Abu Dhabi

The W Hotel Abu Dhabi in the middle of the F1 track

The last of my four World Championships, a Standard Distance (Olympic). 1500m swim – fine, a 40k bike – fine then a 10k run that you really should sprint – ugh! The distance I find the hardest due to the run at the end. On a Sprint Triathlon it’s only 5k and for the 70.3 and full Ironman it’s a steady pace rather than a sprint? However, although the last race of the year, it was the first when I was starting 100% (well almost) fit and ready, so looking forward to a strong race.

Nice to have a bit of luxury

I know what I hoped to do on the run, and expected to be disappointed, and I was!

Met Joanna on the Abu Dhabi facebook page and agreed to share. she found the hotel and the flights, so no hassle . I picked her up from Poole and travelled together. T4 a nightmare, the guys on the large scanner refused to take the bike boxes, so down stairs for a physical search, 10mins per bike! Queued for over half an hour when a ’boss’ man came along, chose us with the old style Bike Box Alan, to see if they would go through, they did, with just a little ’wiggle’.

Overnight flight with Eithad, can’t fault them. Go a few hours sleep and arrived early morning in warm Abu Dhabi, taxi to the W Hotel in the middle of the F1 circuit, very impressive. even more impressed when we were taken straight to our room (hotel said checkin from 3pm!)

Another couple of hours sleep then I went for a run/walk to suss out where everything was. Registration etc. less than a mile away. Bit of shopping on the way back and no room in the fridge, full of booze!!

Joanna wanted to do the Parade of Nations, so I went down, hung around for ever! No flags on a flag pole, but the Brits in true fashion found a post and attached the Union Flag. Joanna and I were flagging at this point and dipped out of the Star Wars presentation to make use of our free voucher for a burger or vegetarian option.

Thursday, build bikes, test ride and meander around. Roads are amazing, lovely smooth tarmac, but far too busy with cars that give NO quarter to cyclist so did’t go far.

Friday, group photo, rack bikes and watch Georgia Taylor-Brown and Flora Duffy battle it out for the World Championships in this, the last race of the season. Georgia was well in contention until the last couple of laps on the run when Flora won in convincing fashion. But, well done to Georgia taking silver. However, one or two nasty crashes on the bend I was watching. And our course has eight ’u’ turns, and some of the blokes that have gone out on the course (in the heavy traffic!) say they are treacherous! I decided I was going to ride safe, and not take risks.

Saturday, leisurely walk down to the bike, then bag drop and to the swim start. Sun coming up and beginning to get hot. Water a balmy 29 degrees. Considering I have hardly done any swim training since Covid was pleased with the swim time, couldn’t have expected anything better. However, definitely feeling tired towards the end of the swim. Note to self, ”2023 some real swim sessions, aim for two a week.”

Bottles of ice cold water given out for the hot 500m run to T1. Decided to run in my bike shoes as I had made such a pigs ear of trying to mount in bike shoes when training prior to Kona. So a careful mount, and away. Up the main road at 22mph. I was happy as a lark! Lost time at each ’u’ turn as I wanted to ensure I couldn’t get ’wipedout’. As it was twice a bloke suddenly squeezed past me far too close on the inside, when there was acres on space on the left.

Fabulous tarmac all the way round except for a bit of ’cobbly’ paving and rough kerbs to negotiate along the sea front. Remembered to chew some of my Slotblocs, drank some water and poured the rest over my head. Hot, but I was loving it.

Into transition, got my Vapourfly shoes on so easily with my new ‘lazy shoe helpers’ (a nightmare without!) Then, THE RUN. first few hundred metres up hill, so walked that, then started to run. Felt OK, but the speed I had hoped for just wasn’t there. picked up some ice to tie round my neck and settled into a pace I maintained for the whole 10k. Tried to increase my pace from time to time, but it just didn’t happen so resigned myself to a slower time.

Lovely to have so many Brits cheering us all on, even the one with the Union Flag upside down, I soon put him right!

Down the finish shut, had I done enough? Hadn’t been aware of any of my rivals, so fingers crossed.

Finish area was so, so busy with so many events and athletes, difficult to find somewhere to chill out. Eventually lay on some tarmac with my legs up a wall. After a while Kate & Paul Mason came along with Jonathan their sone who lives over there. when I stood up, definitely light headed and my speech was weird. Walked along to my favourite (cheap) coffee shop, which had become an informal meeting place, and began to feel normal again.

Whats App from my son confirmed I had won, and convincingly by over twenty minutes.

Collect the bike and bags and to the hotel for a soak then back down to watch Johnny Brownlee, Alex Yee and Tom Dickinson complete in the final triathlon of the World Series, double points at stake. Alex just had to beat Haydon Wilde to become World Champion. He was well ahead of him, but as he turned the last bend into the finish chute, a Belgium ran past him and Alex just couldn’t keep with him, thus robbing him of vital points and a surprise to everyone and the French guy who not only won the race, but was crowned World Champion! making Alex having to make do with a very creditable Silver.

PS. Since coming home I am a different person. I now realise all was not well with me long before I even went to Kona. I was constantly tired, little motivation and even my co-ordination was not good – found that out trying to practice my mount and dismount of the bike. I thought it was just my age catching up with me – something had not been right.