Pwllheli Triathlon 2011 – Race Report

After being talked into a charity triathlon event last year by my sister, I decided to sign up to do some triathlons again this year, so yesterdays 2011 Pwllheli Triathlon was my first ‘real’ triathlon for 20 years.

It was a ‘sprint’ event with a 400m pool swim, 12 mile cycle and 3 mile run.

Anna and Morgan were going to come along to support me, but when they realised that the two hour drive to Pwllheli and the fact that the clocks went forward on Saturday night meant that they’d be getting up at was was really 4am they decided against it. I therefore got up at 5am (really 4), had some breakfast, loaded the car in the dark and headed off on my own.

Once in Pwllheli I signed on at the leisure centre, met Dan who was also competing in the event and then we set up our stalls in the transition area. As it was a pool swim there would be a time-trial style staggered start and the start times were based on your predicted swim time. I must have put down somewhere between 6 minutes and 6:30 for the swim which had me starting in 8th place out of the 180 entrants. This meant that I was up at the business end of the field and started feeling a little outclassed by the people around me in the transition area. I was surrounded by the guys who had placed in the top 3 last year and they were wandering around with their ‘Team Wales Triathlon’ tops on and looking fast, fit and a whole lot younger and slimmer than me. [EDIT: I’ve since found out that the guy in the Team Wales Tri-suit was Owain Llyr James, who has his own blog so you can read his race report here]

I was beginning to wish I was a slower swimmer so that I would at least be out on the bike and run along with people of similar abilities. Thankfully though, a couple of others turned up who were obviously swimmers and not cyclists / runners as well and well and set up nearby. In fact looking at the bike racks there was a real contrast of bikes, from full on aer0-style triathlon time-trial bikes with deep section rims and all the trimmings, to very old ‘shopper’ style bikes.

There was then time for a quick race-briefing before it was off to get changed. Once again I was surrounded by some very fast looking people and started feeling out of place. Not only were there ‘Team Wales’ athletes, but also people wearing their Team GBR tri-suits as well. This could get embarrassing. No time to worry about it though because with 20 seconds between each competitor it was soon my turn to start. One person in front of me didn’t show up so I was off in 7th place. The swim went well and I did it a time of 5:57, I actually overtook 2 people. This meant that there were 4 people in front of me – I was unlikely to be seeing them again – and close to 170 people behind me trying to chase me down. I was expecting to see plenty of them fly past at some point in the next hour or so.

I didn’t have to wait long as the next guy out of the water overtook me in the transition area. We were supposed to walk in the transition which I did. He did too, but has obviously been practising his speed walking as he flew past me! I was already back to 6th place on the road. On with my helmet, race number and shoes and then I was off onto the bike.

My new bike went well, I haven’t really got used to it yet, but I was soon down on the aero bars and feeling comfortable. I took it fairly easy on the cycle section, but overtook one person on the first climb so that I was back up to 5th on the road. I was then overtaken by someone else but kept him in my sights about 50m ahead of me until we came to a right-hand turning. He nipped across in front of a train of oncoming cars, I thought about doing the same but decided against it at the last minute and ended up stopping to let them go. I had to stop completely and unclip to let the cars through and then struggled a bit to get going again in the wrong gear. I was only stationary for about 10 seconds but I’d lost the momentum of the descent and the guy in front of me was never seen again. These things happen though so I carried on pushing the  pace a little now and was soon back into Pwllheli.

As I entered the leisure centre complex and jumped off my bike into Transition 2, the guy wearing the Team GBR suit overtook me. He obviously knew the rules a little better than I did as he ran the coned off area of the Transition but then walked through the bit with the bike racks. I walked all of it and once again got overtaken during the transition phase. Not to worry, I was back down to 7th on the road with just the small issue of a 3 mile run to come! My official bike split time was 39:19 but that includes the transitions. According to my Garmin Forerunner my actual time on the bike 36:41.

My legs felt a little tight as I put my running shows on and my qiad almost cramped as I struggled into my show ao I took it easy on the first mile of the run, but then gradually eased into it. Somehow I kept the Team GBR guy in my sights for the whole run, nobody overtook me and I just caught someone else, finishing about a second behind him on the line. I’d started in 7th place on the road and finished in 7th place on the road, now all I had to do was wait for everyone else behind me to finish to find out what the final results were and see how many others had posted faster overall times.

After a shower and packing up we headed off to the rugby club for some well-earned food and a long wait for the results. It’s good that the result were available on the day mind you as usually you have to wait and find them out online a few days after. Within an hour or so, out came the officials with the times for everyone.

My overall time was 1:08:36 with a

  • 400m swim split of 5:57,
  • 13 mile (it was 13 not 12 miles on the road) cycle split of 39:19
  • 3.25 mile (again a little longer than advertised!) run split of 23:20.

That put me in an overall position of, yep, you’ve guessed it, 7th – Not bad out of 137 starters. Especially considering the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be and I that I only swim or run once a week at the most.

Dan did well too, finishing in 16th place overall in a time of 1:13:34 and seem to enjoy the experience as this was his first ever triathlon.

A good day out, a well organised event and perfect weather for it. Guess I’d better start training for another one now. I think I need to work on my transitions though as my times according to my Garmin Forerunner were:

  • Swim: 5:57
  • Bike: 36:41
  • Run: 22:33

That means I spent a whole 3 minutes 25 seconds in the transition area. I need to learn to get dressed quicker.

5 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    Pwllheli Triathlon 2011 Photos:

    Just a list of any photos from yesterdays Pwllheli Triathlon that I manage to find.

    There’s several photos here:
    Just click on the link under the Pwllheli Triathlon section. There’s a few of me on the run.

    And some here:
    including one of me on the cycle.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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