Zarautz Triathlon 2014 – 3/80/20k
July 8th, 2014 by Fraser
2nd place – 4:04:58
This picture doesn’t do the gradient justice I am afraid! Zarautz is a fantastic race for many reasons and one of those is the punishing climbs that feautre towards the tail end of the bike ride. I will pack more gears for next year!
I have raced quite a lot in Spain and have spent more time than I can remember in the country for training camps over the the years. As such I have heard lots about what is regularly described as ‘the best race in the country’. Usually I am busy racing 70.3 UK over this weekend in June however this year I decided to have a change of scenery and commited to racing in Zarautz, which is on the northern coast of Spain – not far from San Sebastian. It is a beautiful stretch of coastline and a remarkable location for a race.
This race is essentially a half ironman event, but with a longer swim. Strictly speaking it is a ‘double olympic’ distance race and as such I felt it played to my strength. I generally swim well and I hoped that I could set myself up well for the remainder of the race with a strong first segment. Things don’t always go to plan however!
Another nice aspect of the event in Zarautz is the point to point sea swim. The race starts on a little beach a couple of miles around the headland and you essentailly try and point yourself towards the far off sandy beach and hope for the best – I think there were just 2 marker bouys along the entire swim course! Having put my head down and figured I was in the race lead after a few hundred meters I soon realised there was in fact a lot of white water and splashing some ways in front of me and to my left. I am unsure whether there were some ‘local’ course knowledge nuggets of info that I didn’t know about – such as a whopping great current, but either way I made a total fist of the swim and lost some 90secs to the leaders by the time I stood up on that far away sandy beach. I wasn’t terribly happy with myself!
I rode a fairly good tempo for the ride, which consisted of 3 loops in total – 2 of an initial longer lap with a sting in the tail shorter loop to finish, including two seriously steep climbs up twisty, narrow farm lanes. A real ‘old school’ type of triathlon course if you will. I really enjoyed it and managed to gain the race lead by the start of the final loop. As you can see from the photo above there were good crowds lining the race route and it was clear that they love their sport in the Basque Country!
I begun the 4 lap run in the lead and held onto it till the half way mark. We snaked our way around the streets of the town and also ran along the beach front promenade over each 5k loop. The crowd support was amazing – especially along the final straight and the town square finish area. I was running pretty well I thought, but actually dropped to 3rd by the final loop of the run, which made for a demanding final push to get back in the game! I found the famous ‘second wind’ that I am never really sure exists and clawed my way back to 2nd and even got to within touching distance of the lead. However it wasn’t to be, and the finish arch appeared too soon – leaving me just 5secs adrift as I crossed the line. – Next time I will be sure to swim properly!
Many thanks to the organisation team over in Zarautz for making it such a memorable trip to the Basque Country. Coupled with The Bilbao tri a few weeks earlier I can highly recommend this region for excellent racing in stunning surroundings if you want to get away from the big ‘branded’ races that tend to dominate the racing calendar these days. Many thanks to Sergio Nievas for the photos too.