Sunday May 11th 2008 saw me get up at the ungodly hour of 4am in order to
have breakfast, check my kit bag (for the umpteenth time), put the bike on the
back of the car and set off for Stratford-upon-Avon.
We got away just after 5am, arriving around 6:30am and found a relatively
empty car park. Good thing too, it was very busy by 8:30, and I dread to
think where the later competitors were having to park. Seems Stratford is
a bit touristy for some reason as, by the time we left at 11:30 the place was
heaving. And very, very hot!
I headed off straight away to register, picked up my ride number (192), and
some tasteful numbering on the left arm and lower right leg, before making the
first of, um, one or two 'pitstops'.
The race itself was interesting insofar as the swim element was pool-based.
Trying to get waves of people off is a non-starter, and so we were set off at 15
second intervals. We had to arrive poolside around 15 minutes head of time,
and then it was a case of lining up in number order, waiting for your numbers to
be checked, get into the water and wait for the 'Go' command. As far as I
could tell, I was off bang on time. That's some organisation.
The distance was 400 metres, or 12 lengths; the pool was divided into
three lanes, and we had to swim clockwise. In each lane we had to do four
lengths - two laps if you prefer - and then duck under the wire, and do it all
over again. It worked quite well, not too much thrashing, and everyone
being relatively polite when going past.
A little under ten minutes later (according to the results), I was out of
the water and heading off to find the bike. I checked my watch as I
mounted and it said 12 minutes and something, so that seemed reasonable.
The ride was left out of the leisure centre then over the bridge and left away
from Stratford on a route that took us along the A429 to near junction 15 on the
M40, then back down the A46 into Stratford. It was fairly flat, though
getting away from the M40 was a bit of a climb, not too arduous though.
Back into Stratford, at this time not too busy - unlike later - and drop the
bike, change shoes and head out for the run. Forgot to check time, but the
bike section (which I think included both transitions) was around 51 minutes for
The run started over two little humps onto firm muddy grass, a little
slippery that early in the day, before turning onto a rough metalled path
alongside the river. Two laps, with a turn right by the finish that seemed
very unfair - especially as around a dozen men were disqualified for only doing
one lap! - didn't go too badly from a time point of view (31 minutes) though the
second lap was hard work and I did walk a little bit.
Still, with a finish time of 1.32:34, finishing 435th out of 517, and 61/75
in age group, it wasn't
too bad. And I will go back in October to give it another, hopefully
quicker, go! Full results are to be found
This event organised by
Triathlon; my thanks to them.
For those with strong stomachs, you can find some photos of me
here - look for race no 192. I have some of my own, which may see the
light of day. Donations to charity gratefully accepted first....