No, I’ve not taken leave of my senses. It has never, ever crossed my mind to partake in any kind of triathlon event. Not that I know much about triathlons, other than knowing I wouldn’t want to do one.  Just thinking about what’s involved in an Ironman leaves me feeling weak at the knees: 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a marathon. To contemplate undertaking such an event, I would require at least four days: one per event, with a rest day between the ride and the run. More wisely, I’ve been helping out a friend (a former triathlete herself) by working on her stand at the Expo during the Nice Ironman, one of the major sporting events in the Nicois calendar.

After only a few hours on the stand, I began to appreciate that there’s a look for triathletes: shaved heads, tattoos, t-shirt from another prestigious tri-event, below knee. baggy cargo shorts, compression calf socks, crocs. The female competitors tend to forgo the shaven heads and have fewer tattoos, or should that be fewer visible tattoos? I don’t know, you tell me. I met people who had come from all over the world to take part. Most of those coming from further afield were combining the event with a holiday in Europe. It’s clearly an event for the entire family, as I saw plenty of people with their own support crew, mostly in buggies. Obviously they don’t spend all their spare time training.

It was feast or famine on the stand, as it is at so many exhibitions. I got to use all my linguistic skills but sadly we didn’t  achieve as many sales as we would have liked. I would have expected more interest in the t-shirts but maybe the significant outlay to take part in the event mitigates against spending too much during it. In any case, it’s at least spreading brand awareness and one lucky competitor who entered our draw will win a gilet. My beloved and I will try to spread the word, and brand awareness, during the Tour. We’ll be wearing our matching Tour de France themed t-shirts when we’re Skoda’s VIP guests in Gap on 18 July. In addition, my beloved will be airing his new cycling outfit while scaling some of the same cols as the professional peloton during the 3rd week of the Tour. The range is designed by a current French professional cyclist. It’s a shame he can’t guarantee that buying the kit will enable you to ride as fast as him. If he could, he’d have a surefire hit on his hands.

Sunday dawned warm and sunny with very little breeze. I eschewed the club outing to view the Ironman ride. I rode, at speed, to a good vantage point, overtaking a number of club cyclists en route. I was perspiring heavily by the time I arrived. I was in good company as the first competitors hove into view. I didn’t envy them their ride. It’s a scenic route but I doubted whether many would have the time to appreciate it. I was hoping to catch sight of my friend’s husband, and I did. He looked to be riding well but, most likely, he neither heard nor saw me. I watched for an hour or so and then continued on my way.

The podiums

The event starts at 06:30h in the morning and you have to complete the swim before 08:15h. Top competitors are out of the water in under an hour. There’s also a cut-off time for the bike ride. You need to be back on the Promenade des Anglais, ready to start the marathon, before 17:15h and complete it before 22:30h. The winning time in the men’s event was 8:28:30secs and for the winning female 9:34:31secs. Truthfully, I would be delighted to post that time just for the ride. A significant number of the competitors complete the event in over 14 hours. That’s a mind bogglingly long time to be out in the hot weather.

I arrived back home with enough time to prepare lunch ready for my beloved’s return. Thereafter, we subsided on the sofas to read the Sunday newspapers and watch the French national cycling championships.

The following day I noted many were walking around Nice wearing their finisher’s puce polo shirts and the obligatory calf recovery/compression leggings. A bit like the Tour de France, where I regard anyone who gets to Paris as a winner, the same has to be said for anyone completing an Ironman.

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