Cooking the books

I’m Australian, and I like to think I’m rather well-accustomed to hot conditions. Nope. When it hit 34° in the shade for the Munster Triathlon (that’s Munster, Lower Saxony), my initial thinking was I might be at an advantage. That the pale-skinned locals might crumble in the sun. Nope.

The race started at 3:15pm, in the heat of the day, with all of us running like mad from the beach into the water. Some guys were in wetsuits (really!) because the Flüggenhofsee, so I was told, had a cold-water spring. It’s also very deep, which made me wonder why they didn’t have a deep water start. That would have saved the absolute chaos of 200 or so people sprinting for the water all at once, and then launching into a variety of swim-styles, with no one able to swim straight.

For this swimmer, it was safety first. I swam way out on the left, doing my best to avoid the greasy limbs and torsos of navigationally-handicapped swimmers. Sure, I lose time doing this, as I always do, but I’d rather lose a minute than a tooth. However, looking at the lake, the organisers would be better served to make the competitors walk around to the other side and have them swim straight (as best they can), in one direction, from one side to the other. Add a deep water start and this would save a lot of the chaos and potential dangers.

Onto the bike, and it’s a nice 22km of quality roads. One hairpin turn and back again to Munster. Some guy tore off up the wrong street. I saw him riding back down and he was furious. What do you call it, ‘roid rage? Oh, sorry. Road rage.

At the end of the bike leg, I’d kind of had enough, because I’m a poor runner and it was just so bloody hot. Still, I was somehow in 7th place and I got my shoes on and started running. It was only 5km, and I could old-man-run-it if necessary. One guy in red was way out in front, and he didn’t look bothered at all by the heat. He did 59 minutes in the end, a good four minutes ahead of second. I struggled in the run (but thanks to the nice people for holding up hoses in their front yards to spray us!). I was inevitably overtaken by the grey brigade, the wonder athletes from age groups 40-44, 45-49 and 50-54; impervious to the heat, even in middle age. And strutting around the finishing area, barely breathing heavily, looking for all the money like they’re ready to do it again, while I am on all fours with my head under the tap, trying to cool down.

And there’s no point me wondering how these guys do it, or wondering if their times should be considered legitimate or not (hence the title “Cooking the books”). Better was that I got to the finish line and managed to hold on for 13th place (nearly ten minutes behind red dude), before more grey-beards caught up with me. Proud of that. Another lucky thirteen.

A fun race, but I’m not sure I’ll do it again. That swim is just too dangerous for me.


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