Race report by Fiona Johnston
I made a fairly late decision to enter this race and I have to say the settled September weather we were having was an influencing factor – and it didn’t disappoint. A beautiful day with perfect conditions made it a great opportunity to extend the multi-sport season for those of us who didn’t quite feel it should be over yet!
Soon after arriving at this race my thoughts were “Why have I never done this before?” It’s very local, well organised and definitely suitable for all ages and abilities. With the full range of Tri star categories too this could not have been more true!
Parking is two minutes from registration (always a big tick in my book!) and the friendly staff/volunteers were on hand to help with any queries. As a competitor you were given a wristband giving you “free” access into the Bowood Estate but I understand anyone else had to pay the entrance fee which could deter supporters and family etc . There’s a café at the entrance close to registration and everything was well signposted.
The race itself was split up into the usual start waves. Arriving about an hour before my start at 12.15, I saw many of the youngsters going in and out of transition. They were looking like real pros but most of all looking like they were really enjoying themselves in the sunshine. The adult Sprint race distances were 5k run/21k bike/5k run, but there was also a shorter super sprint option available.
I registered and racked my bike while chatting to some other competitors, enjoying the very friendly atmosphere. It’s fair to say that at this stage I probably felt much more relaxed than normal – after all there was no swimming involved so what could go wrong? Having only ever done triathlons over the last few years there seemed to be less kit to carry/forget/lose so another tick in the box for me.
Next to check out the important things like where was run in/out and bike in/out? It seemed well signed and straightforward. Then being conscious that there was a Hot Chilli coach lurking around somewhere thought I better do a bit of a warm up so had a pleasant jog up and down the paths to get my bearings and warm up those running legs! I
I headed over to the run start for the briefing and then without further ado we were off! As a 5K run it was challenging not least because of the undulation and the gravel surfaces, but the scenery and weather made it an absolute delight. I deliberately held back a bit on this first run but to be honest I had no idea how much harder the second run was going to be. It was a 2 lap run and I reminded myself I was doing this 4 times in total! So, then it was out of transition and on to the bike course.
This was 7 laps for the Sprint distance and with good advice ( thanks Lysa Fairhurst) I decided to go for elastic bands on the tri bars as the lap counting method! Having messed up 2 races this year where laps were involved it was really important that today I proved I could actually count!
I did also have 7 jelly babies with me but decided to stick to one method or the other. Certainly didn’t want to end up eating elastic bands!
The bike course was 7 laps within Bowood estate on closed paths ( I wouldn’t call them roads) so the challenge was to stay on the path ( preferably the left side!) and try and maintain speed on the many corners. There were some damp, moss covered areas out of the sun which were potential hazards. The numerous speed bumps were quite annoying too but I got used to them after a while.
So… back into transition and I was very conscious I couldn’t languish here in the manner in which I have become accustomed in many of my triathlons. No! – it was helmet off, change shoes and go! I did find myself hesitating thinking there was something else I needed to do but now was not the time for a cup of tea or reapplying my lipstick! The next run was a shock and it took me a while to realise the pain I was feeling was not going to go away! I had given pretty much everything on the bike and boy was I feeling it ! The highpoint was immediately passing a chap with an M Dot tattoo but that joy was short lived! The uphill parts of the course now seemed mountainous and the sun was beating down. It was great to hear the support on the run from fellow Hot Chillis and this kept me spurred on to the final lap and to the finish! Another T shirt and medal for the collection…
After the race there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere with competitors and supporters basking in the sunshine – it was the perfect end to the 2016 season and definitely a race I would do again and encourage others to consider.