Shrewsbury Quadrathlon 2018 – Race Report
Once again, Anna’s birthday weekend fell on the same week as the Shrewsbury Triathlon and Quadrathlon. I was competing in the Quad so Anna was treated to a weekend away! See, I’m a true romantic at heart, taking my wife away for a family camping trip on her birthday and even swimming, kayaking, cycling and running around like a super-hero in a lycra suit for her as well!!
Camping in Shrewsbury
As well as being Anna’s birthday it was the last weekend of the school holidays. That meant time to start getting Morgan back into gear, back into the real world rather than the world of Xbox Games and back into a decent bedtime and more importantly a sensible getting up time! He was therefore along for the weekend as well. He enjoyed it really and we all had a good weekend away.
As last year, we camped on the showground which is flat, quiet and has a decent surface. We weren’t in too much of a hurry on Saturday morning so arrived around midday and soon had the awning set up and had made camp.
We were the first ones here but there was already some activity from the organisers who had the courses marked out, gazebo’s up and ready and were setting up fencing and such like. After a relaxed lunch I headed off for an easy ride around the bike course while Anna and Morgan chilled in the afternoon sunshine.
By the time I got back a couple of other people had set up camp on the showground and soon people lined up their caravans and campers in a dead straight line with ours. We had just plonked ours in a random spot on the field but now it was looking neat and tidy with everyone in a row!
Shrewsbury – Not Shopping
We then took a pleasant stroll along the banks of the River Severn into Shrewsbury stopping off to find a geocache on the way.
For some reason we decided it would be good to wander around the shops whilst in a big town and do some shopping. We really are terrible at this! How do people spend all day shopping in town?
As usual, once in Shrewsbury we spent about 10 minutes wandering through the main street. We popped into a couple of chocolate shops just in case they had some freebie tasters on offer and that was about it. Other than a quick pop into Tesco Express so that Morgan could (not very stealthily) buy Anna a last minute birthday present (with my money!). We then ran out of things to do. None of the shops managed to entice us into them and it was too early for dinner so we sat down on a rock in the middle of a square for a while. Coffee was contemplated but rejected as we were about to have dinner and knowing us, coffee would inevitably lead to cake as well.
A few minutes later, bored with just sitting there we forced ourselves to wander around Blacks just in case there was any camping kit we needed. We didn’t so that only wasted about 2½ minutes. We wandered down a street towards Pizza Express and did finally find a shop to take a look around. The Lakeland shop where I discovered a cool looking pizza oven that might make it to our Christmas list.
With our shopping options exhausted and feeling a little hungry we decided it was time for an early dinner in Pizza Express. It was actually quite nice in there with some decent food, some delicious orange juice and a quiet atmosphere seeing as it was only 5pm.
We then wandered back to the campsite where we sat chilling in the warm evening air as the sun set. Cliff and Jackie were there by the time we got back so we had a chat with them and then settled down for the evening. Pudding was hot chocolates with marshmallows and chocolate biscuits under the awning. We then headed to bed, Anna and I in the camper, Morgan in his pop up tent beside the camper.
I didn’t sleep too well as usual so I was up at 4am for porridge and coffee by head torch whilst reading a book. Once other people were up and about it was time to start getting ready for the race. I drove the van over to the kayak start area and dropped it and my paddles off and then headed back to register and get my bike and running kit set up in the transition area. I met Bryce and had a chat with him as well as Jean.
The quadrathletes were off in the first two waves at 9:00am and 9:10am. We have more to organise than the triathletes so were generally the first to register and set up.
My Uncle Paul was doing the triathlon but his wave didn’t go until 10:20am. My parents were coming to watch as well. We met up with them just as I was stood on the side of the riverbank ready to start the race.
For some reason I wasn’t in race mood today. I wasn’t feeling very fast either thanks to too much good living and too many cakes over the past few years! On top of that my knee was feeling a little sore. I was still looking forward to it though. Part of me would rather just be participating rather than racing these days anyway so it would be a fun swim, kayak, bike and run however slow I was.
The Swim & T1
We had been told that the water temperature was a chilly 14ºC. I was expecting it to feel cold after a summer of nice warm sea swims but it felt fine to me. A quick few minutes acclimatising and then we were off dead on 9:10am. I pulled out into the lead. As expected Steve King was right behind me getting a nice tow. He then pulled up alongside me in the last 100m and got a better exit onto the pebbly beach.
He headed into T1 just ahead of me. Steve had a better transition as well so headed out onto the kayak just 9 seconds ahead of me. My official time for the 500m swim and the run up the bank and through T1 was 6:17.
I may not have swum a completely straight course but I can assure it was was better than by GPS trace would have you believe.
I didn’t feel as though I ever really got going in the kayak. In fact I felt like throughout the race. Steve King is something of an expert in the boat and so gradually pulled away from me as we negotiated the 4km out and back course around the meanders of the River Severn.
I was overtaken by another uber-kayaker James Block as well. He posted the fastest kayak time of 20:36 with Steve King posting the 2nd fastest time just 12 seconds slower at 20:48. They were miles (3 minutes) ahead of everyone else in the kayak leg. Nigel Unwin was 3rd in 23:35. I managed to post the 5th fastest time of 24:19.
Considering where I was with kayaking just 18 months ago I should be quite pleased with this really. 5th fastest time is pretty good and it’s up there with some pretty good kayakers, but losing close to 4 minutes in one discipline of a sprint distance race is just too much. Bryce was about 10 seconds slower than me on the kayak and the short, downstream swim meant that I only gained a minute over him on the swim. This was as expected and would be nowhere near enough to compete with him overall as he was about to annihilate everyone on the bike!
Not much to say here except that I did at least post the fastest split for one part of the race! It’s quite a long run across the grass from the river to the transition area where I donned sunglasses, helmet and number belt and was quickly heading out onto the bike.
There was little wind for the fast, slightly undulating out and back ride. Again I never really got going. My number belt fell off at one point so I stuffed it down the front of my tri-suit. I was going OK but never felt good. I shouted my thanks to the marshalls as I passed them, including David marshalling the pelican crossing and ringing his cowbells.
Nigel Unwin, having had a decent swim and kayak leg passed me on the bike and then Bryce went steaming past like a freight train, pushing his huge 62-tooth chainring! He was flying and posted the fastest bike split by far with a time of 34:46 for the 14 mile course – fast in anyone’s books, almost 5 minutes faster than my time and 3 minutes faster than the next fastest which was Steve King. I did at least get under the 40 minute mark with a time of 39:59 which was enough for 5th fastest bike split on the day.
Another quick transition into my running kit which included ducking under the racking as I’d gone into the wrong aisle. I also had to reattach my number belt. It was then out onto the run course.
I started off OK on the run but it soon started feeling like hard work. As usual it consisted of 3 laps around the gravelly tracks of the Showground. I was setting a good pace when I first looked at my watch a couple of minutes into the run with an average pace of 6:28 mins/mile. This was quite promising as I felt fine and usually speed up throughout the run. Not so today though as my first time check after 1 mile was down to 6:40. Still OK if I could keep that up. I couldn’t though and the next mile was ticked off in 6:56. Not far to go though and with no one to chase and no one behind me it was just a case of keeping my overall pace below the 7 mins/mile mark. I managed to do so with a finish time of 19:35 which was actually enough for second fastest run split of the day.
Up ahead of me, Steve King posted the fastest run split of 19:16. His fast swim, super-fast kayak and then fast bike and run meant he easily took the overall win for the 7th time in a row (I think). He was a good 3 minutes ahead of James Block in 2nd place whose super-fast kayak paid dividends especially when backed with fast times elsewhere. Bryce was 3rd overall having made up so much time on the bike. Nigel Unwin was 4th and I came in 5th overall. Here are the top 10 finishers with split times.
Meanwhile, the triathlon was continuing and Uncle Paul was out competing. He seemed to enjoy himself and had a good race despite his dizziness following a swim.
We started packing up and then headed to the presentations to see everyone on the podium and show our support.
I was surprised to be called up to the podium myself. I was 5th overall so no podium finish there and I was 3rd in the Male V40’s so wasn’t expecting anything there either. However, the age-groups prizes are given out on roll-down so as 1st and 2nd in the Male V40’s were also 1st and 3rd overall I got called up to the podium as the fastest V40 Male on roll-down where I was presented with a bottle of wine – bonus!
We then chilled on the showground before heading off to the Horseshoe’s in Dorrington for a delicious Sunday Lunch and a family chat. We’d been here before as we stayed here for Steve and Biddy’s wedding a few years ago. The food and the service was good and we even had the staff add candles to Anna’s pudding and sing Happy Birthday for her.
We then headed off in our separate ways. Paul and Anne-Helen had a few minute drive to their house nearby while my parents had a couple of hours to Gloucestershire and we had a couple of hours back to Wales. Another good weekend away and a good race. Thanks as always to all of the organisers, marshalls and other helpers and of course the Quad community for making it a fun event with smiles all round.