On Sunday 21 June I had the pleasure of taking part in the Cyprus National Aquathlon Championships. The format selected this season (it appears to change often!) was Run Swim Run in the proportions of 2.5km/1km/2.5km. Well, they were the stated distances. As I have found out in Cyprus the swim distances often appear to be best guessed, with varying degrees of success. (The April Joke earlier in the year saw me record a 23 min 1900m for example – good swim splitting 1:11s? or maybe it was a touch short). Well much to my good fortune on this occassion we appear to have had to swim a breakwater too far included in the course and we were presented with a very rare seemingly long swim course – wow swimmers favour!!
Race round up.
Arrival and registration were smooth and everyone was issued with a basket ITU style. I remember from earlier races that the Cypriot Federation are very keen on tidyness in transition and often DQ offenders so there was a need for neatness. We lined up for the first run and I positioned myself a few rows back – we were about to commence a run on a mixture of pedestrian pathway (Outbound leg) and undulating sand track through trees (Return leg). Although it was narrow and I didnt want to be blocked im not the fastest in a pair of trainers either so I did not want to impede others either.
Once the gun sounded we set off and 500m into the race It seemed that the pace was not that fast, I had assumed it would be lightening quick due to the short distance. Perhaps they were saving it for the swim? I had no idea why for such short distances so I took the opportunity to quickly move through the field and catch up towards the leaders. I had to be close after Run 1to have any chance at all. I suspected that I was 200-250m behind them at T1. I zipped through T1 and it appeared that the lead pack had only made it across the beach and half way to buoy 1, the inital turn, maybe even just 50m swum of the first 150m swim before the turn – they seemed not to be moving well.
Taking to the water I put my head down but held form. Sighting often to get to the first buoy I noticed that a lead pack were heading off line already, seeing this I dug in and passed the group of perhaps 7/8 swimmers quickly to avoid them finding my feet. I couldnt see how many were still ahead of me but I guessed 3-5 people in a pack, I could clearly see the lead SUP and that was a long way ahead.
During the swim I was accompanied by the lead female swimmer to the turn of the course. She was on my inside and whilst I could have legitimately cut in, I allowed her plenty of room around the buoys as it would be ridiculous to impede the leading lady when there was no need. Only an idiot would do that, then I accidentally slapped her…twice! I cant say if it was old habbits honestly it was just poor swimming, I tried to be kind I really did.
Needless to say I swam by myself on the return leg, I actually pulled away from her as I went to stroke, increased my stroke rate and engaged a stronger leg kick. She however probably just didnt fancy being hit again and steered clear. As I reached the final turn buoy and headed to the beach I could only make out one swimmer. Ouch! I though I had had a really sound swim, I was super aware of stroke, I over took a huge pack and dumped the leading lady by 50m or so over the inward stretch – I thought they must have been rapid because I have worked hard but had a great swim!
As I entered T2 from the beach I could just make out George, the Cyprus National Champ making his way out of T2 and off into the woods for Run 2. Once again I had a fast transition and set about chasing after George for 2.5km. At one point his lead over me seemed to dwindle to 80m but he held me steady around the 80-100m mark. It was hard to see any other athletes due to the nature of the terrain, twists turns trees etc – you had to keep your witts about you. At the turn I could see an absolute train of athletes chasing me down but I knew they were not going to catch me. I could see George ahead of me and he knew in turn that I wasnt going to catch him either. So that was it around 1km to go and I was in no mans land, my fate was sealed and my position was now my position – what ever that was. Well in 3 – 4 minutes time we would find out what that was.
As I crossed the line, pretty spent to be fair, I regained my breath, congratulated George and asked him how we had done. He didnt understand. I asked him what again – What position are we?, How many people have finished? He looked at me quizzically pointed to himself and said 1 and pointed to me and said 2! Almost as if to say well obviously I am first, why dont you know this?
Unbelieveable, I simply had no idea I thought there had been a pack ahead of both George and I, it seems that I overtook everyone except George in the swim. What about the SUP – why was he so far ahead in the race? According to George the guy just had bad pacing, he didnt know how far ahead to go so he was useless to the race. Well actually he wasnt useless to me – his obscene distance ahead of the field made me work so damn hard to catch the pack that I had already overtaken, itactually meant that I was putting in a huge gap in on the field instead.
(The swim by the way was a sea swim in Limassol, inside and outside of the breakwaters, it was a calm day with no breeze or chop – best part no wetsuit or hat due to hot conditions.)
So there we have it.
My results were 1st Place – Over 40s
2nd Place Overall in the Cyprus National Aquathlon Championships.