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Italy spe­cial­ist Ci­talia (01293 831970, ci­talia. com) of­fers a seven-night hol­i­day to the Forte Vil­lage Re­sort, stay­ing half-board at the four-star Ho­tel Bouganville, from £1,465 per per­son. The price in­cludes a 10 per cent early book­ing dis­count, and re­turn flights from Lon­don Stansted with easy­Jet. Based on a de­par­ture date of Oct 15 2019.

Sprint dis­tance triathlon at Chal­lenge Forte Vil­lage starts from €70 (£62) per per­son. To book, visit fortevil­lage

Aus­tralia who has just gone into re­mis­sion from breast can­cer. The start whis­tle goes and they dis­ap­pear into a mass of kick­ing legs and arms and sea spray. I am briefly paral­ysed with fear, be­fore hurl­ing my­self into the wa­ter and join­ing the scrum.

My front crawl is ap­palling and makes me feel like I am drown­ing, so I opt in­stead to do breast­stroke, and try hard not to feel like an old lady who seems to have mis­taken a com­pet­i­tive race for a nice day out at a lido. I stay away from the com­peti­tors who look like they might give the shark from Jaws a run for its money, and swim des­per­ately for the first bright orange buoy, which seems to float fur­ther and fur­ther away. I get to it, gulp back wa­ter and try not to choke, be­fore head­ing to the next one. Things seems to get eas­ier here; in fact, I no­tice, to my as­ton­ish­ment, that I have over­taken sev­eral peo­ple and am ac­tu­ally now al­most half­way up the field. I kick some­one in the head, shout my apolo­gies, and con­tinue over­tak­ing. Then I am out of the wa­ter, my hus­band stand­ing on the beach look­ing amazed at my progress, and on my way to my bike. And it is here that it all falls apart.

As I pedal fu­ri­ously, it oc­curs to me that I may have used up all my puff on the swim. Out on the road, I lose any ad­van­tage I may have gained as more and more women over­take me on their bikes. The course is flat, but my lungs are on fire, and I can’t reach my wa­ter bot­tle with­out ca­reer­ing off the road. I slow down, and de­cide to just en­joy the moun­tain­ous view. I am not here to win, after all.

Al­most 13 miles later, I am back at the re­sort, dump­ing my bike and be­ing cheered by kind Ital­ians yelling “forza”. I should be good at the run­ning, but I am hot and both­ered and feel like I am wad­ing through trea­cle. Two hours, two min­utes and six sec­onds after I started, I cross the line and am re­warded with a shiny medal. I come se­cond to last.

But some­one has to. And as I sit down at the buf­fet that night, I do so with a smug sense of sat­is­fac­tion. I am happy, be­cause I have all I need in the world: my fam­ily, a triathlon medal, and a plate full of ti­ramisu.

‘Bry­ony Gor­don is un­well’ re­turns next month

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