Last year I competed in my first Alpe d’Huez triathlon event and loved it so much I decided to head back again this year to defend my title. With it only being a week after my race at the Commonwealth Games and 5 days after the relay I knew it was going to be a tough ask but I was up for the challenge and it was also a good excuse to get away for a couple days with Drew.
The Alpe d’Huez triathlon festival is a week long event including a children’s triathlon, a duathlon, long distance triathlon (hats off to those athletes -looks incredibly hard!) and a short distance triathlon which is what I competed in. The short distance triathlon is a 1.2km swim, 30km ride including the climb up the 21 switch backs of Alpe d’Huez and a undulating 7km run up the top of the mountain at 1800m.
Drew and I drove to the race Wednesday afternoon and while we were driving up the mountain we passed many athletes finishing off their bike leg of the long distance triathlon. When I read about what their race entailed I couldn’t believe how tough it would have been and mine seemed like a walk in the park compared to it. If only it felt that way though! While we went for a late afternoon jog we saw many more athletes finishing off the race and inspiring us for our race the next day. We woke up Thursday morning to a view of mountains and blue skies which was perfect conditions. A morning jog, breakfast and depositing our shoes into T2 took up majority of the morning and then it was time to ride down to the swim start along with the 1000+ other competitors.
The 1 loop 1200m swim is in the pure waters of Lac du Verney at an altitude of 700m. Apparently the water was the coldest it has ever been for race day with some reports saying 11 degrees. Whatever temperature it was it sure felt freezing cold so we delayed getting into the mass swim start as late as possible. The Huub wetsuit took a bit of the chill away and once the siren sounded I was off swimming to get out of the cold water as soon as I possibly could. I exited the water with a good lead on the girls behind and headed out on the 16km ride to the base of the mountain. The strong head wind made for a tough ride just to the base and my legs were feeling it before I had even begun to climb the mountain. I had no idea how far the girls were behind so I rode up the mountain at a good tempo hoping they wouldn’t catch me. Like last year I was very impressed with the amount of spectators lining the course and cheering, it was great to have so many people out there yelling encouragement. Out on the run I was told I had a lead of 2+ minutes off the bike which was good to know as the legs were definitely feeling the ride. The undulating 7km run wasn’t easy up at an altitude of 1800m so I was happy to cross the line in first place nearly 5 minutes ahead of second place.
Drew also had a good race finishing 2nd overall and our younger squad members swept the junior podium. All in all it was a successful day for Steves squad and an event we all enjoyed. Thanks to the triathlon organizers for putting on another great event and having me back again this year. I look forward to hopefully returning again next year!