T2 took a bit longer than T1, mainly due to having to use the continental-style open-sided urinal, a facility seemingly at odds with the dire pre-race warnings about urinating in public. By then it had started raining again and the running route was awash. I’d put on dry socks in T2 but that didn’t last long, probably 200m into the first lap. Four and a half laps up and down Alcudia, completely flat and under normal circumstances pretty quick. Not today though. The first lap was fine trying to spot the PSOF support crews sheltering out of the rain, the second mostly OK too, with more supporters emerging as the rain eased off. I haven’t done a huge amount of running since London in April, and I had a plan of 9 minutes running, 1 minute walking, and repeat. That got me to 10 miles in 1:12 or so, but by then it had evolved to walking at the feed stations as well and I never really had any inclination to push any harder – this was supposed to be fun and running any faster was going to be very painful!
And so I trotted on, longer breaks and getting slower. I’d said beforehand that I’d be happy with anything under 11 hours (having failed to do that by 23 seconds last time out in Wales) and I worked out that I was still OK for that without having to go crazy. Plenty of time to take in the sights along Alcudia beach one last time. By now there was a sizeable PSOF contingent installed in a bar close to the finish, and that became as much of a target as the finish line itself – finish the race, medal, t-shirt and on to the bar. And so it proved – finally a turn into the finish chute having run past it four times, the announcer going crazy for the pirates, big smile for the cameras and across the line in 10:53. Medal and t-shirt as promised, a quick couple of beers with Rosey in the post-race area, then on to thank as many of the previously soaked but by now drying out PSOF massive as I could manage.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur of trying to get warm again, sorting out kit, bike and so on before a very welcome plate of chips (thanks HC!), another beer or two and doing my best to cheer others home. Commiserations to BYF for having his ‘final pirate finisher inside the cutoff’ completely overshadowed by Trogs managing to keep the crowds together until well after midnight to cheer her and indeed the whole PSOF contingent down the finish chute.
As ever, a great privilege sailing with the ship. Faces have changed over the years but the enthusiasm, attitude and at times sheer bloody-mindedness never wanes. A pleasure to put some faces to some forum names. Well done to the competitors, especially the IM virgins and double-especially the virgins whose attempts to lose it ended up getting damp and going home before the good part. Be strong and next time will be fine, so they say. And huge thanks to all who just came out to cheer people on, drink and be generally merry. The pirates certainly made an impression in Mallorca!
T1 was, as anyone who’s been mid-pack in an IM swim, like an overcrowded S&M club who’ve just been told there’s a police raid coming. Lots of people trying desperately to get out of their rubberwear in a small, cramped space. Then down the longest transition I’ve ever seen (it must have been 400m end to end) and onto my bike.
The bike leg is two loops: a southern, clockwise loop that’s mostly flat, and a second, northern anticlockwise loop that includes the only big climb up the Col de Femenia. At the start the roads were packed with riders, drafting and overtaking rules were pretty much impossible to stick to and it took around 20 miles to properly thin out to properly-spaced riding. I was trying to keep the effort manageable but the pace was OK, halfway was reached at the end of the first loop in around 2:40 or so. The early morning clouds hadn’t lifted so it was a lot cooler than the previous day, there wasn’t much wind, conditions were perfect! Just the hill to get over and this would be a decent time. Head down, get on with it.
It was on the hill that I passed Daylight R and took my eyes off the road in front. The sky in front up the hill was black: thick black storm clouds. “Don’t worry, it won’t rain” said one Scandinavian, obviously seeing the concern on my face. No, I can’t tell Scandinavian accents apart. I’m not even sure he wasn’t from somewhere else entirely. But I do know that he must be related to Michael Fish (one for the oldies there) because within 30 seconds it started and within a minute it was chucking it down like I’m riding through a car wash. Absolutely heaving it down. Oh, and there was hail too at one point. I was only a few km from the top, but all I could think about was that when I got over the top I would almost certainly end up taking a more direct route down the hill, sans bike, as my cheese-like brakes failed to stop me negotiating one of the many hairpins on the way down.
When I got there though, it was like another world – the rain stopped, the road looked like it hadn’t seen a drop and the only issue on the descent was getting very cold through kit that was wetter than it had been during the swim. My lucky day, certainly luckier than those further back who arrived as the feed station at the bottom of the hill was washed away, and the descent had also got a soaking.
The route back on the second loop rejoins the end of the first one. There’s a cheeky climb in Mura on the way back that would really be something if they got the crowds out there like Saundersfoot on IM Wales, the Solarerberg at Roth or any number of Heartbreak Hills at IMs worldwide. As it was, there were a few locals giving their best, almost outnumbered by the triathletes.
And so back to Alcudia. 5:52 for the bike leg, happy with that, even happier to get round without needing any of the multitude of spare tyres, CO2, sealant and so on that I habitually take. And for a change I managed to get round a bike leg without squirting energy gel all over the bike, me and (as happened on one occasion) small children as I fumble getting the damned things open.
Great reports - here's mine, not as epic as yours:
Just as a bit of preamble, this was my first IM for a while, Wales 2012 in fact, before heart issues that meant (understandably I guess) a great deal of persuasion was needed at home before going long was going to happen. Eventually, banging on about the IM every time we were in Mallorca did the trick – I’ve fancied it ever since the IM started a couple of years back. Even so, when I left for the airport my instructions were clear: “Do not die”. That wasn’t very likely, but it does focus the mind a bit! The plan wasn’t to smash out a super-quick time or anything, apart from anything else I haven’t really trained enough for that – just enjoy racing IM again without falling to pieces.
I’d been moved from the Eix that I’d booked to the Piscis next door. It appeared to be full of triathletes and elderly couples chain-smoking themselves into oblivion. As it turned out, a few were in both camps. Turned out to be close enough to both Pirate Central and the race site – registration, racking and laughing at the IM-branded tat on offer were all within walking distance.
The race briefing was, thoughtfully, at the hottest part of the day, on the beach, with not a lot of shade. Scorchio – the biggest worry was going to be coping with the heat during the race, and it came as no surprise when they said it would be a non-wetsuit swim, which was fine – nobody seemed worried about that, same for everyone, right?
That was that, of course, until race morning, when the announcement came at 6am that it had ‘miraculously’ cooled several degrees overnight and that wetsuits were optional. Cue those of us who’d got down to transition early to rush back to hotels to collect wetsuits, while those who’d slept in sauntered smugly down to the start, neoprene over their shoulder.
And so it came that we were assembled on a dark beach for the start. A rolling start into a flat sea meant the swim was uneventful, really, apart from the fact that I still can’t swim in a straight line, veering off to the right at every opportunity. It’s two out-and-back legs with a turnround on the beach between them, the first opportunity for seren to add to her collection of photos of spaces where a pirate had been moments before.
The second leg was equally uneventful, apart from realising that actually it was probably a bit warm for a wetsuit. As it turned out, that was probably the hottest I got all day. But it was over, the least likeable part of any triathlon (in my own opinion, obviously!). Hollywood seemed to enjoy finishing it even more than I did, showboating outrageously on his way to transition. 1:17 in the end, which I was happy with – I put myself in the 1:10 – 1:20 pen at the start, so at least I managed to justify that!