WITC at the Poznan Triathlon

WITC at the Poznan Triathlon, 27th July 2014
or one and a half iron WITC’ers – by Tristan Sakura

Not doing things by halves - Cristina's announcement at the holidays party

Not doing things by halves – Cristina announces her plan in front of everyone

Back at the 2013 WITC Holiday party, Cristina announced that she would be participating in a half-ironman distance race in 2014 (1.9 km swim, 90 km bike, 21.1 km run), challenging others to join her. As one of the WITC female multi-sport athletes of the year, there was no turning back after this proclamation. I was also looking for a half-IM distance race in the first half of the summer and thought it would be fun to join Cristina. We both had a couple other shorter races to warm up and get our bodies (and more importantly our minds) right for the race. Antoine Duquesnay, a part-time WITC member (he shows up for volleyball games and the parties), also thought that a 1/2 IM would be a good idea, especially since he hadn’t done any biking or running since the Olympic triathlon in Ełk in 2013 (folks: do not follow this Frenchman’s training plan). So this odd trio decided to race together in Poznań at the end of the July. To make things even more interesting, former World Ironman Champion, Australian Chris McCormack (aka Macca) would also be starting in Poznań, attempting to take down the fearsome three-some from WITC.

Beautiful Poznań is the perfect setting for a triathlon. Lake Malta sits just outside the city center, and is home to many boat races, an artificial ski slope, an outdoor bowling alley, and miles (look it up if you don’t know what it means) of paths for bikes, running and roller blading. The organization of the race was great (including a bag check and showers, which should be standard), especially considering 2,500 people started between the Saturday 1/4 IM and the Sunday 1/2 IM. Cristina had some problems even before the race started, getting a flat tire on the way to drop her bike off in transition. Luckily the Shimano bike tent guys were even more helpful than usual, fixing her flat and giving her an extra spare to bring with her during the race. And this was after she lost her race belt and left her helmet on the train.

The plan was for all 1200-ish participants of the 1/2 IM to start in the water at the same time. This meant about 10 minutes of treading water before the start, while everyone made their way to the start line. Because the size of the lake, and the fact that the initial stretch is about 800 meters straight before the first turn, it didn’t feel so crowded. This made for a very comfortable swim with limited kicking and punching among the participants. The bike route was nice, mostly flat, and without many turns, while the run was an easy 4 loops around the lake. The most important part of the race was the support from the fans and volunteers. With the temperature around 33 degrees, the run was very difficult. 21.1 km is difficult by itself, but adding to that the level of exercise before the run, and the intense heat with very little shade, and it was a tall task. Luckily, there was a tremendous amount of support from everyone there, passing out water and other drinks, people shooting water from hoses at the runners, even an older couple with small squirt bottles, who smiled so widely as they sprayed anyone who ran near them. The runners smiled too, because it was great that they cared and wanted to help. Ice packs were also a life saver, as supporters handed them out for runners to carry, while participants shared bags with each other on the course, whenever someone nearby needed to cool down. This level of support and care really boosted the morale in what would otherwise be a miserable final leg. Alan and Luca, who not only compete in many races, but are some of the best supporters when not racing, were also there to cheer as they usually do, which was also a great boost. Personally, by the end of the race I was too out of breathe to say “thank you” to all the supporters, but I still tried to mouth the words. I struggled with cramps for the last part of the run, and wish I had some extra salt packets to eat (they say it helps with cramps in hot weather). Indeed I brought some packets with me but forgot to take them out of my running shoes during T2, so they were dissolved in my shoe before I remembered about them. I don’t think salty feet actually help.

The hardest challenge for me was figuring out how to much to eat and drink to maintain a certain energy level. Constant exercise for 6 hours is draining and putting the right amount, and the right type, of fuel in your body can make a huge difference, especially in the intense heat. I had several energy gels, water, and isotonic drink, but also enjoyed a peanut butter, honey and salt sandwich while cycling. I’m not sure if it helped or hurt, but it was nice to have a little picnic on the bike. Asked to explain how he was able to complete the race with only a whopping 32 km of bike training the week before, Antoine responded by singing a modified line from a Midnight Oil song: “How can you bike when your balls are burning?“. “(They) were OK at the end of the run already, strangely, and as for the rest, my butt would die sitting on a saddle. My legs were good, I didn’t have any cramps and felt my back a bit from the bike position but it was gone a couple days later. And the high spirits of finishing makes you recover even faster. The fact that there are three sports makes it really bearable. It is really not the same effort in each discipline, and ending a sport to start the second is always a good surprise about your condition, no matter how tough. To sum up: “ah, not so bad, I’m still alive“.

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Poznan gets the thumbs from Tristan

Cristina about to start the run

Cristina about to start the run

Cristina had a few thoughts of her own: “For the first 5km running I was just happy I could run. But after the race, I was ecstatic and over the moon with how positive my first experience doing a half-IM distance had been: an amazing feeling of achievement to crown the long hours spent training and learning about racing such distance, training and to wipe the frustrations of fighting to overcome the injuries. It has been an incredible journey getting here and what I’m most happy with is, despite the massive stress before the race, having actually enjoyed every moment once the gun went off. I honestly don’t know when the 6:36′ passed! I’m feeling incredibly proud to be one of the 59 girls who successfully completed the race out of the 964 contestants“.

 

In the end, Macca had some bike troubles and didn’t finish the race, so you could say that our three WITCs beat him to the finish. I don’t think that was the reason, but as we crossed the finish line, we each were shaking and shed a few tears of joy. Out of everything, the most special moment for me was when Cristina crossed the finish line, and the three of us embraced in exhaustion, smiles and tears, savoring our accomplishment.

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The 3 brave WITC’ers relaxing after the race

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WITC at the Nieporet Triathon 2014

WITC at the Volvo Nieporet Triathlon, July 2014

The biggest race by far for WITC this year was the Nieporet triathlon, held just to the north on Warsaw next to Lake Zegrze in July. As it was close to Warsaw and not too early in the season, we had 20 WITC’s competing at this inaugural event, with a great mix of newbies and more experienced triathletes.

As people started to show up on the morning of the race, they were in for a bit of a surprise to see Renata taking part in the 1/8 ironman race! Here’s the story in her own words:

Welcome to the club Renata!

Welcome to the club Renata!

Renata Gos: Fear doubles all. Why did I decide to do my first triathlon? I’ve been asking myself this a couple of times… My first triathlon was pretty unique especially as I hardly told anyone that I’m going to participate. If I have to be honest I was terrified and scared that I won’t make it after all. But remember fear doubles all, but at the same time it can also drive you to another level. Thanks to it, at the start I had found my courage and the willingness to finish the task. Why did I do it? The answer eventually came to me itself. First of all I wanted reward myself for months of training and feel like a real member of the group. I mean the amazing group of WITC friends who where waiting for me at the finish line, supported me from the beginning and gave me so much joy. Thank you so much guys for making such big changes in my life :)

Great words there from Renata! After the 1/8 race it was time for the quarter ironman race, which the vast majority of WITC’ers were doing. The swim was one of the trickiest of any triathlon as you had to do 2 loops of 475m and with the first buoy being after only around 150m it was pure chaos there as hundreds of people came up against each other. But after the tough swim the flat bike and run courses meant that it was a fast course and a lot of people set personal bests. Special mention should go to Tristan Sakura who managed to change a flat tyre half-way round the bike course and still finish in a very good time :)

The first WITC’er to cross the line was the impressive Pierre-Francois, who passed Maciej Szymanski right at the end of the run, even though he has a somewhat unusual start to the race…

SONY DSCPierre-Francois: The race did not start well for me, the access roads were closed and consequently I was 3 minutes late to enter the transition zone. Luckily my bike was close to the fence and I managed to throw all of my stuff through. It started with a tough swim, lots of people kicking in every sense. Then I had a funny transition trying to find my stuff. Really nice bike and really nice run due to all the WITC supporters. That is why I improved my personal best ;).

Like Pierre says the support at this race was absolutely incredible, there were lots of WITC supporters along the course and they really helped and inspired those taking part, so big thanks to them all :)

You can also read Olga’s blog about her first triathlon here and view the club photo gallery here.

Congrats everyone!

Congrats everyone!

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Taking the plunge Part II – Olga Kulyna

Earlier this month we heard from Olga about her inspiration for doing triathlon and why she’d decided to sign up for her first ever triathlon (you can read the article here). And so, along with nearly 20 other intrepid WITC’ers, Olga lined up on at the start of the Nieporet Volvo triathlon to take on this challenge and maybe just start a new chapter in her (sporting) life ;). Here’s her inspiring story of perseverance and will-power…

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Taking the plunge Part II – by Olga Kulyna
or a complete lack of self-preservation instinct!

So, the morning of THE Sunday, 13th July had arrived. Surprisingly, I felt very relaxed (now I know it was an omen :)).

Not sure if this was what Olga was expecting when she asked for some support ;)

Not sure if this was what Olga was expecting when she asked for some support ;)

11:30….off goes the gun and all these 500 people rush into the water, each of them for their own personal reasons. Mine is to conquer the lake…

The very moment I started swimming I felt pain in my chest which impaired my breathing. Trying to relax I flipped on my back to catch a breath but the waves were splashing me  – it was a vicious circle I couldn’t do anything about. Suffocating, not seeing where I was going I somehow made it to the shore. But there was one more lap to do. So I stood there for a few seconds thinking whether I should go into that again. As soon as I put my head in the water the suffocation feeling was back. In sheer panic I decided to hold onto the boat for some time. The lifeguard, the unknown hero of the day, without whom I wouldn’t have completed the swim, was talking to me, trying to calm me down, asking whether I wanted to be pulled out. And there I was, floating, not being able to breathe and thinking… half a year spent on preparation and that’s how it’s finishing now??? Hell no!!! Slowly I started making my way around the course and back to shore. When my friends saw my face upon exiting the water, they thought it was the end of the race for me. Good it wasn’t documented. Well, at least I had the whole lake to myself, without people pushing and kicking me :)

In the transition zone I had no problem to find my bike – all the others had long been gone… another trauma for my overly-competitive mind. So I got on the bike still feeling pain in the chest to ride alone most of the distance, all the other cyclists going in the opposite direction. Well, at least I got to ride in the blaze of glory with the leaders for a few seconds when they lapped me and whom I followed to the finish line because some cretin had shouted to me to turn where they were turning J. And then there was the run on the rubber legs… By that time I was feeling sooo sorry for myself that I decided to take it easy and run my comfortable pace. So I somehow completed the race which for me turned out to be about the struggle in the water. I finished it in a state of complete mental devastation, having experienced probably the biggest shock in my life. But guess what? Someone told me before that triathlon is addictive. Like hell it is! Counting the days till the next race! :)

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Olga “I finished … in a state of complete mental devastation, having experienced probably the biggest shock in my life. But guess what … [I’m] counting the days till the next race!”

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Olga, you’re one tough cookie – congratulations on finishing the race despite the difficult swim :) And best of luck in your future triathlons!

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Taking the plunge – Olga Kulyna

With the biggest triathlon event of the season for WITC just over a week away (in Nieporet), first time triathlete Olga Kulyna from Ukraine talks about what inspired her to make the transition from running to triathlon.

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Taking the plunge by Olga Kulyna
or why the hell I’m doing a triathlon next week!!

Olga picking up the most improved runner of 2013 at last year's awards

Olga picking up the most improved runner of 2013 at last year’s awards after some very impressive running performances

When I first joined WITC about 2 years ago I only did it for the sake of running and of course for the company of all these wonderful people. Somehow triathlon didn’t appeal to me at all. At that time I didn’t know much about the sport and it all looked too complicated to me – there was too much equipment and it was simply boring. Oh, and I should probably mention I couldn’t swim, to say the least, couldn’t even float without two “makarony” (water noodles) and a life jacket :) A few people still remember those times and once in a while will drop in a sarcastic question like: how’s your swimming, Olga? Believe me, it is really embarrassing to be almost 30 and not to be able to swim a simple froggy style :)

And then in February last year I decided to give it a try and joined the club’s swimming program. Just to learn how to swim. The possibility of once entering a race didn’t even cross my mind. That was until a student of mine lent me a book he got for Christmas called “A LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS” a biography of Chrissie Wellington – the toughest woman on earth. It impressed me so much that I immediately knew I had to try :)

Then there were WITC bike rides to triathlon events to support the club members where I could sense this amazing atmosphere of competition, months, years of hard work and sacrifice, feelings of accomplishment… there is something more about these people than about just runners, or just swimmers etc. It’s hard to define, something very noble.

So the event is in about a week. I still haven’t managed to overcome my fear of water, and I do realize I might panic and just quit the last moment and it will be over. Let’s see how it turns out and whether there will be a second part of this story :)

Olga (right) getting some swimming tips from Cristina - picture courtesy of Darek Sikorski

Olga (right) getting some swimming tips from Cristina (left) – picture courtesy of Darek Sikorski

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Thanks for sharing Olga, I’m sure you’ll do great next weekend and we’re all looking forward to hearing about your experience of the race :)

 

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WITC at the early-season triathlons 2014

This year the number of triathlons in Poland has exploded and as a result we’ve had WITC’ers travel the length and breadth of the country to participate in competitions. We take a quick look back on three of the first events of this season:

Olysztyn Olympic triathlon, 22nd May, 2014
The first race of the season was held in Olsztyn in mid May. Maciej Szymanski reports on what was an eventful race:

Maciej - The King of the Crete Mountains

Maciej – The King of the Crete Mountains

I chose Olsztyn for my first triathlon this season mainly because it’s an Olympic distance and I like the fact that there is more swimming in proportion to other ironman distances. While the majority of races in Poland are now 1/4 IM and non-drafting, Olsztyn is special because it actually applies the rules of racing from the Olympic Games, which means drafting is allowed. This adds a lot of emotions to the bike portion of the race. I was trying to catch a group on the bike and I was lucky enough to do so. At first I worked with them, taking the lead from time to time and at the end just took advantage of their draft, while sitting at the back. A triathlon at the end of May can be risky when it comes to conditions and here we had a water temperature of 15 degrees, but beautiful sun and even extreme heat outside of the water. Except for the 15-20 minutes when thunderstorm and hail suddenly hit just at the beginning of the bike… this inevitably caused several crashes on the bike leg. The course was unexpectedly hilly, both on the bike and on the run (including a 7% incline at the beginning of each loop!). Anyway, the organization of the event was perfect and I will surely come back. Especially considering the fact that I managed to beat my personal best Olympic distance time by approx. 10 minutes :)

Piaseczno 1/4 ironman, 25th May, 2014
The town of Piaseczno hosted it’s first triathlon this year which was hugely popular in particular thanks to it’s location close to Warsaw. WITC had a strong showing here including Tristan, Igors and Joanna but we caught up with first-timer Agata to hear about how she prepared for her first triathlon and how it all went:

Agata (centre) flanked by Igors and Tristanek before the start of the race

Agata (centre) flanked by Igors and Tristanek before the start of the race

In early January this year I ran into the triathlon topic, and all of a sudden it became a dream for me to take part in such an endeavour. Since then I started to prepare myself for it both mentally and physically. It required a lot of effort and sacrifice, but in the end, once I participated and completed my first 1/4 triathlon, I am convinced that accomplishing a dream is all about giving your best.
You can view the photo gallery from Piaseczno here.

Sierakow 1/4 ironman, 1st June 2014
The Sierakow triathlon was a popular race last year and a group of WITC’ers returned there to take on the scenic, hilly course, enjoy the beer and food at the finish line and pick up another great bag in the starter pack this year. Maciej Brzezinski was the fastest WITC’er this time round and had the following to say about the event:

Congratulations on a great race Maciej!

Congratulations on a great race Maciej!

Sieraków 2014 was my first ever ¼ ironman race (950m swim, 45km bike, 10.5 km run)! :-) I must admit it’s a great distance – it is enough for an intensified effort and long fight (2h 47min 59sec), but it is much less exhausting than ½ ironman and you are not feeling as wasted as after the full ironman.
The race day: the water was chilly but not cold – it was OK in a wetsuit, but still I encountered some problems with breathing so I switched to breast stroke a few times (and actually it was not slower than my tired crawl :-)). The uphill run (to the transition zone) just after the swim was a killer! The bike route was very diverse, because there were no flat parts – it was either up or down the whole time! And my favourite part was the run – a cross-country course through forest with 2 really tough uphills – you couldn’t get bored!
All in all, Sieraków 2014 was a really adventurous and rather difficult race for me, well-organised and with great weather, deckchairs and delicious food at the finisher zone (watermelon, oranges, bananas, ice-cream, beer and burgers) it was beautiful! :-)

You can view the photo gallery from Sierakow here.

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10 Triathlon Afterthoughts – By Martin Pape

With the triathlon season now in full swing, Martin Pape looks back on his first triathlon in Sierakow and passes on a few thoughts he had after the race.

Please note this article contains opinions and views which are solely the author’s.

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10 Triathlon Afterthoughts – By Martin Pape

Martin

If you can’t smile at any given moment of the race you’re doing it wrong

1) A trisuit is a must, it leaves more time for hair drying and make-up in the transition zone

2) Peeing inside the wetsuit is not a crime

3) The transition from cycling to running is something that needs to be trained a bit more often

Heading into T2

Heading into T2

4) Don’t race without (experienced) friends, you’ll have thousand of questions before and even more after the race

5) Take your time to soak up the surroundings, you’re spending a day out there so use it well

6) Powerbars are overrated and eating while running doesn’t work

7) A week of proper sleep and no alcohol before the race can compensate for a lack of training

8) Cheer back to the spectators, time passes quicker and it makes them happy and appreciated

9) Have someone to drive you back

10) If you can’t smile at any given moment of the race you are doing it wrong :)

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A week of proper sleep and no alcohol before the race …” makes a beer after the race taste even sweeter ;)

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Thanks Martin! Are you planning your first triathlon this season? If so we’d love to hear from you – please get in touch with us at info@warsawtriclub.com or via our facebook page!

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WITC at the Accreo Ekiden Relay Marathon, 2014

WITC at the Accreo Ekiden Relay Marathon, Kepa Potocka, May 2014

This year was the 3rd year in a row that WITC took part in this popular relay event, and this time we had a record 4 (FOUR) teams registered! In this race each team consists of 6 people, with everyone running a distance between 5 and 10km. Each team has to carry and pass on a baton just like in the Olympics (although this year it was just a white sash, which made it feel a bit less like the Olympics) and it’s a great opportunity to run as part of a team and support the other runners out there.

So on Sunday 11th May, 24 runners, plus supporters, from the club showed up in Kepa Potocka (which is incidentally the same location as the annual Club Challenge) for this relay event – thankfully the forecast rain held off too!

Andy on the second leg for the A-Team

Andy on the second leg for the A-Team

All four teams did exceptionally well with the A-Team, captained by Andy Mossop, flying the flag for the club and completing an outstanding sub 3 hour marathon. This was despite Andy being jet-lagged after returning from America just 24 hours earlier and having to rush off to the airport straight afterwards. “I was really excited to see how the WITC participants are growing in number at this event each year, but this year felt a bit of pressure on the A-team to deliver a sub 3-hour marathon time, finish in the top 10% and try to beat some of our local friendly rivals (Ergo, AKB Mort, 12tri, Roche Runners) who were also racing. I was delighted to finish in 2:53 and in 23rd place overall. (It was also good fun to run for two teams, having a team made up of Roche Runners + WITC combined, but not so much fun to rush straight to the airport!)

Erdal running his third Accreo relay marathon in a row

Erdal running his third Accreo relay marathon in a row

Erdal Halil of the “just” WITC team also spoke to us after the race: “Just like Biegnij Warszawo in October, the Accreo Ekiden relay marathon in May has grown in my not so frequent runner’s mind as a traditional WITC event in which I get to meet old and new club members and enjoy the heat of a friendly competition. Last weekend’s run was not shy of such moments despite the weather that was not so great for the picnic style afternoons to which we were accustomed in the last 2 years. Congratulations to all those completing the run with special regards to those who were at their first competition or managed to beat those extra 2 minutes on their favourite distance.

 

Marta (second from the right) with the rest of the Supergirls

Marta (second from the right) with the rest of the Supergirls

Marta Makowska, running for the WITC II team captained by OlgierdRunning was never really was my thing, yet events like Accero Ekkiden Relay Marathon make me want to do that extra effort for the sake of the team. With the inspiration I constantly get from the WITC guys I managed to beat my personal best for 5k this year! After all, running is not that bad when you have the perspective of cool beer and snacks with friends afterwards.

Agnieszka and Marek crossing the finish line

Agnieszka and Marek crossing the finish line

Agnieszka Fedejko, who was on the super Supergirls team: “In my two years of running experience I have taken part in several races and I must say that the Accreo Ekiden is very special to me. Running for a team gives me even more motivation and determination than if I were only running for myself. As an example, I got a stitch on my first kilometre. If I were running for myself, I would most probably stop, but I didn’t. It’s great fun and very good opportunity to catch up with people. I am glad I was in the girls’ team :) Ewa was a great manager for us :) She was very helpful and supportive. I can’t wait for next year!

You can view the full results here and our photo gallery of the event here.

ROLL CALL
WITC A-Team                                                          “Just” WITC
Alan Parsons                                                                 John Tucker
Andy Mossop                                                                Igors Berkovics
Pierre-Francois Drouin                                               Erdal Halil
Herve Montrade                                                          Georgiana Dumitrascu
Maciej Szymanski                                                         Vegard Stornes
Tristan Sakura                                                              Joanna Sygula

WITC II                                                                       WITC Supergirls
Marek Kacprzak                                                            Amalia Kalinca
Olgierd Swida                                                                 Angelique Maige
Kasia Kulik                                                                      Olga Kulyna
Katharina Thumeyer                                                     Agnieszka Fedejko
Marta Makowska                                                           Kamila Lewandowska
Joanna Wasilewska                                                        Iga Grzegrzolka

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Triathlon checklist

Triathlon checklist – by Alan Parsons

Are you doing your first triathlon this year and wondered what you need to bring with you? While getting ready for your first tri can be stressful and confusing at times, it doesn’t need to be if you’re well prepared. I was a bit under-prepared for my first triathlon so I’d like to try and pass on what I’ve learnt to others to help you keep the big day stress-free so that you can focus on the swim, bike and run, and of course enjoying the event.
I can’t promise that this list covers absolutely everything but I’ve done my best, after consulting with a few other friends, to put together the essentials:

SWIM
Wetsuit (please note that depending on the temperature of the water, some tris will require a wetsuit to be worn while at others a wetsuit may not be allowed – check with the organisers in advance)
Goggles
Flip flops/sandals (for before the start)
Swimming trunks/swimsuit or tri suit (to wear underneath the wetsuit)
Extra swim cap in case the water is cold (neoprene caps are also available in case of extreme weather)
Wetsuit lubricant to help you remove the wetsuit in transition 1

p.s. Don't forget to pose as you come out of the water ;)

p.s. Don’t forget to pose as you come out of the water ;)

BIKE
Bike (duh!)
Helmet
Spd shoes if applicable
One or two large (750ml) water bottles
Cycle shorts/tri suit
Sunglasses
Spare inner tube & tools (just in case – hopefully not needed!)
Bike pump
Bike gloves (optional)
Watch (optional – you can wear one from the start but I like to attach my watch to the handlebars of the bike and then put it on when I’m cycling)

Aerobars may or may not be permitted, so please check with the organisers if you have them on your bike

Aerobars (lemondki in Polish) may or may not be permitted, so please check with the organisers if you have them on your bike

RUN
Running shoes
Cap/visor (in case it’s hot)
Quick-tie laces for the shoes (recommended)

Don't forget to sprint for the line!

Don’t forget to sprint for the line!

TRANSITION + OTHER STUFF
Towel to dry after the swim
Extra towel for putting things on the ground or covering your gear
Extra fluid
Tri belt for your race number (don’t forget to put it on in T1)
Energy gels or other race nutrition
Spare clothes to change into after the race
Sun screen – triathlons are generally in the summer and you’ll be outside for several hours.

And that’s about it. All I’d add is go out there and try to relax and enjoy the event – triathlons are really a lot of fun! Good luck :)

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WITC Pre-season Training Camp, Crete 2014

WITC Inaugural Pre-season Training Camp, Agia Galini, Crete, April 2014

18 people, 7 nationalities, one island and one club! WITC held its inaugural training camp in Crete this year and it was a huge success. The idea was the brainchild of Igors Berkovics and he explained why he decided to organise the trip: “I wanted to go for a training camp, but also travel to some nice destination at the same time. I didn’t see anything like this on offer elsewhere so I decided it was a good idea to try to organise something ourselves. Crete seemed like an ideal choice.

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Igors aka the ice-cream monster

With the flights, accommodation and bikes all booked, the group arrived in the small town of Agia Galini on Easter Monday for a week of training and more. As it turned out Agia Galini is in a valley, so getting out of there in any direction meant you had to go uphill! In general Crete is a very hilly island so the biking was tough but great on good, quiet roads, in stunning scenery. Almost every bike ride featured a beautiful beach at the half-way point, along with an opportunity to sample the local food which were great incentives and rewards for going up and down all those hills.

Of course it wasn’t just about cycling, there were also early morning swims in the sea and runs along the beach, as well as some BRick workouts after a long bike ride. Another highlight of the trip was the 1 1/2 hour yoga session superbly organised by Iga – with the soothing sound of waves in the background it was a great way to round off the day’s training. Being WITC we also had loads of fun, enjoyed the local cuisine (and raki) to the fullest and also had the chance to do some sightseeing in Chania before the flight back.

Renata going strong up the hills

Renata going strong up the hills

Renata Gos, who had hardly been on a bike before in her life yet clocked up over 200km during the week, explained why she decided to come and told us what she enjoyed (and hated) most:I decided to go to Crete at the last minute. I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to do a sport camp at all. On the other hand I thought that it might be a perfect occasion to challenge myself, try new things and see if sport in general is something for me. I have to admit that it was one of the most difficult, demanding and unexpected trips ever. I was out of my comfort zone and I had to compete with my own weaknesses. Every single day was a challenge, every single day I had enough, I wanted to give up and I was unbelievably tired. However at the same time I wanted more, to push my own limits further and further. I was curious what the next day will bring for me, and most importantly how I will respond to it. This trip gave me a lot of strength and self-confidence even though I had so many breakdowns on the way. Another important issue was a great supportive group of people, who helped me to achieve my goal and shared all the moments with me

Amalia, on the left, enjoying a pit-stop with the girls on the way to Matala beach

Amalia, on the left, enjoying a pit-stop with the girls on the way to Matala beach

Amalia Kalinca summed up her experience of the great trip: “Everyone distinguished themselves, both on and off the bike. Agnieszka tested her limits both in the team and independently, a courageous thing to do. Cristina effortlessly combined biking with the pleasure of swimming in the sea. Together with Patrizia, they gracefully took over the task of photographing significant moments of our training. Dominika’s ambition made her a fierce biker. Ela shortly became one of the fastest novice riders. Iga was one of the eager learners of the team, riding ahead numerous times. Joanna and Iwo provided unconditional companionship while riding on the hills with the advanced team. Justyna showed determination while running mornings and evenings by the shore, the determination that drove her on at the Rome Marathon. John, our most independent team member, drove, biked and swam, astonishing the rest of the team with his stamina. Renata demonstrated her ambition in style, riding over 200 kilometres. Steve competed elegantly and proved his limits go beyond what WITC is accustomed to. And as for me, I enjoyed the exciting downhills, tested my endurance and am now one step closer to triathlon.”

As the group relaxed on the final day in Chania, the organiser and general man in charge Igors took the opportunity to acknowledge some special achievements. Maciek and Katharina were crowned the “King and Queen of the Mountain” for their prowess on the hills while Dominika received a special award for “Integration into Cretan culture”. Cristina then awarded Alan and Jeff “Angels’ Angels” certificates for their patience and trustful guidance on the Cretan hills.

Maciej being crowned King of the Mountains!

Maciej being crowned King of the Mountains!

All in all it was a fantastic week, with a perfect balance of training and fun, and hopefully the first of many pre-season training camps :)

WITC is ready for the new season!

WITC is ready for the new season!

You can view the full photo gallery here.

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WITC at the Warsaw Half Marathon, 2014

After last year’s long winter and the half marathon being held in freezing conditions of around -9, only the most ardent cross-country skiing fan was complaining this year as Warsaw, and Poland in general, experienced its mildest winter in years. Not only did it allow plenty of training in temperatures above zero, but it also meant that on race day, temperatures reached a dizzy 17 degrees, a swing of over 20 degrees from the previous year. AND the sun was shining :-)

As an event, the Warsaw Half Marathon keeps going from strength to strength. It’s fantastic to see an event on our doorstep thriving and so well-organised. This year saw a record number of finishers (11000+) as well as a new course record set by the Kenyan Victor Kipchirchir of 1:00:48.

Blue skies greeted runners at the start of the race

Blue skies greeted runners at the start of the race

The weather also enticed plenty of people onto the streets and thanks to them the runners had excellent support all the way.

A couple of WITC’s took time out to tell us about their experiences of the event.

Pierre-Francois Drouin (who was too fast for any of our photographers): The Warsaw Half Marathon was my first race 2 years ago and I’m kind of attached to it and participate every year. I like the route which I know quite well as I train in Warsaw and the race is also for me a very good event to check my running level before the triathlon season starts. This time it was even more fun as we were a lot of runners from WITC. My objective was to improve my best record, which I did. The very nice weather (much warmer than last year!) helps a lot and also Andy whom I tried to catch in the last part of the run.

StevepolmaratonSteve Arndt: I came into the 2014 Warsaw Half Marathon with a lot to prove to myself. Having finished 2013’s race at 2:05:47, I was committed to a 1:45 race. Crossing the line at 1:43:38 was more than a 22 minute improvement from last year and a welcomed result. The difference was WITC, both the run organizers and Pzemek Wasak kicking my ass every week. I was running through the field nearly the entire race – starting with a green race bib, and finishing surrounded by the yellows. I hope to only get faster from here.

This year there were 3 WITC teams entered in the team standing, with the first team finishing an impressive 35th place. You can view the full results here:

After finishing the race, we went for a meal to round off what was an amazing day and great start to the season!

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Congratulations to everyone who supported and took part – you can view out full photo gallery here.

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