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A Last Minute Call Up

What a life I live.

In the wake of an eye-opening week in Tunisia, I found myself in a small hotel room in Madrid, Spain, looking down at the start list for Coimbra with my name on it. After a month of waiting and many messages saying I wouldn't roll onto the start list, I found myself there. Legs destroyed from 12hrs of travel and confidence low after a less than ideal race we had something to get ready for. Luckily for me only being 5 days out from the competition all of the planning had been done.

Following what felt like barely a day back in sunny Vitoria-Gasteiz, the 6hr car trip across the picturesque landscape of Española to Coimbra, Portugal, began.

Coimbra is such a beautiful town. Arriving at 8 pm we got the golden hour experience as we drove down from the mountains to the stunning city. Out of all of the places I've been in my life and on this trip, Coimbra has to be one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. This is coming from someone as well travelled as myself (I've never left Australia before). Bike put together, good food, and a steep climb to our hotel room we found ourselves settled in.

The course in Coimbra was amazing. The water temp in the main river was perfect and as triathlon swims go this one was pretty good. The bike and run courses were fast and flat and besides a small incline over the bridges on both courses, there wasn't a hill in sight.

Saturday Morning, Race Morning, coming off not the best result the previous weekend in Tunisia, I was ready. Focuses had changed, it was race time. Being the last minute addition to a premium Conti cup my rank going into it was pretty rubbish. However, when it came to my time to line up on the buoy I found myself in the perfect start position. Intense start music, then Go.

After a good start, I found myself in the top five around the first buoy. Being able to avoid the first fight of the day I was able to push ahead with the front boys. As we turned around the final buoy and made our way to the exit ramp I found myself moving up the field, I found myself comfortably getting out of the water in the top 5.

A short and fast run-through transition pushed me up to second. Fast mount onto the bike and the pressure was on. Myself and the number 1 ranked athlete were off. Not wanting the rest of the boys to catch up, the pace was on from the beginning. After a solid first lap, the second pack caught us. Knowing just under half the field was in the front pack the race slowed up as everyone began to prepare for the run. Feeling good I took one final dig trying to break away but was dragged back in. Coming into the final kilometre the pace ramped up, after an aggressive dismount followed by another perfect transition I was back in the top 5 out onto the run. A small pack started to form out the front and not wanting to blow up I settled into my own rhythm. A solid run performance capped off my best European performance.

Coimbra, what a place, what an event. Happy with the progression made, especially with how the beginning of the trip has gone. Racing in the highest quality field of my career and being a late entry and then finding myself at the front of the race it was up there as my best race of the trip. I was looking to carry this strong performance into my final races of the season.

Oh and then we all got COVID!!!

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Matthew Lello
Matthew Lello
Nov 12, 2023

Fantastic blog Jack - excited to read more about your travels and the insights into your races. Keep up the amazing work 👏

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