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Posted: November 15, 2002:

Triathlon: Natasha Filliol's Race Report - 2002 ITU World Triathlon Championships, Cancun Mexico

Like most of the athletes on the ITU circuit, Cancun was my last race of the season, but also one of the biggest races of the year, being the World Champs. I started my season way back in April at a hot race in Guatemala, so it was fitting to end the season with another hot and humid race. It has been a long year, and Iíve had some great results. I achieved my major goal of qualifying for the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester with a great 2nd place at the Canadian National Elite Champs, I had a solid race in Manchester, finishing 12th, and a great race at the Pan-American champs, coming a close 2nd.

I have been looking forward to racing in Cancun since last year, when I had my best race of the season there, an 8th place in the World Cup. I tend to do well in the heat, and the flat bike course sometimes works into my strategy well. My preparation leading into the race had been going well. I raced in two world cups in Japan and Madeira, Portugal as preparation, and had OK races, although I felt I was capable of more. My workouts were going well coming off a bad cold I picked up before the final World Cups, and I was looking forward to finishing the season off on a high.

I went down to Florida on the 1st of November for a short warm weather training camp to get acclimatized to the heat. I participated in a local 5km in Ft. Lauderdale soon after getting off the plane from Victoria and had a solid time of 17:16. I won the event and although I probably could have run a bit faster had the race been at a normal time for my body (7.30am in Florida is 4.30am in Victoria), I was happy to get in my last run workout of the year.

I flew over to Cancun on Wednesday before the race and got settled into the Casa Maya hotel, right across from the transition area. It was fun watching the races on Saturday. I felt it gave me some energy for my race on Sunday. I watched the U23 race, wondering whether I made the right decision to race in the Elite category, even thought I am the Canadian U23 champion. As you often do when you watch a race, I figured I probably could have taken a medal in the U23 race, as I had beaten last yearís World Junior Champion, Swiss Nicola Spirig a few weeks ago in Portugal, and she ended up third. Oh well, I knew that I had a shot going at a medal going into this race, but I felt that the experience I would gain by racing in the elite category would be more valuable than a higher finish in a less competitive category.

Race day came and I felt ready to go. It looked like it was going to be a warm day and I was looking forward to racing in my second elite World Championships. I had picked a spot on the right side of the pontoon, #8. I was next to a post on the unique Mexican pontoon, giving me a gap to the next swimmer, hopefully giving me more room to swim.

The horn went and we were off. At over 60 women, it was the largest start of the season, and even with the long 300+ meters the first turn was pretty rough. I felt like I was in good position at the buoy. I could see Moreno from Brazil beside me although I was on the outside of the pack, I was moving well. Moving toward the second buoy my arms started to feel very heavy. I lost focus for a bit, and before I knew it I had lost the pack I was swimming with. Once I realized what had happened it was too late. I tried to increase my stroke rate, I kicked harder, but to no avail. I tried all the tricks I know, but I just felt flat and uninspired.

Coming out of the water I knew that I had had a poor swim. I re-focused and had a quick transition to the bike. Out on the bike I pushed the pace and soon found myself in a group of about 6. I tried to get the group working together, but it wasnít terribly successful. Soon it was obvious that the group was losing lots of time to the front pack, so I just stayed at the front. The course in Cancun wasnít as technical as in years past, but there was enough wind to add a challenge.

Once off the bike I knew that not only was I out of contention for a top finish, but also it was unlikely that Iíd catch many runners at all, with the next pack far ahead. I decided to just do my best on the run, and finish the season off with a good effort. I felt pretty good running, and the heat didnít bother me at all. I cruised around the four lap course and managed to catch a few athletes from the pack ahead, and I ended up with the 14th fastest run, only a few seconds off last years World Champ Siri Lindley, and on the same minute of the race winner, Leanda Cave. Overall I ended up in 38th position.

In the end, the World Championships in Cancun didnít go nearly as well as I had hoped, but as I learned later in the day watching Olympic and Commonwealth Champ Simon Whitfield struggle though his race also with a poor swim, even with the best preparation and lots of hard work, sometimes things just donít come together. Thatís racing I guessÖ

Iím now back home, not even a week into my off season and Iím already looking forward and planning for next year! The coming year will be a big one, and this time next year I will be a few steps closer to my Athens Olympic dream.

Thanks very much to all my supporters this year; I couldnít have made it this far without you!

Natasha Filliol
2002 Commonwealth Games Team Member
Canadian Elite Triathlon Team Member

Supported in 2002 by Subaru, New Balance, PowerBar, GPush, Aquila, Aquaman, Marco Travel Paris, Millard, Rouse and Rosebrugh Accounting Brantford

Visit Natasha's web site at www.natashafilliol.com.


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