x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Triathlete Joyce glad to finish in one piece

Abu Dhabi runner comes through gruelling test unscathed.

ABU DHABI // The key to success for Rachel Joyce in her second Abu Dhabi Triathlon was not defying the intense heat for more than seven hours to complete the gruelling 223km of competition but getting in and out of Transition Stage One unscathed.

Joyce, 32, who represents Team Abu Dhabi, which is captained by Germany's Faris al Sultan, has painful memories from her first experience of the UAE race which resulted in an unscheduled extra week here.

"This time last year I was in hospital waiting for an operation," said Joyce, pleased with her fourth-placed finish yesterday behind Julie Dibens.

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"I cut my foot open on a chain rig as I was making the transfer between the swim and the bike ride and I severed three tendons. I was so relieved to ride away from T1 today. That makes it doubly satisfying for me."

The English athlete, who recorded the best finish of the seven members of the Abu Dhabi team, said: "It was a race of two halves for me because I was a bit slow getting going out there."

She said she was disappointed with her swim, in which she was third, 1min 49secs behind Dibens. "I wanted to come out of the water level with Julie and then on the bike I kept asking myself where my legs had gone.

"On the run I was just plugging away. I kept making up time [and] I pretended I wasn't suffering. I am happy with fourth."

Al Sultan, who was far from disgraced with his eighth-placed finish in the men's race, said: "Rachel's result means I think we can be very proud of this day. I would not exaggerate the significance of this for our team."

He had aimed a bit higher than eighth, but like most of his rivals the German son of an Iraqi father found the going tough.

"The bike is the hardest when conditions are like this," he said. "Once you get dropped from the group on the bike, you settle into your own pace. I tried to keep the gap as narrow as possible, but eighth was the best I could do."

wjohnson@thenational.ae