Here is Head Coach Jon’s race report from the Portocolom Triathlon, Majorca. The Portocolom 111 Triathlon was not a race that was on my radar when planning my season at the turn of the year. However, I was very lucky and fortunate to win entry to this race through The Brick Session Podcast. I had been training for the World Middle Distance Duathlon Championships which were cancelled at short notice, so upon learning I had secured entry to this race, the timing worked really well and I decided to go. I was also able to persuade one of my coached athletes Becs to join me as I knew it would be a good race for her also. The race itself is set in a lovely little portal town on the south/south east coast of Majorca. The local people are friendly, accommodation is reasonably priced and the restaurants are good. The prices for food and drink are as you would expect to pay for that of a coastal town with a meal and a drink costing in the region of 15 Euros.
Registration for the race is super easy. It is right next to the transition area where you rack your bike so we did this the same day for convenience. The race briefing was also only a short walk away and was given in both Spanish and English which answered any questions we may have had. The race has two options, the full 111 option and the half 55.5 option. The 111 consists of a 1km swim, 100km bike and 10km run……although the run was a tad bit long and I had it closer to 11km/7 miles. The 55.5 option is half of those distances. I was entered into the 111 full distance. Fast forward to race morning and they gave you plenty of time to set up your transition area and get into your wetsuit prior to the race. The swim start is a short walk away and a little tip I’d give to anyone doing this race in future is to bring some old flip-flops or hotel slippers as I hadn’t and the surface on the gravel was a little uncomfortable to walk on.
The swim starts with the elite females, followed by the elite men and then a rolling age group start. The jump from the pontoon to the water was a little bit of a shock to the system due to the cold temperature but once you get going the head numbness soon goes and you barely notice it. The swim itself is as simple as you can get really. Straight up, across and then back. The only slight complication is swimming back through the boats which are moored up but with me being nowhere near a front-pack swimmer, I had no issues following others. Transition is next to the swim exit and a piece of cake to navigate. It is set out as one straight run through from one end to the other and then you are out onto the bike course.
The bike course is really quite stunning. I wouldn’t say the course is overly hilly, particularly flat or rolling, it’s kind of a mixture of all three. (Becs may tell you otherwise)! One thing for sure is it is an honest course and I really enjoyed it. There are some flat sections where you can get your head down, tuck up and stay aero and others that are quite technical.
The highlight of the bike leg though has to be the San Salvador climb, which you do twice on the full and once on the half. The climb lasted about 20 minutes for me and whilst it has a few steep sections I would say it’s a comfortable climb. You can just settle into a rhythm and enjoy it. When you get to the top you are rewarded with some great views but you don’t have long to appreciate them as you are straight back down what is a technical descent which is easy to get wrong. Following the descent you know you are well on your way back into transition and the run in is fast.
Back into T2 which is the same as T1. I thought it was nice not to have split transitions. This made T2 nice and simple, re-rack your bike and off you go out of the far end onto the run course. The run course is essentially an out-and-back loop to the lighthouse which you do twice. I would say that this run course has to be one of the most scenic I have done. It runs parallel along the coastline and passes by some lovely little pastel-coloured houses. The run is rolling with 1 water station on the route which I think was just about enough.
At the top end you run around the lighthouse and back again towards transition and through the finish line for tea and medals. They actually give you a bottle of wine when you finish the race which was a first!
Would I recommend this race?….. absolutely. It’s a friendly early-season tester which is on a challenging and stunning route. The distances are achievable for most people and the fact they also offer a shorter version makes this an attractive option for those with different race goals. I also found that the organisers and the volunteers were superb, as was the support from all those on the side. In terms of my own performance I was fairly happy. Unfortunately, having signed up to this race with the intention of giving it a good hit out, I developed a nasty chest infection which I was at the back end of only on race week. I ended up missing 4 weeks of training so decided I would instead go and take it relatively easy and enjoy the course for what it was which, was a wise choice. It provided me with a great opportunity to practice some race craft and get rid of some rustiness which had no doubt built up. (Running out of T1 with your race belt still draped over your handlebars being a great example of this)! Having finished it was great to cheer in some of the other athletes and Becs whilst taking in some much-needed sunshine. I was also able to catch up with Mark and Caroline Livesy (Brick Session Podcast Hosts), and one of their coached athletes Sam whilst enjoying a cold beer. I certainly look forward to returning to this race in the future and all being well, have the opportunity to race it.