World Sprint Triathlon Championships Montreal

Not quite the experience I had been looking forward to for numerous reasons. The first being my own fault, on a fast bit of road towards the end of Ride London (a 100 mile ride on closed roads) all I saw was a ‘sea’ of bikes and riders on the ground. Unable to stop in time I went straight over the handle bars to land on my back, thoroughly winded. A fella helped me up – once I’d done my own body check, then a bike check and a rather painful 5 miles to the finish. I was so, so lucky, nothing but pulled muscles, albeit rather a lot of them all the way down the left side of my back.

Four weeks on and all I had run was a gentle 1.5 mile jog with a few short sprints, still uncomfortable on the bike and painful putting my foot down. However, a session with Boris and Sam at Ocean Therapy eased it a bit, and a final one with Sam on the Saturday before I flew off on Monday made it bearable.

Next issue was the fact that British Triathlon introduced a new Tri-Suit this year, and it is compulsory to wear an official National suit for the World and European Championships. However, production was delayed but promised for the beginning of June. Then a further delay and problem with printing my name and logos, after many phone calls it eventually arrived by last post on Saturday 18th June when I was flying out on Monday 20th. Much to my dismay, they messed up the printing and I was reluctant to be seen in it.

Terminal 5 at Heathrow was busy and we arrived ridiculously early, just in case, but all went well. Our bikes arriving safely in Montreal. Not so for a number of others including top British pro Georgia Taylor-Brown. However, her sponsors managed to get a replacement to her in time. I know one age grouper had to hire a ‘shopping’ bike another borrowed one from someone not competing, I don’t know what anyone else did?

The Airbnb was great, one group found their’s didn’t exist! Ours was a fairly spacious ground floor, four bedroom apartment, two en suite, living area, another bathroom plus a laundry room and only a 15 minutes walk to the race area. The walk was through the Old Port and Downtown.

We organised ourselves via the Facebook page for the event. I met Liz at the airport and I think we talked until we landed in Montreal. Also sharing was David in his twenties (who had a great time burning the candle at both ends, meeting up with all the other ‘youngsters’) and Mark, father of two and relatively new to triathlons. A great combination, that worked well.

I was looking forward to some hot weather, but we were met with cool, wet and thunderstorms that lasted right till Thursday.

On the first morning we met up with a family David knew and all set off for a swim in a lake next to the F1 circuit. My front tyre decided to spring a leak which I really should have changed before going. Everyone was rather concerned, but I just waited for it to seal as they were tubeless. However, the roads were so bad it started again during the trip to the lake and back.

The swim didn’t appeal at all and I was still not feeling 100% and so I declined.

One good thing about the Championships was that we were forever meeting up with others they knew or had met at previous events and on the way back a crowd of us looked for a cafe to fit all of us and safe for our bikes, ended up at a Pizza place (proper ones!) for lunch. Then there were a couple of ‘organised’ coffee mornings and a dinner for us ‘oldies’. Great to meet everyone.

On the evening of the Parade of Nations and the Pasta Party, the rain just did not stop and despite the umbrella I had bought and Liz’s rain jacket we took one step outside and decided not to go.

To add to all this, because of the rain, Friday at least, for the Pros and Juniors, would be a duathlon due to the poor water quality in the St Lawrence River, and we would not know until Friday evening about Saturday and Sunday. Everyone’s spirits were definitely dampened.

Friday morning, I woke up and the sun was out!! I got up early went for a run round the block to pick up some milk and definitely felt better. Down to rack our bikes, group photo and watch the professionals trying to qualify for the next rounds on the Saturday. Much to our relief, back to Triathlons for Saturday and Sunday. Suddenly Montreal looked much better in the sunshine and Down Town came to life as it was a bank holiday weekend, all sorts of taverns and places opening up and crowds of vibrant people.

Up early on Saturday, race started at 9:15, not much to do. No shoes to attach (if I did I’d definitely get them on the right pedals, unlike at Weymouth 70.3 – kept the crowds amused!) as I hadn’t been able to practice at all and felt it would be too risky and the run in bike shoes wasn’t too long. However, coming back I had the whole length of transition and half-way back to rack my bike, so decided to slip my feet out of my shoes prior to the dismount line.

Swim went well but one of the roughest swims I’ve ever had! Legs pulled, swum over, arm yanked, I had placed myself in the prime position for the start, but I just ploughed on, would you believe it was only females over 65!

Bike was as fine as it could be, technical with 17 corners and two ‘u’ turns on each of two laps. Those combined with the appalling road condition, raised pedestrian crossings, and manhole covers on the corners made it interesting riding. I managed to jump onto a peloton just prior to the first ‘u’ turn but shortly after a right, down hill, left – so far so good, but then uphill, and I just couldn’t keep up with them. Later on on some straight sections, I started to draft but as soon as we reached the corners they slowed down too much and I overtook them. I did have one drafting me for a good part of it, a Brit next age group down. I tried letting her go in front but we slowed down too much. So no drafting and conscious of my ‘leaky’ tyre over all the lumps and bumps.

Off the bike, neat but, ‘not a ’flying’, dismount, up the ramp, long run to rack my bike, still in front of everyone in my age group. Nike Vapour Fly’s a nightmare to put on, despite socks, talc and a shoe horn!! Then off on the run. Although feeling absolutely fine on the bike, suddenly I felt uncomfortable and although a steady pace, not what I would have liked, but it was all I could manage. I probably could have pushed harder on the bike. I should, but probably couldn’t have done so on the run, so had to take it. I was disappointed and had hoped for a much better time. It was good that we all had a tattoo with our age group on our left calf so I was fairly confident I was in the lead.

The finish shoot and announcements were a bit underwhelming as was the medal ceremony. Perhaps it’s just because Ironman do it so well and make you feel special for those milliseconds. First place was confirmed some time after I had finished by the husband of the woman who came second, when he congratulated me!

Watching the professionals was ace. Ringside view as they battled it out in three Super Sprint Races just 15 minutes apart with athletes being eliminated each time to leave just 10 for the finals. Both Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown won convincingly.

On Sunday the British Mixed Team relay kept us on tenterhooks as we were way back in fourth on the last leg when Georgia Taylor-Brown took over and she also had a 10 second penalty to take. But right on the last lap she got herself into second place and with a big enough gap to stop for 10 seconds within sight of the finish line and bring the British Team in second, behind the French, and guaranteeing us a place in the Mixed Team Relay at the next Olympics in Paris.

Monday we’d arranged a late checkout, so went in a group to the F1 track. Pottered round it once, gave it a blast the second time, and messed around and took photos the third.

Finally time to leave, we’d found a temporary bus stop at the end of our road for the bus that went straight to the airport. So we trundled there with our bike boxes and bags, but the bus driver wouldn’t let us on. A supervisor appeared with the second bus and he vetoed the driver and helped us load our boxes onto the racks on the bus, then we didn’t have any tickets and the bus driver would only take coins ??? The supervisor waived the fare and we were off.

We’d been warned that the big scanner was not working and all bike boxes had to be opened, everything taken out apart from the bike, scanned and put back in. Literally hours in the queue as they did two or three at a time!

Plane a bit late taking off, I must have fallen asleep almost immediately and had a good three or four hours – first time ever! Our bikes were off almost immediately but, I know some are still looking for theirs and/or their luggage! However, most of us did bring back a present from Montreal – COVID!

Glad I went, but not the most memorable, or enjoyable of all the events I have done. Hopefully I will be in a better frame of mind for the next ITU World Championships in Abu Dhabi – but it’s just after Kona and St George, will it be a big let down???????????