SWASHBUCKLER MIDDLE DISTANCE TRIATHLON - 22 May 2011
Bucklers Hard - New Forest
My first impression of this event was the level of athleticism at the race briefing. The vast majority of these competitors were not here 'to have a go'. However, I had persuaded three friends (to be known as Paul, Mark and Greg) to enter with me so no turning back now.
It was an early Sunday morning/Saturday night start - in fact very early. Being stuck in traffic at 3.30am in the morning in the New Forest is really quite surreal. We arrived in good time, having been up since 2.00am, in windy and wet conditions to set up transition. Prior plans of detailed setting out went out of the window as the rain continued and we tried our best to keep things relatively dry. Eventually we poured ourselves in to our wetsuits and headed to the River Beaulieu for final instructions and a tidal dictated start of 05.15am.
Open Swim - 1900m (time 46:31 including T1)
We were off and circa 300 men started a mass 'battle royal' as we headed to the first buoy followed by the ladies five minutes behind. I received my first right hook within about 50m only to find it was one of our group - I'm yet to determine whether it was deliberate... The water was salty (so tasty...) and with a tight course hopes of finding some calm path disappeared, we just had to fight this one out. After two laps of the central pontoon and a clamber out there was a delightful 400m uphill run to transition, whilst trying to release the wetsuit. At least it had stopped raining and I set about trying to ensure I collected all the right things needed for the ride.
Bike - 80km (time 02:36:37 including T2)
Off I went hoping to make a little ground on the bike. Damn! Less than one mile and rear puncture. So early in to the ride it was psychologically damaging as so many people rode pass - offering their sympathy - but riding past. I set to work, found the flint, completed the change, then realised I has forgot to load a second tube. It was going to be a nervy remaining 79km with only patches left.
I settled into the ride, fuelling strategy (albeit having your lunch at 06.30 was a little odd) and trying to get up the field a little. At this point my belligerence to adopting my aero bars was hurting. A flat fast course perfect for the TT boys and set-up - live and learn Lee! However, before too long the ride was complete without too much further incident and into transition I went hoping I had saved enough for the run.
Run - 22km (time 02:19:08)
Following further fumbling in transition (waiting to use the toilet, going back for my watch and watching an argument about bike damage - not sure who won), I was finally on the run with two 11km laps ahead of me. It was a fairly flat loop but with a strong head wind in parts. Inevitably going out too quick for my pace I tried to check and had a reasonably comfortable first lap, or as comfortable as you can be running! The second lap got painful with an increasing dislike to the continuous stream of gels and energy drink. The inclines became mountainous passes as the legs felt the pain. However, momentum stayed with me for a final climb to the finish line and a fantastic finishers medal.
On initial results I finished 265th out of circa 400 starters with an overall time of 05:42:16. Nothing spectacular there but I learnt so much more. Out of the others Mark faired best with a strong run and a great time of 05:10:02, Greg at 05:28:04 and Paul at 06:18:45.
A fantastic event if ever you fancy it.
Full results: http://www.tri247.com/event_9532.html