Challenge Fuerteventura at Playitas Resort was the season starter again for me this year. It's a very tough course and always attracts a top class tough field so it's the perfect opportunity to kick off the season with a true test to see where you are. I was lucky enough to be able to train at Playitas before the race and it was a real luxury not to have to travel at all to race. This year the female field was stacked as usual with many current and former World and European champions on the start list. I felt a bit out of place at the press conference amongst the big guns but I was a real honour to be there beside them. My aim for the race was to go hard and to try to hit the podium which I knew wouldn't be easy.
Usually the male and female pros start together which is a very unfair start to the race (especially for weaker swimmers) so at the race briefing I asked for a separate start and the organisers agreed instantly which was really great to see. They gave us a 2 minute gap from the pro men.
I had a quick running start from the beach and was one of the first in to the water, I had an idea of who I thought I would swim with and I knew exactly where they were however I realised just a little too late that the pace was a little too slow and sprinted to catch the group just in front of me. I worked hard but didn't make the group so I ended up swimming alone for the entire swim, I swam well for the first lap but drifted a little in the second lap but I felt better in the water than I had for a while so I could take some positives from it.
On the bike I set off at what I thought was a steady pace; I didn't feel great but good enough to get me through. I tried to ride my own race which is hard to do when you know that the faster swimmers are pushing each other on the bike all the way and that there are a few strong bikers behind. At around 40k Asa Lunstrom came past me so I stayed with her for as long as I could, I found the climbs really easy but I really struggled to stick with her on the slight downhill sections, I was pedalling like crazy where she was cruising along. Eventually at around 65k she got a gap on a downhill so I rode alone until near the end of the bike when Corinne Abraham came past me and stayed just in front of me in to T2 where I got off the bike in 7th place.
I knew that the first 3 were quite far ahead and running strongly but I could see 6th 5th and 4th just ahead of me and I set off steady but strong to catch them. Just before the first turn point I was in 4th but I could tell from the start of the run that this was not going to be easy. I felt shaky and strange towards the end of the bike and was feeling the same on the run. Last year my run on this course felt really good, I was strong and in control and though I worked very hard it felt good. This time it was different, I was working hard and it didn't feel good at all. I pushed to get a gap from the girls behind me but when we got back in to the resort I turned to see that Corinne was right on my tail and running extremely strongly so I knew that I couldn't let up at all or she would be right with me. I started to feel worse and I felt quite weak then just before I moved into 3rd some stomach issues starting to creep up (which I haven't experienced in a half before). A gel and some coke perked me up a little and somehow manage to keep pushing until the end to cross the line in 3rd. I was really happy to make the podium and to share it with Daniella Ryf and Anja Bernak.
Huge thanks to Alameda ON Triathlon Team, FSG Property Services and Ferrer Hotels
also Ekoi, ON Running, Multiusport Distribution, Nordic Oil, Swans goggles