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European Age Group Championships, Turkey


By EuTri - Posted on 29 July 2013

 
 

Having qualified for the European Championships last summer in the channel at Worthing and trained throughout term in the freezing winter Edinburgh offered up, I had been looking forward to racing in the Mediterranean for a considerable time.

 

Arriving at Antalya airport the heat immediately hit us and as we waited for our 2 hour transfer to Antalya it was clear the temperature would play a major part in my race. We were staying at the team GB hotel which, although chosen for the athletes, also had a number of regular ‘holiday goers’ who were keen to take full advantage of the free bar and daily entertainment finishing long into the evening.

 

The course familiarisation was my first chance to experience the race layout and to see how I would fair running in the heat. As I swam passed the buoys and jellyfish, I realised the swim would be more complicated than any previous race; I would have to deal with currents, swells and a long run up the beach to reach transition. The cycle was fast and flat, albeit on poor road surfaces, but I knew the tough run would play to my advantage and the long hill would provide a platform to make up time and places. After checking out the course we headed to registration to collect the race pack and then back to the hotel to ‘fuel up’.

 

With the tones of the ‘call to prayer’ echoing across the town providing a soundtrack to my pre-race routine, I was up at 4.30am and readied myself for the 7am start. Having set up transition and queued to get stamped with my number, I was pleasantly pleased to find the sea had calmed down since the two previous days.

 

After swimming a fast 200m, to break away from the carnage at the first buoy, I settled in to my pace and found a nice draft for the remaining swim. The bike was completely flat and apart from the constant struggle to find a route between the poorly paved roads it went without incident. Reaching T2, I was slightly surprised to hear from my dad that I had dropped a few places in the bike and needed to make up over a minute to finish on the podium. With this in mind I had a fast transition and set off with the intent to run myself to the ground using the hills to gain time. All the long track sessions round Barn-Elms came into fruition and as I found my running legs I began to pick off my competitors. By the second lap I had moved into fourth place and I could see the others running in a group a further 20 seconds up the road. Cooling myself with the regular water stations I managed to catch the group around 1km from the finish and ran hard as I passed them so they didn’t stay on my shoulder.

 

Crossing the finish line I consequently collapsed and next found myself cooling off in a large ice bath. Still unsure of my final position we went to the results tent to find that I had finished in 2nd place behind an athlete from Denmark. I was delighted with the position and also the fastest run split. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the rare chance of lying in 32 degrees on the beach and surfing the waves of the Med before being presented my medal at the award ceremony.  

                                  

Sam Woods

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