Having qualified for the Standard distance at the World Champs in Cozumel, Mexico, we were given the opportunity to also race in the aquathlon as well. It’s traditionally the opening event of the championships and is a great opportunity to race early in the week and get rid of those pre-race nerves before the main event. So, I decided it would be a good idea to give it a go. I should confess that I have never raced an aquathlon before so I was a little nervous to be honest. Luckily the format of the race in Mexico was different to what most people had done before in that it was 2.5km run, 1km swim, 2.5km run. So everyone was technically in the same boat as me! The water temperature was around 29-30°C so no need for a wetsuit!
It felt strange entering transition without a bike to rack. We were faced with three long lines of little orange vegetable baskets in which to place our kit –i.e. goggles, hat and a number belt! It took all of 5 minutes to set up transition, work out how far along your line your basket sat and determine the in/out route.
The start was a bit strange as it was your traditional run start with everyone jostling for position over the first 100m. My wave had three age groups so there were a fair few of us. The first 1km or so was at breakneck speed – imagine parkrun on caffeine! It soon settled down and I realised I needed to slow down if I was going to manage to swim and run again so I backed off the pace a bit. 2.5km flew past and before I knew it we were running into transition along the marina to swap our shoes for goggles and a hat.
I took a few seconds to put my hat on properly and ran along to the pontoon ensuring my goggles were secure. This is the only time I’m likely to have to dive into the water for a race so we had spent a bit of time practising the previous day. I wear contact lenses so can’t afford to lose my goggles – and after the successful practising yesterday, disaster, they came off! After a bit of treading water to sort myself out I cracked on. The swim was awesome – beautiful clear blue water and loads of tropical fish. With the run beforehand there was none of the usual scrum and it meant there was plenty of clear water to swim in. As I approached the first buoy I was rather surprised to see a diver underneath me taking photos – don’t get that in the lakes in the UK! I started to pick people off although it was difficult to tell if they were my wave or age group. A few girls came past me as well and the swim was over before I knew it.
I ran back into transition and grabbed my shoes. Downside of sea swimming is that horrible salty taste. Luckily there was a drinks station just up from transition and I grabbed a pouch. Now to start running. With only 2.5km there isn’t a lot of time to get going so it was head down and get going. I picked quite a few girls off, probably most of the ones who had passed me in the swim and tried to hold on. The final km had an out and back section so I could see those in front of me. I was quite surprised to see I was quite high up among the GB girls although as we were mixed waves it was difficult to be sure where you were in your own age group. I managed to pick a few more off including a GB girl and felt really strong by the end. It was great to cross the line that Ali Brownlee had just an hour before and I felt I’d done a good job.
Results on site were a bit scarce along with no wifi so I didn’t find out how I’d done until later in the day. Turned out I’d had a pretty good race and finished 6th in the World Champs and only 40 seconds off a bronze medal – not bad for a first attempt! My position also meant I have now pre-qualified for next year’s World Aqualthon Champs in Penticton in Canada, although as they’re 3 days after IM Copenhagen I’m thinking I may have to pass…