Racing at Abu Dhabi Worlds

In 2019 my husband and I qualified to go to the Age group Worlds for the Olympic/standard distance triathlon. The event was to be held in Edmonton in August 2020. I initially thought that going to Edmonton would be a bit boring compared to some of the other locations that World's had been at...well, thanks to Covid,  the event got postponed for 2 years and moved to Abu Dhabi in November...kinda the opposite of Edmonton!
We went with another couple from our neighborhood and when we got there, found out there were several other competitors from the Ottawa area, although most seemed to be from the UK and USA.
We decided to go to the mid-east a bit early and acclimate to the time zone and to the temperature,  somewhat.
We first went to Paphos, Cyprus, and cycled for a week, including doing the inaugural L'Etape du Tour of Cyprus. Very hilly, nice roads through vineyards,  villages, and orchards, and very few cars once you got off the main road. Temperatures in the mid-20s in November. Also great open water swimming in the harbor,  with free showers and change rooms. 
We then went to Tel Aviv for a few days. Not as many cycling options but the swimming at the beachfront was amazing! 5km bike/run path along the beach with outdoor gyms. Lots of fit people there!
We acclimated to the time zone, but not to the heat, AbuDhabi was very hot! 30-33C in the air and the water was 28C. The course was on Yaz island, a kind of entertainment district with hotels, rollercoasters, theaters, a golf course, and a Formula 1 race track. 
We didn't realize that we were staying at the same hotel as team GB and team Norway. When we went down for breakfast it was surprising to see Alex Yee and Jonathan Brownlee! And when we walked to registration we were following Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfeldt. They all look a lot smaller in person.
The elite women's race was the day prior to our race and was held at the hottest time of the day, 1:00 pm. It was so impressive to see how fast Flora Duffy could run in that heat! I was feeling like I was getting heat stroke just being a spectator.
On race day I found it hard to swim fast in the hot water. Swimming at the warm Lowertown pool with Klara and Kevin was good training though. The wave starts for 50+ were the last to go, at close to 10 am. My husband Dave started 2 min behind me and we exited the water together.  We had a 500m run on carpeted pavement to get to the transition area. 
The bike course was initially supposed to be on the F1 circuit but got changed to be on flat streets, with several U-turns and the only hill being a highway overpass. It was easy to go fast on the bike course and sometimes hard to avoid drafting. I got slowed down with several others, behind a race official on a motorbike who was giving a warning to some Italians who were blatantly drafting.
The run course was flat and hot! No trees or shade,  just asphalt! I doused myself with water at every aid station. I felt like I should have been able to go faster, but found it very hard to try to pick up the pace.
The run ended at the same finish chute the elites I came to the finish line Christine Cogger,  our team Canada manager handed me a small Canada flag to take across the line - that felt really special! 
Not my best time for an Olympic race but I was happy to be able to do it in those conditions. And very happy that there was an ice bath to get into afterward!
2:44; 2nd Canadian woman in 55+ and 19/36 in AG. Dave finished in 2:25; 19/50 in AG (3 months post ACL surgery!)

After the race, we went to Doha for a couple of days and saw Canada v Croatia world cup match- exciting!

Linda Martin 

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