Race report by Elswick’s Iain Hardy. Enjoy the 3 day read. What is it? A 3 day full distance triathlon. 3.8 km swim. 172 km bike. 42.2 km run. I flew out on Wednesday 24th October for a week. Graham (GB) was forced to withdraw with a persistent back issue, as he put it: ‘Not fit or healthy enough to take part in a big distance event’. Thankfully he came out still, to support and have a bit of a holiday. Seven days to prepare, compete and relax, post-race. Arriving in Pollenca, we soaked up the 27’C sunshine. Thursday. Bike shake down. Hired bikes were tested around Alcudia and the 1500 feet climb towards the monastery at Lluc (part of the Ironman 70.3 bike route). Temperatures were the same as Wednesday. A few miles on a steep climb too many? (45 ish) Enjoyable, apart from GB insisting on stopping on the descent for a back drop photo!
Friday. Wet Suit test swim in the bay of Alcudia. Calm salty water, sunny conditions again. I was pleased to get the test in (good to have GB alongside) as it really settled the nerves (GB needs a new wet suit?). Afterwards, a walk to collect my race event package, no’s, chip, rules & regs. I also received the full distance Athlete t-Shirt. I buy a few other things (and a t-shirt for chef GB). A lazy day follows, ready for the race day swim.
Saturday. Race Day. 3.8 km swim. The weather has turned. Cool and overcast for the start. 400 athletes on the start line. Two laps with an Australian swim exit onto the beach for lap one and then into the sea again to start lap two. Fanfare. Music. Tension. Countdown……………………….
Hooter! My swim is a GO, and I’m off. A steady start for me finding my own space and try to settle down, get the breathing right. After 35 mins I’m out and into the beach funnel lane. I stop for a swig off water (provided by Domestique GB) and then I’m off again on the second lap. 35 mins later I return and run off the beach for a 50 m sprint for the finish line. Swim done in 70 mins. The first of the medals is awarded. A bronze medal that will interlock with (hopefully) the other disciplines that follow. I’m very pleased with that. The weather worsens and starts to rain as we enjoy a post-race coffee, beach-side.The rest of the day is spent relaxing in prep for the bike ride. More rain deluges follow……..
Sunday. The Bike Leg. All 172 km of it. The weather is cool at 11’C, blustery and showery for the 8 am start.
Borrowed arm warmers from GB are a god-send. The start from Alcudia takes you south and back again to Alcudia, for another 86km loop. After 2 hours or so, the rain stops but remains dull and windy. I stop halfway and GB has extra gels, ready to go. I’m just off the back of a group. But I will catch them. And I do. The pace is a little slow for me so I pedal on and the second loop is a time trial, for the most part on my own. The headwind is a grind, as it is I’m certain for everyone else out there. I arrive back in Alcudia 5hrs and 35 minutes later. Phew! That’s all I can say. A HARD 5 hours of cycling. I’m rewarded with medal number 2. We relax with a cafe con leche. Back to the ranch and I prep for tomorrow’s marathon.
Monday. Run. 42.2 km or 26.2 miles = The Marathon. Back to Alcudia and the start line. The last piece of a 3 day jigsaw. The weather is dull, cool, overcast and showery. A borrowed hat from GB keep the showers off the head and eyes. 5-4-3-2-1. Boom! goes the ticker tape machine again and were off for 4 lap, 10 km course, up and down Alcudia’s main road, Beach side path and the marina. A bit twisty turney in places. I settle down into a rhythm. On lap two by the marina, I ditch the cap, GB gives me swig of H20, a piece of gum and news that my daughter has failed her driving test again! Lap 3. My legs are goosed. Keep the rhythm I say. Just keep going. Lap 4. I now can’t wait for the drudgery to end. I just want the finish. It feels like its not going end.
Luckily, I end up running with an athlete from the island called James. An English Teacher who resides in Pollenca. A good lad. We keep each other company and the kilometres tick by: Km 39 – Km 40 – Km 41 – Km 42 and then my Long Course Weekend draws to a conclusion. The finish line is there in front of me on Alcudia’s ‘waterlogged‘ beach! After 3hrs and 45 mins I approach the run-in. I hear a faint “Go on Sunna!” (that will be GB then) and that IS IT! I have completed and conquered the 2018 LCW Challenge in Mallorca, Alcudia.
My antique gold medal completes the set (well not quite). James and I take congratulations with one another. I really am completely spent. My legs ache, not so much my hip, but my calf muscles, blimey me. OUCH! I see GB on the other side of the finisher’s event tent area. A man hug and a handshake from GB. He’s has parked just yards away, so not far to hobble back to the car. Back at the ranch, I take my hedgehog roller to my shattered legs, followed by a long hot shower. It’s a fairly quick turnaround as we have to be back for the:
Closing awards ceremony on Alcudia beach for 3.30 pm. The sun is now shining! GB and I along with all the other full distance finishers, friends and families await the fanfare of the closing ceremony: different to Ironman – friendlier, casual and quite informal. It’s nice to relax now. 164 athlete names are called out in reverse order to the collect their shiny gold 4th medal. This completes the set, all interlocking together to form a very nice reward for your race weekend. The names were called in blocks. Eventually Iain Hardy is bellowed out (in 35th place overall). There are no age groups here, just 1st past the post, down over. I wait my turn to collect my shiny 4th gold medal. A handshake from the organisers and I’m applauded through ‘the tunnel’ of full distance athlete competitors. We were all winners in my opinion. The atmosphere was warm, genuine, noisy and generous for every athlete.
It brought a tear to my eye when after 6 hrs 05 minutes the last finisher came across the finish line, a little dazed, tired and confused? As he saw the race ceremony in front of him. Very quickly the organisers spotted what was happening and he was given a winners applause through the human tunnel. It was emotional. The 1st 3 female athletes (GB’s Ironman Champion, Lucy Gossage won the ladies race, defending her 2017 title) And the 1st 3 male winners stood on the podium for their medals, and cava, behind them, a huge digital screen with highlights of the 2018 long course weekend event. I was great to look back! Later, I saw James with his medal. GB took a photo. We said our thank you’s & goodbye’s and we headed back to the ranch.
Tolos Restaurant in Pollenca and their king prawn, chicken and chorizo Paella for two was polished off later that evening, with cerveza and vino tinto. A favourite cafe stop was Monges cafe in Pollenca, highly recommended. We often had a cafe con leche (dos!) there. Both food and coffee were deserved.
Tuesday. A sunny, warm day, at last! After a cake & coffee at GB’s & mine! favourite cafe and a morning beach walk in Alcudia (above): We were off to The Lamb Restaurant!
GB had found out that in 2012, BBC’s Rick had visited the island and recommended a visit to The Lamb Restaurant in the village of Verges. A mountain village more akin to A Tour De France Galibier Mountain stage – What a flipping drive it was to get there! Sooooo worth the scary uphill, hairpin, no barriers drive, for the food. Two Shoulder of lamb dishes, with wine, olives, bread and salad in the farmhouse, ran by an 80 year old lady. It was so nice, so good. We shared our table with a Peruvian, a Spaniard, two Americans and a Dane! We had a great conversation of a few hours.It was then back late on, to Monges for a cheeky Irish Coffee & Brandy. A fitting way to finish the week.
Wednesday was home time. Bags packed and before we know it, were are back in Newcastle at 1.30 pm. LCW done. Would I recommend the event? Yes. Why? It’s a friendly event, well hosted, a unique format. It also gives athletes the option to mix and match distances and events. The entry costs are very reasonable compared to other brands. They will grow this business model, I’m sure. Take a peek by visiting www.lcwmallorca.com Their blue ribbon event is televised annually (on channel 4, I think) where they go to their ‘home’ in Tenby, Wales. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. Cheers, Iain Hardy.