Once a French naval air station, Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer is now a picturesque fishing village situated in south eastern France and on the 14th September 2014 was host to its 26th annual triathlon competition. Two distances were available – XS and S. I opted for the smaller distance in the morning as the sweltering heat of an afternoon race was certainly not appealing. This was definitely a wise move given that even the water temp was 22oc by 9:45am, needless to say that the wetsuit got left behind in the transition area.
Unfortunately I had a bit of a bad start with the 400m swim, setting off behind most of the competitors. In my attempts to find an opening, I managed to get punched in the head (the person did apologise but I think that was only because a couple of swear word flew out my mouth). Still slightly dazed from the blow, as we turned the corner I finally managed to compose myself and break out of my breaststroke/crawl melange. My exit out the water was no better as I clambered out ungracefully on all fours. So passing rather swiftly into the transition area, I grabbed my borrowed vintage Peugeot 531 racing bike which I managed to “enhance” slightly with the addition of cleats.
Despite being only 8km, the bike leg was largely one big climb and then a descent with nasty hairpin turns. This meant, much to the dislike of my fellow competitors, me slamming on the breaks round on every corner.
My finish time was 49:00mins which was unfortunately one short of a spot on the podium in the senior women’s category. My disappointment however was soon forgotten as all competitors were automatically entered into a free tom-bola with decathlon sporting paraphernalia up for grabs – I came away with a shiny new bike lock!! I would certainly recommend this triathlon to anyone planning a trip to the south of France in September, if not for the freebies then definitely for the beautiful scenery, great weather and atmosphere.