The Echternach International Triathlon is the premier race on the Luxembourg calendar – one that I was both looking forward to and was a little apprehensive about, as it was both my first triathlon involving an open water swim and was the longest race distance I had done; the Youth C category competitors (born years 2005 – 2006) had to swim 300m, bike 8km, and then run 2.5 km.
Upon arrival at the lake in Echternach, it was clear that the setting was perfect – everything had been meticulously prepared but was somehow familiar. As I did my pre-race ride to check out the route, I realised that those very same paths I had cycled around at the age of 3 with papa running alongside me would be the same exact paths that I would cycle on today, but this time participating in an international triathlon. I would never have dreamt this would be the case. Pre-race check-in was busy and due to the high temperatures (30C and water temperature of 24C) it was announced that swimming in a wetsuit would not be allowed during the race – I was fine with that as I can feel the water better when I swim without a wetsuit.
My First Open Water Race
At the start of the swim, inexperience meant I got caught up in the main group of swimmers and I was battling for space among the other competitors. It took some time before the group opened up, enabling me to finally find some gaps into which I could swim without being impeded.
From that moment on, the swim went well as I settled into my rhythm. The 8km bike ride passed without incident – I had enjoyed the company of 4 other riders as part of a small 5-person group and decided not to take too many risks as it was only 2 weeks ago that I was in hospital being x-rayed for a potential broken wrist (having fallen on a MTB ride) and this was my first ride back on a bike without wearing a wrist brace.
I exited transition to start the run at the rear of the group (mental note: practice transition!) and quickly found my stride. Progress was good as I once again passed fellow competitors and caught the race leader with 1km to go. We ran together matching each other and exchanging the lead a number of times before reaching the finish with 1m being the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
I was overjoyed at the result completing the race in 33 minutes 38 seconds to finish 2nd overall in the Youth C category; 2 seconds behind the winner with third place finishing a further 48 seconds back. The winner was from Belgium - I was very happy and proud to be the first placed Luxembourger. My aim was to gain experience and finish the race – this remains my race-day target for the remainder of this season with any podium finish simply being a bonus. I learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it - now I will go into my next race with a little more confidence and hopefully not another sprained wrist.
About the author: Kristina is a junior triathlete and Sundried ambassador.