Brigg Bomber Quadrathlon World Championships
This was the big race in many peoples Quadrathlon Calendar. It wasn’t just a World Cup race, but the actual World Championships so the field was stacked and many of the top Quadrathletes were there and fighting fit. It would be fast up at the pointy end!
I wouldn’t be troubling that end of the field though. I was fairly fit going into it and had a relatively easy week beforehand so felt OK, but the emphasis of my ‘training’ has been on fun rather than anything too specific so I was going along to have an enjoyable day out. That said, it was a race, and the World Championships so I wouldn’t be ‘taking it easy’. It was still going to be hard, just maybe not fast.
En Route to the Brigg Bomber
It’s quite a drive for me so I left early on Saturday morning. It takes about 5 hours with a brief toilet stop halfway so I arrived at the leisure centre at around 10am. The sun was shining, there was no wind and it was a gorgeous day. There were already a few tents up where fellow quadrathletes were camping, so I parked up near to them and then got ready for a bike ride.
The tents seemed to be occupied by some foreign athletes. I’m not sure how long they had been there or how long they were planning to stay in the UK, but they seemed to be enjoying the weather.
Even Álvaro Ramírez was in fairly good spirits despite the fact that his luggage hadn’t made it off the flight with him so he was missing his bike, and all of his running and cycling kit. Maybe even his wetsuit but he didn’t mention that when I chatted to him. I didn’t have any spares with me so couldn’t offer him anything but I felt certain someone from LincsQuad who organise the race would be able to sort him out. Still not ideal though after travelling from Spain to compete in the World Champs.
All looked fairly familiar from the last time I was here a couple of years ago for my first ever quadrathlon.
The bike course was a little different to last time, so it made sense to go out and recce it. The course itself comprises two laps of a 12 mile ‘loop’ with a roundabout at either end and a mini-roundabout to negotiate too. Other than that it is pretty straight forward. It’s almost dead flat, just slightly uphill on the way out. There are two bends as it goes through Hilbadstow but otherwise pretty much straight, There’s also a level crossing but it’s a simple course with nothing to worry about.
As this was just a recce I rode around it once at an easy pace. The sun was shining and all was well with the world.
I didn’t do much else really on Saturday. I wandered into Brigg and around the Farmers Market.
The river that we would be swimming and kayaking in looked lovely today. If only we could have done the race there and then as rain was forecast for race day.
I then popped into Tesco to stock up the camper van supplies. I spent the afternoon chilling in the van. Other people started to arrive by the late afternoon. Jean and Dave parked up beside me, Jaqui and Cliff were there but staying in town as were John and Elaine, so kaykas were left by the vans as they headed to their accommodation, Plenty of other people came and went too and we all managed to register and collect our various numbered stickers and goodie bag and get our arms numbered.
As more people arrived and set up, Jean, Dave, Jaqui, Cliff and I sat in Jeans Motorome for a cup of tea, biscuits and a chat. The rain started whilst we were there and more people came and went.
It was then time for a dinner of pasta in the camper and an early night nestled in between motorhomes and quadrathletes toyboxes.
I did have something of a win though as I discovered an extra jaffa cake in my packet. It may have been slightly squashed but it was definitely an extra one!
I actually went to sleep at around 10pm, but woke up at 12:30am and that was it as far as sleep went for me.
Race Day Prep
With the race briefing at 8:00am and the race start at 8:30 there’s wasn’t much time for anything in the morning other than porridge and coffee and then setting things up. Kayaks were lined up along the river bank. Bikes, paddles, and running kit in the transition area.
As I checked the pressure in my tyres, I could hear a slight hiss from the rear wheel. I fiddled a little with the valve and it seemed OK. However, after setting up in transition I checked it again and it had lost some pressure. Time to start worrying about it. It’s a tubeless tyre so I pumped it up again and spun the wheel a few times hoping that it would seal. I checked it several times before the briefing and had a spare tube ready just in case. It seemed to be holding up. One last check after the briefing and the pressure seemed OK so it was off to the race start.
The Race – Swim
The water felt lovely as we all piled in. It was calm with rain falling on the surface and pretty warm. It’s a simple course, down the river to a bridge, clockwise around a buoy and back to where we started. 1500m in total.
The claxon sounded and we were off. I usually have a fairly uneventful swim but today there were lots of speedsters about so there was actually quite a bit of argy bargy. I got kicked in the face a few times, clonked on the head countless times, had people punching my thighs and all sorts – it was brilliant!
There seemed no let up to it as I was sandwiched in between about 6 people who just wouldn’t give up. In the end I eased up a little so as to drop behind them and then headed off to the right slightly so that I could get some clearer water. With room to move my arms I was able to lengthen my stroke and soon pulled back alongside them and then moved out ahead of them. They all then obviously scrambled to get on my toes and it started again. It wasn’t quite so bad this time as I was slightly ahead so at least I could move my arms if not my feet. I looked ahead to see someone (Tom Svoboda I later discovered) already miles out in front. There was nothing I could do about him even if I wanted to so I settled into my pace which was fast enough for ‘best of the rest’ and towed the other fast swimmers along with me.
With Tom Svoboda way out in front I was second around the buoy as we headed back through the weeds to where we started. Someone did make an attempt to pass me with about 200m to go, so I picked up the pace just to make sure I held them off. I came out of the water in second place in a time of 21:44 (although I’m not sure where the timing mat was). Tom Svoboda on the other hand was way out ahead having done the swim in an amazing 18:31. Positions 3, 4 and 5 were hot on my heels.
The Race – Bike
It was now pouring with rain. T1 was a simple affair and I was soon on my way onto the bike course. There’s not much to say about the bike really. It was wet and horrible out there but at least it wasn’t cold. I settled into a nice steady rhythm but never really pushed hard. There was a headwind on the way out and a tailwind on the way back. A few people overtook me and gradually pulled out a bit of a lead but not too many. There was obviously no one for me to overtake so I just rode my own race well within myself. I maybe should have pushed a little harder on the bike but I still had a kayak to do and a 10k run that I was trying not to think about! I was of course smiling!
My rear tyre did deflate slightly but it lasted until the end of the bike section so all was OK. It was however completely flat by the time I collected it from transition after the race so I had a lucky escape there.
My official time was 1:05:10 which wasn’t great but would have to do.
It did mean that I was now down into around 12th place. Far enough from the pointy end to just be able to do my own thing and enjoy the race, but close enough to the front to feel as though I was at least doing OK.
The Race – Kayak
T2 was straight forward as well. Straight forward that was until I got to the river bank. For a start the grass was slippery so trying to man-handle a wet, slick 6.1m surf ski without any handles down the bank was a nightmare. I was super cautious so as not to fall over and it took ages. Getting it into the water was like something from a comedy show. I don’t know what I was up to but I found myself on the wrong side it if, had to climb over the ski as it was perched half in and half out of the water and eventually once it was in I just had to jump into the water myself to get onto it. I thought I might end up bog snorkelling at one point. Hmm, bog snorkelling, I might be quite good at that, maybe I should give it a go!
Photos above by Josh Blackley
Once I was actually on the ski things were OK and I settled into a decent, but not too crazy pace. The course was different to last time I did it and took us on a loop around Brigg. It was a little weed-infested along the far channel but it was nice and I found myself taking in some of the sights as I went. The rain had eased, there were swans on the water, boats moored along the banks in the town and a little marina off to one side of the channel. It was actually quite nice out there. A couple of the super fast kayakers in their sleek K1’s passed me, but I wasn’t doing too badly.
I kept things fairly controlled as I wasn’t looking forward to the 10k run so wanted to keep something in reserve for that.
Getting out of the kayak was just as bad as getting into it. In fact, my official kayak time was 41:18, whereas my time spent actually paddling was 38:15. The extra 3 minutes and 3 seconds were just me getting into and out of the river!
The Race – Run
Now the part I wasn’t looking forward to, a 10km run. Now, a 5k run at the end of a sprint distance race is fine. 10k on the other hand is quite a long way! I regularly run a lot further than that of course, but rarely (if ever) at ‘race pace’. This was going to hurt. The course consists of an out and back route through the town and along the river to a turnaround point and then back the way we came to the leisure centre. That’s 5km so we do it twice.
T3 was OK and I exited it along with Thorsten Bartzok from Germany. I opened out a little bit of a lead on him to start with but he overtook me on the way back on the first lap. By now I was feeling as though it would be nice if it was all over with but knew that I still hadn’t finished the first lap and still had another to go. I kept him in my sights though and actually started closing in on him again as we headed out on the second lap. I had a quick chat with Cliff and then Jaqui as I lapped them and then started to reel Thorsten in. As we climbed up onto the bank of the river by the leisure centre for the final sprint I was only 10m behind him and closing fast. He didn’t know I was there but someone shouted at me, he looked around and saw me so put in a sprint himself. I couldn’t sprint again and knew I couldn’t catch him so eased up for the final few metres to cross the line – Job done.
My 10k run time was 41:55 which isn’t too bad at the end of a Quad.
As usual there were congratulations and lots of post race analysis at the finish line. The sun was shining now which was nice and the rain of the bike ride was almost forgotten about. After a bit of a chat with various people I started to pack up. I then headed back for the prize givings. There were no Brits on the main podium, but that just goes to show what a strong international race it was. Just the way a World Championships should be. There were of course plenty of fast times at the pointy end too.
Here are my splits and positions.
Full results are here: http://racetimingsolutions.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16269&RId=1057&EId=1
Helen who now races for the same Scimitar Sports team as I do did well in her race so we had a quick ‘team photo’ under the finishing gantry. We hadn’t raced in our Scimitar kit today though as it was a World Champs so we were racing in our Team GB kit.
Lots of people were still finishing as the presentations were made so some of the age-group presentations were done later. I therefore headed off for a shower only to be told as I got back to my van to ‘report to Jean as I’d won a trophy’. Oops, I hadn’t been there for my own presentation but hadn’t expected to win anything either for the simple fact that I didn’t actually win anything! It turns out that trophies were awarded on roll down so that people only got a single trophy. As Tom Svoboda was 2nd overall and therefore won a trophy for that, I got the roll-down for the fastest swim time. I actually think it was for the fastest swim time by a human as clearly Tom Svoboda is a fish!
The race had been a success. A well organised, well attended World Champs and despite the weather early in the day everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The location, course and organisation was top-notch, the marshalls and spectators were too, and everybody had a story to tell at the end of it. To sum things up for me it was a good swim, a wet and slightly too easy bike, an OK kayak a not too bad run and a comedy of errors getting into and out of my boat.
All that was left now was to pack up and start the 5 hour drive home. There may have been a burger consumed at the halfway point and a cider imbibed once back at home.
A good weekend away and a great start to the Quadrathlon Season for me. Always nice to meet back up with everyone after the winter as it’s just such a friendly sport.