06 Sep 2009

Locarno 2.5 / 80 / 20 - 5:08:13.1 [Results]

Swim: 51:33 (228th)
T1: 2:36 (185th)
Bike: 2:31:19 (267th) - 40km : 1:28
T2: 1:31(76th)
Run: 1:41:12(237th)

Total: 248th out of 360 Finishers
MD-M35: 105th out of 140

I arrived in beautiful Locarno on Friday evening after a 6 hour drive to set up base at a luxurious camp site less than 5 minutes walk from the start. There was a really good atmosphere with hundreds of athletes staying in tents and camper vans.

When I woke up on Saturday morning the water in Lago Maggiore was quite rocky due to strong winds. I decided to do an easy test swim. As soon as I got into the water I was hit by 3 foot waves - I had never swam in conditions like that and lasted less than 2 minutes. I was already worried about the tough bike course and the heat on the run, but didn't expect this...

I registered after lunch and double-checked the gear before watching the most hillarious trithlon ever: Age Group 3-4 - 20m swim, 600m bike and 100m run. Some kids wore arms bands, others had stabilizers and parents all over the place in the transition area. This is how to grow talent!

I then followed the sprint event in which an athlete started every 10 seconds. Slightly weird, but very fair, I guess. I stayed for the race briefing. It was mostly in Italian, so I nodded and clapped when everyone else did...

Race day. Wave 2 of 3. Luckily the wind had calmed down, but the swim was the toughest I have done so far. It took me about 400m to find a rythm; navigating was really difficult due weird currents and some unpredictable waves. I started getting cramps in both calves from about 1500m and had to take breaks to stretch them out. Glad to be on land, followed a very long run into T1 and a shaky transition. I kept dropping things but got eventually underway.

Being surrounded by dozens of mountains of up to 3000 meters, the bike course was nothing short of being spectacular. The first 30km were uphill with a moderate incline. Things got more serious up to the half-way point going up proper Alpine serpentines, through tunnels, passing ski lifts and avalanche signes. I only overtook a single cyclist on the first half and must have been overtaken by dozens - the Swiss really know how to cycle mountains. Gravity was more on my side on the return half. With speeds of up to 60 km/h everybody was flying back to T2.

I felt good on the first 2 laps even though temperatures had risen to 30 degrees and went through 10km in just under 50 minutes. While the legs were fine for the rest of the race, I got quite sick from km 12 onwards. Luckily the run was approximately 1200m short and I managed to finish in a respectable time, but had to walk-run the last 4km. In true Swiss style, times recorded were down to tenths of seconds.

All in all, a great event and a bit of an eye-opener.

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