Vouglans ITU Triathlon Race report Sundried

It’s hard to look back and analyse a race that didn’t go exactly to plan, but that’s the nature of competitive sport: sometimes a race goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Taking home 3rd in an ITU International race is a great achievement but there will always be the question of what could have been if I hadn’t had a bike mechanical issue?

Training For The Race

After the hype of the elite mixed relays, I was raring to go for my next race and I couldn’t resist entering the triathlon held in Vouglan whilst out in The Jura (France) for our annual family getaway (what’s a holiday without triathlon after all?) I say holiday, but in reality, it is a pretty intense few weeks swimming in the local lakes, running through forests, and hanging onto my dad’s wheel whilst he tackles the Jura’s climbs (he adopts the old-fashioned training approach of ‘more is more’ so easy rides turn into TT’s through the mountain ranges…pray for my legs). In addition, we can add rock climbing and general hippy antics into the mix now that my sister has found a love for the great outdoors.

With the perfect taper week leading up to Vouglan Triathlon, I was raring to go. The course couldn’t have been better: a shortened swim, a longer bike course consisting of 3 hefty climbs, and an undulating trail run… bring it on!

Laura Rose Smith Vouglans International Triathlon Bike

Race Day

It was safe to say that on arrival to registration this morning, I was a little unnerved to reveal exactly what I had let myself in for (the problems of not speaking French and using Google translate to acquire my race information). The standard was much higher than I had originally anticipated with athletes racing from the elite triathlon circuit.

After racking and warming up, the female athletes lined up for the start of the swim. I stood there clueless, hoping for the best as French instructions were read out at warp speed (there was a large white buoy which I presumed would be the direction we would be heading…but there were also many yellow buoys scattered around, so who knew?). The swim was a battle from the start and there was a lot of hustle and bustle. When I first started triathlon I adopted the friendly swimming approach, but I soon realised that you must hold your own in the water… so sorry (not sorry) for anyone I swim over/into/on today.

I was 4th Out of the swim, up the hill to transition, and onto the bike… TIME TO CHASE THE LEADERS DOWN. I knew I would hit the 18% climb after a few minutes on the road and was looking forward to being able to hit it hard. Unfortunately, an unexpected mechanical issue resulted in my bike being stuck in the big ring (THE THIGH BURN WAS REAL) and the only way I was making it up that hill was by a ridiculous amount of traversing across the road, trying not to take out spectators in the process (I don’t have to speak French to know I was getting a fair amount of banter thrown my way). The remainder of the bike was hard work, battling with a shifter that was not playing ball. It would have been so easy to throw to towel in but I am always an advocate of pushing on and ALWAYS FINISHING (I’ll take last place over a DNF any day). The run felt good, especially after such a thigh burning bike, and I crossed the line as the 3rd senior female.

Final Thoughts

There was nothing I could do on the bike, but giving up was not an option. It’s hard to stay focused when a race is slipping through your fingertips but I am glad I pushed through and persevered. Today wasn’t my day but it’s left me hungry for upcoming races and has given me confidence in my current form and training.

As always, thank you for all the support from Sundried who have been great with kitting me out for training and racing. The performance tri suit did not only look the part but fit like a glove. Its breathable fabric was ideal in the French heat and the padding was enough to give me a comfy ride whilst not affecting my run. All in all, I can’t recommend the suit enough, and I’ll definitely be sporting it in my future races.