Sprint Triathlon / Choisy au Bac / 13 May 2017
The Sprint triathlon of Choisy au Bac was organized on Saturday, 13th of May, one day before the half ironman. At 100km of Paris, Choisy au Bac is about 1 hour by car or by train (extra 10km by bike are necessary to reach the race location from Compiègne train station). Both options were chosen by the 10 Expatriés members who participated to the triathlon : Kathryn, Karen, Sarah, Anaïs, Maud, Eduardo, Miguel, Luis and Djil ; Louise also came to support the whole team.
For me, it was my first triathlon experience so I didn’t really know what to expect about the race and I was a bit worried about the swimming part : first time in open-water (I received by post my wetsuit the day before with a lot of confidence…). My only goal for this competition was to reach the finishing line.
The start was at 3 pm ; except clouds at some point, it was a sunny day, we got lucky because, initially, according to the weather forecast some rain was expected. Conditions seemed good to me… that was before entering into the water at 13°C. Wetsuit was efficient but hand and feet were burning with such low temperatures.
When everybody finished his warm-up, we made a group picture with Expatriés and we headed to the start line (750 meters away or so).
What I felt about the start is that it was a big mess; it was directly in the water, once all participants tasted the water and were ready to go, the organisation members tied a rope to simulate the starting line. Everybody was moving back to stay behind the rope so when I heard starter’s gun I was swimming in the wrong direction and when I saw all the participants coming, I wondered to myself what I was doing here. The two next minutes were really confusing, I was not used to swimming in a group receiving elbow or foot kicks, it was literally a war field !! After few minutes, I managed to get out of the crowd and I enjoyed way more the swim, especially when with the current. I was quite surprised when I saw someone swimming peacefully on the back during the race; it’s apparently a good recovery technique when you are out of breath.
After 14 minutes (current helping) and few additional kicks for the last curve around the final buoy, I finally got out. By chance, I stood up at the same time as Miguel; since it was the first triathlon for both of us with a similar goal, we decided to do it together until the end.
We arrived in the transition area which wasn’t the most effective part of my race. At first, I had difficulties removing my swimsuit, after that I panicked thinking I lost my race tracker which stayed on the scratch of my wetsuit and then I tried to put socks on my wet feet before giving up (little reminder for myself : No socks for S distance). At the end we got out of the area after 3:30 minutes. Considering the amount of people who overtook us at this transition, it has been asked to us if we didn’t use that time to grab a beer…
The 20 km of the cycling part through the woods was pleasant and quite flat. We were in the countryside so the car traffic was really low, we only had to slow down once or twice when cars were blocked between cyclists. The last part was a bit more exhausting. Indeed, it was really exposed to wind and drafting was forbidden (yellow card and black card could be given and an additional run lap executed; we respected the 7 meters required between competitors).
We finished with the 5 km run. We had to go and return along Aisne River. This concept was nice because we crossed the other Expatriés clapping at each other for support. About this run, something we didn’t understand was that it was out and back towards the West and then the same to the East…after passing the arrival area. So let’s say that it was quite destroying for the morale when I came back to the arrival area after a big sprint and realised that only half of the run was done. But 10 minutes later, mission was accomplished with satisfaction!
After a welcome refreshment, we joined others Expatriés for a final group picture. We also waited for the prize award ceremony because Luis made a really good result (3rd in his category and 10th overall!!). All Expatriés members gave him a huge ovation when he received his “big” trophy on the podium.
Then, we went to Compiègne for a recovery beer next to the impressive city hall and we had a quick walk next to the castle garden. The city is nice to visit if you have extra-time to spend there.
I’d say that this race was really good for a first event, especially for me with current for the swimming part and the flatness of cycling and running parts. I really enjoyed the competition atmosphere which was really nice with other competitors and also the Expatriés spirit. I will definitely do another one after this first good experience!