We decided to make a weekend of it, so we had plenty of time to have a look at the course and rest up after a long drive. I particularly wanted to see what was described in the pre-race pack as “ difficult climbs/descents at 1 mile, 14 miles and 16 miles……”
Registration the evening before in the Town Hall was a bonus – leaving just body mark up & transition set up for the morning. Classic text from our daughter at 27 minutes past midnight – “you’re probably not awake, but where are the bandages” ! followed by a brief mumbled conversation interrupted an otherwise good night’s sleep. (She’s fine!)
It was a late start – I was in wave 2 at 10:35 and John in wave 4 at 10:45 Loads of time to have breakfast and get set-up and with our accommodation only a short walk from the start it was all very easy and unhurried except…John passed me his phone while we were setting up – our son this time – off to a karate competition and unable to find his mouthguard (compulsory kit) already running late, as usual. Me talking through all the likely places, with a stern-looking race official standing over me. He was kind enough to let me finish the conversation and then explained that in transition we are under race rules-no mobiles, oops! (Son was helped-out by another mum at the competition with a mouthguard and came away with a gold, a silver and competitor of the day trophy).
Looking around while waiting for the race to start it dawned on me that there were a lot of GB suits and otherwise serious looking competitors – not many in the “fun-run” class!
Into the water. The Triharman sessions at Mike Thurston really paid off here. I had a really good swim – it looked a very long way (one lap) but I started at the back of my wave (all the female competitors) and just swam as straight as I could. Got a boost from the men starting 5 minutes behind as they wooshed past either side (so at least I was on line!).
Saw John run past in T1 and followed him out – so he had made up 10 minutes on me.
What a bike ride! Rolling I think best describes it. The difficult climbs? Nothing not done along the Cromer ridge – although one did cause a bit of a jam of cars, bikes, motorbikes (including a referee) which I decided to stay well out of and took the opportunity to have a gel and a swig of water.
The run was punishing though, uninterrupted sunshine and pretty warm. Hills and lots of them – very scenic if you weren’t just trying to survive! It consisted of two out & backs. When I passed John coming back early on the first I thought that was not particularly good news – as I expected him to be at least 5k ahead…more on that from John.
Next time I saw him he was cheering me over the finish . Job done! 3:03:20. Way down towards the bottom of the results, but a good one for me and who knows – sub 3 hours may just be achievable before too long!
Shropshire in case you did not know was one of three qualifier races for next years European championships, so it was a competitive field.
The PA and the referees were keen to point out two new rules, one drafting zone is now 10m all round so you cannot cycle side by side as you sort of used to be able to and there are no boxes allowed in transition.
Having wished Tessa well, I went to watch the first waves start and then I put my wetsuit on. Priding myself on my solo ability to do up the zip I was not worried, until the zip got stuck. I asked a fellow competitor for help and he soon realised that my zip was jammed fast on my new trisuit’s lanyard (it has a rear not front zip). Getting some assistance from a marshal, the lanyard was cut and the wetsuit done up – I was then the last of my wave to enter the water. Trying to calm down and get my head under water just about worked. The swim started and I was aware that there were plenty ahead and around me. There was more buffeting than I usually get in a race but by the second half I had settled into a pace and noticed that I was passing some of those from the earlier waves. Leaving the water I saw that I was just faster than I had been at Wells last year and that was tide assisted. The announcer then helpfully said that I was 16th in my age group out of the water – top four to qualify!
A swift transition, sadly I did not see Tessa and on to the bike which despite practicing was not the smoothest mount up, my tip here is to make certain you have enough room to get on if you are trying to jump on, by that I mean a bit of clear road ahead as you will have no control for the first few metres.
The bike went well – although…..we were issued with number shields to fix to the bikes, I waited to see where other people had fitted theirs and chose the front of seat post position – top tip – if you have to do this do not fit it in front of the seat post unless you can bolt it on, it spent the race jabbing itself into my thigh as the wind pushed it to one side or the other, the first few miles were spent trying to adjust it while not loosing speed LOL. I did hit traffic a few times, getting stuck behind a car behind a bike, having to stop while a horse was getting skittish and going sideways (we were racing on A roads), weaving through traffic that had stopped because a couple of bikes had overcooked the descent, etc etc but these I took advantage of by sitting up and having a drink. At one of these holdups I was over taken by two bikes (only notable as I was overtaken by four in total), one of whom I realised was in my age group, but they hit an up bit slowed down and I was past them both again and did not see them (at least not until the run).
The bike was 1 hour 4 so I had made it out of T2 in 1 hour 30 which had been an aspirational target beforehand. I found out later that I had moved up to 5th in my age group.
Many of you know I have struggled the last few months with running niggles, the good news is that my heel did not bother me during the run – the bad news is that I felt the lack of running – big time. I soon lost count of the number of my age groupers who past me. It became a battle to complete, which I did, managing my last mile as my fastest and retaking one of my age group in the process.
I ended up in 14th place in my age group. Significantly I am within 20% of the winning time of the age group, but the age group winner came in third overall in 2 hours 1 minute, I was only 20 minutes slower! The significance being that in theory I could still qualify, in practice there are two more races and the roll down positions will go to those with the lowest percentage times in relation to the winner in their event.
It was by far the most competitive triathlon we have competed in. It was really well organised. The marshals were much in evidence on the bike course both on the ground and on motorbikes. There were three water stations on the run, though all were in the first half. The swim was a delight, though it did feel a bit like I was going to touch the bottom with each stroke – which I didn’t by the way.
I have learned more lessons, make certain there is someone to help do your wetsuit up! If there is a number shield for the bike make certain it is nowhere near your thigh! If you are trying to do a running mount up make certain you have space in front!
It is a great event and we would recommend it. We have the t shirts to prove it.