Stephanie’s 1st triathlon at the glorious Chantilly Castle

Chantilly Sprint – 400m/20km/4km – August 26, 2017

Race reporter Stéphanie


My decision to run a triathlon came out after a chat with my colleagues at a coffee machine: I just started running at the end of May and at first running 2km at 7:30min/km was a struggle (not that I have made much progress since then). It is also important for me to tell you that I have a visual impairment so riding a bike is a bit of a challenge.

I used to be a fairly good swimmer (although one training with Sylvain made me review my level) but I had never ridden a bike in my entire adult life, and as I said, running was very difficult…

I joined Expartiés in June, had my first ever bike session with a friend who just taught me how to not fall at the end of July. People say you don’t forget to ride a bike, let me tell you this is wrong. From then trained as often as I could.

At first, I wanted to run the XS at Chantilly, but my friend convinced me that I could do the S (400/20/4), so there I was at 8am in Chantilly, with my brand new bike – ridden only 7 times in total – with Louise and a few other friends. My objective was just to finish, even last…

I had plenty of time given that my start was at 10h40, so I used all the advice that the Expatriés (especially Karen and Antoine, thank you so much) gave me. I chose an easy to find parking place for my bike, set all my stuff to ease the transitions, and then tried to find all the different start and finish lines to make sure I would know where to go.

Then, well, it was time to join the start line. I listened to the briefing, eager to get started. I forgot to calm down, jumped in the water very excited and then, the mess started. I just couldn’t pace my swimming and breathe correctly. The first half was just in survival mode in the muddy water. I had to swim with my head out of the water, but the 2nd half was a bit better and I managed to get out of the water not being the last – yet.

I then started to run to the transition area, but I didn’t expect to feel so weak, so I slowed down, ate a pom’pote and off I was on my bike… to fall off quite badly only a few meters after the start line – still on the sand path where a child ran forward to cheer someone coming up the other way. I moved to avoid him and that was it…   

A very kind volunteer came to help me, checked that I was ok, said that I was not hurt enough to give up yet ( 😀 ) and put me back on my bike. I was hurting, but I didn’t give up. Then the longest 23km of riding started, I felt like I couldn’t move… So I thought I would stop, maybe I wasn’t good enough, strong enough. I stopped, and then thought about checking my brakes. The pads were touching the wheels, no wonder why it was hard… Another beginner’s mistake, not checking my bike after falling off.

So I fixed the breaks and kept going. Many people were passing by me (even from the 11am wave), cheering me on, asking if I was ok,. All the volunteers were also encouraging me and here again, Karen’s advice to look up the route on Google Maps was great. At least I knew where I was and what was coming up.

I was so happy when I finally managed to put my bike aside and start running! Exhausted, but for me the hardest part was done. I ran very slowly, walked a lot, but managed to help a woman who wanted to give up. This race was all about people cheering each other, which I really appreciated. I crossed the finish line thinking I was the last, feeling dizzy, but very happy and proud to have finished. 

It finally turned out I was not the last one but the 2nd to last in a total time of 2hrs 32mins 46sec! It also turned out a few days later that on top of the bruises and scratches I got from the bike fall, I also had a twisted finger and a cracked rib. I just didn’t feel the pain during the race…

The next day, with Louise, we were volunteering (waking up stiff and sore at 4am was another challenge…) and that in itself was a whole experience, which I really enjoyed a lot: being able to help during the event and to cheer racers the way other volunteers cheered me the day before was great. Also meeting with the Expatriés who ran the M and L distances for a picnic afterward was a lot of fun. I got a lot of advice and realized how long the route to running a M was! 

One thing that this whole experience taught me is that I can’t compare myself to others. I have to compete only against myself and therefore my next challenge will be to run a S triathlon in less than 2 hrs, and without ending up being hurt 🙂