Fields of gold

It’s quite amazing how a morning in a small village in the north German state of Schleswig Holstein can just about restore my faith in triathlon, and even make me fall in love with the sport all over again. I’m kicking myself for never having done the Feldathlon before, which this year had its 23rd incarnation.

What a great race! And what a great reminder of all things good about triathlon. A small event, not very serious, with all kinds of competitors, well organised, a nice location, an interesting course, and with supporters who cheer for everyone (not just their family and friends).

Sure, sure, the race was won by a man 50+, but his time wasn’t terribly remarkable. It was also refreshing to look around the transition area and see triathletes who look like regular people: with a few kilos too many, with not the latest bike, with just water in their bottles, and with smiles on their faces. Best of all was how everyone really enjoyed the race. All the grimacers had stayed away from Felde. The triathletes here were all grinners.

The swim featured the most relaxed start to a race I’ve ever experienced. There was no real start line, no countdown. Just a sort of, hey, if you’re ready, get swimming. Straight out to one bouy and then back to the beach. There was none of the usual chaos of having to round several bouys with a big group of swimmers.

The bike course was also good. Undulating and challenging, and thankfully a one-way course; not the usual round-and-round the mulberry bush bike leg where you ride the same stretch of road so many times you know where all the bumps and cracks are. The bike leg actually required riding ability beyond hell-for-leather: hills to climb, sharp corners to negotiate. It was fun.

The run (also one-way) went through forest and the village of Felde, and forest again. Like the bike leg, there were hills to climb and corners to round. It was so enjoyable, I even managed a sprint to the finish line.

Thank you to the nice folks at TuS Felde for running this race and making me love triathlon again.

Worth noting that on the same morning, the seriously committed triathletes were posting the usual exceptional times at the Inseltriathlon in Ratzburg and at the Elbetriathlon in Hamburg. I’ve done both of those races in the past and they are such a far cry from the triathlon that is experienced in Felde.

Feldathlon: gold.

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The grey wave

This is how a normal race goes: I have a decent swim (managing not to get kicked, elbowed or to swallow half a litre of lake/river/sea water), I’m solid on the bike (but still get passed by guys who make me feel like I’m on a stationary bike), then I ran as fast as I can (only to be overwhelmed by a wave of grey).

By grey, I mean hair. Despite running at a decent clip, each race sees me get passed by a selection of grey-haired supermen, who are somehow able to run 4-minute kilometres, and do so with ease. And once I hit the finish line, the next grey wave rolls in, with all the other super seniors I just manage to out-pace.

At the sprint in Bornhöved, the grey wave was near tidal. In fact, there was something nightmarish about it; trying to outrun something that just keeps getting closer, something that’s relentless, grimacing and scary.

Nightmares aside, the race was very enjoyable. A 500/22/5 jaunt in hot weather. The swim seemed short, and the run long, but in all, it was great fun. The race was won by a 43 year old, a 51 year-old was 6th, then came a brace of whippet-thin teenagers, a grey wave, me and another grey wave.

The race had a great run course and, best of all, a spacious transition area on grass. It’s rare in triathlon these days to have room in the transition area. You normally have barely enough space to rack your bike and put your running shoes on the ground. But in Bornhöved, you could spread out and get comfortable. Nice.