Nice, France. Home to the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Champs and a beautiful seaside resort on the French Riviera. For those who dont know. 70.3 is the number of miles you race; 1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.
Upon arrival in the city you greeted with crystal clear blue waters of the Med, a stunning beach, beautiful architecture, and all with a backdrop of the Alps. This is a destination simply made for triathlon.
The race is mainly centred around the famous Promenade des Anglais (‘Walkway of the English’). But despite the name, it wasn’t all about one nationality, there was a refreshingly diverse range of nationalities taking part in this years race.
As this was the first time competing in a 70.3 World Champs, I was stunned by the enormity of the event, as well as the perfect choice of location. Triathlon has long been welcomed in Nice, with 1982 being the first year triathlon really hit the Promenade and the greats came and competed in force, including legends Paula Newby-Fraser, Mark Allen and Dave Scott.
With elite and age group men and women competing, all having gained qualification slots from 115 qualifying 70.3 races races all round the world, this was set to be a tough yet spectacular event and the largest 70.3 World Championships to date. The women were taking part on the Saturday and men on the Sunday. The womens event was to be the largest female only triathlon in history.
Having the benefit of being in the age group setting off just after the Pro’s, you could feel the excitement rising as the sun did on the sparkling Mediteraannean Sea. I say goodbye to my best friend, husband and Mum, my support crew…aptly named ‘croissant crew’ 😊
The gun going off signalled the end to the prep for the race, which at times felt endless! It was time to leave it all out there on the course. World Champs no2 of the year and this was one I felt really quite confident about.
That confidence wasn’t very long lived though! I exited the 1900m swim in 193rd position out of 300 in my age group. There was work to do, and no time to ponder on what went wrong. It was time to refocus. Having qualified for this event in 70.3 Dubai in February, which is a pancake flat out and back bike course, the bike leg here in Nice was, erm, a bit different!!
With a 56 mile/90k bike ride into the mountains, it was to be a 1000m up, then 1000m technical descent down! Not letting the position I found myself in deter my efforts, I set about keeping a sensible tempo up, up and up. During which I made peace that I was amongst the TOP ladies in the sport from around the world, and was immensely proud to be in the race regardless of the current position.
Arriving back onto the Promenade with cheering fans and flags from every nationality flying, I see the familiar face of my ever supportive hubby, advising me I had shifted up to 48th in my age group! I nearly feel off my bike, especially as I didn’t feel I had passed anyone out there…!
Onto the run I had one goal; to be present. In the race previous to this, Cotswold 113 middle distance, I had finished the run with much more to give. I vowed to think of nothing but technique, focus and having my full attention on the race, not what im eating later, how my dog is doing and if id like a different coloured pair of trainers.
Wow, staying focussed is hard! But every time my mind drifted I remembered, this is only 90 mins of my life in which to focus, and it’s a fairly important 90 mins! Focussing on form and technique made the hard, dark moments of the half marathon a little easier to bear. Counting to 100 repeatedly, one of my coping techniques, started early on but this helped to keep present too.
There were no goals for this race in terms of position, of course if we are all honest we race to win, but on the final stretch of the run I allowed myself a huge smile of appreciation for my body. It had gotten me here to Nice in one piece, raced as hard as it could on a challenging course, and strongly ran down the welcoming finish shute finishing in 24th position in the world in my age group....
I thought back to the starting pen, and enjoying watching the likes of Daniella Ryf, Lucy Charles and Holly Laurence prepare for the swim, all of whom raced their hearts out in this race today (sadly you miss this as they are always ‘a bit’ further ahead of you 😉 )
1800 women raced on this day in the World Champs, and I am so excited at the huge rise in standard of women’s triathlon, as well as the level of visibility and participation in the sport in the past 10 years I have been competing.
Ironman have an initiative called Women for Tri https://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/emea/ironman/cork/athletes/women-for-tri.aspx#axzz5zm85nuCC which has the main aim of getting more women involved in triathlon. They also allocate additional slots to women for the World Champs each year. I agree with them that this initiative creates more opportunities for women, whilst keeping the integrity high. But could this outcome be achieved by simply making more slots available in the first place for women, getting closer to gender parity (most mens age groups have over double the number of slots) without the song and dance of an ‘initiative’. OR with the new initiative will there naturally be more women entering triathlon that wouldn’t do naturally, and the demand for extra slots will happen organically? Id love to know what you think, leave a comment below.
So all the best to everyone chasing tri goals, bedding down for the autumn, resting from racing or just starting on their tri journey.
Don't forget there are still places for the Mojo Majorca and North Devon triathlon training camps/holidays. Perfect for early season sun, fun and training. Beginners & experienced camps available, for 4 or 7 nights.
I cant wait to get started on planning these soon, running these camps were truly a highlight of my 2019 season
Its now just over 2 weeks until Kona, and im in the airport ready to fly back to that beautiful island. The countdown to Aloha is well and truly on 😊