Alex shares the Belfort experience 2016

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Triathlon de Belfort – L and M distances – 29 May 2016


by Alexandra Messenger

While most of the Expatries group were racing Garmin Paris Triathlon, Manola, Alexandra, Guillaume, Vince and Ella the Brizon Macotte dog, were off to the green of Belfort for a TRI tourism tour at the Presqu’ile de Malsaucy !



The group left Paris at 11 am with the 4 bikes transported by Vince’s Land Rover!

No need to say that we worried a bit about not getting petrol at the station for refueling but the situation was less alarming than what we had heard in the media and we arrived on site pretty fast before 4 pm !  Down there we went for small (big) swim and then up to Malsaucy lake to retrieve our bibs before testing the water and admiring the beautiful sunset!

We then moved back to the city and had diner at a place near the city hall ordering a very light carb meal of a kind of boeuf bourguignon and pasta… Not too sure we will recommend again this dish as a pre-race nutrition plan ?

The end of the day was dedicated to bike fitting and check-up…
The Saturday was the « guys » day racing the L distance which consisted in 1.9 km swim in Malsaucy lake , 87 km bike around Belfort area and the ascent of 1000 m off to the ballon d Alsace and a 20 km of 3 laps around the Veronnes lake !


L distance bike course

Despite their anxiety of the unknown and to possibly get a storm during their race as forecasted, the guys appeared pretty relax before getting last into the water at 11 am with finally super warm sun!

The 400 participants started their 2 loops of 950m in the lake and Vince were first out of the water in 34 min followed by Guillaume. They rushed at T1 to get their stuff heading straight to the ballon d’Alsace ! Until the big ascent, the segment was a bit like Vexin with many “coup de cul” ! There had been a big surprise of having a small part of the segment modified at km20 causing some accidents!

5The 1st leading the race and many others fell! The guys were therefore very cautious! Both temperature and the slop started to increase at km 40 and Vince still ahead on the race finally arrived at the top of the ballon much sooner than he expected ! Guillaume was short in water in the ascent and started to have some cramps. He finally grabbed some at the top hill station! No need to say that at the top they had one the greatest scenery of the surrounding area but as fast as they started on the descent they couldn’t fully appreciated it!

Vince still ahead started to feel pain at the knee back from last winter and couldn’t not put the full wattage on the flat segment while the ascent was an issue ! He finally ended up at T2 at 3 pm and started running at a safe and consistent pace ! Guillaume arrived 9 min later pretty exhausted but strong enough to run the 20 k! The heat and the small hill at the extremity of the lake were not helping the 2 guys … Vince got cramps forth and back but maintain a steady speed while Guillaume had to reduce his pace and stopped at each station for refueling! The girls cheered the guys on the run spot and Alexandra heavily boosted Guillaume during his last lap!6

Vince finally completed his first race of the year after 5h59 of effort
… The sad story is that the official time counted it as 6:00:01 !!!! Guillaume finished his race sprinting to the blue carpet and ended up with a sub 6.30 chrono for his first Long Distance without any specific preparation.


The day ended up full of satisfaction and happiness, thought the tiredness of the 2 “champs”! The group had a celebration and carbo/refueling dinner!

On Sunday, it was the women turn to race – This time the M distance – 1,5 K swim, 38 km bike and 10 km run.

It was the first race of the year for Manola and the first of this format for Alexandra. As the race scheduled early the afternoon, everybody took their time for the week end “grace mat” and to prepare the triathlon pack gears. By midday, all the gears were all set at the T area and the girls went for a warm up in the lake 25 min before the race. It was also the opportunity for Manola to test her brand new sleeveless wetsuit bought the day before at the race shop.


The race started at 2 pm and while Manola decided to stay far behind the jam to avoid the crowd of the start, Alexandra decided to test how it feels to be in the middle which was finally a bad idea given the density by square/cm and a bunch of punches received mistakenly…..


After the 2 laps Alexandra was the first out of the water followed 2 min later by Manola after 34 minutes of race. Alexandra took her bike first and was heading to the small ascents of the race expecting to be reached out by Manola. Many men passed by while there was a kind a game between a group of women : the best able to climb and the best  on the descent and flat. No need to say that Alexandra still lost on climb but all recovered on flat. Though Alexandra was still not at Manola sight….. but not too far neither…. Rather very close! At T2, Vince and Guillaume our cheering leaders discovered that Manola arrived 2 min later than Alexandra.

At T2 , Alexandra looked at the time and decided to really speed up to stick on a chrono under 3.15 and for the first time on a race she focused fully and forgot all her gadgets, feet and back pain , while Manola with no proper training for some months remained on a jogging pace. Cheered by her husband and Ella!


After the 2 laps around Veronnes lake, Alexandra ended the race at 5.14 pm (3:14 race time) and Manola successfully completed his first race after her maternity in 3h32.

It was high time the race to come to an end as the rain started flooding at 6 pm when we were all set to go back to Paris.

This was a week end with a happy end that finally did not turned with storm and rain during the race, nobody get injured despite the small pain we all had before the race (some were unsure to race) and rather turned into achievement!

When Alexandra asked the group mates to summarize their race they replied « difficult » for guys of the L, as for the M Manola indicated it was « genial » and for Alexandra “fast and endurance”.






The race time details are depicted below which are worth for an analysis and confirmed how much transition can be key.


And as we are not going so far without any visits… during the long hours waiting for our cyclists to come down to Malsaucy, the cheering group went downtown not only to rest and prepare the gears but also for some sightseeing and learn a bit about the story of the emblematic 22 m long and 11 meters high red sandstone Lion dominates Belfort and local landscape:


This lion symbolizes the heroic French resistance during the Siege of Belfort, a 103-day Prussian assault (from December 1870 to February 1871). The city was protected from 40,000 Prussians by merely 17,000 men led by Colonel Denfert-Rochereau. Instead of facing Prussia to the east as was intended, it was turned the other way because of German protests. Smaller editions stand in the center of Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris, and in Downtown Montreal — Lion of Belfort (Montreal)….

… that being said….we’ve just tried to figure it out what to visit for the next TRI?