Mallorca 70.3 Race Report
by John Davie
We flew to Mallorca on Thursday morning as newspaper headlines proclaimed 'UK to be warmer than Barcelona and Ibiza this weekend' with a forecast for race day that was somewhere between awful and hideous. As it turned out though the weather app had been overly optimistic.
I woke to the sound of rain hammering against the apartment window at around 1am and lay awake thinking of the mountain descent on a twitchy tri-bike with slick tyres and carbon brake-tracks that are next to useless in the wet. It was still, what meteorologists refer to as, 'chucking it down' by getting up time and, to cut a long story short, it didn't stop until long after the race was finished.
The rolling swim start was great for avoiding the usual melee, but left slower swimmers shivering in the cold rain for up to an hour beforehand. ...and then we were off. It was great to be into the water with a fairly straightforward swim apart from a shoal of stinging jellyfish at around midway. I was stung on both hands, one of which was really painful, but a lot of people were stung on the face or neck and were proudly displaying their battle scars the next day.
After a T1 of just over 10 mins (long story) the bike was fairly flat for around 20k before hitting an 8k climb, 7k along the top of the mountain then a hairy descent down the other side. Although low cloud hid much of the view the climb was easily the best bit of the day. The descent however was easily the worst with slippery switchbacks and teeth-chattering straights. A number of competitors dropped out as they either came off their bikes or couldn't bear the cold anymore, including pro-triathlete Tim Don who pulled out due to the cold at around half way down. We finally left the mountain and had 40k or so of horizontal cycling with equally horizontal rain. Finally into T2 and out of the sopping wet gear.
It was still raining heavily during the run but the crowds and supporters (including my wife) really lifted the spirits. I was racing with 20 or so people from my old club in Ireland so there was a lot of camaraderie and the odd target to catch. The run course of 2 and a half loops was underwater at times so the lovely dry socks and shoes lasted all of 30 seconds. After a pretty bad day at the tri-office I crossed the line with a very sub-par 6:02, which I probably deserved given the lack of training. There was a lot of material for Irish craic with my old club-mates in the pub and restaurant later that night, with two of them winning their age groups. We were all humbled by our waiter who finished in 4:45 before heading straight to the restaurant to help with both lunchtime and evening shifts.
One major plus I should call out. My bike had been collected and sent ahead with ShipMyTriBike's door-to-door service which meant that I collected it fully built from outside transition the day before the race. The best bit however was after the race I simply handed it back to the ShipMyTriBike folks at transition exit. I'd thoroughly recommend it.