The Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships in Rimini Italy was my first big triathlon race of the year and one I had been targeting to be in top shape for. All was going to plan training wise until I picked up a soleus injury during the London Marathon!
This meant 2 weeks of rest apart from swimming and lots of treatment with Ian from Mcbride’s Physiotherapy. I have to thank Ian as he got me running again and I managed 3 good runs in the 10 days before the event. Me and Emily flew out to Italy on the Thursday morning giving us both plenty of time to do what we wanted when we got there; me recce the course and Em sunbathe but unfortunately the weather was horrendous. It was storms all day Friday and Saturday so we were confined to Cafes along the sea front all selling nice Italian cakes like Tiramisu. I just stared at them thinking come Sunday night I’m having one of them, one of them…… (but only if I did well)
One thing the Italians do get right when putting on a race is that we didn’t start until 11am. With Ironman racing I am more use to 4am alarm clocks for a 6 or 7am race start so being able to have breakfast at 7:30am was rather nice. We headed down to set up in Transition at 9am with the rain starting to ease off and even the sun breaking out.
Athletes were set off in 5 minute intervals according to Age Group and it was a running start into the Adriatic Sea from the Beach (Pic Above) My swim went ok but the waves in the sea made sighting the buoys pretty difficult and either I swam the long way round or the swim was a few hundred metres longer than it should have been! Since my new Garmin 920xt measured it as 2.3km (as did everyone else’s) I’m going with the longer course rather than any navigation issues! I exited the sea in 33 minutes and in 6th Position so not a bad place to be in after probably my weakest leg in a triathlon. Progress in the swim has certainly been made and wearing my Xterra Wetsuit definitely helped to improve my swim even more.
Transition 1 which was over 500m long presented no problems and I decided to put on arm warmers as heavy rain was forecast for when we got up in the mountains and I didn’t want to get cold on the descents. This proved to be a good decision as when the heavens opened I was pushing on the slippery descents but I stayed warm. The bike was a tough out and back route taking in 3000ft of climbing in the first 50km before turning and decending for 43km and thankfully avoiding a few of the 30% climbs we had done on the way up as these would have been really tricky in the wet. On the bike I rode the inclines hard as I knew with so much decending to come I could get a bit of respite for my legs before the run. Decending in the wet is never fun but it was definitely made easier by the smooth handling of the Claud Butler TT01 and coming into T2 I had moved up into 4th position as I counted only 3 bikes racked in my AG transition area.
Into the run and a whole different climate as the sun was now out and it was red hot, totally different from a few miles away in the mountains. The half marathon run was 3 laps of 7km and was along the sea front in Rimini so pretty good for spectators.
I over took the athlete in 3rd place within the first 500 metres of the run. My thinking was I wanted to put as much distance into him and me as possible in as short a space of time as possible. This meant I ran the 1st mile harder than I had planned but I was now in a medal position!!.
After 2 miles into the run I got a timing check from Em that I was 27 seconds behind the Italian athlete currently in silver position. Game on! I was feeling pretty good and clocked him in my sights after 1 lap of the run. The gap was down to 10 seconds and I managed to get past him after the 6 mile mark to move into silver!
The Belgium athlete who was well in the lead after the bike (and who I knew was the main competition for the gold) was well ahead but on the last lap I started to gain on him big time. He was obviously starting to struggle from a combination of his efforts on the bike (he went from 10th to 1st!) and the heat. I caught him with 4 miles to go and decided to run past him as hard as I could. He initially came with me but thankfully dropped off and with 3 miles to go when I looked over my shoulder he had gone……but the Italian was still in sight. I saw Emily and shouted at her I’d overtaken the Belgium and that I thought I was in the lead but as it was a 3 lap run and all the other Age Group runners on the course she wasn’t 100%.
Coming into the finish straight was a strange feeling as in my head I knew I was in Gold position but because of the way the run was set up I couldn’t be 100% sure until the awards.
At the awards it was confirmed AG 30-34 in Gold medal position Steve Clark team GB!!
A great feeling as I walked up to collect my medal and I’d like to thank everyone that has supported and helped me over the years from when I first raced abroad back in 2009 this medal is for you!!
Chase 2 Race The Dream