Sarah Black’s race-report:
Having said goodbye to my bike the Thursday before I left it was with some excitement and intrepidation that I departed to take part in the European Triathlon Championships in Alanya Turkey hoping that my bike would turn up in one piece. After a 4.5 hour flight I arrived to be told that I would not be stopping in the team hotel due to the standard of the rooms not being up to scratch. At 1am all I wanted was a bed to sleep in. The following morning I made my way to the team hotel (a 5min walk from where I was stopping) to be told the bikes were due to be delivered that morning.
After much waiting around my bike was finally unloaded and my other half could finally rebuild it, thankfully everything was in full working order. Back at the team hotel there was a notice board with post-it notes from people who were organising recces of both the bike and run course. I decided to join a group who would be going out on the run course on Wednesday evening (it turned out to be just one chap, a nice chap though) and join a bike recce on the Thursday morning, both of which should be when the temperatures weren’t so high. Having completed both I was happy that I could use my strengths on both courses.
On the Thursday afternoon there was a recce of the swim course and again I was more than happy to find out it would be a non-wetsuit swim. Having never swam in a sea before I was fairly nervous about getting in but after getting my first few strokes in I was soon into my rhythm. The sea was fairly choppy that afternoon but I felt confident that I could put in a good time for my swim.
Unlike all the races I had done in the UK my bike had to be racked the day before the race so on Friday evening I walked away from my bike in transition hoping that it would still be there the following morning. With this being a big event I would have liked there to have been more security within the transition area, especially after seeing a local just wondering through looking at peoples bikes.
Race morning came and I woke with some nerves but confident in the training I had done and knowing what I needed to be doing at each stage of the race.
I arrived in transition to find my bike right where I left it (thankfully) and once I had everything else set up I set off to the swim start. Walking down the pontoon I found my self a spot and focused on getting a good start. The 1min warning was given and in we got in, the water temp was nice and warm and thankfully a lot calmer than the recce day.
The starting hooter went and off I went. I got a good start and immediatley found some feet to swim on. Up to the first turn bouy and I felt like I was in a good position, not too much jossling and I was off to the next turn bouy. Again no hassle round this and I was onto the leg back into transition. Unfortunatly at this point I was up along another GBR competitor and we kept clashing, at first it did put me off my stroke but I realised if I just dropped back slightly I would be able to use her to draft off.
Out of the swim and into T1, nice and steady and left on my bike feeling fairly confident I was in a good position. The bike course was straight forward, think of the Fleetwood race but in the sun, with two laps of an out and back course. It was decided prior to the race that I would put in a bit more of a concerted effort on the bike than I would normally having worked on my power. The bike leg for me was a success, I was able to maintain a good effort level whilst also knowing where I was and that the run was still to come. I came into T2 pleased with my bike but ready for what was going to be a hard run with temperatures already in the high 20’s by 8am.
Out of T2 in a ‘controlled’ manner I was out to see what I could maintain during what was my weakest discipline. Through the first of two water stations and a chance to cool down. Half way round the run course there was a short but fairly steep incline and this was were I was going to try and make a difference. Past the finish for the start of my second lap and I knew now was the time to start to build to the finish. Up the incline for the final time, a couple of right hand turns and it was down to the finish. The crowd coming down the finishing straight was incredible and the GBR support was immense, I crossed the line knowing I had had one of the best races in my triathlon career.
After a short time, whilst the result were finalised it was confirmed that I had finished 5th in my age group and the 4th Brit home. The results showed that I had indeed had a good swim being the second in my age group into T1 but the first out of the Brits.
Overall the experience is one that I would like to repeat sooner rather than later and have another chance to wear my GB kit..