Archive for August, 2022

Sun City Triathlon

Friday, August 12th, 2022 | Sport

Sun City Triathlon is a sprint triathlon with a sea swim that takes place in Sunderland. I signed up to get some additional sea swimming in ahead of Copenhagen.

It was a 7:30am mass start so we drove up the night before and stayed over. Registration was in the Grand Sunderland Hotel but could have done with some signage as it took me a while to find the main entrance. Thankfully, I eventually did, registered and headed to transition to setup and eat some breakfast.

The race brief was short. Long race briefings are annoying, so that was nice. But in this case, I could have done with a few more details as the no-overtaking zone wasn’t fully explained or signed. Also, the run course was not clear because the map they had sent out was for their duathlon and the instructions also referred to the duathlon. So, even having read the athlete information several times, I was still unclear. But in their defence, they did also publish a video of the course that I did not watch.

The swim

It was a cloudy but warm day on the beach and we had the chance to acclimatise in the water for a few minutes. It was super-cold. The race information suggested it would be 15 degrees. The RNLI were saying 12. I am not sure who was right, but my face was super cold but when I put it in. I did some sprinting up and down the beach to try and warm up.

Once the air horn went, the temperature was less of an issue as it was game on. I positioned myself at the back and just like Castle Howard this was a mistake. I kept getting boxed in between people switching between crawl and breaststroke. I still think of myself was a weaker swimmer so I need to change that mindset as I’m consistently stronger and faster than the back row now.

Apparently it was just moving into jellyfish season so every time I felt something or saw something in the water I was paranoid I was about to be stung. Perhaps I should have spent less time thinking about the athlete who said she went into anaphylactic shock after being stung, and more time thinking about how Daniela Ryf was stung during the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship and still went to both win the race and set a new course record.

The sea was calm but even on a calm day, there is the constant swell of the waves. Once I found some clear water, I found it easy to settle into a rhythm where I could time my strokes and my breathing with the swell. This got a little thicker on the way back as it came from behind me. The course was supposed to be triangular but there were swimmers heading off in completely different directions so I just set a line towards the beach.

The run from the swim quite a distance: up the beach, up the steps, along the promenade, up some more steps, along more promenade and finally into transition. At this point, my hands decided it had been a very cold swim after all and did not want to take my wetsuit off. I also managed to hit the lap button twice in T1, recording the entire bike section as T2.

The bike

It was a relatively straightforward bike course with a couple of U-turns and some gentle gradients but nothing to get out of the saddle for. Very little wind, either, until I was on my fourth and final lap and thinking to myself “so nice it is not windy” before I turned a corner and hit a strong headwind. I used 50% aero bars with some hoods on the up and down bits, averaging a very unsatisfying 29.9 kph average moving speed.

The run

The run went out along the cliff tops before dropping down onto the beachfront and crossing under itself beneath a bridge. Due to not properly understanding the aforementioned instructions and the route being unmarked, I got to a crossing early on and wasn’t sure if it was straight on across. Unfortunately, the marshall was on his phone at the time aod not paying attention but luckily there was another athlete from Sun City Tri just behind me who knew where he was going. After this it was smooth sailing.

The result

My official time was:

1:27:26

That gave me 60th place out of a field of 106. However, if you include the 4 DNFs and 21 DNSs, that moves me into the top half 😂. Here are the splits:

Section Time
Swim 21:47
T1 2:31
Bike 41:21
T2 1:17
Run 20:30

The swim time includes the three-minute run up to transition, so the actual swimming time was under 19 minutes. My watch clocked the run at 4.65 km. It is usually short, but not that short, so I think the run course was less than 5 km.

Euro 2022

Thursday, August 4th, 2022 | Sport

It’s coming home! It turns out that treating women as equals has many benefits. Who knew?

And what a final it was. The excitement of England going one up. Then Germany equalising and thinking “here we go again, classic England”. But then the women turn the narrative on its head and score a winner. Talk about a shocking plot twist. Definitely not something you would find in a Chip Driver novel.

York Triathlon

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 | Sport

York Triathlon is a sprint distance race based at York Sport Village.

Registration gave me an C5 envelope and pointed to a packet with inside it that they said contained my stickers. What they actually meant was that the envelope as a whole contained the stickers and not the packet inside it. Which, when I opened it, turned out to be a bag of oats. I was there early enough to get a bacon sandwich (avoiding the wasps) and queue for one of the two toilets that seemed to be available: one gender-neutral one and one in the men’s changing room.

There was no assigned racking in transition so I put my bike in the first available space. However, after walking through it, the swim in and run out were at one end, and the bike in and out were at the other. So, to minimise time spent running in my bike shoes, I moved my bike as close to the bike in/out as possible. At this point, a technical official told me off for pushing my bike without my helmet fastened. This isn’t a rule.

The swim

The swim was a 400-metre pool-based swim that sort of snakes down the pool: there were four lanes and you had to do four lengths in each one before moving onto the next one. This worked well as it meant the lanes were nice and wide with plenty of space for overtaking. I’m sick of people giving bad estimates for their swim time and swimming over me so I’ve now added 30 seconds onto my actual swim time and that worked really well.

UK Triathlon (the event organiser) do not require you to wear a swim cap for their pool-based events so I was able to race in my Hyde Park Harriers swim cap.

The bike

The bike course could arguably be described as off-road. It was all on hard surface but neither was it on a road: it went through the pathways of York University campus. THere were cobbles (flat but often loose), lots of tight turns, speed bumps, road furniture and occasionally harassed-looking students wheeling large suitcases. I felt like I was playing the school level on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. To its credit, it was car-free.

The highly technical nature of the course meant that anyone with good bike handling skills could gain a lot of time. My cornering isn’t so smooth and so there was a lot of toing and throwing between the technical sections and the one or two straights.

The bike course was three kilometres long and required six laps to make up the distance. This is quite a big number to count and many people did seven.

The run

The run was four laps, mostly consisting of the cycle circuit with a few short grass sections. All of my prep has been long distance and I did not want to push too hard so I was pretty pleased with my time. There was an aid station on the final three laps so I was able to cool myself down with the some water (once I had worked out which was the High5 and which was the water!).

The result

My official time was:

1:11:00

That said, the official times are wrong. There seems to be a minute missing off the run: having compared with four other competitors we all have a mystery one-minute deduction on our run leg. Below, I’ve included the official timings and my watch timings. Given I have only ever gone sub-20 once over 5k, and it seems unlikely I would do this in a triathlon, especially one where I wasn’t trying to PB, I am included to believe my watch.

Section Official time Watch time
Swim 8:33 8:32
T1 1:09 1:18
Bike 39:46 39:29
T2 1:25 1:34
Run 20:07 21:02

Dan took a well-earned title of first Harrier home finishing 55 seconds faster. His new faster swim, combined with some solid bike handling skills, gave him an unailable lead going onto the run,

I did not splash out for the official photos ass they were £10 for one or £39 for the bundle.

Conclusion

Would I recommend it as a first triathlon? I would like more toilets, accurate timings and reasonably-priced photos. But it was well organised and, while technical, the bike course was car-free which would make it attractive for beginners.