Ánimo. Race report from 2022 Europe Triathlon Multisport Championships Bilbao-Bizkaia
With three days of bright sunshine and near perfect training temperatures leading into the 2022 Europe Triathlon Multisport Championships Bilbao-Bizkaia, I was certain the forecasters must have been wrong with their prediction of rain on Saturday. But no. They were spot on. I awoke on race day to grey skies, rain beating on the window and the prospect of a very chilly day.
The Middle Distance race started at 3.05 pm and, following a lot of confusion as to where we should start, we were instructed to go to our bikes to start from there. Mine was one of the last groups to start and our bikes were racked a long way off in a very long transition area. I must admit I was a little nervous of the clock ticking as there were some tight cut off times for the swim, bike and run with everyone having to cross the finish line at 10:00 pm regardless of what time they entered the water.
The water temperature was 20.5 so a wetsuit swim and, having done a swim practice in the sea the day before I knew it was going to be chilly but once in, I was fine. We entered the water off a very small jetty – no more than 3 meters wide and quite high out of the water – and had to exit the same way which provided the cameraman with some excellent entertainment as we rolled around like hapless seals trying desperately to get vertical. But in the true spirit of the sport fellow athletes were kindly helping each other out of the water.
The bike course was fabulous. Nice long steady climbs with rolling hills and good road surfaces. It was still raining though so the roads were very slick causing a number of accidents, some quite serious. I was soaking wet and very cold and praying for hills, which were duly delivered, so I could get warm again. The road marshalls were excellent and I am so grateful for their presence as I would, undoubtedly, still be out there. Around the midway point my chain came off and for one heart-stopping moment I thought my race was over as, on the rare occasion this has happened before, I am usually cycling with male athletes who come to my aid. However, I am proud to say I did fix it and was soon on my way again.
Coming in to T2 I experienced a lost in transition moment encountering a strict official who made me run back through the whole of the transition to get to my run bag via the correct route. Still, on a positive note, I got the chance to warm up before my run.
The run course was 5 laps of 4 km and absolutely packed with supporters who were cheering on Team GB the whole night. Among the shouts of encouragement I heard ‘ánimo, ánimo!’ and actually thought I was being called an animal. It was only later when another athlete clarified that what the locals were actually shouting was ánimo, which roughly translated means ‘Don’t give up! You can do it!” in Spanish.
But the best bit was a lovely one-man DJ gentleman belting out dance music on his Boombox and high fiving everyone with amazing enthusiasm as they passed. It was a most welcome diversion.
It was not my fastest race by far but my goal was just to finish given the conditions, and enjoy it. Which I did. I intend to try to qualify again next year, if possible, as it was such a privilege and so inspiring being part of and racing for Team GB.
As someone who has a lot of food sensitivities I have been trying Secret Training Race Maize in training, which I also used for the race, and that worked really well for me. I also took my tried and trusted real fruit energy gels for the bike and caffeine supplement gel with betaine – berry for the run which I know I can handle with no issues.
Thanks Sported for helping me with my nutrition.
By Elaine Nettleton