A Lovely day at the beach

Triathlon International de Deauville – 23rd June 2018 (L)

Race Reporter: Hilary

Why you should do this race: excellent organisation, great atmosphere, scenic cycling route, race on the Saturday, not too far from Paris

Things to be aware of: the crazy côte Saint Laurent & a rather dull running route

As previous edition race reporters can attest (Bettina and Tom) the Deauville Triathlon has a good reputation as a challenging but well-organised race, and this year was no different. This year’s edition took place the weekend of June 23-24, 2018. Driving up from Paris with Manuel, Miguel, and Rose, even in spite of some delays from Friday evening traffic, we managed to pick up our bibs before registration closed at 9pm. Then it was time for a pasta dinner & early bed.

The next morning we were up bright and early to get to the bike park well before the start time of 8am. We couldn’t have had couldn’t have been a better day for it – the sun was shining, but the air was still quite cool. The Deauville triathlon had been highly recommended to me for its organisation and it didn’t take long to understand why. Getting into the bike park took no time at all, and there were so many volunteers wandering around that before I had time to wonder where I should go, someone had already directed me to my reserved bike spot! Along with having reserved spots to place our bikes we also had our own plastic tubs where we were to put all of our things, which kept the area nice and tidy. This all helped ease my pre-race nerves – this was to be my first long distance triathlon and I didn’t know what to expect.

After a quick dip in the water it was time to line up behind the starting line. The announcer did a great job of pumping everyone up & suddenly I started to feel excited (instead of nervous and dreading what I was about to put myself through). I said good luck to Manuel, Phil,& Miguel, & suddenly the horn went off and we ran into the water. I probably could have done with a few more sessions at Cergy as my running-into-the-water technique clearly needed a bit of work, but once I started swimming things felt good. We were blessed with an unusually calm day (one of the races last year had their swim cancelled due to choppy water), and the swim was pure pleasure: not too crowed, easy-to-spot buoys, and bright blue sky & sea. The swim route is an Australian exit, so we did 2 loops of 850m, and each time out of the water there were people cheering us on. After my second loop I ran past the people taking their time under the showers (seriously?) & to my bike. Again, I could probably work on my transition technique (getting tangled up in my bike jersey didn’t help), but this being my first L I was fine with taking things slow.

Once on the bike I tried to keep my cadence high to warm up my legs a bit. Suddenly I turned a corner and there was the famous côte St Laurent in front of me. This was the part of the race I had been most worried about, as it’s a 15% incline, which is stupidly steep. To take pressure off myself I had already decided that I would probably just walk up that part, but I soon realised that getting off my bike would probably involve falling down (in front of all the people gathered there to cheer us up), so it was better to just keep going. Down at my lowest gear & feeling like I was fighting an unfair battle with gravity, I focused on keeping my legs moving steadily and before I knew it I was on flat ground again, feeling very relieved and with my pride in tact.

The rest of the cycle route may not have had the extreme percentages of the Côte St Laurent, but remained fairly technical with several more hills and a few steep descents. I tend to get quite nervous going down steep hills, especially unfamiliar ones, and so I really appreciated how well-marked the route was. Before any major changes in the road – steep descent, bumpy road, sharp turn, etc. – there was a sign, which helped calm my nerves. Most (or all?) of the route was closed to traffic and there were volunteers at every major intersection, which also felt reassuring.

The L distance at Deauville does a 40 km loop twice, which meant I got to tackle all those hills a second time. While I took the first loop quite slowly (being fairly quick out of the water meant that I saw just about the rest of the 900 participants pass me on the bike), by the second loop I knew what to expect and was able to pick things up a bit. I had been feeling a bit undertrained going into the race, and I had been worried about how I would feel coming off the bike, but I was happy to find that my strategy of just taking things slowly paid off – I finished the 85km feeling tired but not exhausted.

Running through cheering crowds provided a much-needed boost for an otherwise rather dull route through the beach parking lot and along the boardwalk. With lots of back and forths it was quite repetitive, though this did allow for the possibility of spotting a few familiar faces, and I was very happy to see Manuel, Miguel, Phil, and Rose (who braved the sun to cheer us on) at least once during the run. In total we did 4 x 5. something km loops, which may not sound too bad, but at times felt like it would never end. But it would have been even more difficult if it weren’t for all the people cheering us on – passers-by, volunteers, and friends & families. It really made a huge difference, especially under the midday heat.

Reaching kilometre 20 was a huge relief (mentally and physically). Almost there! I managed to at least pick my knees up a bit (and hopefully my speed) as I rounded the final corner to the finish line, where Rose & Miguel where there cheering me on. Exhausted but elated, I collected my finisher’s medal with a huge smile on my face. I’d done it!

With so many things going for it (great organisation & positive atmosphere, challenging swim and cycle), I would highly recommend this race. See you at Deauville next year!