We all hope for and are seldom lucky enough to race in summery conditions in the U.K. Indeed, my definition ofsummeryhas changed a lot since settling in this country but was I lucky enough to enjoy near perfect conditions for Leeds Castle Std triathlon yesterday.
I was surprised to see that only one other Mid Sussex entry on the start list of nearly 300, and chatted to Paul Wills in transition where we'd managed to rack within meters of one another.
The sun was out at 07:30, temperatures rising and the race director announced that at 21 deg water temperature, wetsuits would be optional. I am not the best at getting my wetsuit off so this was a tempting prospect, albeit short-lived, as a quick reconnoitre of the swim start and spotting the duck s**t content thereof meant almost everyone remained suited up. This was confirmed during a brief warm up swim whilst wading through foot deep 1000yr old duck s**t masquerading as mud!
A well conceived self-seeding system helped avoid a beach start mass brawl as I set off in the second 'wave' in a very memorable and novel setting. As it turns out the moat is only 1 metre at its deepest point and I frequently felt the bottom (as it were) during the two laps around and under the castle bridge which was novel! There were many turns and not a lot of straight line swimming which made for an interesting swim, if slow and very big buoys made sighting easy.
Onto the bike leg, I was riskily trying out a (newly acquired) time trial bike which I hadn't ridden more than a few miles on. Inadvisable, in know, but ultimately irresistible.
My devoted cheerleaders added a dose of feel-good on the way out of T1, and I was cleanly away.
The bike course was a simple out and back with no turns, other than the eventual halfway u-turn of course. Described as 'undulating', a typical way of saying 'never flat' it certainly seemed to bemoreup-hills than down-hills but I enjoyed it and was determined to post a good split on my new toy although I knew I was burning matches I would need on the run. It was great to be able to stay in the aero position for 99% of the ride, something I've never managed on my road bike before but it's safe to say I will definitely need a tri-specific saddle ASAP!
Eventually back to T2 having overtaken at least as many as had overtaken me on the bike and with one numb foot (a 50% improvement on every other race I've ever done), a successful bike by my standards and within the first 20 into T2 according to a dismount marshal.
The run was a car free route within the castle grounds, mainly off road and described as 'challenging' in the race description - another colourful term, often used! I had overheard some chat in transition about how awful it was so was slightly apprehensive. This turned out to be wholly understating reality, as my lack of brick and/or hill training came home to roost!
Some parts of the course could easily have had staircases installed, as most competitors were reduced to a walk especially on the second lap as I too succumbed.
Increasing temperatures also paid its part in my decline, as dreams of a fast run split evaporated.
Some more demented cheerleading by my long suffering posse saw me to the finish line however (where were the cowbells though, I find myself wondering?).
OA Swim Bike Run
16 0:24:12 1:14:59 0:45:06
OA Swim Bike Run
198 0:36:39 1:24:18 0:59:04