2012 WeiHai Long Distance Triathlon (ITU World Series & ASTC Champs)

WeiHai: 3rd year in a row…Living in Asia for 8 years now this race feels like racing @ home. No jetlag, close to HKG and it reminds me of my time in China…good for my mandarin.
First of all, I really recommend this race to anyone looking for a great course. They will host the 2014 ITU Long Distance Triathlon Worlds by the way!
The bike course is scenic and TOUGH! This year I took my road bike…despite knowing it’s not the fastest option, but I felt safer in the fast downhills (went 87kph this year…still far behind the top guys flying above 105kph…) and felt good on the climbs on the roadie.
The race (3k swim, 80k bike, 20k run): definitely not the ideal course for me a) 3k swim with only 80k bike is a real disadvantage for a poor swimmer like me and b) the bike course is for lightweight climber, not heavyweight powerful rider…  To make it worse it was 24 deg C water temp. so it was a non-wetsuit swim for everyone! 3k non-wetsuit…arg! I don’t think I’ve swam longer than 1.9k this year (doing 70.3 races only)! Luckily is was low tide at 9am so it helped a bit. By the way I love my O2 CREATION trisuit (elite version: no padding, teflon fabric…) and I had a decent swim actually. Managed to stay with fast girls on the 1st loop, struggled for 500m to stay in touch on the 2nd lap then got dropped on the last 400m…to finally get caught by a group of girls behind me right at the end of the swim. Swam in 44′ (that’s 8′ behind the top athletes…coming from short-course, thee guys can swim!), you know you’re not racing for the podium from this moment actually! But I wanted to push hard on that bike course, who knows…Last year I had a disappointing 2h29 bike leg on the same course, that’s 37’30 per lap (x4 laps). I need to go 35′ per lap to be closer to the lead…(they went 2h17 last year but if i can make around 2h20, that would be really awesome!)
I went as hard as I could, I did not like to see my road bike with aerobars the day before so I removed them (probably not the best thing to do, but really…it did not look good! Better to lose with style ;-) So here I was, aiming for some kind of 80k breakaway on my roadie!
Laurent Martinou (FRA) caught me after 10k on the bike. He beat me by a few minutes in 2010 and he’s a strong bike/run (used to be good swimmer too, but cannot do it all with work and family…I love seeing guys like him, strong, working and training less than 10h per week on his own, using the same 10kg road bike for 6 years+, no tubular lightweight wheels,  No bragging, No fuss…it’s all about having the legs!). Anyway we rode together (no drafting but very strong motivation to have him around….) “Dont let him drop you! Dont let him drop you” was my motto for 90% of the bike leg! Actually I did take some turns at the front, but damn that bike course is a killer! There’s one 1.4k climb at 11% on each lap and you dread for it each time!
We caught the fast girls (swim), Ewa, Camilla (2nd at ITU Worlds LD in Spain this year) and finally Caroline Steffen (no need introduction…watch for her on the 13th Oct in Kona! She’s my favorite! Definitely!) but no men…
Caroline told me the day before at the Pizzaria (yes there is an italian restaurant in WeiHai, yes!) that she would build up the bike…when we caught her at the 3rd lap, we were really hammering…I thought ‘oh my god, she will kill us on the 4th lap…’ and that’s what she did, so we had to literally sprint to stay away from her…
I got dropped on the last long climb but I stayed within a few meters behind, maybe caught back a bit by the time we arrived in transition all together.
In T2 after a 2.23 bike (that’s 6min faster than last year, excellent stuff), we’re arriving while Fredrik is leaving transition…good to see I’m catching up…
Laurent took off on a 3’45 pace…while I tried to keep Caroline in sight at 4’15 pace. 
After less than 1k I was cramping badly on my right ischios, probably went too hard on the bike – for sure ;-) that was the point! But also I reckon I screwed up a bit my preparation coming into this race (I’d normally need to take more electrolytes leading up to the race…since it’s a pretty hot race! Salt tablets and so on… But I did not do anything particular, worse I forgot my gels so I borrowed 2 gels from friends (but vanilla tastes crap…anyway, thanks for the gels, it was much better than nothing indeed!) -> There’s no proper expo here, so you do need to bring your stuff! By 2014 they will have a decent one for sure.
I took it easy and ran my worst 20k here in 3 years…ouch. I drank gatorade at each aid station (500mL each time, approx every 1-2k), ice with cold sponge/ice every time…and I could finally run normally after 1h20 (a bit late tho…but interesting to see how long it took my body to recover)
Came 7th at the end. Really enjoyed the way I raced: swam at my level, rode hard – at my level and got close to the 5th and 6th place, maybe even 4th…before to struggle on the run. Happy with that, given the course and the conditions.
This race was also the ITU LD Triathlon Asian Champs and for some reasons (No Japanese give the recent tensions with China, no Chinese, no Korean…to be honest there’s no support / funding for Long Distance Triathlon – not an Olympic event, so there’ s not much competition actually. Especially in Asia)
Anyway I just had to finish to got the title ;-) Sweet. Although to be honest I’ve beaten most of the guys at other races before so I am pretty sure I would have made the podium, if not the win, if they had shown up…You got to be there anyway, right. Take it!
Thanks to Eric Le Lostec and his team for the organization and the support he provides to all athletes (elite and amateur). Always a pleasure to race in WeiHai and to meet the same team, faces, staff. 
Thanks to the French TV crew as well (from Sport+, Trimax-hebdo, L’Equipe…) for the fun and party throughout the WE!
See you next year!

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