Saturday, with the bike checked in, I had dinner with my family at a seaside taverna. The requisite pasta. My daughter fed the ducks that came to see us and the stray cats got some bread soaked in olive oil too. I chose not to go to the official pasta party as it started at 8:30 and for my daughter thats bed time. Besides I like to rest the night before a race by lying in bed and reading. I was asleep by 9:30
Sunday dawned 20 minutes before the alarm clock went off at 6:10 am. I had my usual muesli for breakfast and left the hotel with my rucksack. Leaving every one asleep. A 5 minute walk and I was at transition. I had positioned my bike on the end of the rack. I knew I would be one of the last out of the swim and also this gave me room to lie out my stuff at the end of the rack where there was more room. With everything in place I donned my wetsuit and walked across the road to the swim start and race briefing.
The swim was a 2 loop course in the sheltered bay. The water temperature was reported to be 20c, although I think it was 2 or 3 degrees colder than that. The first bouy was very close to the shore so I knew it was going to be a fight to get around it, and it was. Once round the first bouy and out of the washing machine I settled into my slow rythm and got my breathing sorted out. During the swim I was getting annoyed by a zigzag swimmer who kept crossing my path. Unfortunately he was swimming about the same speed as me. Then on coming to the 4th bouy, which was a turn of 180 degrees I almost had a head on with a swimmer who had drifted across to wrong side of where he should of been. Eventully I pulled myself up the beach and looked at my watch. 1 hour had passed. I couldnt work that out as my 2k time is around 48 minutes. (On completion of the race, I was to learn the swim was 2250 officially, although I still believe it was more like 2400. This was caused by one of the bouys drifting overnight). The fastest swim time was;0:34:02
A quick change and a hello to the only other Brit in the race who was also in transition and I was off on the bike. The bike course is a fantastic ride along the coast road with beautiful scenery. The first 10k is flat then it's climb time. There are 2 large climbs with technical downhills in between. At 22.5k you are back down at sea level and you turn to return to the transition area. This out and back is completed 2 times with water stations at the turning point and at the transition area. This race is a bikers delight. The total positive ascent over the 90km route is 1200m. It's also a very hot ride, but I learn't from doing it the year before and had 2 bottle cages, aerobars bottle and a spare holder behind my seat (which I didn't actually use or need). Fastest bike time:2:35:19 (5 minutes faster than second fastest)
With a better hydration on the bike than last year I was off on the run. This is also hot and they bill it with a water station every 3.5k. It's a 7k loop run 3 times. Again this year they had 2 extra water stations between the official ones. I also took my camelbak. The only one I saw on the course, but plenty of other atheletes had small bottles on their race belts. At the two main water stations they have ice cold sponges which are great stuffed in the shoulders of the tri top. The run leaves transition and follows the beach road past the tavernas where there are plenty of people eating, drinking and cheering. It then turns up into an olive grove and meanders through this until you get to the 3.5k water station and turn back towards the coast down another road, which is part of the bike course. So you see a few of the last bikes coming past you. On returning to transition you get a wrist band and continue on the next loop.
This is a fantastic race. It's very hot and hilly which makes it tough and probably explains why there was only 2 athlelets under the 5 hour mark. It's only in its second year and is mostly local athletes. This year there were 10 countries represented, but from 117 athletes over 100 were Greek. The local mayor has pledge some money towards the event next year and the organisers are hoping to start attracting more overseas athletes. This year first place got 500 euros. So if you think you can beat 4:45:40 for a tough half Iron distance race put it in your calander for next year! Even if you can't win I still highly recommend this race!