The 5K run, 20K bike and 3K run format would determine TeamUSA members for next year’s competition in Australia. Unlike past years, where everyone in the same division would start at the same time, because of the pandemic physical distancing protocols, the different heats were broken down further into “pods” of 5 racers, who would leave at the same time. Furthermore, just as with other races in 2021, there were no age group, relay or other markings on the back of the calfs. Competitors could not be sure of who was in their division or not. And the number of bikes in Transition we’re also not an accurate predictor of one’s placement in the field, due to the handicap starting system.
On the rough surface of the pavement on the roads beyond the University of Alabama campus, Landau did his best to try to hold 20 miles an hour or more. Coming into the transition area, he noted tightening in his hamstrings and hip flexors, and had a quick dismount and transition. Unfortunately that’s when disaster struck. Several hundred yards out of T2, both hamstrings seized up such that he had to stop completely. The legs simply didn’t work. He got on the ground to stretch, tried hobbling and used the sawhorses by the police to try to stretch further. He then hobbled some more, and then got on the ground the third time to work out the severe spasms. The legs simply went on strike at this critical part of the race. Competitors he passed on the bike and in the transition now ran past, never looking back. After hobbling, with a wide stance, the next half mile or so, Landau was able to run the last mile in under seven minute pace to reclaim several spots. With the top 8 being selected for the World Championships, Landau copped a spot. Asked afterwards what these stops cost him, he replied simply, “a 3rd or 4th place podium spot.”
Because of the pain in his legs, and their diminished responsiveness, Landau did not do any cool down, but collected his medal, post-race brown paper bag snack, gathered his gear, and headed off to the hotel pool for a few minutes of “hydrotherapy, ” before jumping in his car to send his bike home, and drive 3 hours to Atlanta to rejoin members of his family. As this is not the first time that Landau‘s hamstrings have seized on the 2nd run in a Championship competition, overcoming this will be a major focus of the next 10 weeks of his training, before the USAT Sprint TRIathlon National Championships, which are back in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stay tuned!