First Professional Triathlon Race Report

Starting off my first pro/elite triathlon race I decided to pick Challenge San Gil on June 21st in Queretaro, Mexico. There were several reasons. After the Wildflower Triathlon on May 2nd I got a foot injury: Plantar Fasciitis-damaging my arch in my foot. Fortunately, the recovering time was only 3 weeks. So it wasn’t too serious of an injury, but I thought the recovery time would be shorter. So I was still a bit worried because I had literally done only 2 weeks of running training prior to Challenge San Gil. Another reason I chose San Gil Triathlon was the course looked like it suited me well. The bike course had 1000m (about 3000ft) of climbing and I enjoy any bike course that has a lot of up hills. The run was completely flat, which I also prefer for run course. The only thing I was a bit concerned about was the whole race was at an altitude of 1900m to 2400m, and being back home in California training at sea level, I wish I had stayed in Colorado Springs a bit longer.

Anyways, I arrived into Mexico on Thursday, June 18th, three days before the race. The cool thing about Challenge Family races is I got to stay with a homestay family, which was a lot of fun. They all spoke English very well, especially the father and the oldest daughter in the family. The family was also very welcoming and very accommodating to my needs. The family helped with transportation, cooking GREAT FOOD, helping me with my triathlon equipment, teaching me some español, and they were also very fun people to be around. Here are some photos of the food the family made me.

IMG_3093 IMG_3106

The pro panel press conference was the next day on Friday June 19th. It was pretty cool that at my first pro race I was able to be at press conference and get a short interview in. After the conference, we then went to the athlete dinner where they served some great food. Photos via Press Conference:



Now race day! Well, the typical triathlon, race started super early in the morning as usual. So I woke up at 5am, had a light breakfast and then we headed off to the race. I knew the day before it was going to a non-wetsuit swim for the pros, which I was bit nervous for. I hadn’t swum in a non-wetsuit race for over a year. Though, the good thing about being pro was being able to warm-up before the start. I remember being an age-grouper and in some races the race organizers wouldn’t let us get in a warm-up in which made the first few minutes of the swim suck. This time, it was great. The gun went off, and I was able to get on some good feet and keep my position in the group. I knew I would probably be at the back end of the swim, since I’m not the best swimmer. Fortunately I didn’t lose too much time to the leaders. I exited the water with a group of five other guys and we absolutely ran like a mad man to my bike. That was the fastest transition I have ever done.

The draft legal zone was 15m and that worried me a bit since there were six of us getting on the bike at about the same time. But luckily, we all spread out very quickly. At the start of the bike ride Nathan and Justin gapped me. They were absolutely gunning it for the first 10k of the bike leg. I struggled to keep up and find my rhythm. Eventually on the first climb I began to find my groove and bridged the gap to Nathan and Justin. I then passed them and then rode a pace that I felt comfortable riding up the climb. The effort dropped Justin, but Nathan kept up with me. We began rotating back and forth for the next 10km. I would take the lead, then a few minutes later he passed me, and we kept this up for a while. Unfortunately, just before the 25km marker we went over a speed bump and my seat post came loose and seat slipped back. I made a quick stop and move the seat back to its correct position, but it only stayed that way for a short time. Before the first turnaround point at 36km, the seat kept moving back and forth every time I would sit on it. It didn’t bother me on the climbs, but when I had to get in aero position, I found it difficult to ride with a seat that was rocking back and forth. At the final turn around 56km into the bike leg, I saw I was in 9th place. The last 44km of the bike ride were pretty much downhill, which hurt me, since I couldn’t maintain my aero position. I got passed by two riders on the downhill and lost a good chunk of time to them and the rest of the competitors up the road.

Coming off the bike leg into run, I was in 11th place but my legs were killing me. Riding in this awkward position, I was thinking, “How the heck I’m I going to run a half-marathon!” Transitioning to the run, I started off a bit slow, I felt tired, my legs shot, but I tried to think positive thoughts like: “I’m only one place off from being into the top ten. Some guys will blow up, keep it going, keep it up.” About 2km into the run I focused on my nutrition I took a gel and anything I could grab from the aid stations and then I caught one male pro who was walking. “I’m in the top 10; I’m in the top 10” I thought. But, just one km later another pro triathlete ran me down. I tried to hang with him, but it was only a short hang. Now I was back in 11th. At 7km in I began to feel a lot better I also got to see my competition because of the turn around point on the run course. A few moments later I caught my friend Brian, who I train with in Colorado Springs. He looked like he wasn’t having his day and it was sad to see it happen to him, especially because I would love to compete with him when he’s at his best. But that’s why you can’t make any excuses for what happened on the bike or anywhere else. It’s all part of the race; some people had even worse luck than me. One guy got 3 flats on the bike ride.

The second loop of the course I moved into 10th place again, but now I was feeling a lot better and I caught two other competitors right at the start of second loop moving into 8th place. About 17km in, at turn around point, it became apparent that I was probably going to keep this position. The 7th male pro was about 1.5 minutes ahead and the 9th place pro was about 3 minutes behind. So I wasn’t too worried about losing 8th place. Then I pushed real hard to try to catch the 7th place runner. But at 20km into the run my legs began to cramp and my stride length decreased dramatically. Even though the run course was flat, we were running on cobblestone roads. The uneven surface really drained the energy from my legs. The last km I just couldn’t give anything anymore and so I finished in 8th place.

Coming into the Finish:


Chilling in the tub after the race:


Paula ensenarme algunos espanoles (teaching some spanish):


Got to explore downtown Queretaro, Mexico with my homestay family. Photo above is where we stop to get some comida (food). Thanks so much letting me stay with you guys and thanks everyone for reading. Had a great time racing in Mexico, plan to be back next year for Challenge San Gil.


Alistair Eeckman


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