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iFoz

Italy 70.3 2012

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Edited: Race Report now inserted at this first post. Original teaser post left at the bottom of this edit so the original responses make sense.

 

Italy 70.3 - Getting "Euroed"!

 

 

Prelude

My coach, Rod, wanted to celebrate his 50th in Italy and the 70.3 was perfectly timed, so he asked a few around Activ Tri squad for interest in joining him. As soon as he mentioned Italy , I didn't wait for the question to finish... 

I'm IN!

Before Rod knew it, his expected handful of tourist triathletes had turned into 40+ big tour group.

 

Getting There

Most of the group were flying out of Brisbane on Emirates. I'd never flown Emirates before but was impressed with their service. The planes entertainment system was superior to all my experiences on QANTAS.

Arriving in Rome we met with other members of the tour party flying in from other countries. Never landed in Rome before with a big bike case? Be warned... Cobblestones pavement don't make for a smooth comfortable drag with your bike case.

We made our way over the east coast on coach on the autostrada. Our driver managed most of the driving with one hand. The other was holding the mobile phone to his ear most of the drive. We arrived in Montesilvano, where our hotel was, 7km, north of race central in Pescara.

 

Race Venue / Accommodation

When I'm booking, I always like to stay as close to transition as possible. Helps avoid the need to queue and use porta loos. However, staying so far away was no problem as the race organizers had free shuttle buses during race week. The hotel was chosen for child friendliness as we had a few families in our tour group.

To get to know our surroundings we went for what turned into a marathon walk along the promenade down to race central in Pescara. Not realizing the siesta timeline, we only just made it into a beach side pizza restaurant before closing for siesta. The carb loading was required for the marathon journey back to the hotel. Over 5 hours of walking... That was our last slow long effort ticked off.

 

Engaging the Locals

While on one of our early morning runs I noticed that non of the locals smiled or acknowledged you as you passed in the street. So I started saying ciao, buongiorno, hello, G'day, as we passed. Some smiled, some returned the greeting, but most just ignored and carried on their grumpy way. By the time the run was over I think we received only about a 25% positive return rate. Which did pick up markedly as the morning progressed. Pescarans and other euro tourists are clearly not morning people.

 

Course Recon Sorte

Getting downloaded maps printed that showed enough detail of the country roads we would be riding on, took a bit more effort than expected on the evening before our Wednesday Recon ride. Which was necessary as the course maps in the athletes info pack were typically vague. A ride in the days previous taught us we weren't going to figure it out en route. The ride was excellent for giving us a heads up about difficulty rating of the inclines, the villages, the pot holes, and how mostly the locals treat cyclists with respect... Something we don't enjoy in Australia.

 

Registration

Registration was held in the museum adjacent to race central. If you weren't able to prove you were a TA member another €15 had to paid.  A generic wrist band was given to you but it didn't state any useful information like race number. Thinking, hmmm, how do they identify you as a specific competitor? This will play out later, read on.

The race pack goodies were a bit light on, by Australian standards, but no big deal, goodies are a bonus, not an expectation for me.

 

Expo

The expo was individual retailers tents lined up the town square. Some good deals to be had and gear that isn't available in the retail black hole that is Australia. I was conscious of excess baggage for the return trip, expecting to do a bit of shopping in Rome after race week, so I exercised restraint.

The Official IM branded merchandise was very disappointing. The quality of the materials/cloth was not consistent with the "endurance" nature of the brand. Some of the gear looked like they'd be in the rag bag within a few washes.

By the end of registration day Pescara was over run with tattoos and branded wear.

 

Carbo Dinner

Was located in a large tent beachside adjacent to the finish line. A power failure caused a delay to the start... The crowd was becoming a little testy with so many grumbling stomachs.  The quality of the food was consistent with that in Aussie events. I.e. OK for competitors but daylight robbery for partners paying a guest fee.

The complimentary water bottles on offer were a brand called "Tinnea" that's an unfortunate name unless you were "itching" for a drink!

 

Race Briefing and Racking

The English briefing took way too long, as the rules were recited in Italian then repeated in English. It became very tedious as there was another briefing in pure Italian earlier. I was amused by the color of the infringement cards... yellow for toileting on course.

The queues to rack the bike were consistent with aus races. Upon entry a photo of bike and owner, was taken for security upon collecting your bike after the race. Just like IMOZ this wasnt offered for sale... Who's in charge of marketing? You both let a money making exercise slip through your fingers. Everybody was issued with a big plastic K-Swiss cover for your bike. That made a nice souvenir and handy piece of kit for bike protection when racking back home.

The biggest surprise about transition was the length of transition. It was so long it should have had an aid station in it! Almost 300m with 3 lines of racks. But you had to enter and leave at the same place (not out one end in at the other) so if you were racked near the swim exit you had nearly 600m of running with your bike through a crowded transition on race day. I broached the race ref with regards to the unfairness of this, with sometimes only seconds separating a Vegas slot and missing out. Tough, was the response.

Another strange requirement was you were asked to rack your helmet and race number overnight. But if you wanted to get to your bike in the morning you needed your race number to get back in! (remember no race number on your wrist band). After much debate between the athletes and the presenters during the briefing, it was settled with... leave it or not, your choice. 

 

Race Day

The Hotel provided early breakfast as there were a large number of triathletes now staying there.

Getting to race central was no problem, free Shuttle buses.

Security was pretty lax on the bag drop, no marshals, athletes just wandering into the tent and putting the bags into some semblance of numerical order. But it all seemed to work, remember this is Italy, not Germany.

Watched the pro start ... with the shallow beach entry it was more like a run start... Like the Corporate Tri at the Gold Coast at low tide.

The Swim course was a triangle out through the rocks, around two boys and back.

 

Swim

With the long shallow entry we practiced timing a dolphin set vs just swim. The swim won over the dolphin technique. Get into rhythm quicker and avoid the spike in heart rate.

I caught wave in front caps by the first turn buoy, that was a pleasant surprise.

Swimming straight, not my usual zig zag.

Water is beautiful, only a little swell

Plenty of clear space

Able to draft better this time

Beach appraoching, swim until i can pull myself along grabbing the bottom, overtaking others tying to run in the knee deep water.

Time seems a bit long (turns out the swim was long by 500m)

It's a long run up the beach to T1

 

Bike

Bike off the rack and get into the Congo Line through transition. It's a long way to the bike exit.

Lots of crowd support through the town streets on the way the autostrada.

Onthe autostrada with a tailwind, ripping along feeling great. Loving the open road. 

Off the highway and into the country roads, we hit the hills... I start going backwards against the field.

Lots of local crowd support on the hill into the village of Moscufo.

Theres one particularly loud spectating woman, who keeps appearing at different spots on the course. Full marks for spectating effort.

Dropping out of the village there's some switchbacks in the road to be careful of. The fresh road surface makes for a great descent. 

Didn't last forever, the hills return for a climb into the village of Pianella.. Descend into Cepagatti, Lots of local crowd support.

One of the best parts of the course now, the gentle descent back to Villanova, smooth road and spinning out in top gear towards the turn around into the 2nd lap.

Second lap much the same as the first.

Loose my place against the field going up, get it back coming down.

After the passing the second lap turnaround we enter the autostrada again. Straight into the teeth of the wind. About 10km from T2 a huge peloton goes passed me, I resist any temptation to jump on to get out of the wind. 

A TO rides past. Up ahead I see him pull up along side of the peloton. I thought this is going to be fun to watch... WTF... He just gives a bit of hand gesture and rides off. The peleton rolls on. Very disappointing. Head down and fight the wind back to T2 and the Congo Line back to the bike rack.

 

Run

Happy to be running now and out of that wind. On approach to first ribbon pickup I pass one of my group doing his first half, he's struggling. A few words of encouragement given. Onto the iconic bridge for the first time.

Phew this feels harder than Mooloolaba but shouldn't be. 

Onto the promenade, I see my coach going the other way looking good. Through race central here comes the an aid station...  Grab a cup of coke... Pfffffffft... Spurt it out.... fully gassed up coke, WTF.. Approaching the northern turnaround, Hey there's Leonardo from the bike shop Bevilaqua. He recognized me and gave cheer. That was a welcome bit of support.

Busting for a leak, this is hurting my pace. Finally able to swamp approaching the aid station at the start of the next lap. Through aid station and a dowsing down. Into the city streets, that means shade and crowd support from our group. Turning on to the seafront I hear an aussie accent yell "Go Aussie Go" from the rooftops, no idea who they were but clearly my AU tri top was working.

Struggled through lap two and another half when I notice I'm running stride for stride with a local triathlete beside me. We help each other maintain pace and struggle with introductions as his English was only slightly better than my Italian. We wave/pose for the photographers on the bridge descent.  Approaching race central and the right turn towards the finish chute, I to and fro with my new found Italian buddy, ushering each other to the front of the finish chute. The finish chute turned onto the beach and got narrower and narrower as the barricades had ended and the crowd was squeezing in the available space to the finish line. The finish line was overrun with spectators and almost difficult to cross... It was exciting and chaos and at the same time.  

The finish line is on the beach. My feet were OK but I know a lot of people tear their feet up on a long race run and I felt for them, wringing wet feet, sore with blisters and now the sand is sticking and getting into your shoes... Not the best recovery for freshly blistered feet. 

We have to wait/cross the run course to get to the athlete recovery area.

Usual fair, recovery food, pick up your finishers shirt, showers in the back of a semi trailer with complimentary shampoos and soaps, but open air changing... Shy ones would struggle with this.

 

Race over.  A tougher day than expected, but loved it just the same. I had underestimated how much recovery was needed after IM Oz the month before.

I headed back out to the course to cheer on the rest of our group completing their first half ironman.

 

Result

5:37:07 12th place in my Age Group (and 2nd Aussie, my coach beat me).

 

 

Original Post Below.

----------------------------

I'm trying a new format for my race reports by adding pics into the post. So bear with me while I come to grips with DropBox photos storage and manipulating it through my iPad.

 

Race day is tomorrow (Sunday 10th June) so here's a few enticers.

 

Practice run on course over the iconic bridge.

http://db.tt/WZaBABMn

 

Transition is so long there should be an aid station in it... Seriously, it's 350m

http://db.tt/y6EAwPrb

 

If you feel like following my progress on Sunday evening Aus time my race number is 1694

http://db.tt/Bz1evRG1

 

I hope the pics appear embedded rather than a link, but I'm not sure I can do that from the iPad.

I'll edit this post with a full race report in due course.

 

Enjoy

Foz.

Edited by iFoz

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Sigh, it looks so nice and warm as I sit here comtemplating a ride and the mercury has hit a balmy 5 degrees.

 

Have a great race. A 70.3 in Italy is pretty cool i reckon.

 

PS the pics are links, not embedded.

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Congrats Foz- 12th in your age group :)

 

Looks like a tough race going on times............fastest male Pro 4:13, female 4:47

 

Was the bike really hilly ??

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The bike course is hilly but long gentle climbs rather than big rollers like Port. I loved the bike course, but not the headwind spoiling the highway section back home to T2. I'll add a full race report as soon as I can. Have to pack for check out in the morning. A week of R&R in Rome.

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A week of R@R in Rome..........................ah- wine/ good food, plenty of sight seeing- awesome...........enjoy!!

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Can you do bike hire for this race?

B@W

Dunno about the bike hire, we all took our bikes there or had other borrowed arrangements from local friends.

It would certainly make life easier. But Emirates give 30kg baggage allowance so it's not hard to stay under the limit even with a bike.

I didn't take my FFWD carbons (disc and 5 spoke) carbon wheels for fear of the descents and heavy braking, but in hindsight, those wheels would have been fine.

Highly recommend the race. Could things have been done better, of course, but it's only two years old they're still learning and hey it's Italy, don't expect German precision. Embrace the difference and chaos and then come home and think "hey those USM guys can organize a thing or two after all."

I should get that race report done : /

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Race report now posted as an edit in the first post, jump back to the top and enjoy.

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