Two members of Mid Sussex Tri Club ventured up to Keswick in the Lake District over the weekend of 17th and 18th June to compete in the Lakesman full distance triathlon, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a bike leg of 112 miles and a 26.2 mile run. With the start and finish lines and transition based on the shores of Derwent Water, some stunning, if somewhat hilly, scenery was guaranteed to competitors.
In its second year, the race has a small but friendly atmosphere but with all the organisation and logistics of big brand races. The race organisers were clearly hoping for better weather than the torrential rain of the inaugural race but probably weren't expecting the temperature to be in the mid to high 30s for the duration of the race!
With 2 hours 20 minutes permitted for the swim and a hard cut off of 10 hours 30 minutes after race start to commence the run, Clair Hunt was aiming to use the swim leg to buy herself time for the bike. Her strategy was therefore one of getting close to the melee on the start line and being as competitive as possible. Matthew Critchley, as the weaker swimmer, however had a different strategy; namely to stay out of trouble on the swim and pick off places on an opportunistic basis.
The strategy appeared to pay off for Matthew emerging from the water in a time of 01:43:10 just 3 minutes 43 seconds ahead of his team mate. This put them in 247th and 260th places respectively overall.
Even with the benign conditions and a water temperature of 18-19 degrees C, one hour 45 minutes is a long time to be immersed and there always remains a risk of hypothermia. Unfortunately for Clair the effects of exposure had taken its toll and the race marshals directed Clair to the medical tent for treatment and with that her race was over.
Matthew's strength was always going to be the bike leg and by the midway point had pulled back to 141st place. Strong winds along the Cumbrian coast and extreme temperatures slowed the field over the second half of the course. Matthew had dropped back slightly to 165th overall coming into transition for the second time in a total elapsed time of 08:08:16, exactly 02:00:04 behind the race leader.
Consistent pacing would always be critical to ensuring a strong finish to the race, particularly given the prevailing conditions. With 5 laps of a 5.25 mile circuit, Matthew was able to maintain a consistent pace with lap times within a couple of minutes of each other to finish the marathon in 149th place recording a time of 05:12:30. This gave an overall time of 13:29:36, finishing in 174th overall and 04:13:55 behind race winner Joe Duckworth. The first lady, Nicola King from the Arragon's Triathlon Club, finished in a time of 11:20:44 putting her in 34th place overall.
It was both Clair's and Matthew's first attempt at this distance having both successfully competed at a number of middle distance and half Ironman races. There clearly remains unfinished business at Lakesman for the pair of them, albeit for different reasons. Clair has vowed to use this opportunity to learn and come back stronger next year and Matthew is keen to try again but next time, with luck, in more temperate conditions and see what time he can post.