wang writes

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Tag: triathlon

Sigmaringen

Where? Sigmaringen. Have you not heard of the little town in southern Germany? Well, I wouldn’t blame you. A few Germans I’ve spoken to have no idea it exists either. Interestingly enough, it’s the only place I’ve been to in Germany. Yep, never been to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne or Frankfurt… only Sigmaringen, back in the summer of 2004.

I wasn’t really there as a tourist. I don’t know if people actually go to that little town as tourists. I was there for a couple of weeks to train with my good friend and former national New Zealand triathlete Ben Pulham, after competing at the 2004 World University Triathlon Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Ben and another Kiwi, Debbie Tanner, who’d go on to represent New Zealand at the Olympics, were based there with triathlon club ALZ Sigmaringen. Ben somehow managed to get me a free stay and free training with the club for a couple of weeks, which was a real dream come true. At that time I was preparing for the Asian Triathlon Championships.

Ben picked me up from Zurich, where my flight was transiting between Mallorca and Singapore. From Zurich it seemed like a short drive to Sigmaringen, but that’s all I can remember of the journey. I remember the little town pretty well though – because it was so little you could explore most of it in an hour or two. There was a DVD store (where we rented some movies, including Zoolander…), a grocery store (where Ben stocked up on pasta, canned tuna and Coca-cola – I know, what kind of elite diet is that?!), a nice bakery with all sorts of fresh pastries, a couple of shoe stores selling discount footwear (I picked up a pair of Birkenstocks and it’s still being worn), a sports store, a few cafes and restaurants… that’s about it. It was all very pretty. See Wikipedia! And check out these posts from a couple of other triathletes who’ve trained at the club – Jenna Shoemaker and Richard Murray – to get a better idea of what training there was like.

Unfortunately I have no photos of my adventure in Sigmaringen. We went for runs by the river, we did wonderful three-hour rides through beautiful country roads, we swam in an outdoor heated pool and also an indoor pool a bit farther away. Our meals were mostly toast with vegemite, frozen pizza or pasta with tuna. We’d train twice a day, and fill the spare time in between by watching the Tour de France and movies on the telly. I wish I was as snap happy at that time and documented at least some of the adventure!

Somewhere in the middle of my stay we drove up to Luxembourg to race the Echternach ITU Triathlon. That was the coldest race swim I’ve ever done to date, and the fastest Olympic Distance race I’ve done to date. While the race was memorable, speeding on the autobahn and staying in a quaint little B&B with Ben and Debbie definitely ranked up there too. I do have two random photos from this road trip…

Those were seriously fun days and I can’t believe it’s been 10 years…! Well anyway I’m proud to say that I’ll soon be able to get over the embarrassment of having only been to this little town in Germany. Stay tuned!

Time flies…

…when you’re having fun. Ben and I, 8days magazine in Singapore, circa August 2004.

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Damn, sign me up!

Swissman Xtreme Triathlon

Hong Kong ITU Triathlon 2012

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Back in the day I used to race triathlons once or twice a month – once I even did four ODs over four weekends (in different countries) and another time two half-Ironmans in two weeks (Desaru and Singapore 70.3 2007).

Yesterday I raced the HK ITU Tri at Disneyland, Lantau Island, my first since last December’s Phuket 70.3. As expected I felt like I was 18 all over again – like I was doing my first triathlon. I guess I haven’t done any other tris this year – despite keeping up my swimming, cycling and running, just not all at a go – because I am too in love with trail running and too out of love with the commercialism, crowdedness, flashiness, stagnation and boredom of tris. But I hadn’t raced at Disneyland before, so I signed up, in spite of the HK$500 race fee and inconvenient race location and start time.

Now, why the heck did they decide to start the first wave – all women – at 6.20am, I didn’t know. But that meant a 3.30am wake up call. It would have been ridiculous if the race wasn’t delayed by an hour, due to a race ambulance getting into an accident on the way to the race site, thereby needing a replacement ambulance to be sent before the race could start. I hear it came from Sheung Shui and hence the delay. Anyway this meant we would start at about 7.20 and finish, at least for me, close to 10am. It may be autumn in HK but only just, so at 10am it was hot hot hot. This was when I was wishing we had started at 6.20.

I had wondered, during the 3.30am wake up call, why they didn’t make the men start at 6.20 instead and us in a later wave. But I was thanking my lucky stars again while on the bike, because the one-lane bike course got seriously crowded and dangerous as the race wore on and more men got out on course. The first of three laps of the bike was smooth: I was in a chase pack of three chasing down the race leader Kate Rutherford. Just as we U-turned for the second lap the first few men were starting their first; we passed them but they latched on and soon passed us. We proceeded to form a pace line (it’s legal for this race for men and women to draft off each other) and the second lap flew by smoothly too. But on the third lap things started going crazy, with slow men, fast men, crazy men, and even men who didn’t enjoy riding behind women. Each time one of us girls would go ahead they would chase us down and regain the lead. Oh all right, you lead we draft. But the race course was super crowded by now and the men in our pack were swaying from one side of the road to the other, with many nearly-crashes.

I was glad to be done with the bike and thankful to have been in the first wave. So off the bike in second place, I ran my heart out trying to keep off the amazing 43-year-old Abigail Stead. In the end I only beat her by 10 seconds to finish as second woman overall and first in the 30-34 age group. Kate won convincingly, 13 minutes ahead but nonetheless didn’t lap me ;-)

Not sure when my next tri will be, and am definitely not rebitten by any tri bug. On the four-lap run, you’d have a view sometimes of the Lantau peaks, and I frankly found myself wishing I was up there than down here.

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Congratulations to all who did the race. My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the young man who collasped at the finish line and died.

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