Louise’s eventful 1st ever L in St Jean de Luz

Saint Jean de Luz L Distance – 10 September 2016

Louise St Jean de Luz

by Louise Waters


I came to this race with absolutely no goal bar one: to finish.  If I was being completely honest, I originally wanted to sign up to the Olympic distance but I missed the boat and it had sold out only a few weeks beforehand.  So it seemed fate had decided for me and I was going to do my first, and possibly last (as you will read on later why), L distance triathlon which was in St Jean de Luz.

The race which consisted of a 1.9km sea swim with an Australian exit, approx. 90km bike and 21km run started at 8am with the women off 5mins before the men.   As we were only 36 women, we avoided the usual arm battle and all was very calm.

I guess I was in the top third as I was approaching the end of the first lap heading towards the Australian exit and I could feel the pull of what I thought was a little wave behind me.  Well, the little wave was actually a big wave that came out of nowhere. The wave broke and I got dragged under and rolled around as if I was in a washing machine.


When I eventually surfaced very disorientated, I was no longer facing the shore and my googles were nowhere to be seen.  I ran to the shore where a big crowd of people had witnessed this rather embarrassing incident which will probably be disseminated on social media in the next few weeks.

I looked at the referee making gestures about having lost my googles, he looked at me blankly.  Then I saw Laura and some of the other Expatries screaming at me waving a spare pair of googles. I ran over to Laura who helped me adjust them and then I dived back into the sea to do lap number 2.  Unfortunately, the time I lost meant some of the speedy men had caught me up so the 2nd lap wasn’t quite as calm.

There was a long 450m run to T2.  I took my time at transition making sure I had all the nutrition I needed then set off on the bike.  The bike course was stunning weaving through the green hills of Basque country.  It was probably by 65km that I realized I hadn’t done enough hill work on the bike as my legs were tired and sore.  I had just got onto the 2nd lap of one of the long downhill sections and in the corner of my eye I sighted something brown and furry coming out of the woods on to the road ahead.  Then before I could even react, the triathlete in front of me crashed into what turns out was a deerimg_1042-1

I immediately stopped to help the man and flagged a car down to call the paramedics.

Luckily he was just in shock with some cuts and grazes.  After 15mins or so, I set off again.  My legs felt a bit better so I really pushed it on the last part of the bike to try and gain a little bit of the time I had lost.

When I got to T2, I heard everyone cheering me on which gave me the boost I needed to get through the run.  It consisted of 2 laps of just over 10km.  It was surprisingly uneventful compared to the rest of my race and I felt pretty good throughout, despite the temperature being 31 degrees.  I even managed to catch up with the guy that stopped with me to help the man that hit the deer.

We ran the last 5km together which really helped me keep going, I probably wouldn’t have finished in under 6hrs if we hadn’t crossed paths.  I am pleased I completed the race and it was so great to have lots of support!  The jury is out as to whether I will do an L next season, I might just stick to the M distances as they seem less eventful….

This race is a very affordable, which I would recommend even as a newcomer to L distance races.  The only advice I would give, is to make sure that you like hills as it’s a fairly tricky bike course.  The race was well organised and very friendly.

My only slight gripe would be that there are no toilets facilities on the course or in transition.

With Hugo after the finish line