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!