After years of preaching about how the team element of swimrun is fundamental to the joy of the sport I figured that I should at least try a solo race so I can back up my argument. And here it was OTILLO Malta Sprint.
It was a fast start, so fast in fact that a slight nudge on my right leg from a fellow racer caused me to topple over only 300m into the race. I hit the tarmac superman style sliding on my hand paddles which protected my palms well, my knees suffered minor scrapes, good start Mike.
I couldn't wait to get to the first swim, it was a slight bottle-neck with rough water and bouncing swell all around, loved it. This went quickly, as did the following short runs and short swims. I started to overtake during the swims and on the technical downhill runs, my race was going well. I arrived at the penultimate swim (650m) with no-one in the water to sight off, no boats and no visible exit point. Unfortunately I misunderstood the marshals directions and added an extra 400m swim to this 650m swim.
I cracked on with the long run and began overtaking two male teams who had passed me on my extended swim. I got to the last swim (700m) neck and neck with a fellow solo man, he edged it on this swim to claim 5th place (solo). I was happy with 6th place in the solo (out of 61), and 8th overall (out of 149). My error nagged at me a little, but it was nothing a couple of cans of Cisk couldn't rectify.
With the water temperature at 20 degrees I went for the zero-neoprene option which worked well, other than having to stuff a race-cup, whistle, map and compression bandage in my speedos. I am happy to report they lasted the course. Big thanks to Andy for the loan of the whistle and bandage, sorry about where I stored them.
A fabulous race with technical run sections and interesting swimming, but what's the verdict on solo versus team? Swimrun is definitely better together. It almost saddens me that there is a solo category but I do understand why it exists. Solo can be a "way-in" to the sport for some, and many then find a partner.
It felt strange not competing on the Sunday, but it gave me the chance to support, take some photos, and treat my long-suffering fiance to a visit to Popeye Village. Looking forward to returning to the World Series in 2020, in particular Malta!