Race report from Ian Simon:
Great trip to Monaco last weekend, for the Tristar 111 event. Jock Bolam & Ian Simon raced the full event (1km sea swim / 100km hilly bike ride / 10km run), with Sue Bolam & Tracey Sample recruiting a ringer (OK, Tracey, I’m sure it was just pure chance that your cyclist was a former National-level junior in New Zealand!) to take part in the relay.
Monaco is a great place for an end of season race – hot, but not too hot, great food, etc. We stopped in an aparthotel in Beausolais, about 10 minutes hobble from the beach (and 20 minutes back, up the hills).
Race day was fairly relaxed – having registered and racked bikes the previous day, an 8am start was pretty civilised. Unfortunately, civilised is not a good description of the opening 200m of the swim – 700 athletes charging into a fairly narrow channel led to a bit of a bun fight. Into transition in 17 minutes – not as quick as I’d thought, but OK.
On to the bike, and a light shower made the opening couple of miles a bit twitchy. I watched someone wipe out on the first corner on slick roads, and decided to take it fairly easy. The first hour or so of the ride is uphill – 23km of climb straight out of Monaco. At the 20km mark, the first relay cyclists came past, having started 15 minutes behind – Baden Cooke representing a SaxoBank team, Bernie Eisel for HTC. Don’t think anyone had explained the drafting laws to them …
My strategy on the ride was to expend as little effort as possible on the steeper climbs, but work quite hard on the flat and descents. Not convinced this was the best approach as I seemed to be getting passed by the entire field everytime the road headed upwards.
Another light shower on the penultimate descent made for some more nerves. Again, watching as someone slid off on a hairpin ahead of me did nothing for my confidence, but I made it down somehow. The roads dried up quickly and the last climb was soon completed, so I hammered down the last descent and back into Monaco, ready for the run. Bike split was a relatively slow 3:38 – to be competitive on this course, I’d need to knock 15 minutes off that.
As soon as I started running, I realised I’d not worked hard enough on the bike – last time I’d raced here, it was a 70.3 and I had a half-marathon to run. With only a 10k to do, I set off at full pace and was immediately over-taking other athletes – presumably the nature of the course appeals to bike specialists, rather than runners. This gave me a lot of confidence and I kept the pace high on the flat & downhill sections, but backed off on the 1km, 10% climb up to the casino.
School-boy error on the final sprint – picking the wrong finish arch and pushing hard 30m too soon, but pleased with a 38 minute 10k on a challenging course, to finish 14th in Age Group, 80-something overall.
A few nervous minutes waiting on the finish line, but I’d managed to beat Sue & Tracey’s relay team by 4 minutes after the late start was taken into account. Don’t think I’d have heard the end of it if I hadn’t …
Jock came through a bit later on – he’s not been running in training, so a tough 10k as the heat rose didn’t suit him. A quick lie-down, drip & oxygen seemed to do the trick and he was back to normal within 30 minutes of finishing.
Thoroughly recommend the race, but make sure you’ve got your climbing legs on for the bike!