Oeiras Sprint – Portual – July 16th 2017
Race reporter Bruno
My first participation in Oerias was in 2016; I returned this year with higher expectations for myself. It is one of the fastest races in Portugal and also one of the oldest, 2017 edition being the 30th.
It is also one of the events in Portugal with the largest number of participants. This year the event had about 800 athletes divided between the sprint (500 people) and a super sprint race (« open race »). Organized in the small village of Oeiras, west of Lisbon and before Cascais, the swim takes place from the Torre beach (« praia da Torre). The bike course follows the « marginal », a 2-lane road along the Tejo River, passing by all of the beaches in the area. The run course uses a portion of the cycle route.
The race didn’t start very well as the organization did not arrange for toilets for the athletes. It was everyone for himself… I just hopped that with a sprint distance, no emergencies would come up… 🙂 which was the case! Ufff…
In this race the tricky part is the swimming due to the potential presence of rip currents that can impact navigation. Despite being organized in a small partially protected bay the turn-around point is located outside of this protection and therefore additional attention is required. It was the case this year.
With the ladies departure being 10′ before the men’s it was easy to see the « S » ride they were doing as they arrived at the first buoy. I already knew that from last years’ experience when I spend 60” trying to go around the first buoy. So, as soon as we understood the water conditions, everyone moved to the left side of the beach as much as possible, beyond the rectangle indicating the departure point in the sand, in order to facilitate navigation.
After the race ended I learned that some women were rescued by the lifeguards as they were dragged off by the current outside of the race course thus being disqualified. Because of our advance notice, when the men passed in the same area we did okay in water.
With 450 men (around 50 women started before) departing at the same time it was clear that the swimming would not be easy. In the limited space we had, it was almost impossible to avoid touching or be touched by someone.
As a consequence I was kicked, punched and even had my googles knocked off thanks to a nice kick. People were pushing each other for room to pass.
Not being an experienced swimmer, there was a moment where I got scared with all the confusion and I thought my heart would jump out of my chest! Luckily I was able to calm myself down and finish the swim in 14′ minutes! This result shows the impact of the water conditions – my average time is 17-19′. Some were out of the water in 7′.
A great surprise for me was the fact that I swam only 749m when I usually do an additional 100m… 🙂
When I got to the bike park I grabbed my bike and mounted as quickly as possible. As per my usual, I started passing several athletes and after 2/3 km I was already in a small group of 10 riding quickly. The group kept getting bigger as other athletes were passed by.
The bike course was flat (around 100D+) and very quick. It is composed of 1 lap of 19.3Km with a U-turn in the middle. Usually there is wind and this time was no exception though it did not much affect the final results. It has 2 small climbs which were used for thinning out the crowd especially when we were riding in a group.
I finished with a time below 30′ (final average speed was 39km/h!!!) quick, very quick…
I ran at full throttle. It was composed of a 5Km distance along the bike track: 2,5km with a U-turn. It looked be flat but was not. The first part is easier being mainly flat with a descent but when making the return we were climbing. A total of 5.2Km with an average pace of 3.49m/km helped me move up in the standings.
In the end I was pleased to have arrived 155th of 417 finishers and 58th of 129 in my category.
Thinking back to my experience in Alhandra a month ago where I was DSQ coming in 3’ over the swim limit (me=25’, limit=23’) I am very happy with the results.
This is a great race for those who want to spend a weekend in Lisbon and adding in some sport. I do remind you that…it is toilet-free so come prepared 😉