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Praia da Luz Sprint Triathlon

-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe

Last modified: April 27, 2014

fantastic atmosphere at the first Luz Sprint Triathlon

This weekend I did my second triathlon of the season. It was a little sprint triathlon: 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. These little events are really cool because you don’t need to be super fit to do them (unlike long distance triathlon) and you can really ‘race’ them as they last about an hour, so it’s ‘pedal to the metal’ the whole way, again, unlike long distance races where the effort is sub-maximal.

The atmosphere at triathlons is fantastic. People at the triathlons don’t ask where you came, but rather ‘Where you happy with your time?’ or ‘What did you think of the course?’. This is a world away from cycling, where winning is everything.

One thing I really like about triathlon is that everyone competes and each person gets their sense of reward, it’s truly a sport where the taking part is more important than winning. Nearly all the participants finish with a beaming smile on their faces, talk and congratulate each other.

For me, it’s weird because I’ve been honed for years on cycling, which is not about taking part, it’s about winning, if not winning the race, doing something to get visibility. In cycling I’d focus down on a race and feel like I was going to battle. I’d be calm and super concentrated on the task at hand, not a nice person to be near… Now doing triathlon, I am finding it hard to crack this mentality. It isn’t ‘healthy‘ this form of motivation, it’s far more primal; it’s the thrill of the chase.

Anyway, on to the the race:

The swim was great. It was in the bay at Praia da Luz, it was calm and bearably cold in the wetsuit. I found that at the beginning people set of really fast and I lost a bit of ground, but settled into a solid enough rhythm to start pulling back places after 250m or so. I found my sighting (spotting buoys that mark the course) improved and I was shown some clever tactics by Paulo Sousa, my swim coach, to use current favourably. I came about 8th a minute or so after the first guy.

The bike went well. I was the fastest which was surprising since I haven’t done much training wise, aside the odd tour and about three bike specific session in the past week. I managed to get into the lead about half way through the bike. One guy I couldn’t quite shake was a German fellow called Mathias, he played a good tactical game I guess. I thought I’d would worry about it till the run.

transition 2
Bike shoes are a little inconvenient in triathlon: on shoe on bike, one on foot. Great.

run start
…and we’re off (again)

On the run I immediately lost a load of time changing shoes. While Mathias did a ‘pro’ dismount and got running immediately, I had to stop, remove my shoes, rack the bike and eventually, about 40” after Mathias. Mathias was a faster runner though and I couldn’t quite pull back time on him… quite the opposite, he opened up another 40” and finished the race 1:20’ ahead of me. I found the hilly run course hard: Maybe I need to get running in the hills a bit. Then again I did my first proper run last Tuesday: a little 4km test on the athletics track. I had a stress fracture in my foot from my gung-ho attempt at a long distance triathlon back in March, so, aside some running on the beach, I haven’t run much.

A tri suit is in order too… As the TT suit is not comfortable for running or swimming.

The run pace was 3:44 and the course was super hilly, so I was happy with that. The bike pace was 1:35; margin for improvement there, that’s for sure. The swim I don’t know.

weird sensation… being back on a podium. I changed sport, in fact, sport hasn’t even been a priority. I wasn’t expecting it!

My team, O2 Portimão over all did very well, we won both relays, got 2nd and 5th over all.

All the trophies together and the monetary prize! The ladies, who won their relay weren’t able to attend the prize giving.

Next race I do will be another sprint triathlon on the 10th of May in Alvor. I’m really looking forward to it! If you’d like to race yourself, enter by e-mailing ‘’ or phoning 282 491 804

You can see the details in the image below:
Troféu Valter Pais

Can’t wait!

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One response to “Praia da Luz Sprint Triathlon”

  1. Great result dude! I cannot wait to follow the journey through the summer.

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