt. It is apparently a contact sport. The duathlon course which Jayne did was really tough with climbs up to 22% up goat paths and at 14 stone I was pleased to have chosen just one race and not that one.
The triathlon course we did was different. The sea swim was non-wetsuit - not great if you have spent the season dossing in a wet suit or hugging a pull buoy for dear life. The start was epic , a beach start with banging music , lined up with guys who looked like real athletes representing their countries. The adrenaline got the better of me and after a sprint across the beach and a proper dive I was leading the pack at the half way point. Then from feeling sublime , the darkness of fatigue set in and it dawned on me that it was going to be a hard day.
Meanwhile Claudia was smashing up the bike course which was essentially 20k of riding uphill over boulders, some fixed/some loose, but all the size of babies heads. I likened it to Paris Roubais cobbled sections , but on steroids. Unfortunately Claudia got knocked off her bike by a male competitor hitting the rocks and leaving her bloodied, with a broken saddle. To add insult to injury she later lost more time having to go back to pick up her ripped bike number.
The run was up a cliff , then over a lava field , where you jumped from rock to rock like a mountain goat. I was toast , but Claudia posted the fastest run in her age group and at the finish the printed results page (and later the commentator) put her 3 seconds behind silver and about a minute off gold.
The Brit support was epic and our thanks to all out there , especially Tom and Nicole.
Unfortunately at the podium there was more drama as a German ex pro claimed to have won Claudia’s age group stating that her chip had failed to log her times. After a bit of a comparison of results Claudia has that terrible experience of being was shuffled from bronze place and the podium to that worst of places, fourth. Very cruel, like the course which was left littered with punctures and injuries.
So would I recommend Cross triathlon to Tom? Answer: a resounding no, unless you’re an adrenaline junky and need your fix. Have the knowledge that you (or your bike) will almost certainly get hurt. If you’re ok with that; then it’s a real blast.
Finally time to drop off my shoes and sunglasses into transition. Oh my! A sea of identical boxes in 4 rows each with a name in them. After walking up and down each row I found my box. How am I going to find this later? Before I had chance to panic over how to get out the swim and find my shoes the announcement that had filled me with concern for the past few weeks came... the water is 22.2 degrees. No wetsuits for all competitors.