Having declared in my race recap post Lanza 2015 how glad I was to have finished because that meant I wouldn’t have to do it again…well here I was toeing the start line one more time 2 years later. DNF in 2013, 9th in 2015, what would 2017 bring? A hard race that is a certainty, but what else, and why the change of mind? + more
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I missed a turn…
One thing I get asked repeatedly by a lot of people (namely my mum and my girlfriend) is to explain the motivations behind this triathlon malarkey – when will I stop ? It’s a tough one to answer really as any endurance athlete can find new goals and challenges pretty much ad vitam aeternam. I think though the main reason I am still sweating buckets going nowhere in my living room in order to compete at pro level having now just turned 40 and despite having arguably a better career to focus on (phew, breathe here!), is because I know I still haven’t reached my full potential. And I want to (reach it). As per customary with elite sport, I went through as many highs as lows over the years, but somehow I tend to dwell on those missed opportunities a lot more than on the successes. As a runner I always seemed to get injured while at the peak of my form, and hence never got the times/results I knew I could have had. When I tore my Achilles in the final of the U23 french national championship, 300m for the finish line, that was one injury too many and I stopped my running career right there. I was in the shape of my life that day and fighting for glory and a definite PB when injury stroke again. This was a pivotal time in my life as I then took a 180º turn away from competitive sport, but the feeling of unfinished business never left me.
2016 will forever be remembered as a year to…forget ! Much has been said about the passing of David Mancuso and as far as I’m concerned it felt like losing a family member. I had come to the point where I thought David was immortal (as some people should be, really) and that he would always be around to guide us…well I guess he will, though not physically any more. With David’s passing, I for one have learned about my own mortality all too suddenly, and this came as a shock. I wasn’t prepared – no one was. However, if anything this has reinforced even further our essential need of dancing with friends, as often as can possibly be. Love is the message and music is our way of life, let’s never forget.
As if that wasn’t enough we lost other luminaries like Prince (whose music I will forever be playing and carrying around with me – starting with CREAM at the gong of midnight this past NYE), David Bowie, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones, and too many more…and that gave us a really shitty year…which became officially one the worst year of my generation as we witnessed the Brexit, Trump and the rise of populism and xenophobia across the world. These times we are living they ain’t easy. Sometimes I wish I could just be transported to that first Loft party on Valentine’s day 1970 on Broadway, NYC, and just stay on that magic carpet ride to eternity…
However we still have a life to live, and we might as well bounce off and fight back…and party more ! In terms of musical output at least, 2016 was a vintage as good as any, be it for new music or quality reissues of timeless music. A lot less edits these days it seems, as people prefer to put out straight reissues, which can only be a good thing. As always I will try to compile my own personal favourites of these last 12 months. There are still many reasons to stay positive and look forward to better days. I’ll start with the best of the best releases, the ones that really were unmissable this year, before listing most of my personal highlights.
For my inner circle of music friends, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about David already, especially since his passing on Monday the 14th of November, but for my ‘triathlon friends’ I thought this little tribute would be much welcome as I believe most wouldn’t even have heard of him.
I won’t do a full biography/music history here, as others are much more qualified and have even done so eloquently already, starting with this exceptional interview of David done by my friend Tim Lawrence, author of the dance music bible Loves Saves the Day (whose title itself comes from an invitation at David’s Loft party in 1970). Rather I will keep these reflections quite personal and link all the relevant tributes along the way.
Un résumé de la course en français se trouve ici sur le site de Trimes:
My whole 2016 season has been shaped around this AA race. The preparation started at the beginning of November, when the list of selected athletes was announced. I must have read the race manual at least a dozen times to make sure I was ready come race day with every technical, physical and logistic aspects of this mythical race. That leaves plenty of time (9 months) to have recurring dreams about one of the most renowned and most coveted finish lines in the world of triathlon. The summit of the G.A.U.S.T.A.T.O.P.P.E.N.
Norseman means support team. You don’t race on your own like in a regular triathlon. Nobody will get DQed for outside assistance here. In fact this is compulsory, as the only 2 aid stations are at K25 and K32.5 of the run, some 8 hours + into the race. The team that follows us throughout the day is there to feed us, dress/undress us, calm our nerves, shout at us, encourage us, etc. This is one of the key aspects that makes this race so special. Then of course you have the course (unique and magical nordic landscape, cold fjords, 5 ‘cols’ on the bike for a total elevation of 3360m, and last but not least possibly the hardest run of any iron event with the 12K of Zombie Hill averaging 10% followed by 5K of fell ‘running’ (scrambling really) to reach the finish line, at an altitude of 1883m). Add to this a rather hostile and unpredictable weather, and that gives you a never ending yet unforgettable day out ! + more
Being back in Nice, where I have strong familial roots and where I spent most of my childhood’s holiday, I couldn’t help but feel more than a little nervous in the days leading to the ironman. After all this is the race where I had to give up last year 30k into the bike after falling sick the night before the race, following another DNF in 2011 this time 30k into the…run for my first ever ironman, when debilitating cramps had the better of me. This time though I was feeling strong and healthy after 3 solid weeks of training, and rather confident and determined to finish at (almost) all costs. The other goals were to do that under 9 hours with a sub 3 hour marathon. And there was even the dream of a top 10 (which considering the level of the field I kept to myself) !
In early March I was in the best shape I’ve been at that time of the year. To validate all the hard labor I took part of the Mudman duathlon, which I hadn’t done since 2009 (then my first ever duathlon) when I finished 2nd behind a certain Sam Gardner. I remember not being able to walk for a couple days afterwards. Up and down and up and down and repeat ad infinitum; nothing technical just a hard and honest race. The preps for Norseman started here. After a prudent start I slowly but surely ran past everyone and entered T1 with a 15sec lead, feeling easy. After 3/4 of the bike I was 1:30 ahead and just had to cruise home. Then somehow a rock (I believe, as this all happended underwater – yes we had to ride (and run) knee deep for about 100m each lap) hit my rear mech which got caught in the wheel and destroyed as a result. Frame got cracked too. Game over that was. + more
In March 2014 I moved in a new flat , and ALL my records got mixed up in the process. What seemed like a disaster at the time actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as once I decided to listen each and every one of them I got quickly addicted to rediscover my collection. I was literally digging in my own house. It took me about 18 months to go through everything, filing every record on the shelves and in the discogs database (6007 and counting), getting rid of a few hundreds (only keeping the ones I love 100%), and more often than not taking a trip down memory lane.
Obviously though, in the midst of all that, it’s not like I stopped buying new music…au contraire! Discogs tells me I’ve acquired 269 (!) new records this year, meaning records that were released in 2015 (old or new, whatever format)! If I were to add all the second hand records I also bought on top of that while digging and do a bit of math, I believe I would come up to a scary amount of ££$$€€¥¥ spent exclusively on wax…a number which I’d rather not know to be honest! The vinyl junkie is indeed an addict – but a healthy one bien sûr.
The (very last minute) idea behind ironman Malaysia was to make one last use of my 2015 pro license, and depending on the result to decide afterwards whether to pursue the Kona dream and KPR race in 2016. Or not.
Obviously having never been to Malaysia the prospect of 10 days in the tropics in the middle of November was also a big bonus, and with my mum coming along it really was a no brainer. The big unknowns were my fitness level (what with 2 weeks off post xterra Japan in September then 1 week off sick in October and barely any running due to a micro tear in my left calf) and my ability to race long in extremely hot and humid conditions.
Here we are, finally, after years of procrastination and a couple of false starts: the first Beauty & the Beat release has landed, just in time to help celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the party. The track “Balafon Jam” by our mates Soundspecies has been a firm favourite since its release on a Boglewaltz comp a few years back, but sadly was never released on vinyl.
After asking John Talabot for a remix a couple years ago, and having him agreeing but not failing to deliver, we’ve asked ‘man of the moment’ Wolf Müller to step in…and that turned out to be the right move indeed. The resulting remix is a belter of a tune, deep, tribal, cosmic, a perfect match to the ethos of the party.