Paris Triathlon Relay Team!

Garmin Triathlon de Paris – 1st July 2018 (M)

Race Reporters: Laurence, Alice and Lindsey

When you are specialized in a sport but want to participate in a triathlon – that’s what friends are for! The triathlon relay is a great first foray into the world of triathlon with team spirit and support. We all decked out in our most colorful gear! It didn’t hurt that the Garmin Paris Triathlon was in our neighborhood too. Joining the Expats Triathlon Club and tapping into the generously shared expertise of the group was critical to our smooth logistical experience. Our deluge of logistical questions thankfully did not overwhelm them!

As a lifelong competitive swimmer, I feel very at home in the pool. However, the Garmin Paris Triathlon was the first time I ever raced in open water. After watching videos of triathlon mass starts, I was prepared for a near death experience. To calm my nerves, I found a super nice swimming buddy to start the race with (shout out to Antoine!!) and arrived early to walk the course. Before it even began, the race was off to an exciting start—the morning of the event, all of the participants arrived to find that wetsuits were banned due to the warm water temperature. For me, this was a relief as I’ve never raced in a wetsuit before, but many of the athletes prefer the added buoyancy and were slightly perturbed. Luckily the race did not commence with a mass start, but instead with waves. However, there was literally no organization which led to swimmers haphazardly hopping into the water whenever they could, leading to participants racing with (on and under) swimmers with very different paces. I would just warn new triathlete swimmers not to panic when they feel claustrophobic from people swimming on top of them constantly. Finally, as someone who just returned to Paris after a trip to Croatia, swimming in the Parisian canals isn’t quite the same as the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic… In the end, you have to choose between algae and trash on the side or try not to drown in the middle of the huge crowd of swimmers. Either way, prepare to drink up some pollution for breakfast.

As an experienced cyclist, a 40km urban route was not a stretch for me. My bicycle may be 10 years older than the average at the triathlon, but we’ve been together for so much time and for so many adventures, my bike handling skills were above the norm. I was at ease where others were less so, for example during a cobbled section and various U turns. Seeing such familiar streets without cars and the ability to freely race on them was pure joy.

The transitions, however, were a new experience for me. I waited an anxious half hour next to my bike before my swimmer called my name – just enough time for me to take my bike of the rack for a smooth transition. The second transition was less so, I ran in my cycling cleats down the entire line of individual spots, before turning back and realizing relay runners were in a different section. The sections should have been more clearly marked and I should have checked out the transition area the day before to see where my runner would be.

It was a very sunny and hot day. I arrived at the transition area with what I thought was 30 minutes before my cyclist would arrive and did some light warm ups. I stood in the transition area with what I thought was plenty of time to spare but my cyclist showed up 10 minutes early. Running along the Seine was beautiful, but the heat was melting us. Most critically, the course itself differed from the description – instead of a longer and shorter loop for a total of 10km, there were two loops of equal length totaling 11.5km. There were no indications of how far away the finish line was so it was difficult to pace.

Our team had so much fun supporting each other in our differing strengths and exploring our home from a new perspective. If we would have known that free post-race massages were included, we would’ve signed up sooner! Recovering together in the cryo pool, we were already hatching our next plans for our next triathlon adventure!