Saturday, 5th September, final competition of the year for our first men team starting in the 2e divisieZuid
After initially having intended to start at my first OD in the season finale of the 3rd division in Spijkenisse next week, I had to withdraw from that after knee problems and as good as no run practice for the last three weeks. Thus Apeldoorn it was. The format was a newly introduced ‘Estafette’ were four starters had to do successively 300 meters of swimming, 10km of cycling and a final 2,5k run.
Our team was composed of Sven, Raymond, Peter and me and after Peter picked me up and we’d stored the bikes in the trunk, we drove to Apeldoorn.
Via a slightly altered route Peter and I arrived around quarter past 11 and went to the entrance were Raymond and Sven were already waiting. We checked in our bikes before carefully listening to the instructions of the race commission. In a no wetsuit swim, where the last swimmer was the first cyclist and the last cyclist took the first run, we decided to let Sven do the first and Peter the second transition.
The location was a great swimming bath with a pool featuring 10 x 50 meter lanes, thus enough space to start with no more than two starters per lane.
Peter made the start followed by Raymond. First 500 meters swum, time for me to get in the water. As usual a bit nervous, but latest after Raymond arrived there was no more time to think. First three lanes went very well and I managed to keep up with the swimmer next to me in the lane, but although 300 meter seems short, the muscles thought different. I fought through the fatigue and tried to go full out on the last fifty, before sending Sven on his turn.
As a strong swimmer he managed to make up some time and ran off to transition after climbing out of the pool in 13th position. Next one – cycling. We went to the transition area and started preparing. At the bike and run part, the transition featured the handover of the timing-chip and after first Raymond took over from Sven, it wasabout twenty minutes later on me to head out. The bike course started with a long road with slight elevation. Having changed right after an opponent, I first managed to stick in his wheel, but not wanting to risk a Stop-And-Go penalty, I kept some distance and had to let him go. After finishing the bike split, I gave over to Peter. With a great bike split and the fastest transition of the day, he went on the run course where he once again made up some time on the other teams. Sven followed second, before I had to take the chip of his ankle and speed through the course myself. The run track started with a short concrete section, before going into the muddy forest. Not yet being at my best run performance, I had to let two opponents go while not trying to slip on the wet underground.
I sent Raymond on the final round, before walking with Peter and Sven to the finish line. In the end, we finished in 13th place, which was exactly enough to keep the previous held 5th rank in the overall classification.
Having started in my first division races this year, I can only look back positively on my experiences. Despite being in all three competitions among the last participants, I certainly improved a lot over the season. Joining the division races saved time and costs and gave me the opportunity to further improve my Dutch language skills and get to know the other members. Good luck to the remaining two races for our women- and second men team and in anticipation to the next season.