I entered this event as I wanted a change from doing Wimbleball again, so this was going to be a whole new experience. I drove down to the New Forest in Hampshire on Saturday and had no problems until I got within a few miles of the race headquarters when my sat nav took me down a very narrow track and I mean narrow!!! Eventually I found my way back onto the correct road through the National Park avoiding the ponies and horses and into the grounds of Avon Tyrrell House Activity Centre, which was where the event was taking place.
Luckily the weather was fine as I had to park my van in the middle of the field between the lake and the house. Many vehicles and tents were already there as the different events had started on the Friday with a Triple Enduroman [Iron distance] and 200 mile run.
Saturday's events were a Double and a 100 mile run. Sunday's programme was a Single, the Half and a 50 mile run!!
A real festival of endurance which was making me feel quite inferior as I was only doing the Half!!! As I am too old now to camp I had booked a room in the "House", so I booked in and then had a walk around to soak up the atmosphere.
Not to bore you too much I'll try and explain the layout of the area. The "House" sits at the top of a hill surrounded by woodland and slopes on one side down through the parking field to the lake approximately 500m away. The other side of the "House" is the "roundabout" which is the start and finish of all the events. Also it is the lap counting point and it is where the support crews congregate, so it is a hub of activity as there is always someone coming through completing either a lap or finishing and of course starting, just amazing support for everyone taking part.
There were some world class endurance athletes taking part so the place was buzzing! Later that evening I registered, I was going to be in Wave 1 starting at 08.30hrs and my race number was 148. It was then time for dinner, which was pretty good and plenty of it! No sooner had I finished dinner and it was time for the race briefing which was very informative.
I racked my bike in the allotted tennis court adjacent to the "roundabout" . Next it was time to get my kit sorted ready for the morning. Bedtime at last but could I sleep!!! Within two hours I was wide awake thinking about tomorrows event!! The rest of the night went the same way a couple of hours sleep then awake!!! After a fitful night I got up at 05.00hrs as I had to go for the bike/helmet check and I passed that with flying colours!!!! Filled up my water bottles next and laid out my kit in the change tent which was optional or you could put it by your bike. I chose the tent option as there was more room to change etc. and as I knew I wasn't going to win there would be no rush at T1 !!!!
I stood at the roundabout for awhile and just watched and soaked up the vibes. I got chatting to some guy and he told me I could leave my running shoes by his support crew tent which he said would save me a little time at T2. as we had been told at the briefing that as you completed your bike leg someone would take your bike from you and rack it so if you wanted you could leave your run shoes somewhere near the "roundabout". Great I thought every second counts!! But I was to regret this move later!!!
Next was breakfast, bloody hell no porridge!!! Oh well cornflakes would do and by now the nerves were kicking in so I wasn't that hungry!! Soon it was time to put on the penguin suit and waddle down to the lake!!! We had been told to take an old pair of trainers and leave by the swim exit as there were some stoney sections to overcome enroute to T1. The water temperature was not bad so I got in and had a little paddle around to ease the nerves!
It was 08.30 hrs and we were off! The swim was 7 laps anticlockwise round the small lake and after each lap you sort of pulled into a layby and called out your number! Like playing bingo!!! I have never swam laps before in a race so that seemed a little weird but at least I didn't get giddy going round!!! The next thing I know it was my last lap and I was approaching the exit ramp and I wasn't the last either as there were two others still in the water!! No they weren't ducks they were competitors!!!! Makes a change not to be last out the water I thought!!![ there was only 24 in my wave!!] and there was only a total of 48 competing in the Half.
Now it was a 500m run up the hill through the middle of the car park field to T1 pulling my wet suit down to my waist as I ran, well jogged!!! As the weather was looking good I had already decided to just wear my tri suit for the bike and run. So it was off with the wet suit, on with the bike shoes, a few metres jog to the bike rack and another little walk up a few steps and it was onto the "roundabout" for the start of the 5 bike laps. The course was undulating and at times went through the New Forest National Park, that was strange taking part in a triathlon and having to avoid horses, ponies and cows in the road!!! They look at you like they own the place!!!! At least I didn't hit one!!
There was a bit of a drag up Braggers Lane towards the end of each lap before re-entering the grounds of Avon Tyrrell House, then it levelled out before a very short fast descent to the "roundabout". Call out your number as you went over the timing mat and it was back out on the next lap. No mishaps on the bike and soon it was the end of the last lap and back onto the "roundabout" for T2.
As I dismounted I was told I had to rack my own bike back on the tennis court!!! So much for my hidden shoes for a fast getaway!! Of course I had already taken my feet out of my bike shoes before dismounting so I had to jog to the bike rack across tarmac and stoney ground and then back again to get my running shoes on!!! The plans of mice and men eh!!! At least I remembered to rub the grit off the bottom of my socks before setting off on the first of 12 laps.
The first two laps I felt pretty good and was running fairly strong for me! The course was all off road, very technical with tree roots [which had been marked with orange paint] and there were two spots where it was quite muddy and wet. It was a tough run route and each lap got harder, the sun got hotter and I got slower. As you entered the "roundabout" at the end of each lap you called out your race number as you went over the timing mat and the crowds were cheering and clapping which was a great feeling and certainly helped me push through the pain!
After six laps I had that feeling, you know what it's like, this is bloody hard and am I going to finish!! But you just dig in deep and carry on. At the end of the ninth lap I knew I had got it cracked as there were only two normal laps to do then the last lap you do a U turn over the timing mat and run the last lap in reverse so that everyone watching and racing knows you are about to finish your challenge. Oh my god what a fantastic feeling as you run round and the crowds cheer and clap and those runners going in the opposite direction high five you and clap!! I had a few lumps in my throat! Then it was up the last hill and down onto the by now infamous "roundabout" to the cheering crowds and the FINISH!!
Bloody hell that was TOUGH!! Will I do it again? Maybe, might even try the SINGLE!! What am I saying!!!!
swim 1.3 miles 51mins 9 secs a PB for me! 22nd out of 24
T1 5 mins no PB !!!
bike 58 miles 3hrs 31mins 31 secs another PB 15th out of 24
T2 3 mins
run 13 miles 2hrs 34 mins 31 secs 16th out 24
overall time : 7hrs 5 mins 11 secs a fabulous PB for me!!
overall position in Wave1 14th out of 24
overall position out Wave1 and Wave 2 33rd out of 47
the next youngest was 52yrs old 16 yrs younger than me!!!
I know it's been a long race report and probably boring but I just wanted to give everyone a feeling for the atmosphere and the race setup. Also I was so pleased with my overall time that I just wanted to share it with you all. Thank you all for your support.