*** race report from Ian Le Pelley ***
New Zealand is a very long way to go from Dubai for any race. It is an especially long way to go for a sprint distance race! However, I’d qualified for the GB age group team in the summer, and fancied racing the worlds. So off we went.
I arrived on the Friday afternoon, and the race was first thing on the Monday morning. I wasn’t sure beforehand that this would be enough time to get over the worst of the jet-lag (it’s a 9 hour difference), but I think it was actually fine in the end.
Saturday was spent doing registration/ riding the bike course (luckily bumping into Flanners near the start, so got to ride + chat with him)/ chilling. On Sunday I went for a swim/ walked some of the run course/ racked my bike. Then off to bed early-ish ready for an early start.
The start was actually a lot earlier than I’d planned. I woke at 1am, and couldn’t get back to sleep again. I’ll blame the jet-lag, but it was probably more as a result of the nerves…
My race start was 0655. I’d written a little schedule of what I was going to be doing from wake-up to race start, so I knew (without having to try to remember/ double check myself) what I was meant to be doing when. Out of bed at 0430, downed some breakfast. Shower to wake up, anti-chafe stuff on, tri-suit on. Down to transition for it opening at 0530. Sorted out bike + kit. Out for a quick warm-up and then into the holding area to put on wetsuit + drop off clothes.
We then lined up in pens for our waves. Each of the waves were about 3-4 minutes apart, and each wave was an age group (either men or women). So pretty much 70-90 people per wave.
Swim: 750m: 10.29
Our wave was called, they opened the gate to the pen and we all walked out onto a pontoon. We all sat down on the pontoon in one line and waited until everyone was sitting down/ the time was ready. Feet were in the water, and it was FREEZING! We were then told to get into the water, and hold onto the pontoon with one hand. A few seconds later they fired the gun, and we were off!
It was a bit of a scramble to start – there were obviously quite a lot of good swimmers, but I wasn’t getting knocked around too much. After maybe 100m there seemed to be about 4 of us in a line, and one guy had edged forward a bit, so I decided he was the guy to sit behind. I sort of barged myself over a bit + sat on his feet for the rest of the way in.
By the time we got to the first buoy (maybe around 300m in) we started hitting the back markers from the women’s wave in front of us. We were having to weave our way through them a bit which slowed us up a bit but wasn’t too much of a problem (although maybe not too nice for them!). I concentrated on sticking on the feet of my bloke, and he slotted a fairly good course through. He seemed to be swimming fairly straight, so I let him do the sighting and just made sure I stuck on him. The pace was feeling fine – not too hard, but still fairly strong. My main aim was to ensure that I didn’t go out too hard (pacing not being one of my strong points), and this was feeling okay.
Came out the water feeling okay – I thought I was second out of the water (with my mate leading out) but looking back on the times it seems there was one lad that came out 20 seconds ahead of us. But all good nonetheless.
The first transition was then a long long run out on the pontoon, up onto the wharf, all the way to the very end of the wharf, pick up bikes on the way back down the wharf, and then out onto the road. I therefore tried to ensure I was running at an okay pace – it was a fairly substantial run!
I got my wetsuit down to my waist whilst running. Wetsuit off at bike (feet now numb from the cold). We didn’t need numberbelts for the bike, so it was just helmet on and then off. Shoes had moved out of position on the bike for the mount, so rather than risking spazzing it up, I did a bit of a slow “Ironman” mount + got cracking.
Bike: 20km: 32.29
I was on the bike at pretty much the same time as an Aussie guy and a Belgian bloke. Aussie dude was riding a little harder to start, and just stayed 50m or so ahead. The Belgian was sitting behind me (keeping a bit of a gap – but not sure if the full 10m all the time…). He then went past up a hill, but I got him back on the downhill, and he stayed “on my wheel” until around the 12km mark.
After around 2kms on the flat, we started with a fairly long ascent (but not too steep), which was followed by an equally long descent. Then a couple of shorter, sharper climbs (small chain-ring stuff) before heading out onto the flat coast road. We then had a final steep + short-ish climb up to a monument (burning legs at the top!), back down that, and then the rest of the ride was along the flat.
No one had passed me at the turn-around at around 12km (was a little surprised about that), and we were now heading back towards transition - it was a headwind all the way back. Shortly after the turn a NZ bloke blew past fairly quickly, and my Belgian pal who’d been keeping company behind me then put down some power to pass me (he had gynormous calves on him that lad!), and then he and the Aussie bloke ahead stuck with the Kiwi all the way back into transition. I could see them up ahead, was slightly annoyed not to have put in the effort to get onto the train (they seemed to be riding legally, and into that headwind it probably would have helped a bit), but at the same time I’m not sure I would have been able to stick with them anyway.
Was happy to get to the end of the 20km by the time we finished – legs were letting me know that they didn’t really fancy riding that much more, but I wasn’t feeling totally cooked, so probably about right.
Again, a long run all the way down to the end of the wharf, back down to drop bikes. Helmet off, shoes on, numberbelt on, go go go! Was my leg cramping? No, after a few strides it felt okay.
Run: 5.3km: 17.31
Almost immediately after I came out of T2 I saw the Kiwi guy who’d blown past me on the bike. He’d obviously not had a brilliant transition, and I could see he wasn’t running super quick and I passed him quite quickly. I then passed another guy who I thought was the Aussie who was ahead. We were then running through the men’s wave 2 in front of us, so it wasn’t that easy figuring out who else was in my age group. The run was all flat, but with lots of twists and turns.
I could see the Belgian in a light blue suit up ahead, and he was moving pretty quickly, but it seemed that I was slowly gaining on him, and I reckoned I would probably be able to get him by the end – I just concentrated on slowly reeling him in.
I’d seen a British guy in transition who I knew was a much faster runner than me, and I knew he was coming. He went past at about 3km into the run. Shortly after I went past the Belgian guy. And then I just kept running as strong as I could.
As I started down the finishing straight I could hear the commentator calling out the name of the British guy who’d just passed me, and calling him the world champion. And then he was calling out my name and saying I’d got the silver. I thought I was up near the front but hadn’t really thought about exactly where I was – I couldn’t believe it. I screamed out a very load roar of delight (in retrospect a little embarrassing, and I think I scared a couple of people who’d just finished!) before collapsing, very very happily, into a chair.
Total time: 1.06.16
Triathlon is a sport that you often get out what you put into it – but to do so you still need a bit of help and a bit of luck. Thanks to all those that have helped (you know who you are). And thanks to all the TriDubai team for all the pre-race good luck messages and post-race congratulations messages – they were all really really appreciated.