Chateau de Chantilly Triathlon
This triathlon looked stunning in the video and in the flesh the chateau is astonishing. You can hardly believe you are really seeing it. In addition, the town and the racecourse nestle up to the chateau so that we only had to walk 2.5k from our apartment to be crossing the bridge over the moat. We had a couple of days finding our way round, driving the cycle route and watching the Sprint and Junior races. Then it was 6am Sunday morning and time for action. There was quite a queue to get into the grounds with armed soldiers and bag searches at the gates. I was glad I had taken the chance to register the night before. Transition was much easier to enter although the set up resembled a maze.
By this time, we were experiencing unexpected and determined rain. Being pretty damp made getting the wetsuit on something of an endurance event in itself. Briefing was by the lake/canal and thankfully was bilingual. There was plenty of time to chat with fellow competitors, a lot of Brits among them. Then into the water. This was a bit of a shock; not because it was cold but because when you put your face in the water you could see NOTHING – it was as if someone had turned the lights out. The swim was not pleasant: lots of bashing and barging; swallowing water you would rather not think about; and full of weed – so much of it that bits were falling out when I took the wetsuit off. The swim was really a question of survival although I made the mistake of waving to Jon as I passed him on the bank and in trying to attract his attention got swum over and another dose of “water”.
Out of the swim and the rain had stopped. A run around the fountain and we were faced with two flights of steps up to transition. I had decided not to overdo this bit and ran genteelly up a step at a time with the crowd shouting “Allez! Allez!” I was very glad I had spent time orientating myself in transition and was able to get through in good order.
The bike route set out along a lovely wooded lane but then there was another shock: I had not been able to drive the exit/entrance to the route and suddenly I was faced with a rough and wet track an MTB would have shuddered at. The poor TT bike was rattling so much I thought something might fall off – possibly me. On to the roads and now we switched to French rules – the marshals luckily shouted and I moved over to the right. I had been really worried about the French roads. There were quite a lot of roundabouts on the course and, worse, lots of places where side roads coming in from the right had priority and some hair-raising junctions. As it turned out I needn’t have worried as the course was fantastically marshalled. The marshals had control of the traffic; gendarmes were stopping traffic at most junctions; and some of the roads were closed or diverted around the cycling. Motorbike gendarmes patrolled the route and I even saw them pull over an impatient driver. Mostly the drivers were very sympathetic! The course was beautiful and slightly undulating. The countryside was magnificent with lovely villages and woodland and everywhere people cheering. I was commended for my grin and got a “superb” – my day was made when I heard that – I’d heard someone shouting that at their competitor the day before and thought how good that would be to hear. There were plenty of places you could really open up although it took me a long time to feel truly confident and really get going. Surprisingly soon I was passing the 45k marker thinking “I thought that was the length of the course?” Then there was the entrance to the Domaine and Jon at the side of the road. Back onto the left and then over the rough stretch and into transition. Here was another shock: by now transition was a furnace and made me feel quite wobbly.
I managed to extricate myself from transition and out onto the run through glorious woodland, very thankful to be in the shade for a bit. I didn’t seem to have anything left in my legs and had to stop behind a tree for a loo break just as Jon appeared with camera – luckily too far away for him to realise it was me.
The run was beautiful, taking in woodland, the racecourse and the gardens of the chateau. Quite a few people in front of me took a short cut across a field we had to run around but I plodded on along the prescribed route. At the last water station, I saw the bike shop owner Jon and I had met in Chantilly on Friday and we passed some pleasantries while his little boy jumped up and down shouting “Allez! Vite!”. At last, one foot in front of the other paid off and I was running around the fountain again and to the finish line.
This was a fabulous event and it was lovely to have Jon popping up all round the course. 2nd in age group and 28th female was fairly respectable too.