Today was the European Cross Triathlon Championship in Kijkduin – an event which I’d noted in my perusings of the triathlon calendar, and immediately ruled out as out of my league! A good opportunity, therefore, to grab my camera and take some photographs. I’d originally planned to be there in the morning to watch the paratriathlon, but late nights and travelling had caught up with me and I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until the event had already finished. So, the afternoon race it was then. Lacking a small camera bag, I wrapped up the camera and lens in bubble wrap, and got on my own bike for the ride down to the beach – a good 18km each way, although if I hadn’t gone slightly off track in both directions it would have been a bit shorter. A good workout for me also, thus.
I arrived in Kijkduin just in time to see the Elite wave emerging from the water. The event was only just getting started and already I was impressed. Swimming the best part of a kilometre in the North Sea looks pretty daunting. I shall surely draw on this the next time I stand nervously waiting for the start of a 500m lake swim. Child’s play in comparison!
As soon as they were upright and on more or less solid ground, the athletes started to pull off their wetsuits as they ran up the beach to T1 to transition onto the bike.
The bike course consisted of 3 loops around the beach and dunes, a total of 23km. If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, a couple flights of stairs are thrown in for good measure.
By the end of the bike course, all the athletes were speckled in mud, and a fair few were sporting muddy and bloody sides after falls. Unlike a road triathlon where the bikes come whizzing by, every ounce of strength was needed to move the bikes forward through the sand, and in many spots the most efficient way to move forward was to dismount and run with the bike.
Without fail, the effort required was showing on the athletes’ faces as they came by, and by the time they finished their third laps, the glimmer of relief could be seen as they dismounted in front of us, and powered up the sand with their bikes to transition to the run.
It was hard keeping track of everything going on – the race was started in 3 waves, Elites, Under 23 Elites and rather later on, the age groupers. With both run and bike courses consisting of 3 laps, it was hard to follow which athletes were on which lap, and who was heading up each race. Being a European championship, the athletes were all competing in their countries’ colours, and it was pretty exciting to be able to cheer on the British competitors as they flew by.
I watched the finish of the Elite females, which brought me to the end of my CF card, and then fuelled up with pancakes for the ride home.
First – Helena Erbenova
Second – Carina Wasle
and Third – Maud Golsteyn