ITU World Championships Long Distance Triathlon 2019 Race Report Pontevedra Spain.

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Pontevedra…

is a nice small city in the north western province of Spain (Galicia). It is the home base of triathlon champion Javier Gomez Nova. April Critelli and I arrived to Lisbon and drove to Pontevedra 3 days prior the race. We were very proud to represent Team USA in Europe. We stayed about 15 minutes outside of Pontevedra in a charming fishing village called Combarro. Our little house sat on a cliff of the main touristic winding narrow road, with a window on the bay. We could literally jump out the window to have a swim, but the water temperature was very low.

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Pre Race…

The day prior the race we checked into Pontevedra and attended the athlete briefing. We bumped into the multi colored trisuit of competitors representing over 40 countries. We had a practice swim, and I panicked in the middle of the river as I could not breath properly due the low temperature. After checking our bikes into transition, we were exhausted and decided not to have a dinner…. (OMG we just ate a peanut butter sandwich). I was hungry all night and I kept waking up for another sandwich.

RACE DAY...
Without a decent sleep, we woke up tired and hungry. The restaurant next door had many hungry families the night before, and we could hear all their voices past midnight.
It was cold, very cold. Air temperature was 8 degrees Celsius and the river temperature was 14 degrees Celsius. The swim course was reduced from 3 Km to 1.5 Km to ensure the safety of the athletes.
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Swim (1.5 Km)

Fortunately the swim was a water start. We jumped into the water and swam to the start. This short swim and treading water gave us the opportunity to adapt to the cold water prior the start.

As the gun went off, we started swimming against the current. There was a spot where everyone felt the current strengthen. I started my swim slow behind a group of women because I wanted to feel safe around others so I would not panic again.

After 1/4 of the distance I started feeling confident and passed this group as I found my smooth swim pace.

I was so happy to finish that challenging swim.





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Bike (110 Km)

The bike course was a hilly and winding 3 loops in the mountains of Pontevedra. My strength on the uphills allowed me to pass a lot of women on the way up. The long descents on the way back were steep enough to go fast, but not so fast for me as I tend to be cautious downhill.

As the experienced Europeans and Pros (including Javier Gomez) were passing me on the way down, I panicked a couple of times when I was close to the cliffs.

There were no flats, only climbs or downhills. There was a part of the course that was spectacular with scenic views of mountains and valleys, but very scary as the road was very narrow and winding without guardrails. We knew that we would be finishing strong but not fast as we train mainly in the flat trails of Florida.

I learned that the British are the meanest and that Europeans in general are the strongest.



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Run (30 KM)

The 4 loops run was along the river, a shaded dirt packed trail and through the heart of the cobbled stone hilly narrow roads in the historic town.

April and I were surprised that it was not boring at all to repeat it 4 times. The beauty of the course, the calm of the trail and the cheering people in the “Centro” made it easy.

I will always remember the smell of cigarettes and grilled seafood as we run through the cobbled narrow streets of that lovely city.

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Overall…

it was a beautiful and unforgettable experience. However, we were starving at the end of the race. No food or drinks were offered post race. Also the communication prior to the race was very poor. Only one athlete briefing was offered and directions to move from one place to another were very poor. In addition, the athlete guide was very confusing. As an experienced IRONMAN coach and athlete, I cannot compare ITU with IRONMAN. IRONMAN does an amazing job with organization and communication with its athlete.

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We continued…

our adventure exploring Galicia and Portugal for an additional 15 days.

We loved the people, food, sceneries, history, culture and landmarks.

Spain and Portugal are countries that everyone should visit and explore.