New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon – Part I

Now I’ve created this blog, I think its time I write about my first Ironman70.3 distance event. The New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon 2013 in September, 1800m swim/90km bike/21km run. The run is a half marathon, which sounds more impressive 🙂

Having being competing in sprint Triathlons for 2 years, last year was the time to go up a level, or three ! and register myself for the event above. Was I crazy? NO! So after much excitement looking at various events online, I finally found one on my doorstep, in the New Forest, based at Sandy Balls Holiday Park (beautiful name)  

After many months of long hard training sessions, including many at 5.30am (what it takes to be a Triathlete!), came registration day, day before the event. For those who don’t know, registration is done the day before as the race itself starts at 7am ! No one would want to get there 1h or more earlier, ie 5am to be handed your race numbers, one for the bike, one for the bike helmet and one for the race belt to use in the run, the event swimming hat and a goody bag full of energy bars. At registration, you are also given 3 large event plastic bags for transition. One bag forTransition1 (swim to bike) where you have your gear for the bike leg, one bag for Transition2 (bike to run) where, you probably have guest it, have your gear for the run leg and finally, a bag ready for you at the finish line. And finally, bikes are “parked” in the secured transition area ready for race day.

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Now can you understand why we don’t register on race day?

Race day, 4.30am alarm goes off. Bags put together the night before, all I had to do was have breakfast and go. Up early as breakfast needs to be eaten 2h before race start to avoid being sick in the swim! After driving in the fog, slowly of course, I arrived at Sandy balls Holiday Park for 6.15am. From there, a coach took us competitors, all looking tired, nervous but excited, to the lake, situated about 20mins away from the Park. The lake is an old quarry now used for water sports, mainly water skiing and not a state of the art centre, meaning there was no lighting. Luckily, the organisers thought about it and positioned a flood light powered by a large generator at Transition1

imageBeen so foggy and due to the lack of lighting, including the sun which was still the other side of the world! the race start was delayed by 40mins. You couldn’t even see the first boye on the lake.

7.40am, everyone was called for briefing, where they explain the safety instructions, and obviously the course, then we all slowly got in in the water, wetsuit, swimming hats and goggles on.

imageStarting gun almost there! Everyone now in the water, ready to go. I positioned myself in the middle of the pack, ready for half a day of swimming, cycling and running!

imageBANG ! Off we go, swimming away towards the first boy, with full experience of a mass start meaning getting kicked all over. Is bullying allowed in Triathlon? This is what happens when 250 competitors get to start together. Looking forward to the WTC event next year then, swimming with another 2000 competitors! No wonder they have safety stewards in canoes following us. It didn’t take long before gaps appeared for a more relaxed swim, allowing me to concentrate on where I was going and catching up overs.

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After 2 laps and 1800 meters of swimming I exited the water, legs and arms burning a bit but feeling great, happy to have completed my first open water swim race and now ready to hit the road ………….

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