Chicago World Championships – 17th September 2015 – Ben Baugh

When I started training for triathlon In December 2014 I set myself goals for the first season of racing. One of my goals was to qualify for the Chicago World Championships in 2015. Through hard work and training from OffThatCouchFitness, I managed to qualify for the event.

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We arrived in Chicago and the weather was fantastic, around 28 degrees on the first couple of days. We settled into our hotel and had a look around the venue and where I would be racing. The setting was great, a straight swim course in the Michigan Lake, a three lap bike course around the streets of the city and then a run that circled the famous Buckingham Fountain.

Race day came round pretty quick and after trying to adjust to the time difference I was thankful that the race didn’t start until 10am. I was up at 6am to make sure I had breakfast at 7am and was prepared for the race. I was anxious in the morning and just wanted to get ready check my bike and race! We racked the bikes the night before and by 8am I was back into transition to check-in my running shoes and to pump up my tyres.

At around 9am, an hour before my race start, I made my way down to the lake front to chill out and focus on my race. The weather was great for spectators as it was near 26 degrees and was rising. By 9:50 everyone was ready and all the green hats (U20 Males) were escorted into the starting pen.  It was getting hotter and hotter by the hour and the temperature came to 30 degrees while we were racing.

The swim was fairly simple as it was one straight line along the lakeside. We all set off and I positioned myself slightly out of the large bunch. I didn’t get the best of starts, as it was difficult to get into a rhythm at first as everyone was battling for the best line. The swim entailed a lot of contact for the first few minutes then started to settle as the pack spread out. I didn’t have the fastest of swims as I was around 50 seconds slower to what I am normally capable of doing, this might have been down to nerves from the event.

Coming out of the swim we had a 400-500m run to transition and get onto our bikes. I was happy with my transitions as nothing went wrong and I felt good going into the bike leg. Setting off on the bike I could instantly feel the heat, however there was a slight breeze, image2[1]which was a savior. I was in two minds about taking a drink on the bike but glad I decided to because it was so hot, even though it was now warm water it was very welcome. The bike course followed around to an out and back turn, which was near the Chicago Bears football stadium. I was surprised on the poor condition of some of the bike course roads. On the main highway where most of the spectators watched, the roads were flat and fast! However going past transition the roads consisted of cracks, holes and bumps. I almost thought I’d entered a cyclocross race as I learnt after one lap the bumps in the road didn’t go well with my bike and found it easier to bunny hop over the obstacles. I had a fairly strong bike, as I was 56th out of the swim and 27th coming out onto the run, meaning I gained 30 places on the bike.

Running out of transition 2 to start the run I could instantly feel the heat, my body did not react well to this and I couldn’t run at my normal pace. No matter how hard I tried my body would not work at a fast pace in the heat. I was 10th Brit coming out onto the run and by the end of the race I managed to get the 5th GBR athlete. The run course was great; it was flat and a brilliant atmosphere from the crowd surrounding the barriers. The run was uncomfortable in the end and I managed to attach myself to the back of the GBR athlete in front of me. I made sure I stayed with him and we were approaching the fountain for the last time. He started to pick up the pace knowing the finish was near. I saw the grandstand and finish line across the other side of the fountain and decided that I needed to make my move now, although he was looking strong. I stuck behind him and then I went, dropped my shoulder and went around him on the right. I picked my head up and just ran as fast as I could around the fountain, I took one look back to see I had made a image3[1]comfortable gap on him. The finish line was then metres away as I hear my Dad and Ali shout for me but I had nothing left as I crossed the line. I placed 20th overall and 5th Brit to finish the race.

I would like to say a big thank you to North Lincolnshire Council for their financial support which helped towards the costs of attending the event and the Leisure pass which has made a great contribution to meeting the targets in my training schedule.

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