15/8/2019: Tine has finished second in the 2019 Embrunman, the “toughest triathlon in the world.” Tine held the lead for most of the bike leg and the run, but Judith Corachan Vaquera was faster in the last third of the marathon. Fellow Belgian Alexandra Tondeur took third place. Final times were 10:54:07 for Corachan Vaquera, 11:00:30 for Tine, and 11:05:57 for Tondeur.

 

The Embrunman has rightfully earned its reputation of toughness. In addition to the regular 3.8 km swim, there is the 187-km bike leg with 4500 meters of climbing (including the Col d’Izoard with an altitude of 2360 meters) and a marathon with 600 meters of climbing. In other words, the kind of race Tine loves. In 2017, she won the Embrunman. Today, she came very close.

 

Tine started the very long day with an excellent swim. With a time of 58:01, she was in fourth place, only 3:35 behind Corachan Vaquera. On the bike, Tine immediately powered her way through the field and by the 60 kilometer mark, she was firmly in first place. In the rest of the bike leg, she steadily extended her lead, which Corachan Vaquera did manage to limit to four to five minutes. Tondeur trailed by 13 minutes. Going into the marathon,  the question was whether that lead would be enough to hold off strong runners Corachan Vaquera and Tondeur. That marathon turned into one big suffer fest for Tine, starting with a case of side stitches. She more or less found her pace, but Corachan Vaquera was faster. A lead of five minutes became four, three, two … The countdown ended around kilometer 30, when Corachan Vaquera finally made the pass. Tine could not stay with her. Battling calf cramps in the last kilometers, Tine willed her way to the finish line and a second place finish.

 

A strong second place after a fair fight in a tough race, that Tine can live with. Even though a second place feels a bit like a victory lost: “I really wanted to win this race again. Especially because the race suits me and I won here in 2017. So in that sense there is of course disappointment. But on the other hand it is also okay when someone is simply better on the day. Corachan Vaquera was strong in all three disciplines and probably was smart about not overextending herself in in the first two. So she earned that victory. I did well in the water and on the bike too. But the run hurt from start to finish. And I didn’t have enough of a lead to compensate for the time I lost in the marathon. But all in all, I have to be happy with this result. I raced strong in a field that is getting younger and tougher every year. I am really proud that I am still competing for the win at age 41.”