WHEN Bathurst triathlete Tamsyn Moana-Veale headed into the final transition of the Larache ATU Sprint Triathlon in Morocco, she knew she was in an ideal position to claim a podium finish.
But after pulling on her shoes she did not set off on the final run leg.
Instead Moana-Veale was forced to withdraw as a stress fracture in her foot meant covering the run leg would make an already bad injury even more serious.
Given her competitive nature, Moana-Veale was extremely disappointed to see a DNF next to her name.
However, she realised a short term gain was not worth spending an even longer period in recovery.
“Coming into T2 [transition two], casually putting on training shoes and then pulling out of the race was incredibly disappointing,” she said.
“It’s hard to watch a guaranteed podium slip away, but it is more important that I didn’t put my injury at a higher level.
“Sadly this will be my last race for awhile as I’m heading back to Australia with a stress fracture in my foot.”
After narrowly missing out on a win in her debut Triathlon Bundesliga event earlier this month, beaten home in a sprint to the line, Moana-Veale headed to Morocco for her first race on African soil full of hope.
However, her chances of success were shattered before she even lined up for Saturday’s race.
“I had heard a few stories about the rather ‘relaxed’ attitude at the race and the basic advice was to just roll with it, so with this in mind I arrived in Morocco hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst,” she said.
“As it turns out, the worst had nothing to do with the race. Unfortunate timing meant I received the results of an MRI scan on my foot only once I had already arrived in Morocco and the news was not good. Stress fracture.”
More bad news followed as Moana-Veale was instructed not to run, but she was given the nod to contest the other two legs of the race. She was able to turn that into a positive.
“This put me in the unique position of being able to do basically whatever I wanted on the bike – attack, pull massive turns – anything, as I didn’t have to think about the repercussions on the run,” she said. “So with this in mind I made the decision to swim and ride hard and see what I could do.”
The ‘relaxed’ attitude Moana-Veale had heard about soon became a first-hand experience when the scheduled starting time of 11am came and went with no starter’s signal.
She and her fellow competitors had to swim across to the starting line as a bus which meant to take them never showed up. Still the delay continued with the race director waiting on the opposite side of the lake.
“He [race director] did eventually show up on a dingy. And I’m fairly sure that that dingy was a random fisherman’s who just happened to be passing at the time he needed a lift across,” Moana-Veale said.
“We all just stood in random placement on the start line and stared in amused bewilderment as he hoped off the boat said something completely calm in Spanish and the race started. Seriously; no line up, no horn, no warning and absolutely no clues in his voice that he had just said ‘Go’.”
However, Moana-Veale quickly caught up to the competitors who had realised the start signal was given. There were more dramas as swimmers had to negotiate a submerged pile of rocks and a taunt rope stretched over the swim course at the first buoy.
The Bathurst triathlete managed to get herself into a pack of five swimmers who exited the water 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the small field of 13.
Moana-Veale was quick through the transition and one of the first competitors to head out on the bike leg, which consisted of five 3.5 kilometre laps followed by a 2.5km lap and a surprise climb on each of those laps.
“Add to that the addition of more potholes than any road I’ve ever seen, a trip through a fish market, a dodgy corner with crash mats in literally the only spot on that corner you wouldn’t hit and the threat of dogs, prams and rickshaws around every corner, and it was an interesting ride,” she said.
“As I knew I wasn’t running, I decided to do as much work as I could. I told training partner, Anel Radford, to save her legs for the run. I’m pretty proud to say that after doing about 90 per cent of the work, our group gained two minutes on the chasers.”
While Moana-Veale was forced to withdraw after the bike leg, Radford went on to place second.