Sarah Jepson

Cozumel World Age Group Sprint Championships

Arriving in Cozumel 6 days before race day I was really happy I had this extra time to try and acclimatise to the heat and humidity, it was like nothing I had experienced before. Even going out for an easy run at 6.30am meant I was sweating for longer on my return to the apartment than I was actually running for. 

With the sea right across the road from our apartment I was able to quickly and easily get used to swimming without a wetsuit and being able to see a whole menagerie of fishes was incredible. The days leading up to the race were filled with some training swim/bike/run sessions but mostly staying out of the heat and drinking water. 

The day before the race and it was time for the team race briefing and to rack my bikes and thankfully both went without a hitch. I found I had an excellent spot in transition, and was surrounded by some other great British women.

Race morning came and with an early start to get everything else set up I then had a 90min wait until it was the start of my race. Doing my best to again stay out of the sun the time passed surprisingly quickly and I was soon in the holding pen with the other 69 women in my 35-39 age group.

Having been down to the starting pontoon during the week I was aware that there were some small buoyancy points along the length of the pontoon so choosing a point directly in line with the first turning buoy I got myself set up using the buoyancy points as a push start. Unlike UK races being in the water a couple of minutes prior to the start wasn't too bad as the water temperature was like being in a warm bath. The starting procedure was nice and quick and we were soon away, I have been working on my swim skills a lot this year, and having confidence in these new skills I soon found myself on a decent pair of feet, working hard to stay on them. I was soon out of the water in the top 10 and with a long run into transition I had to keep working hard to not loose any advantage I may have had over my opponents.  

On leaving transition I saw a small group of rides had already formed ahead so knew I had to quickly get my feet in my shoes and work extra hard to get onto the back of this group. The new draft legal format for the sprint distance age group racing has definitely made the racing faster and a lot more tactical. Within the first 4mins I was able to catch one American from the original front pack who had been dropped and after a few words decided to work together. This worked great and within 6km we were joined by another British women and a New Zealander. The four of us worked really well together, each taking a turn on the front. Within no time we were back into transition and with our trainers on heading out onto the run.

The run was a relatively straightforward course but had very little shelter from the sun so getting the pace right was crucial. The organisers had set up several aid stations and these were a very welcome sight. The run leg of triathlon has never been my strongest but having been running well in previous races I was hoping I would be able to hold my own and not lose too many places. I got to a pace I thought I could maintain relatively quickly but soon could feel the effects of the heat, using the water at the aid stations to cool my temperature worked for short periods of time. I felt like I pushed on and was relived to see the finish line approaching and crossed in 19th in my age group, unfortunately dropping several places from coming off the bike. 

The whole event is Cozumel was pretty special and being able to spend my time and experience the races with a great group of friends was amazing and one I don't think any of us will forget.