I had the privilege to coordinate a business trip to Sweden at the time of the ITU World Triathlon Stockholm. There has been a triathlon race in Stockholm for a few years but this is the first year that it was an official ITU race. Lisa Norden from Sweden finished 2nd in the Olympic a few weeks ago and that has given Triathlon some more attention in Sweden. She participated in the race on saturday that took place around old town and the royal castle in Stockholm. Obviously, she won, big!
On Sunday the age groupers got a chance to race n the city of Stockholm also. It was the first time for this new course that was basically centered around city hall, old town and the royal castle, somewhat different from the pro race the day before.
It was about 2600 people participating so a pretty big race to be held in a downtown area. Because of this and because of somewhat different races and classes (olympic, sprint, relay) there were staggered starting times. I was fortunate enough to start at 9am. I was also fortunate enough to stay with my friends Ted & Anki about a 5 min walk from the start. Big thanks again to T & A for the hospitality, as always!!
I got down to the transition area just after 7 am in the morning. There was already a line at this point as they were checking bikes and helmets. Here goes another shout-out!! Many thanks to Jesper for letting me borrow his bike. It would absolutely not have been possible to do this race without a bike and he put some serious time on to getting it ready for me. Much much appreciated!
I got in to the transition area and the first thing that happened was that it started to rain. Great! However its stopped after a while, just when the ground and most things were just a little bit wet.
Quickly realized that the transition area in itself was the longest I have ever seen. There would be either a long run barefoot in a wetsuite when exiting the water or a long run in socks or bie shoes. My pick was the first. Also joined forces with a friend that did the race, Johan. We checked out the transition area, watched an earlier start and did a short warmup run.
Race start! They had cool radio controlled drones with cameras filming the swim start. Not sure if that was official or just some random person. Would love to see the footage from that.
Swim was a bit crowded but nothing like the Coeur d’Alene IronMan race start when 2600 people start at the same time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Lllv4gVSyI
The water was pretty warm. It did however take me a while to get in to the rhythm of things. not sure why. I felt like I started to be able to get going for real around 20 min in to the swim, when I was almost done. Also at the end the swell got a bit bigger and I felt that I water was full of exhaust fumes (from the boats?). Also a bit of the standard calf cramp at the end of the swim. Still need to figure that stuff out.
T1 felt ok but looking at the stats afterwards it was not. Not sure what took time here. I decided to run in my socks almost all the way to the bike start. Before crossing the bike start I stopped to put my shoes on so I didn’t have to run in the shoes with the cleats with the potential of making the calf cramp worse.
In the beginning on the bike I felt pretty bad. Not sure why. Felt exhausted and actually got a bit concerned and was thinking if I would even be able to finish the race. Went over Västerbron (a “big” bridge on the race course and really the only hill) and was going to take a 90 degree left turn to head down to Södermälarstrand. The ground was wet and apparently very slippery at this place. Lost control of the rear wheel first and then the front wheel also. Only for a bit. Managed to stay up. This scared the shit out of me and I was really careful in all turns after this. Pushed on and started to feel better.
Had lots of support throughout the bike ride. Thanks to Jonas, Cicci, Ted, Jesper, Anki, Lotta, Mom, Dad, Monica, Barbro and everyone else that was out there. The level of support in this race from all people was amazing. Far more than I expected and far more in most other races I have done. Support along the race helps and I always appreciate it a lot however I am well aware that it might not always be that fun given that the people they know pass by and you see the person for a few seconds and then they might be gone again for a long time.
Bike done and I was pretty happy with the effort. I was more happy over the fact that I didn’t crash. Felt pretty fast through T2. Then went on to the run. Started of a bit conservative with a plant to crank it up later on. That didn’t really work. I kept a decent pace but wasn’t able to crank it up at all. In fact on the last lap I started cramping. My left hamstring completely cramped up and I was forced to stop to and stretch. My watch wasnt close to the 6.2 miles I was supposed to run when I had finished the last lap. Not sure what happened here. I logged more like 5.4 miles. Some people vene continued on running an additional lap and ran way to long. So not sure what will happen with the time and the result there.
All-in-all a great race. A few things can be improved. One thing is an improvement that is out of the control of the race organizers. Seriously people! Its not ok to smoke cigarettes next to a race where people are running. When running and breathing at the top of your lungs and competing in a race and you suck in a lung full of cigarette smoke, thats not ok! Other things that can probably be improved to make this race top noch (dont get me wrong here, it was great but everything can be improved)
- More food at the finish, I finished 342 out of ~800 and there were no more bananas. In fact nothing to eat besides apples.
- Transition and finish closer or at the same place. I realize that this was probably due to how Stockholm as a city is planned and all but to do a race and then having to walk close to 2k to get back to transition and dry and warm clothes is not ok.
- Measure the race course more accurately
- One more nutrition stop during the run
- The nutrition stop should serve sports drink first, then water, not the other way around or am I the only athlete that like to rinse the sports drink with water?
- Race course crossings need to be better organized. People were in the way a lot.
- Transition area needs to be shorter and better organized. I was zig zagging between people that were setting up their stuff and hadn’t started yet when I get in to T1 and T2. I did however do all that I could to stay out of the way after the race when picking up my gear and people were coming in for T1.
Again, big thanks to Stockholm, to all friends and family for the support along the race cours, to Jesper for letting me borrow the bike, To the other Jesper for the nudge to do the race (and you crushed it!).
Stats for this olympic distance race (1500m swim, 40k(more like 38k) bike, 10k(more like 9k) run)
- Swim – 32:35
- T1 – 3:45
- Bike : 1:14:41
- T2 – 2:09
- Run – 46:06
- Total – 2:39:14