Raynard Tissink Triathlon Coach
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Quelle Challenge, FRANCE - Race Report

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At last, something positive to write about as far as my racing goes. This weekend was the Challenge France half Iron-distance race in and around the small village of Niederbronne-les-bains, about an hours drive north of Strasbourg, right on the French/German border. After the last few months of wondering whether my health condition would put an end to my triathlon career, I can truly say that there is light ant the end of the tunnel on the road to recovery. Even though I felt far from my best, and the race held in conditions that I struggle in the most, I was able to get through with a result that I would have been satisfied with under any circumstances.

Racing got underway at 11am in rainy, 14degree weather, with water temperature somewhere around 16degrees. With not much time to warm-up I was worried about a fast start sending my breathing out of control right from the gun, but I had a relatively easy getaway right onto the feet of Chris McCormack who was in second. But after about 2-3minutes I started hyperventilating, and started to drop back. Luckily I was far enough up the front of the pack to back off a bit to get my breathing under control by letting someone else come past and getting onto their feet. This happened again at the turn-around, but again I quickly managed to get my breathing under control. The rest of the swim was very comfortable, at times even feeling slow.

T1 was a mad dash. Everyone I swam with had ITU style transitions, while I took the time to put on a long sleeve shirt and booties to keep warm (try getting these items on quickly when you’re wet!!). I lost about 30seconds to Macca and Olivier Marceau, but at least I would be warm(er), and finishing this race was far more a priority that placing well. With a leading bunch of five 30seconds up the road, and Macca pushing the pace up front, the first 20km were torturous. Maik Twelsik and Marceau dropped off the pace first, so they were the first guys I passed at about 10km and then it took me another 10 km to eventually close the gap to Macca, and once there, I was able to relax and take it easy on the flat and downhill sections, but he still hurt me on the uphill sections (of which there were many!). After 50km we had pulled out a 1m30s gap on Marceau, and 2m30s to the next bunch, so it was to our utter surprise/shock that Marceau came flying passed us at 57km. At first Macca lost it, swearing at Marceau’s manager in his 4x4, but after a while we settled down and pulled in behind Marceau for the duration of the ride and let him set the pace(welcome to France).

5km before T2 I tried to break away from my riding companions to give myself enough time to get rid of all my extra clothing before the start of the run. But Macca wasn’t letting me go anywhere, and followed me closely into transition with Marceau about 15seconds back. I finished with the fastest bike split but by the time I’d removed all my clothing and started the run, Chris was 30seconds up the road with Marceau 10seconds ahead of me.

The run course was extremely tough, including stairs and a hill that didn’t seem to end. I managed to catch Marceau quite easily in the first km, but as soon as we hit the stairs, my breathing went ballistic again, and then it was flat for a little while where I recovered and caught up again. But at 2,5km the never-ending hill started, and breathing issues and cramping became the order of the day. I knew the next athlete was a long way back(5minutes), so racing mode was dialled down to conservation/survival mode, and once I crested the hill at 5km I was able to pick up my pace again. Unfortunately for me however, the run was a 2 lap affair, so I had to go through all the pain and suffering again. In fact, there was a lot of humiliation involved as the age-groupers on their first lap came cruising passed me on the uphill section as I crawled my way to the top(but I did manage to fly pass them all on the downhill again).

After 3hr56min I managed to cross the line holding onto my 3rd place, just ahead of a storming James Cunnama (damn fine job James). Normally in cold, wet conditions I struggle to finish, so I’m extremely happy in the fact that I was able to get through the day with a decent result. It’s restored a lot of confidence for the next event this coming weekend in Germany, and with a bit more fine tuning; hopefully my run will come right.

Tune in next week.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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