OtillO Cannes Sprint 2019

2:20:23 7th Mixed, 26th overallOtillO Cannes 2019 Sprint
~ 3k swim, 12k run

We got absolutely soaked walking to the briefing in complete contrast to last year. It looked like tough conditions with rough seas similarly contrasting with last years mill pond. On top of this we we told at the briefing that the course would have to be amended due to a burst sewage pipe resulting in the water quality along the sea front by Cannes not being good enough to have us all race through there.

They did well with the adjusted course – a loop round to do the last two swims and then heading up for the ‘jungle’ section and the last two three swims. It wouldn’t be that much shorter that last year and removed the running through town which, though fun and different, had, at times, last year been a little annoying trying to dodge past people enjoying a typical tourist random walk.

The change meant the ‘experience’ race would start at the same time as the sprint and with the biggest field they’ve had all year it meant a very congested start pen.

Rachel and I got ourselves placed pretty close to the front but when the gun went there was the usual insane pace that had loads passing us despite the fact we were running a lot faster than we really should have. It started to spread out after a km or so and we could run at our own pace. The first swim was about 600m and this year it was very rough making it hard work as there was little consistency to the waves. There were a lot ahead of us here so I took the decision to swim to the left giving us space to swim though meaning a long route. We passed loads of pairs and swam strong to get out and race the kilometre to the next short swim round to the finish line. This again was very rough and the siting buoy was placed very close to this rocky groyne which had waves crashing over it.

We ran by the finish line to head out on to the main route. As we ran along the front an old lady looked straight at me and shouted “Go The Lord Family” – I didn’t recognise her and wondered whether it was a friend of, my brother-in-law, Davids, who had been in Cannes the previous week for ‘MIPCOM’.

Next up the big long ascent. We ran the early slopes only walking for the steep steps between the road hairpins. Then we hit the disused funicular again running the early slopes before walking the really steep second half. I reckon it must be at least 40% – definitely beyond what you could cycle up. Around the top is a lovely contouring path before we hit the ‘jungle’ section. This descends steeply to a manmade tunnel for the stream which you crouch through (it’s about 4 foot high) then follows the stream bed with interspersed sections scrambling up or down steep muddy sections. The stream involves hopping rock to rock, down rock steps into pools of murky water of unknown depth. All this whilst ducking under, climbing over or weaving between various fallen trees and shrubbery. It’s a lot of fun.

You finally emerge on to a road which takes you back down to the sea. Rachel is now a down hill running machine having hurtled down the descent in Buttermere to try and maintain our third place. Within minutes of setting off she told me we could go faster. We sped up and were quite chuffed that no one passed us on this section and we passed other pairs.

Down to the nudist beach. This year no sights for sore eyes as the sea was rough and weather awful. This swim was very hard. It took ages to get out from the beach and round to swim parallel to shore. I tried to keep a little out from shore to avoid crashing waves and waves rebounding off the coast. Luckily I know Rachel enjoyed the rough sea just as much as me so I just ploughed on.

After this there was a short run, which this year was along the road rather than the man-made rock sea barrier beside the road, bringing us back to the swims we did on the first lap. They hadn’t improved but with fewer people around we were able to take a line tighter to shore and then run round to the final swim which was even worse now. The waves were crashing on the groyne so I gave it a slightly wider birth. There was just a 100m run up the beach to the finish.

Even with the changed course it was really good fun. Can’t imagine not returning next year for another go.

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