On the warm and sunny morning of Sunday Aug 3rd, four MSTC club members converged on the normally private estate of Newplace Park near Uckfield, to take part in the Wealden Manic Tri 'Club challenge', one of several races organised by HedgeHogTri that morning on the same circuit.
Jean Fish, Mark Jordan, Lucy Williams and Phil couch competed in a super-sprint relay race, each leg consisting of a 300m swim in a positively balmy lake with water temps above 20 Degree C and a 10 km blast on the bike around the lanes near Framfield which was undulating, but still pretty quick to ride. Then followed two laps of the stunning Newplace grounds, skirting the lake in which we had swam and through a cool section of woodland, before dropping into a gully and back up to the start/finish area for another circuit. Anxieties started to build as we assessed the competition: Mark pointing out that we had a GB age grouper in one of the Steyning teams, Jean declaring that the champagne post charity swim the night before was a bad idea and finally Phil skulked off to the bushes to get 'in the zone'…
The support crew of Lucy's partner Keith and the cheeky face of 2 year old Poppy arrived just in time, providing Mid Sussex crew with an extra few cheers for each lap completed.
The race format dictated that we competed in Female, Male, Female, Male order. Jean pluckily volunteered to go off first in the mass start, also deciding that she would complete her first ever Non-wetsuit open water swim: go girl!
The first leg was led out of the water by the age-grouper from Steyning AC, who completed the 300m swim in a blistering 4 mins and 8 secs, before hot footing it up to transition. Those of us not in the water looked at each other, realising that there was going to be a hotly contested race. Jean completed her swim and began the chase down, her bike going well barring a small detour due to confusing signage and completed a run that saw the field group up nicely for spectators and competitors alike. 'Oh F&*k' she cried as she ran past on her first lap; perhaps the first and last time we will hear Mrs Fish swear in a race! At this point 'Steyning A' were well out in front, but a few minutes covered the remaining teams and everyone had their race face on! One of the most amusing parts of the day had to be the look of relief on Jean's face when she had realised that she didn't have to do the whole thing all over again. None of us had realised that she was waiting in the wings to 'go again' and was worried about getting home in time for Rose's Hen Night!!
Mark was next off, scooting down to the lake in quick time, before taking the plunge and completing his lap, (including the run back up to transition) in fewer than 6 mins. He then completed one of the fastest relay bike times of the day and ran his socks off, catching at least one of our targets in the process. It was impressive stuff and for someone who trains solely for long distance events: his times showed that he still had plenty of fast twitch fibres to employ!
Mark handed over to Lucy, who has been focussing on Duathlon recently and was concerned at not having swum for over 6 months. She completed her swim without fuss and then showed her strength on the bike, scooting around in 23 minutes. The Duathlon training focus was even more obvious on the run, Lucy completing the fastest female run split across all of the events staged at Newplace that day. Whilst doing so, she also reeled in another team and made ground on Steyning A, who were still a few minutes ahead: we began to think we could win the relay event for MSTC.
Phil was next out and after the effort already put in, was determined not to let the team down. The swim was slightly surreal as barring Paul hedger on the pontoon, a chap on a paddle board and a very concerned looking Mallard, the lake was empty. Once back through the handover area and hearing the shouts of encouragement from team MSTC, he tore off on the bike leg like a Jack Russell chasing a bunny, soon wishing that the 10km bike was even shorter as the adrenaline rush subsided. Once out on the run, things settled down and Mid Sussex consolidated their second place, the gap to Steyning A closing, but just too wide to bridge.
We were all delighted with our performance and really enjoyed the sense of 'team' that you rarely get in a multisport event; it had been a great mornings racing. After a thrilling race in a fantastic local setting, we all vowed to return next year to take the crown from Steyning and bring it home to MSTC: roll on season 2015!