Challenge Herning-Open Race

My preparations for racing 70.3 had been far from smooth
with abandonment in my previous race due to hypothermia and a cracked bike
frame. However after getting my bike fixed a couple of days before flying out
and packing enough warm gear for the bike I was determined to race!

We left early Wednesday morning to Edinburgh airport with
both our bike bags, carry ons and enough food to feed a large family (Always
worried I am going to go hungry on a road trip..) and to cut a long story short
got to Copenhagen without a glitch. After picking up a hire car we started our
journey to Herning (just under 200 miles). When we had left Glasgow, the
weather had been nice, however windy and rainy conditions awaited us in
Denmark. Now I thought we were used to horrible conditions but I was to be
corrected because on one of our crossings, I felt like we were being thrown
around like a ping pong ball, with the motorbike in front of us swerving side
to side as the rain lashed sideways onto the car.

After Claire successfully navigated us to Herning, we got a
quick dinner, registered and found our apartment that would be our abode for
the next couple of days.  The following
day we decided to get our bearings for race day and also recce the bike
course.  Looking at the map I realised
this was not going to be an easy feat with all the turns, roundabouts and names
which neither of us could pronounce and promptly within 20 minutes we were
lost! Therefore after getting our bearings we found a loop which we could do
intervals on and accepted that was the best we could do.  After discussion with other triathletes, we
did not seem to be the only ones struggling to find the course. What we did
glean that afternoon though was that the road surfaces were really good and
headwinds and crosswinds would play a big part on the bike (Was imagining the disc wheel athletes would be having some fun!)

Friday was the day before the race, where we thought we
would get clarifications on most of our questions such as “Where is T2 situated?”.
However to our dismay the race briefing was an utter shambles, with the ETU
official getting her facts wrong and the Q & A session being cut short
leaving most people wondering what they had got themselves in to. It did not
help proceedings that it was raining cats and dogs outside but by the end of
the evening, we had our bike(s) in T1 (covered by bin bags) and our run stuff
in T2.

Race day

Thankfully we woke up to dry conditions with sunny spells
forecast. After having breakfast, we drove to T1 with all our paraphernalia including the
important sandwich needed before race start (Do not want to go hungry as I had
a noon start!) and set up our nutrition, pumped our tires etc.


So after having a fairly structured European Championship swim start with
different age groups going off separately, I was faced with the prospect of a
rolling start, which I had fond memories of, getting a PB the year previously
in a Challenge event. However to my dismay, there was little structure in
regards to abilities and ended up being ‘”first come, first serve” into the
water! Got out of the water in 33:15 which is a bit slow but then the swim
course was long (2.1 km by my Garmin).


Decided in T1 to wear a bike jumper/jersey which I regretted after the first hour with the thermometer reading nearly 20 Degrees! The bike course was fairly uneventful bar having to deal with crosswinds and sharp turns more often than I ever had imagined! Got into T2 with my Garmin reading 2:49 which I was pretty happy with. Passed my bike to a volunteer, ran to my run stuff when my heart
dropped; I realised my Garmin was still attached to my bike!


The course was a kind of 5.2 km loop with an out and back section going through the city centre. I am often really ‘gung ho’ when coming off the bike to my
favourite discipline but was weary I had to do everything by feel. Therefore
took the first lap cautiously, getting great support when going through the
town centre and tried to remember on the ensuing laps JD’s comments about
‘keeping my hips forward’ to keep form whilst not choking on gels, water and
energy drinks.  I crossed the finishing
line, getting great support especially from Claire, finding out that I had
finished in a surprising time of 5:08. Although to those that know me a 1:38
run is not me firing on all cylinders, I am really happy with the result!

posted by Marc Niebel on