This was a big deal for me, my first Sprint Triathlon so I didn’t really know what to expect. However I had done a number of running events.
A few days before the event I was given a start time of 07:56. This is based on my swim estimate of 12 minutes. I was number 60, so I am guess that the 59 people before me gave slower expected times. The net result was a 04:30 am start on a Sunday. Instead I stayed at Travelodge Newark Muskham for £45. I took my bike into my room rather than leaving it locked up outside. This meant a 05:30 am start.
It took me 20 minutes to drive to the start and I arrived just as registration was opening at 06:30 on a beautiful crisp sunny day (the commentator said it is always sunny at Southwell). Arriving early meant no issues with parking at all. My car complete with towbar bike carrier had lots of space.
There were not a lot of toilets in the clubhouse but they were in good condition.
I was given my race numbers, and stickers. I was also given my t-shirt based on the size I selected. I liked this as often in running events people grab the wrong size and you are left short. It did also make me think about doing a runner.
I was also given an ankle tag to be worn on the left ankle a la criminal. I didn’t know what to do with the stickers so just watched others. One went on the front of the helmet and the other around the seat stem. It was supposed to be facing backwards but my saddle bag interfered so it just went sideways.
Transition was neatly organised with row numbers clearly visible. I took a moment to identify where I would be coming from the swim into the transition and same again for T2. Initially I had a box with me to put next to my bike but I was told that you are only allowed a 50 cm x 50 cm square and he folded my towel to illustrate. It’s surprising how little you can fit on a 50x50cm square so I draped some of the items over my bike. The rule enforcers were there en masse and were friendly.
I didn’t know where to put my car key and the marshall suggested using the locker (£1 refundable) which is what I did. The lockers are poolside so you have to fight your way through to them. As it gets very busy.
There was a race briefing in transition which had good content but there were complaints about people not being able to hear and the organiser just told everyone to get closer. There is bound to have been lots of people who missed that briefing, why didn’t they use the Public Address System they use later?
Race – Swim
I got the swim start about 20 minutes before my start and just watched. People/Athletes were being released 5 at a time, one in each lane every few minutes. I would be in the batch 56-60 so I would get Lane 5. A very quick race briefing
The swim organiser reminded me of Ms Trunchable from Matilda. Always willing to shout and scream. If you missed your slot like one lady did you had to hope you got another slot later on.
We were invited to get into the water which was fairly warm but very dirty. You could see (brown) bits floating in it. I will never complain about my local pool. Better not to dwell on what it was. She gave us a 10 second countdown and … nothing. As on 2 seconds a couple of people from an earlier wave were turning right in front of me and I had to wait.
Normally I would be happy to stick behind someone swimming, they say a 30% decrease in energy when following/drafting someone in the pool but these two were going so slow I thought Ms Daisy’s drivers were taking part. On the second or third lap I went past them. Realistically the only place to safely overtake without risking a head on is at the end of the lane. Where you hope to pull up alongside and kick off quicker.
I was warned about kicks etc but to be honest it was fine. No worse than walking down a busy street at Christmas. Pretty soon 16 laps were completed, and I hopped out and ran to the bike transition.
Transition 1 (T1)
Stepping out of the emergency door after swimming whilst still fully wet is ‘fresh’. It’s not too cold, certainly no Artic Enema. Its about 150 metres to the bike area over stones covered with thin rubber mats. You can feel the stones through the mats and it is not pleasant.
I quickly found my bike and tried to dry my feet. They had recently cut the grass so the floor was filled with loose grass cuttings. the result was try as I may I couldn’t completely clear my feet as my hands, my towel, and my feet all had grass cuttings. I had put talc into my socks before hand but putting them on was a nightmare. Really hard. In the end I settled for a less than perfect fit.
1. Socks on
2. Running Shoes on
3. Buff neck warmer on
4. Gilet on
5. Helmet on
6. Grab bike and leave
I use my running shoes so I had to stop and get on after I crossed the mount line. I had read that the course was “bumpy”. By bumpy if they mean constant hills then yes, it could be considered bumpy. It was pretty much all up and down. I wasn’t expecting it to be as hilly (yes hilly). The course itself was pretty uninspiring too. You cycle for 6 miles to a roundabout, go around the roundabout and cycle back.
By the ride back my legs had warmed up and I was starting to pedal faster. The last mile or so is mostly downhill and I was hoping it would carry on. A saw a few people walking up the hills but most did not.
My race number had snapped off and was holding my race number on with a single toggle, mental note use a safety pin as well as a race number
The entrance back to the transition area is a sharp right turn, I cycled to the dismount line and hopped off.
Transition 2 (T2)
Much easier than the first, by now it had heated up so I whipped off the gilet and buff and ran only with the tri suit. Exited transition to be be offered water for the first time. Even on a 5k run you get water but on a Tri you only get water when you are nearly an hour into the event.
Diaster. As soon as I started running my left calf siezed up. I have had this before but not for a long time, I walked for a little while again and it tightened up some more. Nothing to do but try and stretch it out and walk. By now most people were running past me, and I recognised some from the swimming wave I was in.
After about 5 minutes I tried a gentle jog, but I was tired and slow. The course is 2 laps up a hill, another uninspiring decision. Hills and Laps. By the 1st turnaround point my legs had eased up so I was able to run a little more albeit slowly.
The start of the second lap is on very uneven surface and I had to be careful not to twist my ankle. I knew I now had 15 minutes or so to go. I ran to the top of the hill (stopping once or twice). As I wasn’t going super fast I was able to look at the other competitiors and there were all shapes and sizes present, but most were not making eye contact.
Each person was in their own world and not what I would describe as friendly. Not unfriendly, just not friendly. The run finished well with a good sprint. The (criminal) tag was removed, but no one told me that you can go to a results tent and collect your results.
The results were better than I expected and only the walking/calf issue during the run hampering my spirits.
I collected my things from the locker and went to transition, it was 09:30 and people were still starting. I hung around and watched the transition and the finish and eventually headed back to the car.
Logistically it was awkward to leave as you are sharing the road with the runners and everyone is pounding the single track road but nothing too bad.
All in all, this was a good event. It was well organised and a decent introduction to Triathlon. I was hoping for more enjoyment during the run or cycle routes. Would I do it again? probably.
A few months ago I set myself the target of below
400m Swim 12 mins-ish
17.6k Bike 50-55 mins-ish
5k Run 33 mins-ish
5 mins transition
Against these I got:
400m Swim 12:48
17.6k Bike 45:50
5k Run 29:47
5:23 mins transition
I am happy although I do think the run course was short as my Garmin showed 2.7 miles.