Woodhall Spa tri – fafftastic!

Woodhall….. it’s not you, it’s Him.

I actually quite like you. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you’re my favourite triathlon. But this year. Well, lets just say that if Nottingham hadn’t spewed forth the idea for this blog, then Woodhall most definitely would have. Ladies and Gents…. there was faff. A LOT of faff… and it was baking baking hot.

So, let me begin. It was a lovely start to my day, as due to Chris’s very civilised start time of 1330 ish, I had time to go out on a lovely run first – a recce of our clubs Skelly 6 route. It was already pretty hot at 9am, and I was already feeling for the triathletes who would be racing later on in the day.

The faff began in the car on the way to Woodhall. Chris realised that he had forgotten his track pump. Not ideal, but “not to worry, someone else will have one”….. Hmmmm. I’m just going to mention this again, in the vain hope that someone, even if it’s not Chris, takes notice. A LIST!!! A list people!! For the love of god – you’ve decided to partake in a sport which requires quite a lot of kit, quite a lot of which, if you forget, means you may not be able to race… mostly very expensive races for that matter too! So, IMHO, I think a list would minimise this whole forgetting malarky. Hey – go crazy and laminate it.

So – we get to Woodhall – beautiful place, and we get to cheer on some runners we pass. Parking is pretty easy – a field a short walk away from the main race hub area. They also have a couple of portaloos at the car park – which is great idea – and one I really wish more races would do – as it totally reduces the burden on HQ loos, and theres hardly ever a queue either, as folk seem to be keen to get on and get numbers etc.

One of the reasons that this is my favourite triathlon is that Jubilee Park is just a lovely hub. It has a real buzz about it on race day, and especially when its a gorgeous sunny day as it was today. We soon spot some Lincoln Tri guys, and they say there’s a pump in their tent. Great. Problem solved… or so we thought. Chris goes to registration, gets all his stuff, and we chat to some more people. No queues really, so felt reasonably chilled at this point. I’d bought my own packed lunch, so got that down me, plus lots of water as it was really, really hot by this point!

We headed to the Lincoln Tri tent – great to have one – but it’s black, and I’m fairly sure it was hotter than the Sahara when we were in it as Chris got the pump. It was then that we realised that things were not going to be that straightforward. See, he has these fancy new wheels, not sure what they’re called, but they’re expensive and make you go fast, so long as it’s exactly the right type of weather. Anyway, the standard pump end bit fitting thing didn’t fit it, despite us trying to encourage it. All of this taking place in what was, at that point, the hottest place on earth. I was getting a bit sweaty – something I generally try and avoid as a spectator. Tensions were beginning to rise, and I was beginning to think that Chris would not be able to race at all.

And then….. Chris looked down at his wrist and said “where’s my watch?”. Not something that you really want to lose – its also expensive, however it doesn’t make you go faster. We realised he’d had it on at registration, and had taken it off to apply sunscreen…. and it wasn’t in his bag. Conclusion? He’d left it on the grass. Chris left to try and find it, and then hopefully find a “crackpipe” ?!?!? valve to sort the wheel problem.

I’ll be honest, at this point my patience had well and truly departed. I was still in the tent sauna, as I didn’t want to let the bike out of my sight, especially given how the day was going. I again mulled over the benefits of a list….

Some time later, Chris returned back with his watch (thank you kind soul who handed it in to registration), and a crackpipe. Thanks to whoever supplied that… less said the better maybe….

So – eventually, with not the usual huge amounts of time to spare, Chris set up in transition, and I found some shade to hide in. Lots going on, so good to be able to cheer people in.

Time to head to the outdoor pool. And this is another reason why I love this Tri – you can easily spectate the swim, which you rarely get the chance to do on indoor pool swims, and on open water they’re too far away to really watch. Woodhall has a lovely pool, and the atmosphere is great, There is also an ice cream kiosk, which was very welcome, and I had my first ice lolly of the day, and by then was generally feeling happier with the world. Spectator Tip#1 – bring ice lolly money.

Spectator Tip#2 – stand the side nearest the cafe/kiosk, and then you’ll see your competitor in the pool, as they exit, and then – if you’re quick, sprint round to the transition area and then be able to see them get on their bike and head out.

I then had some time to wander to the run course, and pick a good spot to firstly see the bike finish, and then the run. If you head out of transition and turn left, you get to see your runner on the first bit of the run, then you can head back past the turn into the park, and catch them on the final bit of they run.

Chris always gives me estimated times for his swim and bike, as the distances and times mean nothing to me. Unfortunately he had forgotten the bike course was a bit longer, so underestimated his bike time by around 10 minutes. Given I find the bike the most worrying part as a spectator, this was not ideal. It was a very long 10 minutes, but as I began to realise that none of the other Lincoln Tri guys who had been in earlier and the same waves had been through, I decided he’d obviously got the times wrong. Either that or there’d been some kind of huge crash, but I tried not to dwell on that.

Very relieved to see him finish on the bike, and got to my spot to watch the run. It was boiling hot by this stage, and some folks were definitely suffering. I was very grateful of some shade and that I had plenty of water with me.

Saw Chris come in on the final run stretch, and he’d done great. After he’d gathered himself, we went and got an ice lolly – I know, but spectating was hot work!

We then waited around for quite a while to find out Chris’ placing and see if he’d get some kind of award. He’d come 3rd in his age category at Woodall, and 3rd in age category overall for the sprint series. But sadly no award or podium – so we headed back home for a well earned BBQ and beer.

All in all – Woodhall is a great Triathlon for spectators – and I’m guessing competitors given how many do it! Its also a very popular first tri for people, which I think gives it a great atmosphere – really friendly, and not in the slightest bit ‘elitist’. I guess we’ll be seeing you next year! (Don’t get excited – I’ll be bag carrying again!)

Leeds AG Champs Part 2

I take my usual caffeinated Gel about 20 mins pre-start and do a few shoulder warm up exercises, I have a permanent shoulder rotator cuff niggle and I like to kid myself that this alone will be just fine, if you’re reading this Emma I’m actually always doing my exercises and lots of rolling!  Then it’s time to find another competitor wearing a HUUB wetsuit with break away zip and start chatting to them before asking for hand zipping up; best to go for a fellow HUUB wearer as they know not to zip it to the very top. They can also help with the HUUB shuffle of working your suit up your arms legs and body to get it fitting perfectly; frankly I think HUUB should have a rep at the start of all triathlons offering a free ‘zip in service’.

Now suited up we get our brief as we’re called forward by age group, this is possibly my only real criticism, they don’t really talk much about the swim course and no mention of the red boys that are not on the swim course map.  I assume we are to leave them to our right, but there are defiantly some people who don’t know this and get diverted by the kayakers later.  We drop in and the water is pretty warm really and semi-clear and we have about 2 mins to the start so I swim out 20 or so metres quite hard and then back gentle to check everything is feeling OK.  A 30 second warning then a 5-4-3-2-1 and we’re off.  I crack on for the first 25m or so to settle into some clear water and find myself nicely drafting a similar speed swimmer and it stays like this until we round that red buoy i mentioned earlier where he drifts IMHO too far left and I aim to swim a straighter course. Wether this works or not I’ll never know but I’m starting to catch the slower swimmers from the waves in front and it starts to feel  bit like ‘Outrun’ for those of a certain age as I weave my way through them.  I find myself quite close to the righthand bank (too close?) in trying to swim a straight course with the tips of my finger brushing the tops of the weeds.  I’m starting to feel the distance but the last red turning buoy is coming up and a short push after that and I hit the ramp, I glance at my time as I hit the timing mat and see a mild disappointing 24:46.  Later analysis shows I was 9th in my age group out which suggests the swim might have been a touch long as everyones’ times are a little slow.

So begins the long run up to T1, I trot past a chap getting some serious support from his family behind the barriers, his wife shouts ‘I love you at him’ and I can’t resist the urge to tell him ‘I love him too’ much to the amusement of his wife.  I finally get to my bike and strip the suit off my legs, sling on my helmet grab my bike and reverse the long run out to the bike mount.  This year it’s still at the bottom of a hill but not as steep as last year. Some mild irritation at folks faffing at the mount line with them spread across the whole road but I managed to hop on without too much time lost, like last year I leave my feet on the top as I start to climb but a brief levelling off allows me to get my feet into my shoes and I haul myself up to the crest where we join the roads and course proper and I get the velcro properly sorted.  The wind is defiantly a bit on the gusty side and I’m glad once again that I’ve left my beautiful Walker Brothers 88mm front in the wheel bag (sniff).  The course is not busy as last year and I’m slowing hauling past folks from the wave ahead and have yet to have anyone go past me, which is always nice.  The course takes a circuitous route down toward Headingly before going back to Roundhay and you complete it twice.  It’s nowhere near a technical as last year but there are still some trickyish corners, a few dead turns and some stiff climbs; so in short my type of course.  Not that I’d agree with that on the climb back up to Roundhay!  As I’m heading up the hill on the first lap the eventual winner laps me having started 20 or so mins before me so I work out I’m doing OK, and it’s a long time before the second place chap goes past, this lead is reflected in the results with a fine win for Edward Castro off the back of a super solid swim…..never let anyone tell you it’s all about the bike at Olympic distance. The second lap is fairly uneventful I loose a couple of places to guys in my age group but generally a pretty solid ride and before long I’m heading down the hill back toward transition.  There has been plenty of support out on the route despite the early hour and racing on closed roads is always a great experience.

 

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Again a long run from the dismount line to the transition park greets us but it’s all on carpet this year, with the transition on cut grass, which is a huge improvement on last year’s gravel demolition site.  I’m in and out pretty quickly and straight into the steep climb up out of the park……I remember thinking ‘surely this is the last real up, it’s all downhill into town’……ha ha.  The course flattens off and I take a gel  as we swing south and head toward the city centre.  Then inexplicably given it’s all downhill to the finish we swing right and start another steep climb! Now at this point I may have called the parenthood of the course designer into question, but having done a fair bit of trail and UK mountain running I try to convince myself that this sort of thing is in my favour and it’s gonna hurt all the other folk more…honest.  Finally the climb abates and we start the descent, picking up the straight steady downhill of the main road through Harehills, this part of the route is bang into building wind and any advantage of the downhill feels like it’s being lost to the breeze, I’m going OK and I’m slowly hauling in a gaggle of runners ahead when a guy in a Met Police trisuit creeps past, He’s a pretty tall broad chap and I take the opportunity to tuck in behind him out of the wind and find I’m able to hold his speed, and I sit there, and sit there, and sit there I must be tucked in for the best part of 4K and tbf I can sense he’s not best pleased.  As we start the turns into town he trys to drop me by cutting the corners hard and pushing up the little climbs but my legs are back with me now and we turn onto the Headrow together.  As we pass the water station at the crest of the Headrow hill I squeeze on a bit and the guy I’ve been drafting can’t go with me so I dig in for a tough last mile and pass a cheering Lois for the first time. The course then sees you turn right uphill toward the finish line before dead-turning back the way you’ve come to start the loop of the city centre.  This is the most enjoyable part of the run despite the…ahem…undulating nature and the fact that your giving it all for the last 6-7 mins.   The supporters aren’t quite as numerous as last year but that’s to be expected as I’ve started earlier and there is only one loop of the centre on the new course as opposed to 4.  Thats said there’s still plenty of cheering and I feel spurred up the little climb on my way back down the Headrow (second time past Lois), ignoring the water, who can drink in the last 2K of a 10K btw? I can barely breathe.  One last dead turn and back up the Headrow climb on heavy legs, I push over the top pass Lois and try to find that final bit of energy for the last 500m; zipping (creeping!) past a few fellow runners gives me some energy and I hear a ‘you little monkey(?)’ gasped as I pass someone on the turn up to Millennium square and the finish.  At this point my lungs are trying to leave through my nose and my legs are screaming but I can see the entrance to the finishing funnel and no-one is coming past!  One last right hand turn and I’m on the blue carpet heading for the gantry, the finish  photo will no doubt show me stopping my Garmin rather than revelling in the moment.  I take a a brief moment myself (I call it the must not puke moment) before staggering over to have my chip removed, and claim a surprise T shirt and a pint of Erdinger Alchol-frie .  The slightly bizarre feeling of cracking into a beer at 1030 in the morning after a Tri is starting to abate but still feels little odd.

I catch up with Lois and we head back to Roundhay and collect the car and bike before grabbing some lunch and settling in to watch the Elites after a well earned real beer. I check my results and I’m pretty pleased to see my overall placing of 78th overall 13th in Age category and 10th in Age group champs in a time of 2:19:55. Oh and I bumped into the Brownlees and got them to autograph my shirt on Monday morning….as you do.

 

Leeds AG champs-part 1

I guess the story this year’s Leeds event starts with last year’s…ahem….effort. Whilst I wasn’t too badly affected by the bag issue I was more than a little miffed by the gravel, nails, glass and used syringe bodies found in the demolition site that was T2, on what was supposedly the UK’s blue riband event.  After the very public backlash and the initial rather lukewarm response from the organisers and British Tri; it fairly soon became apparent that the game would be significantly upped for this year (especially as they parachuted the British AG champs in).  Combined with a decent discount on entry and the atmosphere generated around the event by the spectators I thought I’d give it another shot.

The biggest change this year was the change from a double to single transition area at Roundhay Park.  This obviously makes the organisation a lot easier but limits the amount of time spent running in the centre of the City.  Registration was on the Saturday after the  morning Aquathons and junior events.  Parking is free on the field above the park and the walk down with all your kit is quite steep but there are some steps to help over to the left.  The registration was quick and simple and I was soon wheeling my bike into the enormous transition area. Usual stuff, a small queue to get in but some folks who really ought to know better still managing to not have their helmets on and fastened when they get to the front of the queue…..basics Gents (always chaps).  As I entered I was asked If I had a spare front as my 88mm was on and the winds were forecast to build overnight and into Sunday, ‘No problem I’ve got a spare I’ll pop it on tomorrow if the wind is as forecast’. I then hear a rumour in transition that they may actually ban discs and deep dish fronts. Queue some worried looking guys who only have one set  with them and me thinking I’ll have to get here in time to do a cassette change onto the 58mm rear. Wake up time moves to 0430……ouch!  If you’re going to send a bag to the city centre for post the event this is when you drop it off too.

After an early night and a not too bad a nights sleep, my alarm wakes me at 0430, a crumpet and a banana for breakfast and I jump in the car and head to Roundhay, even at this time the road closures have begun and I play and exciting game of guess my way not, crossing path and sharing confused waves with another group of triathletes in an Audi Q3 (hey guys).  There is still plenty of time when I arrive and there is no mention of wheel bans but with the wind picking up so I switch to my 58mm front, unwrap my bike from its bin-bag wrapping, check my tyre pressures and set my transition kit out.  A few more walks through transition to familiarise myself with the in/outs and bike position and I’m ready to Suit-up  incidentally I really can’t emphasise the importance of rehearsing your transition flow, this is only my third full season in Triathlon but I have consistently been one of the quickest guys in the 4th discipline (it’s free time) I believe because I always make time to do a number of walk throughs.

So ready as I’ll ever be I take a walk down to start to watch wave one set off and get a feel for things…..to be continued.

 

Leeds Tri – Lois’ review

So – we find ourselves back in Leeds again.I’ll be honest – after last years’ shambles, my expectations were low – but I also knew the organisers could not afford for things to be as bad as last year.

So – no more talk of last year – what I will say – is well done to the new organisers – this was a great event for spectators and competitors. Reputation restored!

It was a very windy weekend in Leeds, and with talk of disc wheels being banned, Chris set off to the start earlier than planned – he left the flat at 5.30am for his 7.20 am start at Roundhay. I’ll be honest, I didn’t join him, and instead got up and out onto the course for around 8.30am to see the first guys through the run – bear in mind on this new course, they had run 7.5km before they got to the city centre.

I waited for Chris on the Headrow – near Browns bistro. A good spot as I got to see him 3 times on the run, and he could meet me easily post finish, as it was on the way to the shuttle. So #Tip1 – spectate on the Headrow and get your competitor to meet you.

As Chris was racing in the age group champs, he was ahead of the masses, however, I still think its best to get your competitor to come to meet you – as it can get tricky to cross the course at times- particularly when the masses run.

We headed towards the shuttle to get back to Roundhay to get Chris’ bike etc. All went like clockwork – again – I think because Chris was racing so early! #Tip 2 – take cash- shuttle bus was £3 for non competitors.

Collecting the bike etc was fine – albeit a climb up from transition to the car was pretty full on for someone who had just raced an olympic distance tri – it was hard enough for me!

We were lucky enough to be staying in the city centre, so were sorted and ready to watch the elites in the afternoon – awesome!

Whilst the move to one transition point rather than two reduces the opportunities you get to see your competitor, it has made the whole event run much more smoothly. And I did speak to a number of people who had driven up to Roundhay to watch the swim start, and get back down to the city to see the rest. So – if you have the vehicles, and bravery to negotiate Leeds’ mental road system, you may well get to see you competitor taking part in all 3 disciplines.

Top job Leeds – you’ve righted the many wrongs of last year.

Emergency Services Tri – A review.

Having entered the  OSB Events spring series I got in contact to see if I could be moved into the emergency services’ wave of the Nottingham event; a race for members of (unsurprisingly) the UK emergency services or Members of the Armed Services.   After a little faffing and a complete re-registration on the day, thanks folks, I was in; what’s more I got to earn series points for the Spring series as well based on my time.

Part of the Outlaw half weekend there was a bit of festival feel to the site, although the sprint event felt a touch like the aperitif, with a lot the Outlaw athletes on site registering and getting a feel for the place.  Once registered I had a bit of wait for the end of the Ladies wave to complete their race a clear their kit out of transition.  Any ladies out there who fancy an open water event without having to get in with the chaps would do well to consider this event.  This meant a bit of a rush setting up transition which is a slightly split affair to aide with setting up the running leg.

A thorough brief from 100% Swimming’s Paul Fowler saw the cream (?) of the Emergency services drop into the mild if slightly greeny-brown water of Holme Pierre-point’s rowing lake.  I slid over to left end of the deep water start as it felt a touch shorter, but there’s not much in it on this course.  Sighting the first mark is aided by the row of bright pink rowing buoys from half way down the leg onwards, they also helped to swim next to to keep straight, I’d caution getting too close though to avoid catching your arm on their mooring ropes though.  Starting with a 15-20m of hard effort saw me tucked up with one or two other competitors and managed to get into a good drafting position on one of them picking a spot on their feet as it didn’t feel too crowded.  This was my first race in my new HUUB Archimedes II, and I could defiantly feel the extra buoyancy around the thighs and was able to settle into a steady 2 beat kick making decent progress to the first left turn.  A cheeky roll turn saw me move up the inside of the chap I’d been drafting and we went round the next left turn after another 20 or so seconds together and headed back to the head of the lake and the swim exit.  Sighting the exit point wasn’t that easy especially as I was now sat on the chap’s hip.  Turns out I wasn’t the only person drafting and a third guy slid up on the other side, the last 150m was swam as an arrowhead with us all hitting the exit ramp as one.  The ramp was easy enough to get up onto, I choose to delay going for my suit zip and nipped ahead of my two compatriots and was surprised to see we were the 3rd group out with only 2 other guys ahead of us.  The breakaway zip on the HUUB worked as advertised and I had my suit around my waist in plenty of time despite the short run to my bike.

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The rest of the getting out of my suit went smoothly and I was quickly grabbing my bike and heading to the mount line, on the left was the second guy out of the swim, who must have had a slow T1 and watching him was the referee who was backing in front of me as the guy was grabbing his bike; wet feet, slippery tarmac didn’t bode well for my braking chances; so a few ‘excuse me, excuse me, excuse me’s’  earned me a ticking off from the referee (an apology from me and chat once I finished smoothed things over). Still on my feet I hit the mount line at the same time as one of the guys I’d been swimming with, but a faster mount saw me get a cheer from the decent sized crowd for being the second on the bike course; well for all of 30 seconds until he shot passed me.  The first go down the lake was a fast affair with a stiff following wind (Lois mentioned the wind, right?) and caution was defiantly the order of the day into the 90 degree left had turn follow shortly after by an even tighter turn to take you back up the lake, only now I’m heading back into the building breeze and feeling grateful I put the 58mm front on, not the 88!  A hard slog back up the lake was pretty quiet this lap as the last main wave were mostly still in the water having started 5 mins behind us.  A sweeping double apex at the head of the lake around the bike transition point completes the 5K lap, a word to wise here, there are a couple of manhole covers on this bend and if there is any dampness about I’d be a bit cautious around here until you’re happy with their position (marked in luminous spray, like all OSB events).  Laps 2-4 were much of the same a fast truck down to bottom and a hard slog back although the course was busier as the those from the wave that started 5 mins behind were at various points around the course depending on speed.  The eventual winner only taking until half way around my second lap to catch me!  I lost a couple of places to my wave on the bike and went into T2 in 6th (5th Individual, turns out the chap way out in front on the swim was part of a relay team).

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A fast dismount saw me quickly racking my bike and dragging my trainers on, I’d remembered to talc them this time so they went on quickly, and I was off, oh wait hang on, three steps back take off helmet, have another go!  Exiting T2 sees a tight 180 turn to take you back they way you came and around the top of the lake.  200m in and a short but steep climb partially off road heads you off toward the white water course, I pass Lois and she gives me a shout. I can see a guy in front of me who I think is in my wave and I try to push through the jelly legs to hunt him down.  By this time a few more of the speedy guys from the wave behind are passing me, but they all look young and have ‘age grouper’ national suits on so I don’t feel too bad.  I catch the guy from my wave as we drop back onto the path around the lake that we’re now sharing with the bikes coming up the lake, there’s plenty of space so it all works smoothly enough.  Settling into the the run with the wind at my back and 3K left to go, I mistakenly glance across the lake; now this is one of the down sides to Nottingham, you can see the whole course and 3K looks a long way when you can see it all and you know the run back up the lake is into a strong wind, I would recommend just looking about 30 feet in front of you!  Feeling OK I make the turn at the bottom of the the lake and catch a glimpse of someone from my wave closing me down, he comes past about 200m after the turn at that annoying pace that’s just too quick to jump on to, but only just, and he starts to drift off up the course.  I decide not to have a look back with 1.5k to go as if anyone is behind it might give them hope, instead I just keep my head down and try to keep the guy who passed me as close as possible.  A turn 1k out takes you onto little rolling off road section which suits my running style and I actually close up a few seconds, before we’re back on the road around the lake and the gap settles at about 20 seconds.  With no sign of anyone behind and no chance of catching the guy in front Lois’s shout of sprint is roundly ignored (sorry dear) and I cross the line in 1:06:40.  Good enough for 5th individual in my wave and 3rd V40+.  With hindsight if I’d gone with the main wave for my age group  I’d have scored a 3rd in the V40-44 AG and I’d have some sideboard adornment for my troubles, c’est la vie!  A big thanks to Lois for giving up the first day of her birthday weekend, I hope Gin and dinner made up for it, and to the guys and girls at OSB for putting on yet another great event.

 

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Emergency Services Tri – Lois’ review

This was the 2nd race in the East Midlands Sprint Tri series – but as Chris was taking part in the Emergency Services Tri wave, he had a start time of around 1.30pm – much more civilised than the 7 am starts of the main series waves!

We set off around 9am – still pretty early… but having never done this Tri before, we weren’t sure how much Faff there would be. Drive over was easy, and despite it being the weekend of the Outlaw Half, and loads of people setting up for that, it was easy to get on site. There was then a very convoluted drive to the parking area (field with very long grass). Heard they had had to close one of the parking areas due to flooding so that could explain the roundabout route. Tip#1– take cash for parking – was £5 per car – pricey, but we were caught up in the Outlaw. The pass was for the whole weekend – handy when we were only there for 1 day!

As I alluded to in my first post, the weather was beginning to turn – it had been a glorious day in Lincoln when we set up, and I almost left my waterproof at home. Thank crunchie I didn’t. So Tip#2 – ALWAYS pack a waterproof! The wind had picked by the time we parked up – promoting changing of wheels, and pumping of tyres, and messing about with other bike parts I won’t even pretend to be able to identify. All in very windy conditions. We did our good samaritan bit lending the pump to a chap next to us who was having tyre problems.

We then gathered up all the Tri paraphernalia, and headed towards registration. I’d like to point out Tip#3 at this stage. At first it may seem a tip for competitors, but I promise you, it will make you life as a supporter much easier – so, Tip #3 – invest in a proper transition bag. I got Chris the Blue Twenty one – and we both think its great. It has space for all his kit – making packing for a Tri easier – and reducing the risk of forgetting something important. It is also much easier on race day – so I am now no longer weighed down by bags whilst Chris juggles with a bike and box.

We got to registration, and as I took my customary spot loitering outside, holding the bike, I spied a Prosecco van! Awesome, I thought. Its my birthday tomorrow, I think I’m definitely allowed to partake in some fizz later. This leads me to Nottingham Tip #4 – bring your own fizz – the prosecco van was not open…. and it was miles away from the good spectating spot en route.

It chucked it down as I was waiting – there was a lot of registration Faff, which I will let Chris bore you with.

Eventually we headed to transition. There was a lot of waiting around here, as we had to wait for the final folk from the wave before to clear their stuff before Chris could set up. As usual, transition set up, and ‘visualisation’ took an age…… but I got chatting to some v friendly folk, so the time passed relatively quickly. I also got a top tip from a marshal about the best spectating spot. So Tip#5 – at Holme Pierpoint, a top spot for seeing your competitor is to the left of swim entry, as you’re facing the lake. There’s a little grass hill, and you get a great view of the swim, and then you get to see them on their run and cycle quite a few times.

The weather was wet and windy by now – so I was very pleased that I not only had a waterproof jacket on – but also something waterproof to sit on – thats top tip #6. I had my packed lunch – geeky I know – but often the best spectating spots are not near the start/finish, so you’re not near any of the food stalls etc. Besides, if you get as hangry as me, you always make sure you have your own grub!

After I saw Chris start his run, I then walked to the finish area – about 200m from the finish, so I could shout an encouraging “sprint” at Chris. He loves that.

The finish was Faff-tastic. They channel the athletes oneway, through a building, and made it near impossible for us to find each other after the race – at one point I could see him, but couldn’t get to him! Eventually, as you’ve probably guessed, we were reunited, and headed back to the car in a bid to beat the massive black cloud headed our way. We got to the car just as the heavens opened, and also thankfully, we’d just seen the last runners go through, so at least they didn’t get soaked!

Finished the day with a truck load of food and Gin in Nottingham for my birthday. Well earned all round.

#osbevents

Where it all began.

It was a blustery day when we headed to Holme Pierpoint on the 20th May for Chris to compete in the Emergency Services Tri. At least he was competing in that wave – he had a relatively sensible start time, as opposed to the silly o’clock start the waves of the East Midlands sprint series were enjoying.

I should probably point out that it was my birthday weekend. And the weather was pants… did I mention that? Anyway, my tolerance levels were lower than normal, and as we drove FOREVER to get to the car park (read field)….its safe to say I could think of a number of things I would rather have been doing.

Anyway, we get out of the car, to head to transition.. and so it began. The changing of wheels.. and wheel related paraphernalia…. and the pumping of tyres…all in gale force gusty winds. Then the guy next to us needed to borrow some tools to sort out his bike. And then I started to wonder… how does the FAFF that is triathlon relate to the length of said race? How much FAFF is there, and how much RACING is there? And that is how the Faff 2 Race Ratio was born.

It’s probably fairly apparent by now that I’m not a triathlete. I’m a runner. When I go to a  race, I’m usually wearing all I need to compete in, and the main things I need to remember are my race number, pins,and spare loo roll. That’s about as complicated as it gets.

Whilst I’m not a triathlete, I am a very experienced triathlon supporter, so this is how its gonna work. For each Tri we go to, Chris will report on the racing side of things (and associated faff), and I will report from a supporters’ point of view – and hopefully also include some helpful hints and tips for my fellow supporters.

Essentially we’ll be rating races on the amount of faff to race. We’re looking for that holy grail where, as far as possible, your hanging around and faffing pre race, does not exceed the amount of time you are actually racing. I’ll be honest, I don’t think such a Tri exists, but I’m willing to be proved wrong! 🙂

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