Top of the morning, we mean podium, to Caroline

 Salagou L Distance – June 10th 2017 – Montpellier area

Philippe’s friend, Caroline, Philippe and Expatriés Alum Hugo (our brilliant host!)

Race reporter Caroline


Last weekend 9 Expatries (Phillipe, Hilary, Francois, Luca, Djil, Eduardo, Grace, Hugo and I) descended on the Montpellier area for the Lac du Salagou triathlon races. Set in a beautiful location, over 2 days they offered XS and L (Saturday) and M (Sunday) distances, a great opportunity for a weekend away!

Phillipe and I were signed up for the L on Saturday, so we packed up bright and early and headed towards the lake. Even at 8 am we were aware of the heat! We were a little tight on time to get in and out of parc velo, (which closed 30 minutes before the race). So quick set up and down to the lake; which was gorgeous! Warm up swim and then the race briefing. And suddenly we were off (Yes I may have thought we were just swimming out to the start line…!) The swim went well – much more enjoyable than my washing machine experience at Enghien. Cool, clear water and each breath we were reminded of the beautiful surrounding scenery. 1800m and out of the water in 34 minutes, a record for me!

Out of swim and into T1, it was hot! Once I was on the bike I started drinking straight away, all I remembered was Phil saying nutrition, nutrition, nutrition! The cycle course was one loop of 80 km with a 1350m elevation gain. The first climb came at 15km, it was long and in hindsight felt harder than the “Big climb” at 40km, so I was worried after the first one as to what was to come.

I was flying through all my liquids so the ravito stops with extra bottles were great- and the friendly benevoles were superb! Then came the climb…. And it was not as bad as I had expected. I am relatively strong going uphill and caught most of the people who had passed me on the last descents, (who of course whizzed back past by me on the way down!). However once I saw the road signs warning the cars to descend slowly my heart was nearly out on the road ahead of me! But following all the advice I had received from our bike gurus on club rides and the Bourgogne trip (Karsten, Sarah, Luis and Paul- thank you!) I made it down in one piece (even enjoyed it a bit too!) The rest of the bike was more up and down and some uneven roads – I was glad I wore my gloves! It was getting hotter and by the time I got into T2 it was sweltering. But I thought OK, the run is my strength once I get there I’ll be in my comfort zone and wow was I WRONG!

Starting the run I was thinking start slow and pick up the pace, it was 2 loops of 9 km.  First km ok it’s hot relax and settle into this, second km wow its hot, 2.5 km there must be an aid station soon, where is the water?? Why are people walking, why is this more like a trail run? First aid station- this was the worst idea of my life, will I just stop? OK cups of water on the head, maybe a few minutes in the shade, better keep going… 4 km, why am I running so slow? 5km I need more water, where is the next aid station? Maybe I’ll just stop- nobody will know, ugh why did I tell Karen I’d write a race report???  OK keep going – next aid station they have a hose out- delighted! OK I must be near the end of loop 1, only 7km- my Garmin must be broken- they break right? No just HTFU (Hurry the F*** Up) Caro come on!! OK lap one done, would anyone notice that I don’t have the orange band if I go down the finisher’s route…

Starting the second lap and see the Expatriates Cheerleaders, great boost to morale! OK I can do this, 1 lap to go, HTFU and finish! Although I am passing people throughout the run I am running so slowly I am mentally demoralized.  I concentrate on getting to the next aid station, plenty of water and set off again. At this stage the benevoles say I am in the top 20 women so this is a good boost. Slowly the kms tick down and I can start picturing the finish, and imagining a swim in the lake. I have never been so happy to cross a line in my life! I can hear the ExpaTRIes cheerleaders somewhere in the heat haze….

I crossed the line in 5:53, with Philippe ahead of me in 5:45 (a great race partner and especially helpful with tips in the days before- thank you!) We make our way to the lake for a well-deserved swim, then to pack up at parc velos. Happy to have finished and looking forward to food, a shower, and some after-sun cream for my fair Irish skin!

When suddenly Phil is shouting go go go– you are on the podium! Haha funny Phil no really, he says! I run (ok shuffle) over and I was first in my age group, a little victory and a prize bottle of Rosé to celebrate the day! Overall I finished 298/488 entrants, 18/39  ladies and 1/4 in SF. My main take away from the race was, pace is irrelevant it is all relative! Although I felt my run was going so poorly and I was disappointed, I actually picked up so many places that I am so glad I didn’t give up, stop or walk.

I would definitely recommend the race, the heat was extreme but the beautiful scenery made a challenging course enjoyable and a great weekend break with ExpaTRIes.