Race morning started with a lie in, a little exercise and then a long lazy breakfast alongside the “Swiss Miss” herself, Renata Bucher, and our respective best friends and boyfriends kindly supporting us. We sat on the veranda of our beautiful home-stay that overlooked Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) and even Mont Blanc was glittering in the distance; it was set to be a perfect day of racing and it was important to cherish these rare moments of peace and quiet before the storm that was to hit later in the day at 2pm.
The swim was a tense and ferocious beginning. The calm, crystal clear waters of Lake Geneva were transformed into a frothy whirlpool of rubber-wearing triathletes. After a false start, the gun went and there was a spectacular smashing and clashing of arms that continued the whole way around the first lap. It finally settled by the second lap and before I knew it, it was all over and I was sprinting up the bank. Following seconds after me were Renata Bucher and Darrelle Parker in eager pursuit.
After an efficient transition, we were onto the mountain bike course. This was basically a flat bumpy ride interrupted by repeated scrambling through rocky, river beds. Needless to say, it was a shame that the only role the Swiss Alps played was as a backdrop for the race. The course was hectic but the queues in the short lived single track didn’t last long and the field soon stretched out as the pecking order became established. Apart from shedding some skin on one of the sharp, gravel corners, the bike went without mishap for me. Turn after turn, I smashed the pedals down determined to bring myself back into contention and by the second lap I was in third.
Renata Bucher and Marion Lorblanchet were having a gruelling battle just ahead of me at the front of the field but it was Marion who prevailed and win the inaugural European Xterra Tour Title. Renata was a close second while I pushed on to hold my third podium position!
I crossed the finish line and I thought it was all over. Time to celebrate, eat swiss cheese and chocolate and be merry. But no, for me it was time to drink. Not alcohol of course but water or anything that would make me go ‘pee’ for the compulsory drug testing. Once that mission was accomplished, it was time for the second prize giving for the Xterra European Tour titles; I placed a very proud fourth position in this, my first season as a pro!
In the rest of the field, the Brits put on a strong performance. Graham Wadsworth consistent and determined as ever had a storming race to cross the line 9th pro male while Ian Leitch fought a spirited battle on the bike and run to achieve 4th pro male. There were unfortunately several non-contenders in the British camp; injury or illness unfortunately thwarted Sam Gardner, Paul Davies and Jacqui Slack’s attempts at racing so they enjoyed cheering us all on from the sidelines and enjoying the social side of Xterra racing.
The familiar crazy Xterra dancing ensued under the evening moonlight until the early hours…overall, this was a superb event that ran with classic Swiss efficiency. It’s within easy reach, just 20mins from Geneva airport and is a must-do race. I hope to see you there next year, if not before, at the big one – the World Xterra Championships on Maui in just 6 weeks…!!