Now having historically spent a fortune on pre-race hotels and
then arriving "in the nick of time" to rack my bike in the morning,
I observed that many triathlons have adjoining campsites, and
thought this could reduce stress levels on the day. So three weeks
before the race found me walking around camping shops looking at
tents, discarding any that did not have enough room inside them for
my bike, an exercise mat, sufficient storage space for race stuff,
space for a large inflatable mattress, oh, and sleeping/living
space for my long suffering wife.
After identifying the object I required, 3 days of watching and
waiting on E-bay boiled down to an electronic game of chicken with
my winning bid arriving 2 seconds before the auction ended. 1 x
Outwell Montana 6 tent is now in my possession. Phase one of my
plan was complete, phase two (going racing) could now commence.
After a leisurely drive to Tamworth, we arrived at the West
Midlands Water centre in plenty of time to register on the
Saturday, pitched our tent, sat back and waited 26mins for the
kettle to boil via the 12v power supply. Our next door neighbours
then arrived with their "charming" children, and promptly started
having a domestic before striking camp and arguing about which car
the kids would travel in for the journey home (and which one of
them would therefore have to "put up with them").
The allure of camping was becoming clear to me.
Once they left however, things started looking up as other
triathletes started arriving and comparing bikes. Take-away was
planned, purchased, and consumed - and I retired to my bed which
was kitted out with feather pillows and a duck down duvet (my wife
does not do sleeping bags).
I awoke at 5:30am to force down my pre-race breakfast
of oat bars, bananas, and fluid. By 06:10the bike was racked
and I had achieved a PB in the porta-loo.
Now, whilst it is great to be on-site with zero stress, I now
had everything ready with 1hr 20mins until race start. An
unprecedented level of organisation for me.
Race brief followed, with a small panic when I noticed that
no-one else had the same colour swim hat as me - it appears the BTF
were using this event to get rid of their odd stock, and the colour
bore no relation to my wave. Wetsuits were optional at 19.5 deg,
but as I sink like a stone without one, I opted to keep mine
Everyone appeared to be organising themselves according to the
swim lanes at the Dolphin, so I joined my fellow "athletes" on the
far left and we got given the horn. Off I went drafting where I
could and for once steering a pretty good course to the 750m buoy.
Downhill to the finish line and out the water in an uneventful
27mins, but just to stop me getting too cocky, my tri suit zipper
tag got caught in my wetsuit zip, and my first flap of the day
began in earnest.
Problem solved in the 150m run to the bike, and my T1 began
properly. Drills were OK, and another 100m run with the bike put me
at the mount line.
So excited was I to be racing, I had gone about two miles before
I realised my Garmin 310 was still showing timing for "T1" - so
accurate pacing of my bike effort was going to be down to judgement
rather than data. After about 10mins, I realised I had a shadow,
and I spent the next 55mins swapping places with my new "friend"
exchanging a bit of good natured banter each time. Nutrition worked
well, with gels and water going down at a well-judged 15mins before
the bike element ended.
The bike course itself was great with two loops of a course that
has a couple of hills, but nothing too challenging. There was a
very tight 90deg left hander which one guy screwed up taking out a
Volvo coming the opposite way. He ended up with a dislocated
shoulder, but the Volvo will need a new wing, bonnet, windscreen,
and roof, as he managed to dent to break all of these on his way to
the other side of the road.
Anyway, into T2 (slick drills on removing feet from shoes), and
out onto the run pausing only to take on more fluid.
My biking buddy (Stuart) put on a spurt and came past me as we
came out of T2, and we started our four lap run at
about 7:30 pace. Each lap took us up and over a huge
earth berm (about 80foot tall and 600ft long), and after the first
lap I succeeded in getting ahead of Stuart. I then spent the next
two laps overtaking another racer only for him to take offense and
put in a spurt, so after wearing him out a bit by doing it a few
times deliberately, I put in a big push and dropped him (heh, heh,
heh). One more lap and we reached the finish. Big sprint, great
finish, and then heard my new PB time over the tannoy - 2:22:17 -
oh yes, who's the daddy.
Grabbed some water, and turned to shout encouragement for Stuart
as he came into the finishing straight - I had a great race with
him, and he with me.
The event was superb, the marshalls excellent, and I made some
new friends - it kind of sums up triathlons.
Looking forward to racing again on
the 22nd September at the Portsmouth
Triathlon - closed road racing should make for a fast race! Our
campsite in Southsea has already been identified - but I will be
buying a kettle that boils quickly.