Race report by David Young
I write this report sitting in the blazing sunshine in Ibiza. We are over here because Amanda has been in the Great Britain Team for the European Duathlon Sprint Championships. We are absolutely delighted to be here because she has had a very problematic few weeks in the lead up to the competition. She has had to nurse a damaged Achilles for several years, and but night this year that she was managing the problem. That was until she did Park Run a few weeks ago and aggravated the on go no situation.
Not a very good lead up to the Europeans, barely being able to walk let alone run, but she made it and here we are.
Amanda was in real pain for the first run and I could see this in her face when she came into transition. She had a decent bike stage but was again grimacing with pain at the second transition. Off she went and we were both extremely relieved when she came through the finish. Believe me, she could barely walk back to our hotel.
All that said we were delighted that she came fourth in her age group out of twenty two and was forty eighth overall lady out of 156 with an overall time of 01:06:21. Her time splits have not been published for reasons that will be explained below.
This was a prime example of how to NOT organise an event.
We have been to about five of these World/European events and Santa Eulalia, Ibiza, has been without doubt the best location by far, but this has been the worst event I have ever been to anywhere. UK events and even our local Park Runs are better organised.
When we arrived we saw that boards had been laid on the beach with the transition racking erected on the boards. What a fantastic position. Oh – think again. What happens on beaches? The tide came in and washed seaweed and sand all over the boards.
Transition was changed to be on dry land just off the sea front.
The start route was funnelled through barricades barely three metres apart. This cause severe congestion at the busiest part of the race – the bunch start. The run route was then along the sea front, but again in fenced off lanes barely two metres wide so overtaking was difficult. The sea front route was on shiny polished tiles – the problem was that it rained immediately before the start, causing the surface to be extremely slippery.
Transition in and out for bikes was the same and mount and dismount lines at the revised transition were within feet of each other on the same stretch of road which caused confusion to many competitors.
There was no chip timing for the second transition – times were just added to second run time which obviously gives a flawed run time.
There was also a breach of ETU rules with some competitors taking part in both Sprint and Standard having not had the mandatory 36 hours break between.
However, without doubt the most serious mess up was on the bike course.
The bike course went out of town, turned and came back. It was two laps for Sprint competitors and the turn point made up of traffic cones was supposed to be between two roundabouts.
The first roundabout had a marshall – heaven knows why and what his role was. There was no marshall at the turn and no chip timing equipment there either.
There are strong suggestions that up to fifty competitors were turned at the first roundabout and did not go to the proper turn cones approximately 200 metres further on. It was absolutely disgraceful organisation. There is no doubt that medal positions could be influenced because of some competitors gaining advantage by effectively doing a shorter ride.
Enough moaning. Folk may be asking “Is it worth the training, the commitment and indeed the cost of competing?”. My next piece really does illustrate why the answer to that question is Yes!
It is a true example of sportsmanship.
This was a Facebook post by a member of the GB Team, which then went viral amongst fellow competitors:
“Today has been a difficult day for many of us… but I would like to share my story that gives me great faith in humanity after becoming 20-24M European Champion. Approaching the roundabout near the end of lap one I believe I was leading the field. Two things entered my mind. Firstly I was shocked to see cars on the roundabout, and secondly I saw a person in an orange coat who appeared to be signalling me to go around the roundabout. I decided, in the moment, that this was likely him signalling at the cars and not me… so I went straight over the roundabout and correctly turned at the cones. I was then surprised to find myself overtaking athletes I had already passed. I went from 1st to about 10th. I pressed on and by the time I reached transition I was in 3rd overall, closely behind a Spaniard in my age-group. I did my best to challenge him on the run but in the end he crossed the finish a few seconds ahead of me… but I knew he had, (like several others) cut the course and was naturally disappointed to miss out on the gold.
“Speaking to the race officials, they stated that there was no timing matt at the turn point (as there should have been) so there was no hard evidence of who had and had not made the correct turn. Given that, he said, the only way he could launch an investigation was if somebody was willing to admit they made a mistake… but that (as a catch 22) if they did so… he would have no choice but to disqualify them.
“I thought that was that… but then in a touching moment of sportsmanship… the Spanish athlete pulled me to one side.. spoke to the race official… admitted his mistake in full knowledge he would be disqualified.. handing me the gold. I am deeply touched by this act… as given he was in first place when I overtook him… I do not doubt he would have held on for a podium finish he was fully deserving of had he ridden the correct course. His team manager told me later he walked away and cried his eyes out… and I would have too. A real champion, I will not forget.
“But I also share understanding with those who turned at the roundabout but did not come forward. It was not your fault… the blame lies with the race organisers and you have a right to feel aggrieved. I was so close to going wrong myself… I seriously considered it. With all the last minute course changes it is not unthinkable in the moment that the turn point could have changed too. Speaking out is a personal decision and there is no right or wrong. But what I saw today from the Spanish was a humbling act of kindness I will not forget. Yes I am delighted to be European Champion, but the circumstances under which it happened will live the longest.”
This is what the Spanish competitor later put on Facebook:
“Today I have lived terrible moments, but your kind words and specially David Pearson ones are helping me a lot.
“It has been all nonsense. It is too hard to finish a championship this way this after so many efforts and hopes during the last months.
“Most of you know what happened today, the poor signalling of the course has led a big number of athletes taking a wrong turn. However, not everyone was in the same situation at the end of the race. My position, which my legs have dictated, was the 3rd in my AG although in the rankings I appeared in 1st place by that moment. I knew that if I recognized that wrong turn, my DSQ was immediate.
“The race has been undermined since many athletes have taken a wrong turn, the gold medal was not satisfactory for me, I was devastated since I started the 2nd run by what had happened against our intentions.
“At least, accepting this situation, David will be able to enjoy his medal forever. There was no situation for me where I could get the medal I deserved and which is occupied in the rankings by another athlete who has made the turn in the roundabout with me and which I have distanced during the rest off the race.
“Thank you again mates, and specially you, David. You are a truly champion.”