Wotton Triathlon 2011 – Race Report
Once again it was time for the Wotton Triathlon, a small, local event to raise money for the local pool and last years event was the first time it had been run. Despite not training I managed to win it last year and it helped kickstart my return to Triathlon. I therefore had to return to defend my title, once again beat my brothers and hopefully improve on last years time of 1 hour 30. I was hoping to get it down to 1:20.
Sunday dawned – well, actually it didn’t really ever dawn as it stayed pretty dark all day. Cold, wet, windy and miserable, not perfect conditions so I was already revising my target time in my head to 1:25.
The event is a little odd in that there are two transition areas, one by the pool for T1 (the swim to bike transition) and one by the school for T2 (the bike to run transition). This means we had to leave our running kit at the school before heading up to the pool for our 7:40am registration and 8am start. We got to the school at 7:25am to do this, only to find what we thought was the transition area all locked up and there was nobody around – Did we have the date right?
A few other people also turned up looking a little confused. My parents took a quick drive up to the pool to ask where we should set up and were told that the transition would be in the car park this year, so we left our running stuff there, and headed up to the pool. It was all a bit rushed bow but we registered, attached numbers to bikes and helmets and got changed ready for the swim.
Things were looking a little more serious this year with a number of decent bikes with aero wheels, tri-bars etc and a few people wandering around in Tri-Suits emblazoned with their team colours and names. I’d been hearing rumours about people who had been training hard and were out to beat me this year and it looked as though most of the serious competition was setting off in the same swim wave as me. At least this meant I’d know where I stood on the road. The guy who came 3rd last year (Peter Bennett) was in my lane and starting 1st with a 5 second lead over me. There was one other guy, Rich Shirley, who was also expecting to put in a fast time starting in the lane next to me, again with a 5 second lead.
The pool is only 15m long and with 4 of us to a lane it was always going to be busy.
Go!! the first guys were off and 5 seconds later I was off too. I caught Peter Bennet on the first length and overtook him so I was immediately first ‘on the road’. With such a small pool and 4 people per lane it was pretty busy so I was passing people on every length but I soon settled into a decent rhythm at a good pace. I also noticed that Rich Shirley in the lane next to me probably wasn’t going to be a threat either as he certainly wasn’t a swimmer.
Apparently a number of people commented on my speed in the pool and the 30 lengths flew by so I was soon out of the nice warm waters of the pool and out into the cold wet grey and downright miserable transition area. Into my wet shoes, on with a wet helmet and off onto the wet roads – Nice!
My parents and Anna and Morgan were there cheering me on and they waited by the pool for my brothers (Jay and Brad) and my sisters boyfriend (Mike) to exit the pool. The next person out of the pool was a couple of minutes behind me. From our group Brad was next, closely followed by Jay, but they spent ages in Transition. Mike was a little way behind but had dislocated his shoulder during the swim! Apparently it’s an old rugby injury and it happens all the time. He just popped it back in and continued on with the task in hand.
The bike ride is horrible. For some reason the organisers have tried to make it follow tiny little country lanes as much as possible rather than stick to the bigger, safer roads. The trouble with the little lanes is that the road surface is terrible at the best of times with potholes and gravel everywhere, they are also very narrow so you can’t go anywhere near as fast as you would like to because there is always a blind corner in front of you and the possibility of a car just around it. Needless to say it’s a fairly dangerous route and no one will ever set any blistering times on it. I had to stop on two occasions to let transit vans through the narrow road. On Sunday it was worse than ever thanks to the rain. The descents were scary to say the least as road bike brakes don’t work like mountain bike brakes do when wet. The cornering was sketchy thanks to the slippery surface and even the little climb up Nind Lane was a nightmare as there wasn’t any grip so the back wheel was spinning out all the time.
I just kept thinking to myself that it would be the same for everyone and although my time wasn’t great on the bike, considering the conditions it was pretty good and at least 3 minutes up on my time from last year. I was also pretty cold out there in just my tri-suite. The terrible roads meant that I couldn’t huddle up on the tri-bars much either and getting my legs going properly whilst they were turning blue wasn’t ideal. However, before long I was hurtling down the hill, the only bit of decent road on the course, towards the the school and Transition 2.
I was ready to turn into the main car park entrance where we had been told to set up our running shoes, but at the last minute I noticed some cones and tape and the fact that the transition area had actually been set up the same as it was last year. I had to jam on the brakes and try to make the corner because the transition area had moved whilst I’d been on the cycle! There was a car behind me not really expecting me to do this and I narrowly avoided getting mowed down by it, let it go past and then turned into the transition area and looked for my shoes. These had been moved for me whilst I was out on the bike as well.
Luckily I found them easily and didn’t really lose anytime, but the fact that the transition area wasn’t even opened and set up until we had finished the swim and set off on the bike is crazy! How are we supposed to set up our transition area after we’ve started the race?
The next guy in was Rich Shirley, 5 minutes behind me now so I’d increased my lead by a further 3 minutes during the bike. He had trouble finding his running shoes. My Dad helped him locate them, but even with this help he lost 2-3 minutes in the transition area looking for them so ended up 7-8 minutes behind me on the road by the start of the run. There was talk later of knocking a few minutes off his overall time to compensate for this but no official word on it as yet.
Further back, Jay had overtaken Brad on the bike and Mike had caught and passed both of them.
Out on the run I felt good from the start. My legs felt fresh and raring to go. Maybe the difficulties of the bike course had meant that I hadn’t been able push too hard so now was the time to do so. I took it easy for the first mile which is a gentle climb but picked up the pace once onto Nind Lane. The climb at the end of Nind Lane was of course a little tough, but my pace was good given the terrain and I was soon descending again and then at the bottom of the hill up through Wotton. I suddenly felt really good here and picked up the pace for the climb, overtaking a cyclist in the process – She was quite old though!
I quite often find that I feel good at around the hour mark of any event and today was no exception, I think I’d warmed back up following the cold bike ride as well, so flew up the hill and was soon sprinting towards the finish line and feeling as though I had plenty of energy left. I crossed the line with an unofficial (but accurate) time of 1:22:25.
Not quite the 1:20 I was hoping for but given the conditions it was a time that I was happy with and it.
I got changed into a dry tracksuit, t-shirt, two jumpers and a waterproof coat and waited for the other finishers. Next across the line was Rich Shirley, 10 minutes behind me so I’d pulled out another 2-3 minutes on the run which I was pleased about, then Peter Bennett about 5 minutes further behind. Unless there was anyone really fast in the later swim waves (which I don’t think there was) then I should have retained my title! The official times aren’t out yet though so we’ll have to wait and see.
I was now freezing and shivering like mad so I walked across to the refreshments stalls and successfully begged for a free cup of tea (We had provided them with several cakes that they could sell so I thought I should be entitled to one). Unfortunately I was shivering so much that I spilt most of it walking back across the car park so jumped into the car with the engine on and heater on full blast to try to warm up. Don’t you just love the British Summer!
Next across the line from our group was Mike in a time of about 1:40, followed by Brad in a time of around 2:02 having re-taken his place from Jay during the run. I’m not sure of Jay’s time, but he should at least have beaten his time from last year of 2:19 (with a puncture).
Not the most prestigious of events but I did well and put in a representative time so that’s what really counts. I did enjoy it whilst out there but the conditions were horrible. I feel more for the people doing it as a challenge rather than to put in a fast time. At least I only had to spend less than an hour and a half out there, those people that take twice as long had to put up with the cold and driving rain for a lot longer than I did. It can’t have been much fun for them so they are the ones that deserve the biggest cheers for not only sticking with it and completing the course but for turning up in the first place! The same goes for the spectators and volunteers who all had to endure the weather so that we could swim bike and run.