Race Report by Kathy Eaton, June 1, 2013
We arrived in Belfort France on Tuesday, May 28, on a cool but sunny day. That was the last time we saw the sunshine until the day after the race.
The days got progressively cooler as we approached race day and by Thursday night the race officials determined it was too cold to swim and declared our long distance triathlon a duathlon.
The 4k swim was replaced with a 9.5k run. The 120k bike was now a 87k bike and our 30k run was now 20k.
As the saying goes, “Nothing new on race day” went out the window, everything was new. I had to rethink clothing, nutrition, pacing. I had never run 9.5k before a bike, etc.
My main mode of thinking was, “It is what it is and it’s the same for everybody”.
Parade of Nations
43 countries were represented this year and 44 athletes made up the Canadian Team. Our parade uniforms were a big hit. We received loud cheers and whistles (or maybe it was our good looks and great country) I felt very proud to be a Canadian.
The weather for Saturday’s race was predicted as 90% POP and 25-30ml of heavy rain however, the rain held off for the most part but the temps were cooler, especially at the higher elevations of the bike course.
The race venue was held in Malsaucy, a protected natural area. It was truly an awesome place to run and I can only imagine the swim would have been as well.
The first 9.5k run was fine as I tried to save my legs for the upcoming bike up Ballon d’Alsace, peaking at 1,247 meters above sea level. This has been a regular stage of the Tour de France.
I felt pretty good getting on the bike after the first run. I cycled the first part of rollers, roundabouts and cobbles and racing through villages. At exactly 40k the incline of the mountain starts. The grade is 5% and 8.5% in portions for about 14k. Thanks to hill repeats on Snake Road and Sydenham and a trip to Mt. Lemon, I found the mountain enjoyable yet challenging. Having said that, as we got closer to the top, the temperature dropped noticeably and visibility was poor due to fog. Thankfully, our team took a bus trip up the mountain 3 days earlier so I knew what to expect when we got up there and knew enough to descend with caution as there are no guard-rails and a few brick walls at the ends of the switchbacks…..exciting!
Once down the mountain we continued on closed roads through small villages, awesome scenery, more cobbles, with the villagers out in great numbers cheering us on. Allez, Allez! Once again, proud to be a Canadian as they cheered Canada loudly.
Finally back on the run for 2 more loops of the hilly run course and home for an 8th place finish in my age group.
What an incredible experience, meeting new friends and being able to race in such a beautiful country.