This could be Rotterdam or anywhere
Liverpool or Rome
’cause Rotterdam is anywhere
ITU World Championships standard and sprint in Rotterdam, The Netherlands Race report from Marijke Beltman
Rotterdam – what do we know about it…depends on who you speak to I guess but here is a few things that could help you in a table quiz: It’s one of the 4 big cities in The Netherlands and is located in a province called Zuid-Holland (South Holland – for the difference between Holland and the Netherlands please have a look here) it has Europe’s largest port and as such is an entry point to all transport of materials over water and road into Europe, it’s flat, below sea level, was practically levelled to the ground by the allied bombings in the 2nd world war, has the quirky/famous cube houses, the Coolsingel, is home to Feyenoord, Sparta and Excelcior..
it was host to the 2017 ITU World Championships standard and sprint where more than 100 Irish athletes completed. David Power and I were the two brave souls/nutters representing Belpark. How we got there: we qualified via the National Series and National Champs in 2016. Rotterdam came into the picture for me after having gone to Lisbon in 2016 as it was a worlds and easy to get to. Roll on the 2nd week of September and here I was confusing the living daylight out of people by having a Dutch name but representing Ireland. The ITU worlds meant that not only us age groupers were racing during the weekend but also the para, U23, juniors and pro’s. Plenty of races to watch while waiting for our own race (in my case the standard on Sunday morning) so!
The weather was a bit temperamental (think its doesn’t rain it pours) and so was the initial impression of the bike course but after a dry recce of it with the Irish team on Friday it wasn’t that bad and all the pre-race discussion/nerves about road bike or TT got put to bed. Yes it was technical in places but also fast in other bits, if you would remain sensible you would be fine on a TT (I had raced DCT on my road bike to figure out what I wanted and had brought my TT based on that experience so was happy with my choice). Roll on race day: A split transition meant we had dropped the bikes previous afternoon but had to drop runners in T2 early in the morning before taking a ferry across to T1/swim start. Walking through Rotterdam at 5am on a Sunday morning was again that weird mix of nervous athletes and slightly intoxicated party goers…never fails to amuse me. All went smooth, sorted my bottles and nutrition on my bike and pottered back to the swim start to wait in the local hotel until my wave was of…time flew and before I knew it I was in a group of orange hats waiting to be let unto the pontoon. Thankfully no diving off it just hold on to it until the claxon.
Beep! Off we went – the fast girls went at frantic pace (the top girl in my AG posted 18 min over 1500m) and I followed at my usual slow but steady pace. Everybody seemed to be veering right but the buoy we had to round first was straight ahead so I felt a bit like I was the odd one out (whats new!) swimming straight ahead on my own. One loop, swim done, out on the ramp and the long run to transition where we had to bag our wetsuit and goggles before heading out on the bike. Out on the bike, the first bit was quite technical with corners and ramps so made sure I stayed focussed. Heard my parents at the turning points which meant they made it – yay. Out on the course it wasn’t all that bad.
A few chicanes and hairpins but due to the recce I knew where they were and could negotiate them safely (it would have been bad if it had been wet – my parents were at a technical corner and saw 4 crashes there). 1st lap done, concentrate, have a gel and finish the 2nd lap safe. Feet out of my shoes on time before the last corner before the dismount line and again a long transition to the start of the run. The run was also 2 laps, through Het Park (the park), bit twisty and a bit up and down but my parents were there to cheer me on, so were many others including an Elvis impersonator who told me he loved Ireland (I thought you were dead Elvis)! At the end of the 2nd lap you turned to run through the grand stand to the finish which was nice, nearly puked at the finish line (balls out and puke when you finish was the message of the team manager at the briefing so I was close!) so I did push! Happy enough with my time, yes my bike was slower than I wanted but I was in one piece and so was the bike!
All in all a nice end to the season, my 2nd team Ireland event of the year and despite the weather not being nice all days definitely an amazing experience! For anyone considering: The Worlds next year are in Gold Coast which is quite far away but the European Sprint is in Glasgow and the European Standard is in Estonia. Have a look at the TI website under age group representation – it’s worth putting your name in the hat if you did ok in National series or National champs this year for next years events!