Sallanches, France – Sprint – 22 August 2015
By Louise Waters, with Sarah Hosking & Nora Masters
After an early start and a few train changes with heavy bike bags and luggage, Nora, Sarah, Julio and I arrived at Sallanches around midday on Friday.
Thanks to Sarah’s very helpful bike bag-packing instructions, we assembled our bikes in record time.
After a bit of foraging for lunch (restaurants stopped serving really early!), we had plenty of time have a dip in the lac de Passy which was refreshing without a wetsuit. While there, we were also able to collect our dossards, in contradiction to what was written on the event website.
Later that evening, the 4 of us met up with Nick, Juliette and Circé for what turned out to be a tasty but very late dinner, so we weren’t back at the apartment until nearly midnight.
Saturday – Race Day
Sarah, Nora and I had decided at the last minute to opt for the morning S distance and the boys Nick, Julio and Mark opted for the M distance in the afternoon (covered in a separate post). For once, race transport was simple: a quick 4 km ride to the lake, and in no time at all we had our bikes parked in transition.
The 750m swim was in the clean waters of the Lac de Passy. Although there was a bit of confusion at the start as to where the boys and girls were departing from, the 340-odd competitors all started together, girls on one side and boys on the other. To be honest, I’m not sure this really worked and the boys and girls eventually merged and I think we all found the start of the race a bit messy, but I think we all eventually got into a rhythm halfway through the race.
I got to T1 first. The transition was very short compared to other triathlons I have done, so I think I had a pretty fast T1 time. Nora had a bit of a panic at the start of the swim, so she was still in T1 by the time Sarah arrived, who nonetheless had her best OW race swim yet.
She and Nora had a few hiccups in T1: Nora was on the ground wrestling with her wetsuit to get it over the timing chip ankle strap, and Sarah was last out of T1 as she was unable to switch her new tri watch to “bike” mode!
The 22 km bike course was around the local area. We had one main climb, which wasn’t any harder than any of the Chevreuse hills, just a little bit longer. I found it hard to concentrate on the race as the scenery was stunning at the top of the “hill”. After the climb we had a 2 km descent. This is where it would have been an advantage to have checked out the course beforehand as there were a few potholes to be avoided.
The last few kms of the bike were flat. Sarah spotted Nora a couple of hundred meters ahead of her. While debating whether she should have a go at overtaking her, Nora made things easier by following the rider ahead as he turned right, while the rest of the race proceeded to do a u-turn around the roundabout. Turns out the rider she followed was just out for a spin. Thanks for the warning, roundabout volunteer!
Thinking Nora was well behind her now, Sarah began looking out for me, only to hear “Great job Sarah!” as Nora zoomed by. They did manage to pass me in the last kilometer of the bike. I remember wondering how Nora had got all that mud on the back of her tri-suit.
Nora reached T2 first with Sarah and I close behind. Nora was almost instantly on to the run, soon followed by me, while Sarah once more struggled with her watch.
The run was 2 laps of the lac de Passy. Normally I find the run the dullest part of the race, but I actually enjoyed the 5km run. Sarah, further back, was feeling the same. It was totally flat, and it was not too bad seeing Mont Blanc in the distance twice!
It was also a great boost to see Nick’s familiar face & hear his booming voice cheering us on near the start of the run.
Nora on the other hand was feeling her legs after her speedy bike. She had been convinced that the course was only 1 lap around the lake (wishful thinking?), so was rather distressed to learn just before the finish line that she had 1 more lap to go.
I was first across the finish. Nora joined me 5 minutes later, followed 20s later by Sarah. Our last few meters were immortalized by Nick, who was waiting for us just before the finish line. Thanks Nick!
How did we do?
This has to be my favourite triathlon that I have done to date. We had fabulous weather, beautiful scenery and the hot tub and post-race massage was the icing on the cake. I would highly recommend the S distance to anyone, and probably the M distance to more experienced cyclists that have already completed a few longish/Alpine climbs.