I needed an early season triathlon for a decent price to practise my transitions so I signed up for this local race. For once I had support crew in tow – Mary – as the previous day I found out that due to the number in the field they would be using manual timing – Think parkrun! – so my support crew was under strict instructions to time each part of the race.
After checking that my trisuit still fitted and no seams were set to burst, I realised that all in one lycra is a very bad look for me but thankfully most people would be in bed asleep while I raced and maybe I need to take my dieting more seriously and my Costa-ing Days should be reduced!
Mary was a long way from the joys of spring in the morning – being woken with Porridge at 5:30 and chilly and wet was not the way she envisaged spending the morning. The start of her day was topped off when she was told off by a race official for entering the transition area! Perhaps this was the reason I took so long to do the race?!
My winter swim training with Cov Tri had massively increased my confidence in my own swimming abilities – I am less Swimming Cat, more Orca (especially in my trisuit) – so I put down 8:30 for my swim, hoping I could get close to the 7min something. Seeing the starting waves my confidence started to evaporate; rather than starting early I was in the 2nd to last wave to swim! I was actually being considered as a swimmer!
After listening carefully to the prerace safety briefing – the cycle route marked with large signs, only left turns, and marshals on all of these I was all set – especially as Mary had driven the route the day before with me to look for dodgy road surfaces. Since my tyre wall exploded last year I have become a very nervous cyclist.
On the shout of go, I pushed off the wall and three big dolphin leg kicks and I was away, I was not only keeping up with those in my wave but slowly moving away! I quickly knocked off the lengths and soon a float was thrust in front of my face to let me know I only had two lengths to go.
Quickly into transition, in only my trisuit in the bitter wind and hail, I was away on my bike cycling around the roads of Dunchurch and Barby. I knew that my less aerodynamic physique would mean I was soon overhauled by others; having seen the £300 aero helmets, disc wheels, and full set up tribikes I was expecting it but when would they all pass me?
Very quickly was the simple answer, within 3 short miles the rest of my wave had passed, after the first left turn up a huge hill the whomping sound of a tiefighter could be heard behind me as the winner with his aerowheel stormed passed. After 5 miles all the speedy boys and girls had got me and I was on my own to bring up the rear – although I might finish last, I was not necessarily going to be positionally last – I kept telling myself.
After the Toe down left turn onto a major road I saw a small yellow arrow at the next turn but after the clear instructions at the briefing about a marshal at the key point and huge signs I kept going! This was to be a rather major mistake! After a while I started to recognise where I was – RUGBY! Passing St Cross Hospital then Rugby school, I found myself on the gyratory, cursing and praising my luck (It was before 9 am and quiet) I realised I had made a detour – rather than turn round – I realise I wouldn’t see the signs from the back and with no idea where to turn I kept going… following the signs for Southam as that is where I was staying and Daventry as that is where the race started!
I eventually found myself on the correct road and headed back to the race – I nearly missed the final turn as the marshal was walking away (I think they thought everyone had finished!) pulling in to the drive the rain finally abated!
Back in transition I reported myself to the Race Official for possible disqualification, better to be DQ before doing the run than after, luckily or possibly unluckily I was allowed to continue so I set off on my run around the golf course!
Quickly I realised that there were very few people out on the course, it soon became apparent that I was probably the only one their first lap! After grabbing my band to indicate I had completed a lap I found myself on my own! Even the marshal had had enough and had left the switch back section, but my honesty wouldn’t let me cut a corner, certainly not ½ a km! So on and on I ran, following all the markers avoiding the rabbit holes – I would hate to see the rabbits based on the size of the holes they made! Until I was on the final run in. A quick flash of my number and they recorded my time, and asked me if anyone else was out on the run!
I can’t fault the venue, course or cost of this triathlon; however the organisation wasn’t great, not just from the fact that I got lost due to a lack of marshal (I’ll take that as my own fault). But, in every previous triathlon I have been too the transition area is like Fort Knox – Arms and legs are checked with bikes in and out to ensure that the correct owner takes the correct bike at the beginning and the end of the race – not so here – and there were some very pricey bikes as well. The marshals didn’t seem to know who was out on the course – what would have happened if I had kept on going… when would they realise I was missing? (Apparently the previous year someone made a 20mile detour and joined a sportive!) It was a grotty day but for a marshal to head back before all the runners had passed is very demotivating especially if you are last runner home!
If Mary’s times are accurate and despite the cold I think she was spot on and with no finish times to compare I did 1:34 – which with my detour is great for me! I got a top 45 placing to boot! (Okay only 45 people took part and if I ever see a results list I might even better 45).