Well, what an interesting event!!
First of all congratulations on our fellow South African, Jeren Seegers from Team Tissink who won the race overall in a time of 4 hr 06min. Well done, we as South Africans are so proud of you! What an achievement in difficult conditions!
I decided in June 2017 to give IM 70.3 Turkey a go.It was a very appealing opportunity as I have never done any event aboard.The Turkish Mediterranean Riviera in Belek Antalya, home of IM Turkey sounded fantastic, therefore, I grabbed the opportunity and started preparing and training with Team Tissink. I was ready as can be for this event!
The travelling from PE, via Joburgh, Istanbul to Antalya, took almost 20 hours, very tiring, as I am not used to travelling for such long periods on a plane!
I arrived in Antalya to a warm welcome and immediately felt at ease after seeing so many athletes and tourists in such a beautiful part of Turkey, with absolute beautiful weather as well. The Gloria Hotel Resort, part of the sponsors of the event, where I stayed, was an absolute beautiful setting, with lovely food, hospitality and a fantastic spa, where athletes could get massages at a very reduced price!
Race briefing, welcoming banquet and expo was good, although I think ours here in South Africa is far better! Our own Gordon Graham was the announcer, therefore things were very loud and clearly understood. Transport between the starting of the event, transition and the end of the event worked flawlessly. We can learn from their transport systems.
I met 6 other South Africans as well as athletes from Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Russia, Germany, Italy, UK and Sweden. a wonderful experience as we all shared the same passion. Just to learn once again how sport can unite people from different cultures and languages.
The day before race day, I did a bit of swim, bike and run training, just to familiarise myself with the conditions. I knew i was ready for race day!
On race day I woke up to a very windy day(felt like PE), plus the temp was predicted to be 28C around mid day. I knew it was going to be a hard and hot day! At transition on the morning, we were informed that it was a non-wet suit swim as the water temp was 24C.
We(1000 athletes took part) all lined up at the starting line, where a rolling start was attempt, but failed and people basic rushed into the water after a few minutes! The visibility of the buoys were poor and only a few safety canoes were around, not exactly a safe situation where there were a lot of anxious athletes! At some stage during my swim, I was next to a breast stroker, who was all over the place! I attempt to pass him, at which he got annoyed with me, he then stopped , grabbed me, pushed me on my head and shoulders under the water and held me there for about 15 seconds and only then let go! I could not believe what was happening, but manage to surface, vomited my breakfast and a stomach full of sea water out. I managed to compose myself and carried on with the swim, my slowest swim in 17 years of tri athlone! I was furious to say the least! After transition, I got on the bike and biked my heart out! I knew I was going to pay for the hard bike leg on the run, but, I just carried on! There were referees all the way on the bike leg, so no drafting , which was really good! I had a good bike in spite of the wind and started my run leg, determined to go as hard as possible. It was really hot, but I ran well up to 18km and then started fading a bit, but pushed through for the last 3 km. Water stations were good, with enough water and food. We had a lovely finish at the Gloria Sports Arena, running the last bit on the tartan track The spectators were awesome as well!! They made all the difference, as always! What a finish!!
In spite of the swim horror, I had a good race and enjoyed it thoroughly! I think the organizers have still something to learn, regarding safety and to smooth a few things out.
I can really recommend this race, as it is affordable and the race set up is really good, especially the transport, the accommodation and the friendliness of everybody!
Out of the 7 South Africans, we got 3 podium finishers, including the overall winner, Jerren Seegers, from Team Tissink! Well done South Africa!
Thank you IM 70.3 Turkey for a lovely event!
Salome Loots (Team Tissink PE)
Race results: 2nd place 55-59 AG
Total time 5h39
Swim 50 min