The biggy Triathlon X
How much do you want it?
If you want a glitzy, high profile red carpet race then look elsewhere but if you’re after a proper test of yourself Triathlon X is it.
Friday 15th June 11pm, early night fail. My brain is fizzing. Whatever I do to try and switch off my thoughts flicker back to playing the following day out, have I packed that did I miss this so on so on.
Saturday 16th 1.50am, The alarms blaring. Not sure how much shut eye I managed but let’s get this show on the road.
3.10am Roll into the car park at Waterhead Ambleside where transition is based. I set up my racking space in the dark. Probably the most relaxed start to any race you’re likely to experience. Next important job, coffee. Double espresso in hand wander over to the shoreline and peer out over Windermere to try and work out some sighting features.
4.15am Race brief and time to get into the water to warm up.
4.30am Go time. I do my usual and start front row to one side to find a little clear water to find my rhythm. A couple of hundred meters in I settle in behind another swimmer setting a nice pace, I feel them dropping off so sight ahead and dig in to bridge up to another group. It stays like this most of the 2.4 miles. Out of the water in 1.03 4th position good start I`ll take that.
Out of T1 on a high the rains not arrived. A short spin through town Legs not yet warmed up for a rude awakening riding up to Kirkstone Pass via the Struggle (25%). The rains made an appearance with the wind chilling bare limbs “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” Just a trisuit was not a smart move. Skimming
along the edge of Ullswater we turn left up Matterdale End a comparatively easy climb towards the A66 and my 1st glimpse of my amazing support crew consisting of close family friends Bob, Sue, my Mum and Brother Graham with of course my always supportive partner Lauren waving the banner she had made sporting her catch phrase “Don’t be shit”. Further down the road at the 1st water station and on goes a dry thermal jersey. By this stage the real cyclists are starting to tick by. The weather has well and truly set in but I’m loving it. Through Keswick where my Dad, Sarah and Brother George have made the long journey up from Suffolk to cheer me past. Honister Pass (25%) arrives the 1st of 3 consecutive mountain passes. The climb comes and goes and I survive the sketchy decent, up Newlands (20%) down, up Newlands (15%) to another water station where our drop bags are. The volunteers are fantastic taking bottles from the bike filling and sliding them back into the frame. More nutrition sorted out but I’m not getting enough down me. Onto the West coast where the weather kicks up a gear as the tail end of storm Hector driving right in from the Irish channel. Energy levels are dwindling, nothing is appetising every mouthful is a struggle. Cold Fell looms. Not an especially big climb but extremely testing by this stage. The top is very exposed with no respite from the elements. Pins and needles in both hands are creating a big lack of feeling causing problems breaking whilst descending. Finally down but I’ve hit the wall and running on empty. I feel like I’m barely moving forward crawling along not having so much fun. Eventually I roll into the aid station to gratefully see my support crew. Lauren looks at me later revealing she thought I wouldn’t finish the race and she’s seen me looking pretty ropy before. Now I need to get some calories in me. My peanut butter and jam sandwich is just about rammed down in an unsightly fashion followed by a concoction of jelly babies a gel and I can’t remember what else. More layers go on,
onwards to Hardknott Pass (avg 25% topping out at 33%) This won’t be pretty but the only way is up. I have no dexterity in my fingers and my bottle slips right through my hand onto the road then trying to get rolling again at the base of the climb is no easy task. With a hard 90 miles in the bag I hit the switchbacks zig zagging from 1 side of the narrow road to the other I decide it’s time to walk. Steepest section dispatched with back in the saddle. A similar story for Wynrose (20%) walking the steepest section. Food is working its magic combined with the elation of the final big decent out of the way I’m finally smiling again. A quick stop to give a fellow competitor a Co2 cartridge who had suffered his 3rd puncture of the day and he still beat me back to T2. The last few soggy miles back scoot along nicely.
Swinging into T2 with a little more vigour I wonder how my running legs are. After a drawn out transition involving Bob and Lauren wriggling a thermal top onto me and swapping my lightweight jacket to a more suitable waterproof for the relentless rain but to my surprise they are firing away. 45 minutes in and a complete change of weather. The rain has ceased and grey clouds have given way to dashes of blue sky. I catch another runner and we chat away a few miles until we reach T2A. Jacket off a quick chat with no1 support crew, amazing volunteers refill my Inov8 soft flasks and on to the rough stuff. Along the valley floor Scafell bound I get to 1 of the checkpoints where the path pitches steeply skywards. The running stops. As we climb I join up with a guy Rob from London swapping racing stories and future plans. Cresting the 1st climb we part company. On the way up we find that the race organisers along with the cheery mountain rescue team have decided to shorten the run a mile short of Scafell summit due to the weather. The turnaround point is in sight. The remaining path contours along to the run half way point at Esk Hause where I have to stop and soak in the vista. A
marshal informs me that I’m currently 4th solo male which I’m very sceptical about knowing that the timings have been a bit all over the place but finding out earlier a lot of people had called it a day after the cycle leg it could mean my position is better than expected. Game on. I descend arms flailing in pursuit of the next position. Passing them feeling good adrenalin kicking in I make my way down the technical course in better fashion than I would expect living in Suffolk where the odd tree root is as technical as it gets. Back through T2B then a couple more miles energy levels are dipping again and a stitch sets in across the bottom of my ribs that I cannot shake. My run becomes an awkward plod. Probably the last 4 miles are a mixture of walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle frantically checking over my shoulder convinced the whole field of racers are about to come streaming past. Ambleside in sight it’s nearly in the bag. Lauren and George my youngest brother have come up the road to “run” in with me. 200m to go another competitor is closing in covering ground much quicker than me. I didn’t realise quite how much quicker until it’s almost too late but I’m there at the end of the finishing chute medal around my neck. Collapsing into a chair exhausted exhilarated and immensely satisfied bagging 6th overall. Mission accomplished.
A huge thank you to my support team of family and friends that kept me going on the day, My friend Olly for his expert training plan and guidance getting me to that start line fit and healthy, Martin Reeve at Bodyright for his exceptional sports massages ironing out my kinks, my Tri Masters swim coaches Richard and Bridget Every for not letting us slack too much “Suck it up buttercup”, the Waveney Valley AC coaches for the tough run sets and to the many other training partners including club mates from Beccles Triathlon Club.