Melissa Dowell reports on her Ibiza Aquabike experience

I recently returned from the European Middle Distance Aquabike Championships held in Ibiza at the end of October.

The race was due to start at 1:30pm with an iconic beach start, swim out around an island and back to the beach, with a swim course of 1,900 metres . This was then followed by an undulating 2 lap bike route on closed roads totalling 90 .kilometres.

Unfortunately race day arrived with severe thunderstorms and heavy rain. This led to the storm drains overflowing and a totally flooded bike course . The start was delayed by 90 minutes to allow the flood waters to subside, the bike course reduced to 1 lap (46km) and the start waves compressed to 2 minutes apart.

My female wave was off last at 15:27pm.  I swam a good line out to the island, picked my way through the congestion of swimmers who had started in earlier waves, around the turn buoys behind the island and headed back to shore.  The sea was much choppier on the way back but again I took a good line and exited the swim with two other female swimmers from my wave and one just a minute ahead.

It was then a long run along the beach, through the change tent and another long run on slippery blue carpet to grab my bike and set off in the bike course.  I set off as hard as I could into the strong headwind, passing athletes ahead of me on the road. The bike route was exhilarating but scary as the weather conditions made the road surface treacherous.

I arrived back at the finish line with a bike split of 1 hr 16 minutes to be informed I was third female overall and had taken the Gold medal in my age group 50-54.