3:00:01 – 4th mixed pair, 16th overall
~ 18k run, 2.5k swim
We entered this race as we had a free slot due to our performance in Jersey last year. With a big run bias this race wasn’t playing to our strengths but, having arrived early enough to recce the course the day before, we knew the course would be beautiful and should be great fun. It was on the day of Englands World Cup Quarter final. The start was 11:30am and the match at 3pm so we had a big incentive to finish in under 3:30.
The bus ride to the start was interesting in a massively overheated bus (getting us ready for 30c runs and 18c swims ?) which was delayed a long time due to the combination of narrow lanes and oncoming buses. We collected on Oxwich beach, amongst holiday makers, and waited for the second bus to arrive. We finally got started at 11:50am with a 3k run along the beach.
It was hot enough that we started with our wetsuits down. The beach was mostly hard sand but in places it was uneven and in others soft which made for quite hard work. We drifted back a little running at 5:45 / k which really was still a little strong for us. I then though to attach the tow line. I was then able to give Rachel a good tow and we were soon clicking along at 5:15 / k and started to move back up the field.
The first swim was round the headland into Three Cliffs Bay. I steered a course inside most others and close to the cliff. The water was initially refreshing but then soon felt warm. The occasional cold patches were very welcome indeed. Coming in to the bay we swam above a huge smack of jellyfish (yes that is the collective noun for jellyfish – I looked I it up!). It was beautiful. They seemed to have a purpose and organisation – all heading in the same direction. All the same species and they seemed to be in layers. At the top just below where my hand pulled were the little ones about the size of my hand. Then as you went lower they got bigger till perhaps 15 feet down there were ones that were huge (I’d estimate about the size of a dustbin). I was glad they were below us and hoped Rachel wasn’t getting freaked out.
On the beach we pulled our wetsuits down as we knew the next section was the longest at 8km along the coast path. It started with a tough climb up soft sand. We kept the line between us so I could give Rachel a little pull up the steep slope.
At the top we were on a beautiful path along the top of the cliffs. There was a welcome aid station where we drank loads. Shortly after this a mixed couple moved by. I jokingly sped up and said “Come on Rachel these are our competition” – it turns out this was us dropping to 4th place where we stayed till the end, some 4 minutes behind them.
We really enjoyed this section, it was a bit warm and every bit of shade was a welcome brief respite. We got back in the water at Brandy Cove and swam round to Caswell Bay. Now we were in our terrain with short runs and plenty of swimming. We kept wetsuits up as we headed to Snaple Point for a scramble down to a swim across Langland Bay, then another short run where we were lucky to have some male pairs pass us and then make a mistake which we definitely would have done as well if we hadn’t bumped in to them as they returned. The final swim was only 200m starting with a quite tricky scramble down to the water and then quite a shallow swim.
All that was left was about 3k to the rugby club but it did require quite an ascent up to some wonderful views before running through the edge of town and down to the finish. Rachel had been tracking the time very well and said “24s to get under 3 hours” – I didn’t think it possible and didn’t speed up. We finished in 3:00:01 !! Very pleased and back in time for the football.
Ben has put on another superb event. He also took the risk of ordering a big screen for us all to watch the football (hopefully everyone donated something to the cost). It meant the post race party was superb – beautiful weather, a BBQ, a beer tent, an ice cream seller and an England win. For once the “sprint” race felt like the main event. Another one to add to the list of “we’ll be back next year”.