Eton Super Sprints – May 2017

Preamble

There was an aligning of stars that meant that there would be not one but TWO social groups doing the Eton Dorney Super Sprint mates waves, so it seemed churlish not to sign up. Being a Human Race event I knew from experience it would probably be a) very well organised and b) arse-tremblingly expensive. I was disappointed on neither count.

Meeting up at registration beforehand was painless: Kelly, (#racestrongtri’s new official cheer-leader) had raced the competitive F25-29 in the morning and had very kindly stuck around to give us a moral boost and I found her first, we then met up with some Fetchies and finally Adrian and Ben rocked up, somewhat nonchalantly.

It was a grave error not to go and rack immediately that we registered as the transition for the Super Sprint waves was not where transition usually is at Dorney – it was off to one side and there was only one way in & out which meant that those who got there first didn’t have as far to go to collect / drop the bike. I think this is because the ITU age group events were on the same day which made it very busy. Annoyingly ‘proper’ transition was empty by the time we started so we could have gone in there anyway.

Having racked and changed into the wet suit it was soon time to go and have the pre-race briefing. Putting on my swim hat it split up the seam: I think these are the cheapest swim hats I’ve ever encountered, I doubt mine will last long. It is a very fetching orange though, so I may save it for special occasions.

Swim – 400m – 7:26

There was a fair amount of opting to stay at the back by the various people with whom I was racing, but one of the reasons I wanted to do this was to practice the rough & tumble of the open water swim start. It wasn’t quite as rough and tumble as I was expecting, to be honest, although I did manage to swim across a couple of people. Failed to find anyone to draft either, which was a shame as that’s my plan for Holkham. I’ll have to persuade some friends to let me practice with them.

I was pleasantly surprised to see I was in the first third out the water. Then noticed that Adrian was only just behind me, so I must have been going quite slowly after all.

T1 – 2:04

Wetsuit was mostly off during the run between the water out and transition as it was quite a long way from water out to the bike. No major dramas. Helmet on, number on, shoes on (no socks this week) and I was off running with the bike towards the mount point.

I really need to practice flying mounts. Well, probably not flying mounts, but at least attaching the shoes to the bike first, and then leaving them on there when I get off. Think it’ll be quicker.

Bike – 37:16

Four laps of Dorney, predictably, half of it into a stiff breeze. Got up to speed and mostly stayed there. Average speed was 34.4kph which is a shade over 20mph which I am pleased with. The 5km laps were going by at roughly 9 minutes per lap.

Overtook any number of people on various levels of bike (I did see one with a basket on the front). Was done by a couple of expensive looking tri bikes. One of which was ridden by Ben, who was unimpressed when I told he to get on with it once I’d caught him back up.

This is the first race where I’ve had the tri bars available. I’m still not convinced: I find my gentlemen parts get a bit squished so I think I need to move the seat up and forwards a bit. Managed to do about 25% of each lap on them.

Every lap Kelly was there to cheer me on (which was remarkably heartening) and shout how far behind the other racestrong guys were to motivate me to greater things.

Also saw a couple of fetchies as I overtook them, so got to shout encouragement and get some back. I think I like races where I know some people. Makes it feel very sociable.

I managed to quaff the entire bottle of water during the ride which was good, as it was bloody hot by this point in the day. Thankfully I was trying out the P20 factor 50 so I managed not to get burned at all. I quite like the P20 – it’s allegedly waterproof and good for 10 hours, and based on the evidence I would agree that it works.

T2 – 1:53

Off the bike and on go the running shoes.

Faff for a couple of seconds tidying up my wetsuit which was strewn across the place.

Run all the way across proper transition and was told to turn my race belt around. One of these days I’ll remember!

Run – 22:35

My lasting recollection of the run is the heat. The sun was really beating down on us and dehydration was a real possibility. I also made the mistake of scratching some sweat from my neck and coming away with a handful of white goo – which was actually the body glide I’d used for the swim. Yuck.

I don’t recall being overtaken in the run. I passed plenty. Being a there and back again up to the top of the lake and back, I also got to high five racestrong and fetch people on the way back in.

Usually I run a 5k with a three-step breath pattern (in-2-3, out-2-3) but for some reason (the heat?) it felt better as a two-step pattern (in-2, out-2) almost from the start.

Looking at the splits km 3 was the slowest but as this had the water station and the about face in it I’m not that surprised. Averaging 4:24/km (7:04/mile) over the 5k gave me a respectable time and a PB for the 5k distance, which proves (I suppose) that the training is working.

Overall – 1:11:14 – 20th in Age Group

Across the line and collect the alcohol free beer and water. Back over to where Kelly is stood to shout obscenities at the RaceStrong and encouragement to the fetchies. Have an ice-cream. Picture with RaceStrong, sod off home.

A solid performance, just a few seconds behind Ben, who is an amazing athlete and who I have no objection to being beaten by.

Ruminations

This was, once again, a very expensive brick. But one that’s worth repeating (although I’ll probably go for the sprint distance swim if only to bypass the shoddy transition super sprint mates waves were given). It is sodding expensive, but it’s also a beautiful venue, on the doorstep and an open water swim.

The medal is pretty. The alcohol free beer was okay. The hat was cheap. There should have been more water stations available. Photos are available for purchase at vastly inflated prices.

I’m not convinced by a 2pm start, I prefer an early if I’m honest, less time to faff about.

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