Tough luck

In German, Glück is one of those words that has several meanings. Depending on the context, it can mean luck, happiness or chance.

Located 60 kilometres north-west of Hamburg, Glückstadt, hosting its first triathlon, was a little down on its luck. The day before the race saw torrential rain, and this rain washed all sorts of crud and dirt and detritus into the city’s harbour. Thus, when the athletes got into the water to start the race, they stuck their faces in the most disgusting of water. It was also very cold.

In fact, the water was so bad, I had to swim stretches on my back, because I couldn’t keep my face in the water. It was like swimming through farm mud. It became about survival: getting through the swim without swallowing any water. Not easy, and not exactly a lucky day for all the participants.

The swim was disgusting, and the bike leg wasn’t much better, followng a dyke where sheep regularly graze. The rain combined with the droppings to send a not-very-nice spray up onto my legs and back. And I have to add here that there were some guys on their bikes who had no reason to be as fast as they were.

You could say the same about the run. When the day comes that I stop racing, it may well be because I’ve grown tired of being beaten and/or passed by old men and guys carrying ten kilos too many and not running like athletes at all.

So, not such a lucky or happy day in Glückstadt, and I didn’t feel I had much of a chance against athletes who are somehow able to defy their age, body type and ability to post exceptional times. To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of triathlon.

Glückstadt is certainly a nice city, but I don’t think I’ll be back to race there again.


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