Triathlon du Château de Chantilly – 29 August 2015 – Olympic Distance
by Ionut Pirva
Sunday, the 30th of August 2015, at 4 o’clock in the morning the alarm clock went off. It was a beautiful morning and I was anxious to meet the Expatriates mates with whom I would race the triathlon of Chantilly. The competition turned out very popular among the Expatriates Triathlon club and I decided to be part of the adventure this year for my first time.
I met with Paul, Aurelie, Rajah and Sudeep at 6 o’clock in the morning. We all raced that day together with many other Expatriates. Aurelie and Paul, the most courageous of us, competed in the Half Ironman distance, “Le Gauntlet” (Iron Hand) – the name given by the organizers. Rajah, Sudeep and myself competed in the Olympic distance. I would like to particularly thank Paul for giving us a lift, the transport to Chantilly at that time in the morning would have been more difficult otherwise!
My wave started at 9 o’clock. There were 3 waves that day: Wave 1, 8AM – Half Ironman, Wave 2, 9AM – Olympic distance, Wave 3, 9:20AM – Olympic distance. We had enough time to drive to Chantilly, get our bibs and drop our bikes in the transition area the day of the race. There was not possible to leave the bikes in the transition area one day before the race, so I would advise to arrive early, before the place gets crowded.
The race briefing is given about 15 minutes before the race start in both English and French. The organizers did their best to explain the details for the swimming, biking and running. One small detail, the timing chip device is to be worn on the right ankle, the English way, the right way! =)
The transition area is on the castle plateau, next to the registration desks. The stairs next to it will get you down to the castle shallow pool of water.
The swimming follows a “T” shape path. The canal is quite narrow and the buoys could be hard to follow as you had the sun shining right in front of you most of the time. The swimming was a bit crowded mostly in the first half. Nevertheless, there are some long straight lines which allow for good accelerations. Most of us were wearing wet suits as the water was around 18°C. Getting in and out the water was easy: shallow water at the start which allowed a standing position and a nice pontoon built to ease the exit from the water.
For the first transition, wide stairs guide up to the castle plateau. The road from the transition area to the place where we are allowed to get on the bikes is full of small pebbles, watch out your feet! Once on the bike’s saddle the first segment is awful, not worthy of a road bike: a dirt bumpy road. The bike ride will get you through Senlis, Mont l’Eveque, Ermenonville, Mortefontaine, Plailly (these people must be crazy about the “pain au chocolat”), Mongresin and back to Chantilly for a distance of about 45km. The country and the national road are pretty much in good condition with a few speed bumps which can be easily avoided. The ride has some “faux plateaux”, but nothing to be scared about.
You will have to endure the bad dirt road once more to get back into the transition area … awful!
Make sure that you get a good idea of where you left you running shoes in the transition area. The places of the transition area are not numbered, there is only the wave number assigned to each row of bikes. You guessed, there are multiple rows assigned to a specific wave number =)
The running gets you through some forests and along the Chantilly hippodrome. The running path is mostly on dirt and bumpy road. The air temperature the day of the race was quite high – about 30°C – which made the race challenging, mostly while passing next to the hippodrome (around 3km of straight line).
The finish line is at the castle pool water level. No need to climb the castle’s stairs one last time =)
One final word about the refreshments and the race pack. I found that there were enough refreshment areas, well positioned along the cycling and running paths. One will appreciate the bike water bottles (full with water) distributed during the cycling race. The race pack did not contain a bike water bottle (bring your own), but it offered a sports towel which I appreciated. The timing chip is quite big with a reasonable solid and soft bracelet. I would leave it under the wetsuit to avoid loosing it while swimming and to avoid problems when getting off the wetsuit in the transition area. For the food supplements’ fans, the race pack contains a gel and a candy bar.
Take advantage of the particularly beautiful spot and accept the Chantilly triathlon challenge!