What a great weekend. The first trip away with Charlie for Bella and I. We headed off on Friday to Challenge Vichy in France. We had Amy Marsh as a travel companion too. We all fitted nice and snuggly in the car with the bikes on the back.
On the Saturday before the race we had a little swim, bike and run and sussed out our surroundings a bit, saw a bit of the swim course and run course but didn’t have time to see the bike course so it was going to be a surprise to us come race day. What we did know is that this was going to be one hot race, it was a heat wave across France with temperatures in the high 30’s.
On race day we walked down to transition, it was already pretty warm. I did my normal warm up and then got ready to head down to the swim start. I noticed nobody had wetsuits with them. I check with the competitors and was informed it was a non wetsuit swim. So no need for the neoprene. Into the water and it was very warm, lovely for swimming!
I had a good start and was behind Raul Shaw and Ben Sanson(two really great swimmers) so was happy with this. Towards the end I moved around Ben and came out on Raul’s feet. A good start to the day. A qiuck transition and I was out onto the bike in 1st. Riding past our hotel and seeing Bella and Charlie was great, a qiuck wave and smile to them, and a nice shout from Bella:)
I was expecting to have some athletes catch me but in the end I was riding strong and only got caught by 2 guys at around 125km and then we 3 stayed together till the end of the bike.
Out onto the run and I had a small gap to 2nd and 3rd. But it was really really HOT! So I kept the pace conservative. I also went through a bad patch around 7km mark and I got passed and lost a fair bit of time to 1st. But I got through this patch and just kept a steady pace in what was crazy hot temperatures. I was stopping at each aid station to drink as much coke and water as I could fit in my belly without being sick!
Each of the 4 laps I would see first Brett (who turned up out on the course, which was a surprise to us all, a nice surprise!) with some words of encouragment(Brett style:)) and then Bella and Charlie which really kept my mind on the job to try and bring home the bacon:)
Just before the half way mark the time gaps to the leader started coming down, then at about 21km I passed the leader, he was stopped at an aid station and obviously not enjoying this hot hot weather!
So I now was in the lead again and feeling ok, but knowing that in this weather it is not a sure thing to keep running good, so I kept the pace comfortable and tried to keep a track on what was happening behind me. I had 2 guys Jamie Whyte and Teemo Lemmettylä running well behind and at times starting to close the gap. So with some good advice from Brett, he said “just keep it steady till the turn around with 5km to go and see what the gap is”, furtunately the gap had opened to 2nd and I knew I just needed to keep going at a decent pace to take this one.
But I didn’t want to be sure till I was at the finish, so I kept my mind on the job and made sure I did everything right to keep hydrated and fueled and got to the finish to high 5 Brett! Then into the brilliant finish arena to see Bella with Charlie in her arms, I gave them both a quick kiss then carried on around the arena waving to the crowd and then crossed the finish line for my 3rd Iron distance win. There were a few joyous tears:)
To be greeted by Bella and Charlie at the finish to hug and kiss them was THE BEST! I will never forget that moment.
After finishing in a dissapointing 8th the Sunday before at Challenge Copenhagen I really was a bit down but with Bretts help and getting me to enter Challenge Vichy 1 week later, I won! It’s a funny thing the body and mind, I would not necessaily do an Ironman a week before another Ironman and want to do well. But that is exactly what I did and for the swim and the bike I felt great and only because of the heat was the run such a struggle!
Big congrats to Amy for winning the womens race, great job. Also for being such a pleasure to travel with all weekend. Thanks and Well done!
And well done to everybody who competed on Sunday it was a real hard run in that heat, I don’t think anybody felt good on that run, it was just a survival type of run!
Thanks to Felix of Challenge, and Gael and the rest of Challenge Vichy organisers for allowing my late entry and for putting on a great race in such a beautiful part of the world. I can recommend visiting Vichy for this race or just for a training trip, really great triathlon training in this part of the world!