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Beans first 70.3 – Rapperswil Switzerland « Caroline Koll's Blog


Beans first 70.3 – Rapperswil Switzerland

Thank you host family Helbling!
Thank you host family Helbling!

Well, I have been in Switzerland for just over a whirlwind week now, and I had a number of new experiences already! The most significant was competing in my very first half Ironman! True, I tried one earlier in the year and was unable to start the run because of that stupid accident I had the week before, so as you can imagine I was keen to get my first one under the belt! It is quite odd that I have never done a half, but have done 6 Ironman races to date! The reason is simply opportunity, as in fact we only have one race on the whole of the African Continent….
Last Saturday morning, I left for Lake Zurich (Rapperswil Jona) with Erika who generously offered me a ride to the race. The weather was less than lovely for this African, who has been wearing her whole wardrobe (as much as a 20kg luggage allowance allows), for the past week! Rain and cold are definitely not race conditions that I am accustomed to…
The race venue, despite being under dark menacing clouds was lovely – the picture post card of Switzerland. I was totally amazed at the stands at the race expo – I have never seen such a choice of race gear and was just itching to flex that credit card! I settled on some Powerbars that were on special for 1 Swiss Franc – a bargain for someone bearing South African Rand power. Then it was off to the race briefing, which turned out to be more amusing than one would think, when it was discovered that we had all indeed received the incorrect swim caps – it was like a game of Bingo when the athlete was matched up with the correct swim cap! Lucky Erika ended up with the fastest male swimmer’s cap, and she wasn’t keen on giving it up! While listening to the details of the course, I was a bit peckish, so started snacking on one of my discounted bars. It was only once I had gobbled up the whole thing that I realised that it was a special edition – double caffeine! Oh boy! For someone that never even drinks coffee this was serious business, I was going to be wired the whole night!
I headed off to my homestay – the Helbling family, to whom I owe a huge thank you for welcoming me into their home and the lovely chocolate (How did they know????). They ensured that I had a quiet and comfortable room in which to prepare for the race..
Well, that night, once I had drifted off to la-la land (eventually), the caffeine bar came back with a vengeance – I woke up sweating from a terrible nightmare! It is every triathlete’s worst dream – I am standing at the swim start, when I suddenly notice that I am the only one not wearing a wetsuit! In a panic, I am shouting at everyone to please wait, and hold the start while I run back up to transition to get my wetsuit! Needless to say I am left standing on the beach…
After waking up every hour after that for fear of being “late”, it is finally time to go down to the race start. Not raining, Bean is a happy triathlete! Got there super early, so had plenty of time to put on my Blue Seventy wetsuit (I think I was the first person to have their wetsuit on!). It was announced that the water temperature was 15degrees! That is the record coldest water I have ever swum in! I decided to warm up on land and retain as much body heat until I had to get in. It was glacial, from the start of the swim I just could not catch my breath, and this was to have plagued me for the entire swim. I would have done well to get a Blue Seventy hoodie – I NOW know what those are for!


The bike course was a stunning, double loop over varied terrain. Once my legs had warmed up a bit on the second lap, I was thoroughly enjoying the climbs, and managed to pass a few people.
The sun came out just in time for the run and so did my happy legs! Having no one close enough to catch on the run I just ran as hard as I could, trying to pass as many of the guys as I could. The run course was one of te most fun I have ever done – alot of off-road paths, lots of turns, cobbles and the highlight – a huge flight of stairs with a great band playing at the top!
I finished in 9th place, not a great performance at all, but some European race experience, and of course, my first half Ironman!

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