A Trophy in Enghien….

Triathlon Enghien-les-Bains – 10th June 2018 (M)

Race Reporters: Mareike

Triathlon Enghien-les-Bains 2018 – Fact Sheet

Expatriés participating: Luca Foppiano, James Dydra, Manuel Brito, Guillaume Donetti, Eduardo Larrain, Laurent Benchana, Phillip Stadnik, Mareike Röwekamp.

M Distance – Characteristics:  

  • Swim: 5km Lake Enghien, rather brown lake water next to the Casino, one loop;
  • Bike: 41km / 488m+ (Strava measurement), leaving the town, three loops, mainly in the forest with a steep climb on each round (approx. 110m+ on 1.7km, with parts 16%), back to Enghien;
  • Run: 10km (2 loops flat, on asphalt, around the lake).

Other available distances:

  • Distance XS (Solo or Relay): Swim: 400m, Bike: 13 km (1 loop), Run: 3km;
  • Duathlon (for children 8 – 12 years): Run: 300m, Bike: 2km, Run: 300m.

Pro & Contra

Sold-out rather quickly !

Reasons to sign-up:

  • Proximity to Paris (just 10-15km, reachable by RER)
  • Local familiar atmosphere, with around 500 starters
  • Competitive/ ambitious setting for those who like it, as results count for “Championnat Ile de France 2018”, “Championnat du Val d’Oise 2018”; “elite” qualification is possible for the “Championnats de France 2018”
  • Midday-start so relaxed morning for non-early-birds
  • Easy and quick registration on the spot, no lost time in transfers
  • Nice bike transition zone, good organization.

Reasons not to sign-up:

  • Swim is not the most enjoyable
  • The three bike loops, including a steep hill on each round (for some it may be a reason to sign-up though…)
  • Proximity to Paris, means not the most “scenic” experience


A Trophy in Enghien….

*The first and only trophy I did ever win in my triathlon life was for a 3rd place in my former tri clubs competition in Cologne. Only four ladies started in most awkward weather conditions, one of them got disqualified… This was years ago – but today, the Triathlon Enghien 2018 would write the next chapter.*



When roughness gets a compliment

A leg is kicking in my face, another arm is hitting on my back. What is called a “swim” gets quite physical these first hundred of meters in the lake of Enghien-les-Bains. While battling around, I still see a female participant in front of my inner eye, just before the start, already in the water. She has brown stains and stripes in her face. Her formely white swimsuit has already changed colour. “Dégueulasse!”, I heard her screaming while I was looking at some water I had put in my hand, not being able to see clearly the skin of my palm. Brown water in my hand, brown water all around. “Don´t think too much”, I advise myself, as the task is clear: Getting out of here as fast as possible!

We´re passing the second bouy and still several feet and hands beat me. I´m a bit astonished as this hasn´t happened too much before in a competition. “I´m still in the field!”, it comes to my mind. Now, I want more of it, deciding to take roughness as a compliment. And I need to smile – mouth closed! – at the absurdity of this joy…

“Thirteen” – the start of a competition

“Thirteen” – the guy, helping us out of the water, tells me at the swim exit. There is a sort of excitement and insistence in his voice. “Thir-teen!”. That must be the position in the women field. It has been rather rare, if not unprecedented, that someone would communicate to me my position in the race – as if it was relevant! But today, it seems different… 45 women were registered, out of 530 participants; five of them are supposed to be in my age group, I know. And now: “Thirteen”, he says, which somehow implies that at this moment in time, everything can be possible. So today, I want to know! No dawdling in the transition zone. “Thirteen” brings me into the race.

The Hill Kill

The transition to the bike is smooth, not least because of the setup in the transition zone, which is very comfortable with a lot of space for bike and stuff. The transition zone is sorted by gender; women bikes are situated at the front of the bike parc. Bikes are rather nice and it seems possible to deduct high ambition from there… I feel a little embarrassed when I grab my bike, which is the dirtiest of all (not difficult however!), and follow whoever is in front of me.

The bike course leads us very slightly uphill through the periphery of Enghien-les-Bains that requires no further description. Once reaching something that resembles to a forest, we are supposed to ride three loops – with a steep climb in each of them. I´ve had heard scary stories about it before, which ranged from “It´s not as bad as expected, but bad” to “It´s a total ***”.

And there it is! A couple of spectators have lined up at the critical parts of the climb, that is with 16% credibly steep. Some riders already push their bikes up. The climb is with 1.7km not too long, but combines around 110 meters in altitude. With a mountain cassette I´m well served, but I find the relation between effort and pace by far unbalanced! At least, I´m rolling.

The downhill is fast, but some cobbles on the street require high attention. On the first loop, gels placed in my small front bag jump out one after the other with incredible pace. Not good. On the second loop, my water comes to an end, not good either. On the third loop, my heart rate tells me, it´s good that that this is the last one. Some participants are pushing their bikes downhill back to town – and spectators are gone. Back to town and transition 2.

Running down the “Road of abdominal cramps”

The moment, I enter the running course, I feel sick. I still have the taste of that lake in my mouth, mixed with some orange-berry flavor from my dried up drinks, which doesn´t make it much better. My stomach cramps and it´s not feeling good, not any of these slow and little steps I´m able to make. It´s quite hot now – and even without these issues, as the fantastic runner that I am, I was sure I to see many backs on the run course. Many many backs.

I need to drink approximately five cokes at the first nutrition station that wouldn´t really improve my abdo issues, but at least I imagine this little kick of sugar I had been looking for. The volunteers helping out are very supportive and there´s water to cool down a little from inside and/or outside.

The course goes around the lake and does have a 180degree turn after 2.5km. This leads to the fact that the run is quite busy and one would see, who is following (or who is already on the next loop) when doing the turn. I see James, Luca, Eduardo and Laurent – and it´s nice to give and take some encouragement on the road, with the remaining breath. In some faces I see, the well-being must be similar to mine…

Am I an athlete now?

500 meters until the finish line and I hear some breathing behind me… Every position counts now, as I had decided to make it count today, the moment I had the legs in my face and the guy said “Thirteen”. In my mind’s eye, I see movies of races in which the last meters have been decisive. I try my best to hold my mind and body together. Subjectively with some last hard efforts, objectively modest in pace, I finally succeed in not being overtaken – and happily cross the finish line. Did what I could. Done! Good to see the other Expatriés who are already there or arrive a little later!

After checking out our bikes, we are heading back to the train station when we top on the intermediate results. Everyone looks up his/ her time on the freshly printed papers. “SF35 (1)”, it says behind my name and I´m irritated. After some walking, I decide to turn around to ask one of the staff what this is about. The organisators are just disassembling the podium – and after I tell them my name, dig out a trophy from a box! Indeed, surprisingly, I won my age group!

How does this result differ now from the very first trophy I won in Cologne? When this time, not just three, but five women registered in my age group – but two of them didn´t show up… 😊 Am I an athlete now? Subjectively faster, but objectively not what one would “called skyrocketing”…

Whatever, glad to feel good and to not have finished third this time – and most of all happy about this nice day out with the Expatriés team! Will keep some scenes in good memory (and won´t forget James home made jelly babies drink…). Very most of all, thanks to all for sharing time before, during and after – and specifically for the trophy celebrations at the pub / bars in Paris! For that alone, it´s worth the effort!

Other findings of the day

1/ The lake of Enghien-les-Bains tastes frontwards as backwards the same.
2/ Liquids, when filled in a trophy, pour out below after a while.
3/ Training appears to make a difference.