For triathlon enthusiasts, Vitoria-Gasteiz is a fantastic training ground for triathletes and cyclist. It is also home to one of Spain's best long-distance triathlon events with its perfect rolling hills for road riding, the beautiful lakes and basque country running trails.
This training ground is home during the Australian winter to some of our greatest triathletes including Olympians Ashleigh Gentle and Ryan Bailie, and Commonwealth Games champion Charlotte McShane. Being surrounded by some of the world's best whilst can be a little intimidating is also very motivating. This is one of the many challenging aspects of triathlon and triathlon training, is that you are never in your comfort zone, and each and every day you have must strive to be consistent and be better than yesterday. We had one day off, and it was a day out to San Sebastian, not a bad place to be.
We then headed to Lausanne to prepare on the Wednesday for the World Cup race on Saturday 17 August. What a stunning place to be and to race in. Lausanne is also hosting the 2019 World Championships, and this race would be an ideal test to prepare for next year. Importantly though after a long winter block and coming back from injury my goal was to simply finish the race.
Like all races, there were a few different challenges we had on hand. The most prominent was lost baggage in transit from Spain via Germany to Switzerland. This included the Tandem bike and my essential racing gear including our custom-made tethers, race suit and wetsuit. It was a good test of wills as my coach Dan, Bri and I all planned our contingency should none of our baggage arrive.
It was a relief then when the Tandem bike showed up at 4pm on the Friday pre-race. This meant I missed the bike familiarisation, but Bri and Dan were able to do this on their road bikes, so at the very least Bri had a sense of the technical course. The course was along the main boulevard in Lausanne right on the lake and across the lake is France, near Evian. Absolutely stunning, with beautiful mountains in the horizon.
Still I had no racesuit, which has to be approved along with your tethers by the International Triathlon Union on race morning including your surname marked on the front and back. Thanks to one of my Gold Coast training buddies and U23 elite triathlete Sophie Malowiecki I would borrow her racesuit, and then with Bri's incredible sewing skills we managed to mark up a white cloth with my surname and stitch this over Sophie's surname on the racesuit. I also had borrowed some race gear from another fellow athlete Kye Wylde (U23 elite) and thanks to Dan who had sourced extra Carabines we manage to make new replacement tethers for the swim and run leg.
Then literally as I tried on the replacement racesuit with Bri's handiwork completed at 10pm on the evening of our race, there was a knock on the hotel door. I opened it and there was Dan with the biggest grin - my bag with tethers and racesuit finally arrived just some 10 hours before the race. A few high fives, and finally we went to bed for a 4.30am rise.
The swim was magic, and whilst a small field, we had to contend and race up against the vision impaired men's field. I manage to finish first out of the water than it was the 20km bike ride which was very technical with two 10% climbs around each of the 3 laps. The run was three laps of a 5km course that took you along the lake and up near the Olympic Museum. It was a great atmosphere, and a build up to the elite races which would start later in the day. Then as quickly as it started, it was all over.
Later on, we were able to watch the elite women's and men's race. What a thrill to see home country favourite Switzerland and of my favourite triathletes, who is also the London 2012 Gold medallist, Rio 2016 Silver medallist Nicola Spirig win the race.
We then left the day after via Genova, for the long flight home. In between stops, I checked my emails and it was a great relief to receive confirmation from the International Triathlon Union that I was officially on the start list for the 2018 World Championships on the Gold Coast, Saturday 15 September.
Thank you to all for your great support and I look forward to racing World Champs with my Guide Holly Grice, while Bri takes a break and is also competing in her own race in the Age Group divisions. Good luck Bri!
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