Report from Howard Jeffrey: I was privileged to spend a week in Chicago spectating a whole range of aqualthon and triathlon events including male and female elite world championship finals. I also make the cut for the age group sprint and standard distances and decided to do both (not usually permissible but for some reason OK here) as it is a long way to go and there was a day to recover in between.
The weather was unseasonably hot with clear blue skies most of the time and relatively high temperatures. I had decided to push the sprint which was on the Thursday and see what I had left, if anything, for the standard on the Saturday. I was glad I did the recce swim in lake Michigan on the Wednesday because apart from familiarisation with the water (it is like a fresh water sea) the zip on my wet suit jammed when I tried to get it off which would not have been a good thing on race day.
Sorted the issue for the sprint and it was an open water start which is always preferred as you get a bit of a warm up before the gun goes. Set off steady ( did not want a repeat of the Geneva floundering) and felt ok till I wanted to change up a gear. Reminded that the chest is still not 100% yet so had to back off a bit. A long run from the exit to transition which suited me and onto the bike. A dead flat route albeit with some hairpin bends and a few rough bits of concrete that led to a few crashes. Had a solid bike leg and was conscious of rising temperature. A long run again from dismount to transition which allowed me to warm up for the run. Managed 22 minutes for the 5 K which was actually one of the fastest run leg times in my age group and I was pleased as there were people walking in the 32+ degree heat. Finished upper middle of the field which is where I would have expected to come.
The standard on the Thursday went better than expected although the swim was long and hard because of the conditions and the state of my chest. Held my own on the bike again on a different circuit from the sprint. I nearly came a cropper when a USA guy cut the corner in front of me. The bike skidded, lozenged and creaked as I fought for control under heavy breaking and I nearly slammed into a GB female. How I stayed up and missed the others we will never know. There were actually many crashes and the route was strewn with downed cyclists and the motorised flat beds were busy ferrying the injured away. (There were complaints about the safety of the route afterwards). Anyway on to the run leg.
10K plus in the not quite so hot conditions saw another reasonably quick time for the age group and another solid middle of the pack performance and I was not suffering ill effects from the sprint which was a surprise.
Chicago, as the song goes, is my kind of town ….not! Although it was fantastic for a visit, very open and friendly with some great edifices.