Wensleydale Triathlon 2006

Time: 4:35:49 1st Overall

Swim: ~ 30 mins (1.9km)

Bike: ~2:30 (42 miles)

Run: ~1:35 (12 miles)

This is the new Yorkshire Dales triathlon and is aiming to get a reputation as one of the toughest races in the UK. Waking in Stokesley, race morning, to torrential rain certainly meant it was going to be even tougher and with very strong northerly winds some of the early climbs on the bike and the climb on the run were going to be tough. I quietly prayered for some excuse not to race to materialise.

Mum set me up with the perfect pre race snap – sausage, egg and bacon then on the road to Hawes for registration. A very nice low key affair, only about 50 entrants. Bike run transition was numbers sprayed on grass and in the swim bike transition there weren’t even racks ! We had a little time to kill so went to a bikers cafe in Hawes for a cuppa coffee and a toasted teacake. Made note of the full cooked for future rides ;o)

Up at Semerwater for the start the weather didn’t look great, it wasn’t raining but there were some seriously threatening clouds. The water was cold, coldest I’ve raced in this year. The swim was a two lap out and back affair. On the first lap the buoy was blown away so a canoe had to act as the buoy. Swimming back was very tough indeed, straight into the wind and there was some quite serious chop. I settled in and had a good steady swim coming out in the top half dozen. An Aussie guy had come out a good few minutes ahead and was well on his way on the bike.

It was cold so in transition I took the time to put on socks, cycling jersey and cycling waterproof and headed off. Several relay teams had now got out ahead of me on the bike and hitting the first hill, 25% about 200m from the mount line I had a couple more enthusiastic relays teams come by me. I kept to my own pace and recaught them all on the second hill over into Swaledale.

At the turn up to Buttertubs (25% number 3) the marshal told me I was about 2.5 minute down on the two ahead. Luckily I know this area so coming off Buttertubs I knew how fast you could take it. Spinning out my top gear I was well over 40mph. At the bottom Susannah (from Tri-Talk, she helped stem by bleeding foot at Helvellyn a couple of years ago) was giving awesome support and told me I was now only a minute down on 2nd (a relay team) and about 2 on the leader.

Next up was the climb to Garsdale Head and then up the Coal Road (yes another 25%) – coming up this I caught the second place guy and could now see first about 90 seconds up the road. THis is another great descent but you need to be careful as it’s long straight then steepens down several very steep hairpins. I knew u didn’t have to touch your brakes till a certain point. THis certainly helped because at the bottom I couldn’t believe it when I turned a corned and saw the leader within 30 seconds off me.

I worked up the next climb (yes another with a 25% section) and caught him. As I passed he said I was going well then jumped on my wheel ! I couldn’t believe it, after a minute or so of this I turned to him and said ‘Mate you shouldn’t be on my wheel. Either work to get past or drop back’ – he pushed and got past.

We were within 20 minutes of T2 so I decided to just leave him out at about 50m and follow him in no point going by if he had no qualms about jumping on my wheel. At this point with such a long run ahead it was going to come to the run and looking at him I thought I had him !! (I’ve made that mistake before)

It was actually quite fun being in a position knowing he couldn’t pull away and he kept looking back to see where I was. I came into T2 literally seconds behind him. (aside for Damian – I had my powertap on – 2.5 hours at 275 watt average – well chuffed!) He was out of transition in a flash whereas I had to sit to put my fell shoes on. I could see him ahead on the road and as we crossed the first field I caught him. He didn’t have a rucksack or bumbag with him which was completely against the rules – they’d said at the breifing you had to carry a waterproof.

The run is about a mile flatish along the valley followed by 5 miles uphill along the Pennine way to the top of this Fell and then back. It was my perfect fell race – the gradient was steady, continous and relatively gentle with a few steepenings and false summits. I pushed on knowing I needed a lead at the top in case of some good fell runners behind. The Aussie guy dropped back dramatically as soon as the hill started. It was still blowing a gale and cold – great fell running weather. I happily thought how most people would not be enjoying this anything like I was ;o) well thats what I believed and thats all that mattered at the time.

Coming back from the turn around I timed second place at about 90s but he didn’t look like a fell runner. In 3rd at about 7 minutes was a definitey fell runner and gaining 7 mins in 5 miles of downhill is totally possibly. I pushed like mad. Luckily it was my sort of downhill and I thought if anyone manages to catch this deficit when I’m going at this speed they deserve it. Minutes later BANG – I go flying. Luckily only injury is a scraped knee which looked pretty terrible by the finish.

At the bottom of the climb I looked back and couldn’t see anyone but kept pushing to the finish.

Coming across the line was awesome, my mum was there to give me a great big hug. About 5 minutes later the fell runner came in (winning the relay race) – he’d made a minute or so on me and had made up about a 6 minute gap to take second.

Great low key, friendly race. Even had post race snap, pasta you could warm in a microwave and make up your own brews !

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