ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championship, Fredericia, Denmark. 7th August 2005 (Swim 3km, Bike 120km, Run 30km)
Iain and I hadn’t raced Worlds in 2004 but we already knew that it was back to Fredericia in 2005 and we like Fredericia, so it wasn’t much of a decision – we were up for it. This time however we would avoid flying from Copenhagen into the least automated Airport in Europe, Billund, where in 2001 we had to wait while luggage was loaded from the plane onto the single bogey and collected by passengers before the next round trip. Plus the fact that yours truly nearly had an MI when driving in the dark from Billund to Fredericia, pushing along when the dark night was inferno’d by a rather large red retina burning sign displaying some numbers as I sped through a couple of huts village, (Iain laughed as I recall…at my stress level and strained vehement question about what the actual speed limit was in kilometres/hour…) Frank lucked out – driving shotgun behind me and so was able to rattle the folks around his vehicle with some aggressive speed curtailment. The 2005 version was to fly to Copenhagen, direct from Edinboorg and then pick up a erm erm I’m distracted…whatever you hear about Denmark and the Danish women – well, Iain and I concur from empirical observation (in Copenhagen Airport) the worst Danish women scores at least 5 outta 10 and it ain’t normally distributed – average is about 8.5 It appears I said it so often, the locals might think “nice rack” means “good day” 😉 erm erm rental car and drive across the Great Belt Bridge (Østbroen) which links the islands of Zealand and Funen and which has the world’s third longest main span (1.6km) blah blah blah. So we did, Iain hacking along in the rain while I tried to admire the engineering through rain covered windows…we also upgraded our hotel to one closer to the race and lucky for us, right next door to the sports hall for the award dinner.
It may be that Fredericia is Danish for jellyfish…for sure that’s my word association, once we returned to recce the swim venue. Having accepted the ubiquitous transparent/white jellyfish in situ at the swim location (my technique is to close my eyes and NOT scream with mouth open) the locals gave us a wry smile whilst telling us that this year there were many more red (colloquially called firemen) jellyfish and that they DID sting…eeeek. Not only that but the water was ahem chilly…Iain and I swam for a while and I got stung on my foot… At registration we met Paul Williams, an Englishman living in Utah whom we’d met a few times at Worlds before, one of the good guys…with his new wife or was it just another…and he was in my age group this time.
We built the bikes up and went for a spin up to the Tuborg brewery just out of town…strangely there was a bunch of glass on the path which I rode through but didn’t puncture. We went to the carbo load party in town as previously it had been the best organised we’d ever been at..they really DID have plenty food, it was all ready, tasty and HOT. We met some ‘Stralians we had met there in 2001 as we wandered around the small town on the Saturday seeking lunch…
There was talk of the swim being shortened as the water temperature had dropped even more – things were getting better and better possibly from 4km to 3km or even 2km. When we went to race start and I checked my bike in transition (that cursory check of tyre pressure) I was shocked to find my rear tyre half flat…I immediately thought of the glass and decided to replace the inner tube. It appeared the Team GB mechanics weren’t in attendance nor had the Team Manager a track pump I borrowed a track pump from a fellow competitor and hoped all would be well.
The swim was shortened to 3km and I covered my exposed face and feet in vaseline (which must have looked weird but hey better than red stingers…) It was chilly and I did have a few near screaming and stinging experiences with jellyfish…I swam a 1:10:55 placing me 2nd last in my age group (familiar story, eh?). Then onto the bike in temperatures of only 11 deg C so on went the arm warmers and I stuffed the windcheater in my back pocket – just in case.
The course is mainly flat with one small climb on each of the 3 laps, so I managed a reasonable 3:42:16 split which was quite good. I passed Iain at some point but can’t remember where (he clocked 3:55:53). It was cool enough that I kept my arm warmers on for the whole bike leg.
With the temperature only climbing to 20 deg C on the run, it was as good conditions as I could expect – I ran for at least the first 2 laps (20km) in just over 2 hours and then the usual sickness arrived which meant the jog/walk deal interspersed by bouts of doubling over retching and being sick – all par for the course. I passed Iain going in the opposite direction as he was behind me. He wasn’t having too good a race and said he wasn’t well either but was doing his usual strategy of dealing with sickness by not drinking. I managed to finish with a run split of 3:13:16 but wasn’t well at all at the Finish (I clocked an 8:18:13). I sat around at the picnic tables, unable to consume any liquid which my body badly needed to rehydrate. I waited for Iain to come in but when he did he was in a bad way…staggering all over the place when he crossed the line in 8:30:48 and was led off to the medical tent for another IV a la Ibiza. I wasn’t allowed in with him so went off to get some food (sausage and beer!) then returned later, at which point I was allowed in to see that he was recovering ok. Looking back we can both see the gradual creep of us getting more and more ill in long distance races exacerbated by heat…I guess we knew we couldn’t continue to do this and in fact this was Iain’s last long distance triathlon.
By the time we returned to the hotel with our gear there was only just time for a shower before we had to take a short walk across the hotel car park to the awards ceremony. Afterwards, we decided we still needed to refuel some more and with the usual tasty food or tastier rather, so we wandered along the road to our best option – McDonalds – not our first choice or even second or third or…but hey…usual scenario heh heh heh Sunday evening post race queues of tri-geeks wanting big macs, fries, ice cream etc and smiling as they hoovered it all up…then back to the hotel for relaxing beers…well it started out like that..with the team manager and a decent GB bloke from Florida…then we ended up with the some of the younger female members of Team Canada…so there we were chugging beer with some Canadian beer monster chicks until 3am, impressed by the way that one of them had perfected a technique of putting her glass under the beer tap and pouring from the non-serving side, whilst the bar girl was away…of course she was the one who was keen to demonstrate her internet recorded prowess at the beer mile…she was a different character when she appeared for breakfast the next day with her mom and dad 😉
We took a trip into Copenhagen the next day on the train – wow – another fabulously clean, efficient, timely rail service – and wandered around the shops and sights. Up early the next day to speed back to Copenhagen to find the longest queue in history to check-in for our flight – it appeared that most departing flights were using the same 3 desks….lucky for my Star Alliance Silver Card then eh? 😉 As we joined the business class queue much to the chagrin of some of the other grumpy well attired travellers…