I’ve wanted to try a triathlon for some time but lack of opportunities to develop my swimming has kept these ambitions on the back burner. I saw this event last year but was too slow to enter so I jumped in with a flash when it was released. I wasn’t alone, a large number of work colleagues and fellow Harriers took the plunge too. Over time injuries and the temptation of other events whittled this number right down, leaving myself, a couple of work colleagues and Kelly-Anne. The pressure was ramped up by my boss suggesting he would be faster on the bike leg, nothing like a challenge. My cycling is very much a secondary activity to running so I was trying not to treat this event too seriously but regardless of this when they released the cross country fixtures it meant I was destined for a busy weekend!
When you arrive it’s more daunting than the usual foot race, lots of kit to stow and some expensive machines being racked. The most stress normally suffered is pinning your number on the club vest. Bike secured in the transition area it was time for a quick warm up. The weather forecast was correct….the weather was poop! Constant rain, most lovely!
The run leg is two laps (5k) of our Harrock Hill Race warm up but in reverse, so familiar territory. I ran cautiously not sure how much the Cross Country exploits would have affected me and how much I needed to save for the next two legs. My first transition was a disaster. Discovering that skin tight cycle gloves won’t slide onto wet hands. Mark Rogers was a spectator to the rising panic that set in when I realised I would be cycling with bare hands. I run most of the year in gloves as they turn to ice real quick. The bike leg is 18 miles consisting of three laps. Up Parbold Hill and down Hunters Hill, enjoyed the former, hated the latter! Changing gear and keeping hold with a frozen hand was particularly problematic on the muddy and wet Hunters Hill. It was with some relief to survive with both hands and be back on terra firma for the final run. Jelly legs you hear about them but they are very interesting, I left transition worried about falling over and trying desperately to make up some of the places I had forfeited with my dodgy bike leg. I managed to overtake two and have a little sprint finish for 47th place in 1.50:24. Immediate thoughts never again, thoughts now – it’s maybe but when it’s warm and dry!
Over to the real star of the show….. Kelly-Anne Towns
My weekend race was Parbold Duathlon, a late entry courtesy of Darren Jackson (I still owe him the entry fee!). The course was a 5k run, 30k bike, 5k run, which delivered on it’s promise of undulations, what can you expect from a race centred around Parbold Hill? The weather was grim – cold and wet; the competition looked strong; and there were hardly any women. I was convinced I’d come last! The nerves did their usual disappearing trick once we got going on the first run at 8.30am. The gentle climb to the first turn was soon complete, and the two lap 5k on quiet country lanes seemed to be over quickly. The 3 lap bike course was tough, climbing Parbold Hill each time; a prospect I did not relish but which was tame in comparison to the descent down Hunter’s Hill in that weather!! Luckily I’d done a quick reccy of the course (in the car) a few days earlier so was aware of the muddy patches making that section quite treacherous and exercised extreme caution. After just over an hour on the bike, more than enough time to end up soaked to the skin, I emptied my trainers of water and squelched off onto the final run. The massive mountain (same run route but it definitely wasn’t there the first time) to the first turn took some climbing on really heavy bike legs but after that I settled into a pace just quick enough to hold off the girl behind me. Although when her family shouted encouragement to her on the final bend and I realised how close she was I had to muster up a sprint finish from somewhere – no way was she beating me at that late stage! I managed to keep my place by five seconds, and it turned out to be a prize-winning third place!! A bit better than my pre-race expectations! Overall a great event, if a little daunting at first because of all the professional looking cyclists. And the fact that you are packed into the Farmer’s Arms car park like sardines means you have to go in the pub afterwards. You just have to.