Last weekend I participated in a triathlon up in the mountains at Lake Sevan, which was organised for the second year running by staff at the US Embassy. Events like this are few and far between in Armenia, as the idea of sport for general health and fitness has not yet gained widespread public acceptance. I’ve learnt to ignore the sniggering loons I encounter every time I go out for a ride or a run.
I wanted to be part of the race primarily to have fun and meet some new people. Most of the other foreigners I knew here last year have now moved on. I also wanted to see how much of a difference the last months of bicycle travel had made to my overall fitness and ability to cycle at a competitive level, which was something I’d never tried before. I’d never even ridden a racing bike.
The experiment was going to be a daunting one — an early-morning 1.5km swim in the frigid high-altitude waters of Lake Sevan, up at 2,000m above sea level; a 40km bike ride which I didn’t really expect to cause too many problems, and finally the killer — a 10km run. I’ve never been a runner, and having hit the treadmill a couple of times in Dubai and felt the after-effects strongly, I fully expected to crumple up in a heap shortly after leaving the starting line on foot when the day came.