I blame Josie Arden for the fact that Brian and I ended up in France at a 5k race without being able to understand a word of the briefing! She originally mentioned this race to me and it ticked all the boxes. Decent distance – Yes! Lake swimming – Yes! Sunshine – Yes! Crepes and Ice Creams – Yes!
The 86th edition of the Traversee du lac d’Annecy, took place on August 15th, the public holiday of Assumption Day, as it does every year.
We originally had optimistically thought to do the 10k but after some email correspondence with the organisers, we realised we weren’t in the right league for that race (The winner was Axel Reymond in 1:57). Armed with our ASA membership we entered the 5k.
After some amazing swimming around Tallories on the Monday, we registered the night before the race and I promptly broke my cap, whilst eating ice cream. Not a good sign.
The morning of the swim we boarded a bus provided by the organisers to take us to the start. We then somehow managed to stand next to another group of brits at the briefing, who had one of the party translating. All I took from it was
1) first red buoy on right
2) follow Lake
3) turn at end at another red buoy
4) aim for castle – finish underneath
That was it. Who knew if anything else important was said.
We had been advised that the start is a bit rough. I generally position myself towards the front at starts because the standard varies so much in the UK, however, everyone here was a member of a club, therefore, the standards were high and we were at the back. I was still fiddling in the water with the timing chip (it was MAHOOSIVE) when the gun went off!
Brian positioned himself to the right of me so I could see him and the scenery when I breathed, however, we were on the edge of the swimmers. This would be my normal preferred option to have clean water to swim through whilst pretending to be Keri-Anne Payne, but with such a high standard and seeming like I am always just plodding in races this season, I wanted to take advantage of swimming in a pack and tried to gently coerce him into moving over. He didn’t. I dropped back and swung around to the other side of him and began slowly overtaking people one by one.
By the time we got to the top of the lake we were in a nice pod of all men (some wetsuited) and me. After turning the red buoy I just needed to “AIM FOR THE CASTLE”, with this ringing through my head, our pod began to swim off the other way. I slowed down as I needed to think, I didn’t want to follow them and end up extending the swim, but they were probably French and understood the briefing – ahhhhhhhhhhh. I stopped and waited for Brian to realise and whined in his direction “what are they doing? Where are we going?”. He confidently responded “Aim for the castle/orange buoy” so off we went.
The race ended with the longest finishing chute in history. It must have started 700m from the finish, so for 700m I kept thinking I must nearly be there… and I wasn’t. Additionally, it got shallow, which makes you VERY aware of how fast or slow you were going. It was SLOW.
We made it!
I ended coming 14th female (although I am not currently on the results). I am really pleased with this, as we maintained a steady pacing of 16 minutes per 1k throughout the whole race. Originally I wanted to be in the top 10 but 14th will do me, as I know I raced smartly*, I am not sure who above me was suited and I was exhausted afterwards – I couldn’t have done much more. I think it is also reflective that I am near enough back to where I wanted to be post childbirth.
Annecy was amazing. I really want to go back next year and do some more swimming. Next time I plan to take the family, Katie and do the race first so we can maximise the adventure swimming and maybe take someone fluent in French.
*the guys who went off finished around 1 minute behind us