Who’s the biggest banana?

Who’s the biggest banana?


On the same weekend that the club's elite were taking on the continent's best at the European Championships in Geneva, or becoming Ironmen (all over again) at Hever, the elderly, the infirm, the has-beens and the never-weres took a deep breath and confronted the Bananaman Triathlon at Dorney Lake.

Why the 'Bananaman'? Well, there was a bloke in a banana suit (no one knew whether he actually competed - getting his wetsuit on over the banana suit would have been tricky) and there were piles of green bananas around the place, courtesy of upmarket sponsor Lidl. "Don't eat those," warned Professor Dr Sir David Ricketts, Bart, "they'll kill you. I remember when I was in Honduras…" etc, etc.

Sir David, Brad Williams and I were off at 10.30 for an 800m swim, followed by a 31.8k bike and a 7.5k run (note the strange, in-betweeny sprint/Olympic hybrid distances), while Angela Murray's wave was due off 40 minutes later.

An 800m open water swim. Gulp. We line up with the other green caps in the clear waters of the lake, conscious that the next wave of yellow caps (relay team swimmers, I think) are due off just five minutes later. So that means being overtaken by the first of them in about six minutes' time, I think. And so it happens. Otherwise, I have a relatively uneventful swim as I labour round two circuits of a rectangle marked by four buoys - no (deliberate) punches, kicks or gouges, unlike a lady in Angela's wave who later says she's planning an official complaint after being so badly bruised by swimmers ploughing through from the following men's wave that she was forced to retire.

Emerging from the water, surrounded by yellow caps (where are all the greens?), I'm confronted by my usual wetsuit removal problem of being unable to reach to undo that velcro thing at the top of the zip (howdopeople do that?) until, seeing my evident distress, a spectator kindly offers to undo it for me. Against the rules, I know, but wtf? It's only the Bananaman, not the Olympics.

Into transition and no sign of Sir D or Brad (they'll be miles ahead), onto the bike and straight into the notorious Dorney Lake headwind for six circuits of the lake. Down onto the tri-bars for the next hour or so (it's completely flat), except for a tricky little chicane where you sometimes have to slow down to negotiate the traffic. Towards the end, I overtake Sir D, who is making his usual stately progress on his venerable titanium Raleigh, having deliberately handicapped himself once again by electing to shun tri-bars. If ever there was a course where you benefit from minimising your frontal area (no, don't titter), it's this one.

Then onto the run, which is three out-and-back laps of a path by the lakeside - and is HARD, despite its pan-flatness. About two-thirds of the way out I meet Brad on his way back, and with an uncatchable lead, so settle down to my own private misery. Out on the second lap I see Brad again at approximately the same place, but on the third lap, no sign of him. So that means he was more, not less, than a lap ahead of me! Oh well, it's not a race, I tell myself - conveniently forgetting that, well, itisactually a race.

Finally, nowhere near soon enough, the finish comes, and there stands an only slightly sheepish Brad waiting to reveal that he thought it was two laps, not three. "Julie will never let me forget this," he chortles, as Sir D finishes in fine style, having, like me, naively thought you had to complete all three laps.

Suddenly, catastrophe! Sir D realises that he hasn't been given a medal. He's only doing it for the medals. Nor have any of the rest of us, and realisation dawns. There are, in actual fact, NO MEDALS! Except… Sir D says he's seen some children walking about with medals, so there must be medals. He sets off in search of medals and returns shortly afterwards, well satisfied with a children's 'Scootathlon' medal. "They've got loads left," he says airily. "Why not get one yourselves?" Politely, we decline.

Then we sit in the sun watching Angela finish her run to come first in her age group for the first time ever, before the obligatory team photo back in transition. "Don't post the times on Facebook this time," warns Sir D. "I wasn't really trying. I've got the Brighton Aquathlon tomorrow."

"Yes," agrees Brad, looking preoccupied. "Er, you know, don't post those times on Facebook or anything, will you?"

So I don't. But just in case anyone's interested, here's a link: http://humanrace.co.uk/results-archive/2015/lidl-bananaman-triathlon/all-results