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!)

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