Another top honour for Hamish, racing in the GB trisuit against the fastest European age group triathletes. He certainly wasn’t there to make up the numbers as he positioned a very credible top 10 in his age group and learnt some great lessons at a hugely competitive event…
Here’s what Hamish had to say: After the rather stressful journey to get here, race day was upon me. I was feeling oddly relaxed considering it was my first ever international race. Early breakfast was followed by catching the shuttle bus down to transition. My bike was thankfully still there after racking the previous night. The sun was just clearing the mountains as I began to get setup:
Before finishing my setup, I nipped over to the port-a-loos before the queue got ridiculously long. I’m glad I made use of them early on. They made British port-a-loos feel like a five star hotel bathroom! It was then time to finalise my transition. We were told at the briefing yesterday that everything other than running shoes had to go in your transition box, thankfully my Amphibia bag fitted in nicely:
As you can see, I had plenty of fluid with me on the bike as I knew it was going to be hot. I didn’t want to be dehydrated for the run especially after a salty sea swim. It was time to get inked up with race numbers and do a short warm up. After double checking my transition area, I was set to go. I had a glance at the port-a-loo queue and it was massive. I knew we had an in-water start so I would have a quick chance to empty the bladder if required. The organisers started playing some pumping tunes with five minutes to go. It was then I realised where I was and some nerves started to surface. Would all the training done over the winter pay off? How was my ankle going to hold up to the stresses of racing? What was the competition in my age group like? It was at this point I was glad of the in-water start for the aforementioned reasons.
We were all called onto the pontoon, which was followed by a 50m jog to the end. As we lined up, a few people, me included, moved forward to the edge to jump in. At this point one of the referees called out “behind the white line.” This was followed by a number of confused looks. Thankfully, an athlete further down the line asked one of the officials if it was a dive start, which the official confirmed. The athlete then shouted this and it was repeated down the line. This went against what we had been told at the briefing!
The hooter sounded and there was a mass dive in. It was actually quite good fun diving in. Apparently everyone waiting on the shore for the following waves were shocked and confused as they were expecting an in-water start. It soon came over the tannoy that the dive start was a mistake and it would be in-water for the remaining waves!
Unfortunately, this didn’t solve the issue that I had and shouldn’t have had of needing to pee! It is almost impossible to do so whilst swimming at speed, but I knew if I missed the lead pack on the swim, I would be a minute or so adrift. I tried to ignore the urge and swam hard to try and get on their toes. I didn’t make the gap. Disappointed, I settled into my race. Immediately, I had someone following my toes as I started getting my feet slapped!
This continuous slapping was beginning to get frustrating and at the turn buoy I put in a big effort to try and lose said foot slapper! I thought I had succeeded as I had about 30 seconds free of having my feet hit. But he returned. I tried every trick in the book, including slowing right down to see if he came passed. But he also slowed down. I then did my best to ignore the incessant foot slapping, the call of nature and concentrated on getting to T1 as fast as possible!
On entering T1, I noticed there was about 3 people behind me in the pack and I was 5th out of the water. I got to my bike quickly and threw my hat and goggles into the transition box. As I picked up my bike, I glanced back and noticed my goggles had rolled off and out of the box. I made the right choice of stopping and putting them back in as I would have got a penalty which I definitely didn’t need after a subpar swim (relative to Hamish, pretty damn fast in most peoples case – JE).
I mounted the bike and set about attempting to make some time up. The surface was 50% tessellated bricks, a lot of which had cracked edges and some were missing. Needless to say it was extremely juddery. I had only put 120 psi in the tyres, but with them swelling in the heat it was definitely too much. I struggled to get the power down and felt like I was bouncing along due to the high tyre pressures. It was a relief to hit the smooth tarmac. Even then there were a few “British” filled potholes and once or twice my arms came completely off the aero bars.
I had four laps of this and on my third, I got a gel down me to keep me fuelled. I was continuously drinking fluids as well. The last thing I wanted to do was to be dehydrated and low on energy heading into a 10k run in 30 degree heat. I had lost some places on the bike course, but as soon as I hit T2 I knew I was going to take some back – my run legs were with me. I was in 11th place off the bike. I knew a podium looked unlikely at this stage, but I had a fellow Brit just ahead of me which I used as a carrot. I got into my stride and good form over the first 2.5km lap. Each lap there was a short 400m hill of roughly 8%. I pushed it up the hill and made the most of the longer shallow downhill to begin closing on runners ahead. At the end of the second lap, I heard a big cheer of support for me as I pushed on passed another competitor.
With 5k to go, I was feeling good in the heat as others were beginning to suffer. I continued the pace as one person who was a lap behind came passed me. I picked up the pace a little to stay with him. It worked well. With his help I closed on another athlete and soon found myself on the last lap. I was definitely grateful for the two water stations per lap. Not to drink from but to pour over my head to keep me cool.
At the crest of the last hill, I put a dig in a dropped the lapped runner. Smashing it for home, I knew I only had a kilometre to go. I dug deep and headed for the finish chute, picking up a GB flag on the way. I crossed the line in 7th place in my age group after a good run. A top ten at my first European Championship. Not too shabby!
I didn’t come away with a medal as I had hoped. With a subpar swim and bike, I don’t feel like I deserved one either. However, the whole race experience has been incredibly valuable for me in my development as a triathlete. Experience I will take into upcoming races which are World Championship Qualifiers.
As ever, thanks to the help of all our fantastic sponsors:
www.huubdesign.com – Wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication