An Adventurous Weekend for WRC Members
10 June 2019 - By James Montgomery
XTERRA, Namur Belgium
Two intrepid WRC members headed to Namur in Belgium (not in and itself an intrepid undertaking) for the fourth running of Xterra Belgium. A tough off road triathlon based around the historic Citadel of Namur. The race (1500m river swim, 35km MTB and 10km trail run) was characterised by technical trails and hills, lots of hills. Both Tony Wallen and Stuart Mills put in strong performances finishing in 4:51:00 and 3:52:04 respectively.
To put the times into perspective the pro male winner ran a 43 minute 10km!
The river swim was in the very clean river in the heart of the town and was an easy to follow loop around an island. Generally a reasonable amount of space although it got a bit congested around the four buoys.
The bike (35km with 1100m of climbing!) started with a cobblestone switchback climb to the citadel before two long off road loops. The bike was relentlessly hilly with a number of reasonably technical sections (harder than the red route at Thetford for those who have ridden there). Whilst the course continued to dry out over the weekend there were plenty of muddy sections to keep you on your toes. A lot of the course required good fitness but there was time to be lost or gained on the technical features including the bike park section at the end of each loop with drops, jumps and rocks. The bike finished with the iconic descent of the stairs into T2. The toughness of the bike course was demonstrated by the number of DNF’s due to broken bikes and the number of athletes with ripped and muddy race kit followed unscheduled dismounts.
The run (fortunately only 9.25km) was tough bordering on cruel. Every hill, cobblestone and staircase that could be included was, resulting in 350m of climbing. It was impossible to get into any kind of rhythm with some sections being almost impossible to run.
The tag line for Xterra Belgium is where race meets party. The vibe at the end of the race was great with a plentiful supply of beer for all finishers. The party continued long into the evening, for those with the stamina, with free food for athletes and a live band.
A big shout out has to go to Brigid and Wendy for their support and the TrailX team who organised a GB bike recce led by the GB pro who was racing.
The race comes highly recommend. The town of Namur is very pleasant, if not a little quiet, and the race a proper off road triathlon with a demanding bike course. The split transition required a cycle up to the citadel to drop off run kit before heading down to the swim start and T1 which was unwelcome addition fatigue in the legs but overall a fantastic weekend. Restaurants and bars were plentiful and the numerous local beers excellent (and very strong!).
Nothing to do with talking cars, but on Saturday night, Ann Johnson with family members, sisters Helen, Julie and neice Fiona, took part in the London Nightrider event. This is a charity event that takes place in several cities around the UK and Ann was raising for Motor Neuron disease.
Everyone set off at 11.30, following a circular route around the Lee velley VeloPark, then off into the nightlife of London. Within the first six miles they encountered some “lively” areas, unfortunately, complete with drunk people.
At around half way, at the imperial war museum, there were light refreshments but then after that they came across road closures by police and they had to get off their bikes and walk through large crowds and more lively people. With the short night, sunrise soon came along with the birds singing the dawn chorus! Ann finshed just after 5am.