European Sprint Age Groups, Glasgow

2018 European Age Groups Sprint Distance

Wednesday 8th August – opening ceremony

The ceremony was held in George Square, Glasgow. It was filled with a massive stage and 2 big televisions showing the diving that was on at that moment. It also had lots of food stalls and merchandise and the commentating was being filmed for the swimming. I knew this becuse i spotted Rebecca Adlington and Hannah Miley up in the filing box. We were far too early so it was off to do some shopping until 5. Dad and I were both competing so we both headed over to the start of the ceremony where we found the GB flag and a big group of people in the time in their kit.

 We walked into George Square with cameras clicking and floods of people gathering to see us all. It felt a bit strange people coming to see us all competing. There was 4 speakers and then there was a pasta party but there was nothing we fancied so it was off to pizza express.









Thursday 9th August – registration and elite men

We drive to Glasgow again on Thursday for registration and team briefing. After both of them we went over to the North side of the Loch to watch the elite men’s race. It was really good to watch and made me more excited to begin mine on Saturday.  

Friday 10th August – Transition and elite women

We put our bikes in transition and quickly changed into our wetsuits for the swim course reccie. It got a bit confusing with the course as ours was not set up yet because the elites had a different course. It was a good practice though for sighting markers and allowed us to get a feel for the course. I feel strong swimming so I hoped I would feel the same tomorrow. Again we watched the women’s race from the North side of the Loch.

Saturday 11th August – race day

My alarm went off at 5:15am so that I could get up and have my breakfast bright and early, so that I wouldn’t feel sick whilst I was racing. From travelling to and from Edinburgh to Glasgow for 3 days in a row, the time had finally come and it was race day. After my porridge it was straight to the bus for quick ride to transition and the start area. As the bus drove down the side of the Loch I could see steam coming off the cold water. It did not look very inviting.

I got off the bus and headed over to transition to set up. It rained through the night so my handlebars were soaking along with my seat (which even had a plastic bag on it!) I set up my bike shoes secured in place with elastic bands, left out my running shoes and helmet and it was off for a warm up before heading into my starting pen at 7:00am for a 7:30am start.

With my warm up complete, I got my wetsuit up and headed over to my starting pen and waited. As the boys heat was up before the girls we got to watch them all swim and run into transition before we got let in to go to the water. As we came onto the pontoon the crowd in the stands began to cheer. I spotted Mum and Louise, both cheering as we all ran onto the pontoon.
I managed to squeeze into the middle of the pontoon, right in line with the first buoy. I quickly dipped my head under the cold water. The water was very dark with a green tint to it. Open water swimming has always been a challenge for me but I just say to myself, “the faster I swim, the faster i’ll get out”.
Our starter for the race talks through the microphone letting us know we have 3 minutes to go. Let me tell you, it was a cold 3 minutes. We had no warm up so the only thing I could do as keep dipping my head under and hoping for the best.

As the whistle blew I quickly tried to get to the front as close as possible. I had to swim 750 metres. I got stuck behind a pack of 3 and could not get past, so I stuck on there feet and used them as a draft to save my energy as there was nothing else I could do. As we approached to the first buoy a girl pushed my shoulder down and and i was under the water. I quickly got back up and continued swimming as fast as I could, determined to get in front of her and the group of 3. As I got halfway through the swim I managed to do exactly that. I took over the girls and more as an extra.

I swam up onto the pontoon as fast as possible and ran out onto the blue carpet to get to transition. I got my wetsuit off reasonably quickly, put my helmet on, grabbed my bike and headed to the mount line. I did a quick flying mount and it was off onto the bike. We did 3×6.6km laps of the bike course. It was a hilly course which was pretty tough but I knew I had to push myself because my bike leg would be stronger than my run. At the straight bit on the bike there was crowds of people who came to support and even if they didn’t know you they all cheered as though they did.  

As I dismounted a crowd of people cheered as I ran through to transition for the second time. I quickly threw my bike onto the rack, got my run shoes on, my helmet off and sprinted out and onto the 5km run. My legs felt good at the beginning, running onto the blue carpet and out onto the run by the side of the loch. The run then went out of site of the loch and into the woods. The marshals were all very supportive shouting “go MacArthur!” as i ran past. At first I was confused, how did they know my name? Then i realised it was on my trisuit… At 2.7km into the run I came across a short but steep hill. I powered up it but when I got to the top the lactic acid burned. I knew I had to keep going because there were girls hot on my tail and there was only 2km to go. As i re-entered the far side of the loch I heard over speakers that 3rd place in my age group was coming into the finish line. That motivated me to speed up a bit as I wanted to get to the podium times as close as I possibly could.
The finishing line was insight. My legs burned as I reached the blue carpet with around 50 metres to go. I heard dad from the side shouting that someone was close so I knew I had to use my last little bit of energy I had to fight her off, which i successfully completed.

Overall I completed the sprint in 1hr 20mins and placed 13th in the 16-19 category, which I was more than happy with for my first time.
The experience was amazing and I loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to do it again.

Ailsa MacArthur