After months of preparation and training the race season suddenly arrived. Challenge Fuerteventura was where I’d open my season and compete in my first race as a pro. The 70.3 race distance covers 1.9km swim, 90km Bike and a 21km run. Fuerteventura is known for its tough bike and run. If you’re not fighting against the wind then the gradients and heat will get you.
I flew out the Wednesday before giving me a couple of days to check out the course and get used to the heat. I knew quite a few people racing so it was great to get some training done with them before racing. These days passed pretty quickly and before I knew it, it was race day!
The race is based in the Playitas resort that had kindly put us up for the days around the race. This also made it easy getting things sorted on race day, transition was a couple of minutes walk and the race start was 500m from the hotel room.
We lined up on the beach waiting as the announcer counted down to race start, then the gun went, the swim was 2 laps with an Australian exit. This involves exiting the water, running around a marker on the beach and then running back in for lap 2. The pro field was brimming with quality athletes including Olympic and World Champions. I surprised myself with how calm I managed to stay, but the butterflies arrived sure enough waiting to start.
The Gun went and we ran then dived into the water, with only 20 Pro’s racing there was less fighting in the swim compared with the races I had done previously. I paced the swim as planned, building the pace throughout. Lap 1 went quickly and I exited the water, this was one of the toughest parts of the race. Transitioning from swim to run meant the blood had to be quickly diverted from my arms to my legs in a matter of seconds and resulting in me stumbling gasping for air before jumping back into the water. The first 200m of the second lap I struggled to breathe. I managed to settle down again eventually getting back into a good rhythm and had one of best swims I’ve ever had exiting in 27mins.
Transition went smoothly, jumping on my bike and heading out to chase back to the lead groups. After just 5km I had a disaster, coming into a corner a bit too quick I exited on a poor line and ended up hitting a pothole throwing my chain off, which then got jammed in between the frame and the chain-set and somehow working itself under my chain catcher. I had to prize the chain-catcher away from the chain-rings by shoving my fingers in there cutting my fingers up. I finally managed to get it clear, loosing valuable time. I began my chase again, feeling a bit shaken and disrupted by the mechanical. After 10km I had three riders in sight and I managed to bridge the gap, passing the last one over the top of the first steep climbs which went up to 18% over the top. I kept to the plan, continuing to chase hard, taking risks on the descents where I hit speeds up to 90kph. I started to really enjoy the bike and felt my legs improving as I headed back towards Playitas. I managed to catch one more and shake off the guy who had been riding with me since 15km in by sitting up for a moment and then putting in a big attack.
I got though T2 pretty quickly and headed out on the run, the adrenaline was really going at this point and I started the run way too quickly. I’d pay for this later in the run. I was in a bit of state at this point, my suit was covered in salt and I had blood coming from my hand. About 7km into the run I started to feel the effects of going into the red too early on. My legs started to feel like lead and I struggled to concentrate. Each water station I’d grab every cup going pouring it over my head to cool down. I passed the leaders going in the other direction, with Will Clarke a friend from Loughborough having a great race in 2nd. I plugged on though the run managing to catch and pass 2 more runners before being passed myself by Rich Horton who was having a storming run and would finish with the fastest run split of the day. The finish line couldn’t come quick enough as I could feel my body shutting down, concentration levels were next to nothing now as I ran into the finishing chute and across the finish line. I placed 13th, pretty respectable for my first race of the year and with motivation to work harder and hopefully string together a better race In Mallorca on the 7th May. I learnt a lot in the race and will use this in the triathlons ahead of me this year.
For the next few days I’m chilling out trying to recover as quick as possible before getting some training done in the fantastic weather in Fuerteventura and then I’ll be flying out to Mallorca.
Thanks to Mark Pearce for getting me in shape for the season and to my sponsors Pearl Izumi, Compressport, Lazer Helmets, Pedal Potential, Huub, Cervelo, Rotor, Batworthy Botanicals, and the Jeremy Willson CT. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without the help and support I receive from you all.