Mid Sussex Sprint Triathlon – Sunday 11 June 2017
The 5am alarm clock was not welcome, but despite a restless night I spring out of bed. I presume that no-one manages to sleep well the night before a race, even though I had packed everything and checked it at least three times. Mid Sussex Sprint Triathlon today – 3rd event in three weeks. Methinks this is becoming an obsession.
The drive to Burgess Hill is one I know well as it’s my daily commute to work. At 5:30 though it’s an easy opportunity to beat my record commute time, so I’m racing before I even get there (although strictly within speed limits of course)!
Registration and set up happens between 06:00 and 06:45, which was all very smooth since many of the locals took the opportunity to do this the night before, and then we were treated to the friendliest and most entertaining pre-race briefing performed by Race Director Steve Mac. The hosts, Mid Sussex Triathlon Club have done a great job of organising this very friendly and efficient event, and are at pains to welcome feedback so that they continue to improve the event.
Facilities for competitors were ideal: Plenty of free parking right on the doorstep with lots of changing facilities and lockers. The Triangle Leisure Centre is modern and equipped with everything you need, in case of last minute “issues”.
Competitors were lucky to have almost ideal conditions: temperatures in late teens, minimal wind and a little cloud cover while remaining dry, which was particularly welcomed by those competitors to faced torrential rain last year.
The pool swim was relatively well organised, and only a few minutes delayed to allow some visually impaired competitors to start and clear the pool before everyone else. This was the first time I’d experienced a pool swim which saw swimmers move across the lanes every 2 lengths, and it worked pretty well, apart from those who gave a very different predicted swim time. Both Transitions were very easy, set up on tennis courts within about 60m from the pool exit.
The 25km bike course started on the main Burgess Hill ring road, but being before 8am on a Sunday was quiet, and then ventured out into the Sussex countryside. The potholes had been highlighted with spray paint, but there were actually few very of them, and the only potential issue on the ride was just one right hand turn, but it was well covered by Race Marshalls and didn’t seem to cause anyone to slow down. The course is scenic, flat and fast, and I was done in 52 minutes with the fastest competitors hammering it in just under 40.
The run course was pretty much out-and-back, with minimal undulation, so again a fast one. There were a couple of grassy sections, and some of the paths were very narrow when trying to accommodate competitors running in both directions, but it didn’t cause any problems.
At the finish line, which seemed to come far too quickly, we received a decent medal, substantial goody bag and water. The handful of fun size chocolates and little bag of Haribos in particular went down a treat. It’s a perfect event for a first-timer, definitely more suitable than East Grinstead which has a relatively tough bike section and less straightforward transitions.
I smiled all the way home and for the rest of the day. Despite timing being “old school” (no chips), the results for some 290 competitors were posted less than 5 hours later. I can’t wait for the next event, which may well yet be next Sunday, which will make me a rather unpopular Father, but somehow weekends otherwise just don’t feel the same…
MARSHMAN STANDARD TRI 14th May
I braved the world of The Standard Tri earlier this month. Having completed a handful of
Sprint Triathlons I was always going to up my game to a Standard Tri at some point but it
came sooner due to a ‘friend’ whose comment ‘well, it’s not a proper Tri, is it?’ every time Imentioned doing a Sprint Triathlon, was beginning to grate.
So I agreed to do the Marshman (yes I’d had a glass or two of wine!) on the basis that it
was flat; fast, I think is how the club promoted it. I never thought I’d be ‘fast’. My aim was
The lake swim was a daunting two laps and for most of it I was on my own at the back, I
even had my own personal support canoe! I exited the lake 10 mins after the person in
front of me, and into transition. Wetsuit came off easily (first time I’d worn one in a race)
but I then had a near meltdown when I realised my ankle brace (repaired ligament, still a
bit weak) wouldn’t fit over the electronic tag. Then I heard the voice of reason, that was
Ray Deacon, telling me to simply take the tag off and put it on the other ankle. Which I
did. Then off on the bike ride.
The route was well sign posted and the marshals were cheery. The unexpected headwind and icy rain made it a bit more of a challenge but then it was indeed flat. The only other cyclists I saw was one that had gone the wrong way doing the Sprint, and another that was out for a training ride, offering words of encouragement as he sailed past!
Nearing the end of the bike ride I could almost see the finish, just ahead and turn right I
thought, but there was a marshall directing me to turn left, go up to the roundabout and
back, surely not I thought, this was too much! I did as directed and was assured by the
marshals at the roundabout that this was the correct route for the Standard (clearly to
make up the distance, but that felt hard so close to the finish).
Smoothly into and out of transition (although I don’t think I actually ran up the steep slope onto the road) and off….. I had to keep my internal voice in check and insisted it repeat ‘Ifeel fresh, I feel fresh’ when it was screaming other things at me. I heard my mile bleeper sound on my Garmin and looked at my time… I couldn’t believe my eyes - under 10 mins for the first mile! Surely that can’t be, I thought, but it gave me a boost and I kept going.
Two drinks stations on the run but I didn’t need any. The route was two laps and it was
hard going past the finished; but there were still people there to encourage me ‘I can’t wait to see you again!’ I shouted to the marshall and indeed I couldn’t; head down, keeping focus as each mile passed, all but the last in under 10 mins.
My elation at actually finishing was amplified by the support I received from fellow Tri
Tempo club members who waited for me. I was delighted with the medal which actually
had ‘Marshman Standard Tri’ on it, rather than just a generic image that you’d later
struggle to recall what it was for.
I will affectionately call this ‘The Wilderness Tri’ as for most of it I was on my own with the
proverbial tumbleweed drifting by….. but I finished it, and finished strong, with a personal best on my 10k run! It wasn’t about the other competitors (it didn’t seem a ‘fun run’ type of event)….. it was just me and the clock. Will I do another Standard? Absolutely.
Bikes racked and race briefing completed, it was time to focus with the event on hand. East Grinstead had quite a few entrants with a lot of tri clubs represented, including Tri Tempo, as well as some individual entries. There was a fair wait poolside whilst competitors queued in a snake to start their race. Once at the end of the pool you were given a colored hat, stepped in the water and then the wait was over; time to focus on the event in hand- time waits for no triathlete! The pool consisted off 16 lengths of a 25m pool in order to complete the 400m swim, every stroke pulling you closer to the next event. With the 16 lengths done it was a steady run to transition. Helmet on first and clipped in before you even considered touching your bike. A frantic transition later and it was out on the bike course. 26.5km of undulating roads through the Sussex countryside. Fortunately the majority of the route was on rural roads so little traffic to contend with. It was very well marshaled with good signage, even Wes would struggle to go wrong on this course!!! Once the bike was done it was into transition ready for the run. Don't remove your helmet until the bike is racked. Another rushed transition and then out onto the run. This consisted of 2 laps around East Grinstead town. It was not on closed roads so was a little strange racing past all the busy coffee shops and window shoppers. However as the run it as well signed and marshalled. You go past the finish line into the second lap so you get a lot of support here. Once the second lap is complete it was a sprint finish to cross the line; that final beep from the chip timer letting you know that you are done! All in all I would say that East Grinstead tri is well organised; it is well signed and easy to find and the route is very clearly marked out. There was a wide field of competitors from people doing the 'tri a tri' to some hardcore triathletes with some very expensive looking bikes! Race numbers had your name printed on which was a nice touch because as you were racing people would encourage you along by shouting you name, which is a massive boost. I would recommend this triathlon for either the beginner or the seasoned triathlete. A very friendly and supportive atmosphere, which is my experience in all events I have done.