Ann was racing at (another) European championships!
You expect major championships to be in major towns or cities e.g. Kitzbuhel or Geneva, but this year’s European Championships were in Weert.
My first challenge was to try to find it on a map. It is actually a small town in the Netherlands close to the German and Belgian borders.The rural area around Weert is a major producer of white asparagus and
the local speciality is asparagus with eggs and ham. (Sorry Weert – I prefer our green asparagus).
For a small town, there is a good selection of places to eat including a Michelin starred restaurant. There is also a local brewery which gives guided tours and has a tasting room. Unfortunately I didn’t have time
to visit, so can’t comment on the quality of the beer.
The local tourist information office had a selection of leaflets for local attractions including a leaflet outlining local mountain bike routes. As the triathlon bike course had a maximum gradient of 2%, I’m
not sure where these might be.
The swim venue – the Blue Lake was 6K from the town. No buoys were in place for the swim familiarisation as multiple races were happening. It was possible to practise swim start and exit, but not swim the course.
Buoys were positioned in time for each race. The bike course was easy to find as it went “out and back” along the canal side from the town to the lake. The run route went through the edge of the town and along the canal side in the opposite direction to the bike course. All flat – no mountains found!
On race morning, run gear had to be left in T2 in the town. The best way to get to T1 was to cycle to the lake. This provided a chance to warmup. Cycle racking had not been possible the evening before as transition was being used by the elite women.
The waves of swimmers went off at 5 min intervals accompanied by the theme tune to “Hawaii 5 O”. (You have to be a certain age to know this tune!) There was quite a distance between some of the buoys, so
sighting was a bit difficult at times.
The bike course was flat and fast. The most difficult thing was to avoid drafting as there were large numbers of athletes on the course. The ambient temperature – approx. 28 C was great for cycling but more difficult for running.
I ran out of T2 as fast as possible and tried to maintain my pace. As I got within 800m of the finish I could see I was catching two other athletes. Everyone can sprint 400m if they have to, so I slowly caught
the other two athletes, waited until I was 400m from the finish then sprinted past them. I was really pleased with my efforts. Only later, when I checked the results did I see that one of the athletes that I
sprinted past finished 15 mins after me – she still had another lap to run!
Weert is a lovely town. The only problem is, that when the temperature is 28 C – they don’t sell ice-cream!