Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Aurland Extreme Triathlon (AXTri)

Short Report
AXTRI Results
Total: 08:58:44 (Overall 96/176)
Swim: 00:40:34 (139/176)
T1: 00:06:51
Cycle: 05:05:16 (106/176)
T2: 00:03:22
Run: 03:02:42 (69/176)

Long Report
Flew into Oslo on the Thursday afternoon and was met at the train station by the Yak (Jonas) and old friend from Nepal, 2001. Having not seen him for a while it would be rude not to sample a few Norwegian beers....not ideal prep but more enjoyable ;-)

Early train the next morning to Flam, arriving in early afternoon. Flam basically has a station, some souvenir shops, a coop and a pub. Checked into the YHA and built my bike.
View down the Fjord from Flam. Aurlandsvagen on RHS. You climb up the hill in the sun.
Had an eventful cycle down to Aurlandsvagen in the late afternoon when I ended up in a tunnel having missed the cycle path that bypassed it. Won't be doing that again!

Registered and then listened to the briefing before cycling back (c9km). Still wondering why I am in the second group of five. Haven't they seen me swim?!?!

Up at 6 (9am start) and its raining...brilliant! When I leave it's not as bad as it looked but still... Dump my T2 and finisher bag in the appropriate van and sort my bike before testing the water...yup cold, although in the actual swim didn't really notice it.

I line up kind of in my colour group but try to drift backwards. Hooter goes and all c200 of us jump down and run to the water and fight to get out of the opening. As I normally start further back this was the closest to the washing machine I have been. It's not rugby but there is a fair bit of contact. Actually got into a rhythm a lot quicker that the week before and was quite happy with my swim. Even drafted someone with blue swim socks for a bit (first time for everything). Out of the water in 40mins and on with the bike clothes I have chosen - gillet and arm warmers. Hoping they do the business, it had brightened when deciding but started raining half way through the swim...doh!

The start line
Bike They weren't joking when they said its straight up. You mount your bike, up a very slight incline turn left and begin 1.5hrs of 8% climbing up to 1320m.

Me and my 28 got to know each other quite well as I sat in it almost all the way up cadence at 60 just grinding it out. Went through several layers of cloud and some great views back down to the fjord. Higher = colder and when heading across the plateau it was cold and the same on the descent the other side. Said good bye to feeling in my feet on the way up, was only reacquainted after 3-4km on the run.

Overall my clothing choice worked... Just. The arm warmers came up and down as required and were much better than the others struggling on an off with their wind/rain jackets. All in all I didn't stop, save to grab a water bottle - more for a new water bottle than the contents.

The descents were tricky I.e. hurtling down hill with numb fingers at c50km an hr in the fog/mist on wet non closed single lane roads with hairpins and big drop offs... When I say tricky I mean fun ;-)

After the second descent there was a flat 6km spin to T2. I kept pushing as I was close to 5hrs and if I could manage a 3 hr run I could duck under 9. My aim had been to get below ten and as close to 9 as possible. So on the flat I copied my images of David Millar trying to time trial wins on the TDF as in I was in the aero position with arms hanging over the handles bars pushing all the way.

T2 was a comedy of errors of albeit minor comedy ones. The guy with the microphone came up and said 'here we have Tim Cook leaving', I responded with bye and started to leave only I wasn't ready to leave. Nearly left transition without tying my laces and then did leave transition with my helmet still on. Luckily someone took it or me.

First 6km is flat and on the road, with a few tunnels thrown in which test you sense of balance running in the dark.

After 6km you were off road and started to climb. Overall the path was clear but quite rocky and wet so you had to watch your footing. Was clicking through the kms and picking up places. Had one guy ahead I couldn't quite catch. They have a food station after c8km and it was after this that I started to notice I was tiring. I had been eating well and using the camelbak. But took another gel to make sure. Was also trying to work out if I was on track and trying to remember the elevation chart. It wasn't all up but I needed to cover the first half a lot quicker than the second.

Walking up the steep bits and running the flat and downhill sections. But in the second half my feet weren't as quick and were getting heavier. After 16km or so I got overtaken... The cheek! He was flying, and I just couldn't match the feet work anymore.

At 17 my nemesis appeared ahead, he had broken so I took him - :-). Then two more came passed. I now needed to complete 6km in 45 mins. But I could hold the times. I didn't let the second pass for almost a km as I pushed and pushed but in the end I wasn't light enough on my feet. He shouted some encouragement as I let him past. You could tell they were gunning for sub 9.

4km in 28, 3 km in 20, 2 in 11, it was over. I was going to come in just over 9. I kept pushing as it was levelling out and there were still people to catch. I thought it could be on if all flat at 2km but then an incline you had to scale....all over. 1km in 5? Hadn't done that since I left the road... Keep going never the less. Over the bridge and towards the settlement. Some guy comes running the other way shouting in Norwegian. I say I don't understand, but I think I do....9hrs is still on?? The last km is short...sprinting now, well as much as I can and round the corner can see the finish... Boom I can still make it....after much of the day calculating how close to 9 i was going to get and then trying to will reasons to keep pushing or push harder to try and make it, i almost got emotional when i saw i could still get in under 9. But i was saved by the Robotic nature of the MOBOT and i Crossed the finish line doing said MOBOT in 8:58:44. The blue sub 9 hr shirt is mine. No longer matters if it was 8:01 or 8:59 ;-)

No support for this event so lacking in the old photos but here is a slide show from one of the organisers that gives you a feel for last Saturday
Tough event, would be amazing in good weather. Only gripe was the minibuses back down...not enough of them. Had to get a public bus back and then joy of joys cycle all my kit back to Flam in the pissing rain. Still after packing my bike and having a shower I made it to the pub :-)

We've had a TriLondoner at the first two years of this event. Who is doing it next year?

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