The Spanish are great supporters of this race, with what seems like endless age group races of all sorts around the race too, a great expo and more often than not ace weather, which is just like home for me, hot and dry. I like it!
The race is smack bang in the heart of Madrid, in Casa de Campo, A safari looking park with km's and km's of mountain bike trails and runs. Its pretty sweet, and also home to numerous spanish prostitutes!!! Not a year has gone by yet where I havn't seen the native park species. Word of advice don't venture into the bush if you see a handbag growing off the tree, you may be in for a surprise! However come race day they disappear and it was all about the triathlon, and so important was this triathlon indeed. It was the last race in the Olympic qualification period, so ultimately this race would decide the fate of many athletes either shattering their dreams or bringing life long dreams to a reality. No pressure!
However before I give you a little insight into the race, I have to mention the exciting night that precursered the race! It just so happens that the day before the race was a massive football match between Barcelona and Bilbao! Now the spanish like to party and party they did! The eager arrivals started milling about, about 9 am for the 8.30 pm start!! Just below our hotel was set up like a massive music festival, stage speakers, and a HUGE beer table with cups equally as large to go with. Made a pint glass look pretty lame! Throughout the day the sea of red and white multipied, (we had the Bilbao suporters) so by the time evening came it was chockers with boozed up mad footy fans, one massive fiesta outside the window, and an absolute nightmare for us triathletes to try and go for run or get access to the park, though just quietly I would have loved to be amongst it too! looked fun! Luckily for us they lost, and shut up fiesta early, so they only partied to 5 am instead! haha. But wow, race day, the entrance to the park was an absolute shemozzle! There was shit and broken glass everywhere which made for all athletes to go for a bike hike, bike on shoulder to get to the race, it was a death wish for any innocent tyre!
So typical spanish timing, girls race the sat eve first, with a race start at 5.45pm! what a day to kill, talk about drag it out, especially with fate of the Olympic games spots on the line! A non wetty swim in the murky lake, sweet for spectating as it's probably the only swim you can get right in on on the action almost the entire way around! 2 laps. Going in with a good ranking number 12 my "lucky" number I started off on a great note breaking my swim cap. Thats two from two I might add! I broke it in Sydney too! What a Fat Head!
So I at least got a choice on the pontoon spot. For all the good it did...I ffound myself at the back of the pack by the first buoy, realy not a good start for me. I had a reasonably clean start too without the usual fist fight, apparently called swimming! and without going into detail, my swim just went back from there, just falling off the main bunch before exiting the first lap. From there it always just gets harder for you when you lose the drag, and it was a slog out to the end to exit the water as clost to the people ahead as I could.
Out onto the bike you hit the hill straight away, and it's an absolute burner on the legs with little blood flow and no warm up on the pins yet, this hill can usually seperate people pretty quickly first lap. Up and over the first hill I started to catch up some of the panting struggling girls ahead, (thankg god I was not the only one feeling like I wanted to die), and from there we managed to grow our pack to around 15 or 20, catching a small group ahead and the occasional straggler who legs just couldn't hang on to the pack ahead anymore, after feeling the bite of the hill.
However, I have a love hate relationship with this course (mostly a hate whilst out there, love comes later on) and no it has nothing to do with the prostitutes lurking around...For as tough as this course is, it's the same for everyone, and for those riders who like to hide away and sneak off doing no work on the bike , this course keeps everyone honest. Even the sneakiest of hideaway stealth pack riders have to do at least some fair share of work grinding up the hill which always leads into a slightly fairer playing field by the time you hit the run. And the taxing bike course is so evident in run times, always slower than pb's, except for maybe the occasional freak athlete who woke up on the right side of the bed that morning!
Personally, when I started the run this year I thought holy cow I'm ginna be lucky to run a 40min ten km today. My legs were ruuuubbisshh. After grinding up that hill and certainly doing my share of work into the wind, the old quadriceps did not want to play. Thats as flat as Ive got out onto a run in a long time! However not trying to kill myself immediately I let them work out the crap, and they luckily came good as I went through the motions, and evntually I felt good out on the run, just managing to pick off a couple of the back markers off the group ahead, ( unfortunately we were not cohesive enough as a bunch and lost too much time on the bike to run into many placings from the pack ahead) I finished a disappointing 37th, but some positive with a top ten run.
So as always Madrid did not deliver what I would have expected, Im beginning to think as it's always first race after my travel from Aus that I'm never quite recovered as much as I think from the marathon journey from down under. Still it's a great race, and praise the spanish for hating early mornings as much as I do! haha
On a more solem note, though I did not mention it already, the hardest part of this race for me, was being behind the eight ball out of the water and pretty much knowing from then on, before the race was even over, that that, was my the end of any Olympic dreams I had hoped for, and although I decided ot on the course, that I would not go out without a fight at least, even though I realised the damage had already been done so early into my race, it was certainly a menatally challenging day. I raced it to the finish, but the finish unfortunately also brings the let down, of how much a lttle bit of error exponentially explodes, into one of the biggest and critical stuff ups.
Thats the cut throat of racing.
Results 1. Nicola Spirig SUI Boys 1. Johnathn Brownlee GBR
2. Aileen Morrison IRE 2. Alexander Brukankov RUS
3. Barbara Riveros CHI 3. Dimitri Polyanski