RACES: La Santa–Triathlon

All running races of our La Santa week had now past, and all that awaited me was to partake in “Team Crusaders” effort to put in a good showing at the Mini-Triathlon featuring 400m swim, 15km bike and 4.7km run.

I pondered tackling the challenge solo until my poor showing in the 200m swim Monday persuaded me to have mercy on the Green Team volunteers who undoubtedly had lives to go home to.

Mini-Triathlon

Our morning started well, with Dee improving on my swim performance from the Aquathlon over twice the distance and emerging in 26th of 30 from the pool and left me to try my first stint at competitive biking. I relished the route to Tinajo which featured climbing for the first 7.5k and then a lightning fast no-brakes descent back.

You finish and begin with 2.5km largely flat, the main climb dragging up from 11m to 196m at the village entry round-about over the next 5k. The average gradient of 3.7% felt harder on the bike (a mere blip running) particularly the 5.8% gradient on the seventh through Tinajo village outskirts. The bike connoisseurs can view the route here.

I started catching up early passing two people as I ran to the bike. The climb brought many more places until I lost a few back late in the climb. I hadn’t figured out how to get off the large front chain, so struggled for pace on the final steep climb to Tinajo village and once we hit the round-about, few people were left in reach and I only caught one on the return to Club La Santa. I pedalled as hard as I could in maximum gear on the downhill but couldn’t set a pace higher than 51kph, which left me disappointed as I had hoped to get over at least 60kph by doing a sub-1 minute kilometre on the descent, but perhaps I’m just ignorant on the biking speeds expected! 1:16min/km was as fast  a kilometre as I managed.

My end time was 33:12 for the 14.9km, the seventh best time of the day and it was over to Aoife who set the fourth best running time of the day allowing us to finish 11th overall and first team on the day around five minutes behind the individual winner, this time not my “old adversary” John Gallagher who had destroyed the field with another commanding swim before losing a bit of ground on the bike and hobbling through the run seemingly injured.

Like hill-running, muscular failure seems likely to occur before cardiovascular failure in this event as my average heart rate was only 160bpm (166bpm max) even when my legs could push the pedals no harder on the uphill.

On final reflection, the world did not lose a great swimmer when I opted for running but it might at least have lost a half-decent bike-rider and Gary’s stylistic comparison between my uphill grip and Pantani’s is well-received, the Italian Elefantino always being a favourite of mine, but he would hardly have noticed today’s ascent.

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