This year, the organizers of MTB Marathon and Beskidy Trophy lauched a new type of events, and with my two triathlon fellows Jarek and Lukasz, the informal team "Los Triathloneros" (subsidary of the running team Los Bieganeros) we decided to give it a try on the longest distance !
That one was half-ironman, understand 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21km run. This time I could use a real (and good!) road bike thanks to my neighbour and good friend Wojtek, who offered to lend his to me during his vacation in exchange of watering flowers.
Jarek Lukasz and I have fairly similar levels, each of us being best and worse in one discipline whereby this kind of event is never boring made with them! We had already competed together on a short-distance triathlon in early July; Łukasz had swam faster, I ran faster, but Jarek had triumphed on the bike. Despite I rode a mountain bike with road tires, he rode 4mn faster than me, too much to catch back during the final run, since my swim was not been perfect either ...
We arrived at 21pm at the bungalows, Łukasz could not break free earlier: he was at a wedding! Ideal before a triathlon. Jarek came with his wife, his two children (a son and a daughter old enough, who played reporters and coaches), their newborn son. We ate in a simple restaurant but with a gargantuan amount of pasta in the evening.
We installed bikes in the park early in the morning and passed all the checkins. Everything was ready with gels, isotonic drinks, and so on... The thing was to last nearly six hours, like a bike marathon, so details not to be underestimated !
9am, everyone walked into the water and the start was given. Like two months ago, I did not have any wetsuit, but the water was at 20°C, so I had put on my lycra top surf ... Since the last time I trained in the pool and improved a little. I swam 2000m in 42mn during the last training. But again, steering problems (no line at the bottom of the lake!) made me lose lots of time with zigzags. That said, I managed to swim freestyle a lot better than Radków. I swam in 47mn, my fellows did some 8mn less.
First transition, I jumped on the bike. I have a plan to beat Jarek. I know he runs slower, and that the difference in running is roughly equivalent to that in swimming in the opposite order. In other words, I must win on the bike, if not to minimize the loss in order to give my plan a chance to work ! Jarek probably knows it too, and the fight is intense ! These 90km consist of four loops made of a way and a back 12.5km long. So we met 7 times at all, where we could see our advance compared to the previous loop. The route was flat but with a lot of false flats and especially the wind, most of the time on the side, but sometimes facing or behind. I overtook Lukasz, riding more modestly, during the third loop. As for Jarek, I rode some 7mn behind him, but we rode a nearly identical pace, and crossed each other almost in the same place, except the last loop during which I could see he lost some advance : I gained some 200m, not a full minute... Average: 33.3km/h, time: 2:42. Adrenaline!
Second transition, running shoes, hat, and Garmin going from the handlebar to my wrist. I rode a a little softer at the end of the cycling in order to spare myself a bit for the beginning on the run and start on the right foot. I felt OK, the pace was good, as during trainings. Tempo below 5 minutes per km: let's keep the pressure on Jarek ! The race also consisted in 4 loops of 5.25km around the lake. During the second, I noticed the blue suit of Jarek on the horizon. I finally caught him back during the third: he was exhausted and ran near an obese girl, probably a participant of the sprint category. My plan worked! The Third loop became harder: my strength decreased, fatigue arose, and no one anymore in sight to maintain my motivation. I ate an orange at the buffet, allowing me some ten seconds, and ran back. The prospect of the finish line re-motivated me and during the last meters I ran at a good tempo. It seemed at times that jogging fast was less tiring than jogging slowly because the suffers last shorter !
Finish line, and shock: Jarek's wife congratulates me and yells "Eric, Jarek is over there waiting for you." Jarek is dressed in jacket. "How is this possible, did Jarek give up ?". "Eric, he finished 30 minutes ago !". Astonishment. Jarek, have you really ran the 4 loops? "Eric, it's you who did five !". Rankings confirmed my doubts: Jarek ran only three loops ... Fatigue ? The mystery remains unsolved.
I completed in 5:23 and 1:48 for the run of this final half-marathon, which is 5 minutes faster than my very first half-marathon in 2012! Lukasz finished in 5:37, and as for Jarek, he would have been about 5:30 with 4 loops ... what a pity. Perfect organization, sunshine, and great atmosphere. To repeat next year!