Day 1 – 16/09/22 – Still can’t believe I’m here and taking part in the European Sprint Duathlon Championships as part of the GBR Age-Group Team. Lying in a hospital bed with bilateral wrist fractures after being knocked off my bike 3 years ago I never thought I’d make it here but this is was determination leads to.

What a pre race day it’s been in Bilbao. Today started off miraculously managing to rebuild my bike myself. This is the type of things I struggle with as my hands can’t do fiddley things anymore but I surprised myself. I did take it to the mechanics to get it checked but think I did ok. Next up was a wee sports massage to get the ankle checked.

With time to kill I meandered around the streets of Bilbao and what a beautiful city it is. Quite cosmopolitan with lovely shops and places to eat. I love a good cup of tea and even managed to hunt one down (went back later for another). Next stop was registration where I picked up my numbers and goodies and met fellow competitors. I think I’m number 1355!!

This afternoon was all about the bike route reccie with Bizi Cycle Tours. It had been made out to be a massive hill (it is a climb) but luckily nothing more than a Crow Rd climb with a bit of Cuilt Brae. Nerves were settled having done it and got to take time to check out some spectacular views. Afterwards I look in the sights including the Guggenheim and Maritime museums plus many statues.

This evening was a team photo, parade of the nations and opening ceremony. The GBR team have definitely taken over the event. There were loads of us. It was lovely to see all the other nations taking part. Local children held the flags of the nations and led the parade.

Finally it was time for dinner, I’m here myself but there were some other lovely athletes who invited me for pizza/pasta/beer with them. Lovely evening with quality chat. Now back in the hotel and kit laid out for an early start….

Day 2 – 17/09/22 – Race day! What a day – European Sprint Duathlon Champs. Early start and down to transition to set up my bike for 8am. First issue, where I was to rack my bike had a gate behind and couldn’t rack it. Official found, much deliberations between officials in Spanish and eventually I was moved to a different transition point. Next stop, toilet Q, I really should have learnt through experience but the Q was long and very quickly ran out of toilet roll (if you are doing the standard bring some with you!). Start line and ready, my favourite Scooter song Fire was blaring, as the horn blasted we were off….

Run 1 – 2.5km loop x 2 I started out fast as I like running and it was quick, luckily weather was grey so perfect. Great to have fellow Brits cheering everyone on. Into transition and my new transition position meant I didn’t have to run too far in my cleats before mounting. Bike – 20km reccied it yesterday but the hill wasn’t any easier. Long climb up through the tunnel then up the hill, it eased out and then just up, up and up until it became down, down and down. A few tight turns and quickly back into transition. I knew I had a long run from dismount to rack so decided to get feet out of shoes so I could run in socks through transition. I’ve never done this before and would never advise anyone to try a new thing on race day but it worked. Run 2 2.5km to the finish, legs felt heavy and the first 1km was hard but they got life in them and sped up meaning I could pass a few people. The finish line was a tight one with another F40 coming from behind and we crossed the line together. Medal, pictures, street bag collected and sweat wiped from brow. I put everything into the race and had no more to give. Final bit was the walk back to transition to get my bike (I could have used the free tram ticket but quite liked the leg stretch), had a lovely chat with a fellow competitor and just used it as recovery.

Result – officially 7th in F40-44 in 1.20:27 but 6th got the same time so I’m promoting myself to 6= .

What next? Back to the hotel to chill then time to explore. First stop the railway station to see the stunning stained glass window. Walked through the event arena to find some guys chopping wood…wouldn’t want to get that wrong. Next I headed up the funicular railway for some amazing views, only took 3mins to get to the top where we cycled earlier and so much easier. Also checked out view from San Rok. Back down and time to meander round the old town. My youngest has asked me to bring back a stuffed toy, specifically an avocado or pickle! Found everything except them. Next I grabbed a beer and sat down to watch the elite races, they are fast! Finishing off with pizza/pasta with some fellow competitors (thanks for inviting me along (again)). Good luck all standard competitors tomorrow!!!

Day 3 – 18/09/22 – Last day in Bilbao. Loved the city. This morning started off with a cycle to find the massive flower puppy outside the Guggenheim. Then along to cheer on all the competitors taking part in the standard Duathlon. I’d like to try this distance next.

I wanted to stretch the legs so found a cycle route all the way along to Getxo. I met Chezza last night and she joined me for this adventure. We loved the smooth path all the way out with no hills. There was a regatta on, saw a cable car taking cars and people across the river, some lovely houses and the beach was simply stunning. Long and wide with perfect sand. I could happily of spent all day exploring this area. Unfortunately I had to checkout my hotel so about turn. We managed to see some of the bike section and run 2 of the standard, everyone was doing so well.

Bike put in box (I’m so pleased as did it within 20mins and all by myself) and taken down to the main hotel. Time to meander a bit more. I headed down to watch some of the presentations for sprint and standard. Maybe one day I can get that good ? I ventured round the old town a bit more and found more exceptional artwork and quaint squares. Had an ice cream then waiting for my airport transfer with Nirvana Travel & Tourism.

Now I’m at the airport. Gifts bought, food hand and now my plane is delayed by 3hrs . Dreading the 4hr drive home later tonight .