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
10 Posts in this category
When I first heard a year ago about a new location for xterra Japan, I had the perfect excuse to plan another extended visit to one of my favorite destinations in the world. This was my 6th trip in the country in 4 years, and despite an embarrassing lack of progress in Japanese, I do feel like I have a second home here. And once again the trip lived up to and even beyond my expectations.
After spending the first half of the year preparing for and racing on the IM circuit, it was a welcome relief to be back on fat tyres and playing up and down muddy trails. I must have ridden my mtb 4 times max since Maui 10 months prior but I knew I had the fitness after a decent result at IM Kalmar.
In 2012 the race was in Marunuma, in the Gunma prefecture just a few hours outside of Tokyo, and it felt as remote as can be, with even a bear attack to add authenticity. This year it took place in and around Lake Kanayama, about 3 hours drive from Sapporo, Hokkaido. It didn’t look as stunning nor as remote as Marunuma, but still we had a nice enough background to play with. + more
I may have done only one xterra this year (not very successful at that, see my report on xterra Italy) but thanks to some AA flight vouchers I’ve known since February that come October I’d be back in Maui to give this race a (possibly last) shot. My last attempt was in 2011 when I took a wrong turn on the bike and went off course, never to reappear…Someone’s got some unfinished business you see. Admittedly the appeal of a return to Kauai and especially to the majestic Kalalau trail has helped equally to keep my motivation levels pretty (very) high.
This time the plan was to stay a week on Maui, to be followed by a week on Kauai straight after the race. I aimed to arrive on race day as relaxed as I could without getting caught up into some unnecessary pressure, and this involved not staying or hanging out with my fellow triathletes. I chose instead to be all cozy with my girlfriend and acclimatise nicely to the tropics, while showing her some of the best spots of the island along the way. Easy. + more
Although I entered the race in January, I still wasn’t sure to be on the start line 10 days prior to the event. A couple of encounters with the tarmac resulting in a few broken bones and a stressed body had put me out of xterra Portugal and IM Nice already. However as I was finally starting to recover some fitness and motivation along the way, I thought I’d give the race a go as I’d heard raving reports from last year’s inaugural event.
Scanno is a couple of hours drive away from Rome, tucked away in the Abruzzo region. The meandering road to get there is stunning, the lago is rather inviting, and sitting at 1000m altitude this is mountain territory with not an inch of flat in sight. Typical authentic Italian village where a lot of life is concentrated around the main piazza, which conveniently enough is where my accommodation Albergo Centrale happens to be.
The 3 weeks between xterra Germany and xterra England weren’t the most exciting part of the year – I got the shingles (!) pretty much as soon as I got back to London, which meant a week of antiviral drugs followed by a week of antibiotics as one of the wounds got infected, together with a mix of ibuprofen and paracetamol every 3 hours or so for a good 3 weeks, and a few antidepressants thrown in for good measure (supposedly to kill the nerve pain, but these only succeeded in killing my brain…). The pain experienced from the shingles is debilitating, I’d forgotten how much pain one could endure for such a long time…I am yet to find out what triggered the virus, but it is likely to be a mix of general tiredness and a weak immune system…I didn’t know what the shingles were before, but I will make sure I won’t get them ever again ! + more
The original plan of racing XTERRA Italy didn’t happen because of my old grumpy friend Achilles, and instead of a nice week-end in the Abruzzes I was now in for an extended 10 day trip between Prachatice in eastern Czech Republic and Zittau at the corner of Germany, Czech and Poland. Not quite the same vibe. However this meant 10 days of living the high life of a pro triathlete (sic), which hadn’t happened since my SE Asia tour of 2012…so while not quite the same vibe still, why not…Fellow pro superstar Nienke Oostra would join me on this glamorous tour, along with the usual suspects of the xterra gang. + more
This was my 4th year in a row competing in Xonrupt, the land of the Charbonnier family, organisers of excellence. I’ve seen the race grow from superb to fantastic, in conditions ranging from extreme heat to mud fest to a mix of both. The race has now 850 starters, and that’s not counting the xterra lite and the kids races. It’s a mini festival of of its own. And of course it still is the toughest course out there, with a 2 hour + mtb and a run course even longer than previously. And we all love it ! The smell of the Vosgian earth is worth the travel alone, these are enchanted, magical woods. + more
I wasn’t sure whether to do that one or not, having been ignored and then denied an entry by the organisers (i for one believe that the least they should do is to give free registration to the pros – not being a princess here, it’s hard enough financially as it is…) but still i went as a last minute decision. Ideally i’d like to do 6 out of 8 races on the European circuit to be able to have a ranking, and since I’ll most likely give Czech and Germany a miss i had not much choice. + more
After 4 races in 2013, 2 DNFs and 2 poor results, a debilitating achilles’ injury and some mysteriously missing bike legs meant I was seriously questioning myself. I am already not totally able to fully answer the question “what’s the point of all this ?” when I’m going well, so after being out of shape for such a long period the idea of quitting the sport altogether seemed to pop up on a regular basis. I know there are lots of non triathlon projects currently on stand-by which I would be happy to tackle if time suddenly became available…. + more