Race morning in Abu Dhabi and nothing like a few last-minute hiccups to raise the heart rate.
Forget wind-milling the neoprene-clad arms on the beach before the swim start, there’s no better way to get the blood pumping than realising your new racing flats have given you a foot full of blisters, your new aero helmet has no ventilation for the desert heat, or your new time-trial steed has not been built yet as it only landed at midnight… and that’s just the pro racers.
These are some of the fun and games that were discussed – in no particular order – by Phil Graves, Dan Halksworth and Joe Umpenour whilst trying to force down such processed breakfast delights as turkey bacon, chicken sausages and pancakes at 4am before being ferried to the race start.
Remember what they told you when you lined up for your first tri? Something about never trying anything new at the last minute.
A triathlete-infested hotel is the polar opposite from what you’d expect on any other weekend. By 9pm on a Friday night everybody is tucked up in bed before the silence is broken before sunrise as the pre-race PA system cranks out inappropriate dance tunes picked by a tone deaf child of the eighties race director.
Once the action gets underway, started by the legendary Stormin’ Normann Stadler (I resisted the temptation to booby-trap the starter’s pistol by filling it with “too much glue.” See Stadler meltdown on YouTube), it’s a testimony to how all-encompassing our sport is that Alistair Brownlee is lining up – and then swimming through – hoards of age-group triathletes.
The veritable hamster wheel of multi-distance, multi-start wave, multi-lap racing then takes over and it’s incident packed; Chris Macca McCormack pulls out with a broken finger, German hope Andi Boecherer sprains his right buttock.
It also looks like Alistair Brownlee is so focussed on his time trial position he forgets to look up on the Yas Marina Grand Prix circuit and misses the exit. To be frank, he could probably have done a full F1 qualifying session and still won this one.
While it might be hotting up and turning into a suffer-fest out on the course, I’m scribing in an air conditioned press room. I would be out there, but snappers in budgie smugglers catching the last of the age-groupers exiting the swim is just too much to handle at this hour of the morning.