Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

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.

Castle Howard middle distance triathlon

Monday, July 25th, 2022 | Sport

I did Castle Howard standard distance back in 2019. This year, I was taking in the middle-distance version known as The Gauntlet.

They run a huge range of events which means races starting at different times and a rush to get bikes out of transition to make space for future races. Doing the longest race of the day made this easier: we arrived before everyone else, had reserved racking all day, and the roads were back open by the time we left.

The swim

The lake at Castle Howard is not deep. It is filled with mud and plant life. It really makes you appreciate how nice Waterloo Lake at Roundhay Park is. More annoyingly, the swim cap would not stay on my head. I had to stop several times on the first lap to try and pull it back on my head and re-arrange my goggles. This left me at the back with all the swimmers who keep switching to breaststroke causing a domino effect as everyone behind them also switches to breaststroke.

After a lap of wrestling with the swim cap, I stood up in the deep mud and pulled my goggles under my swim cap. This left me a good 50 metres off the back of the field but by the 100m buoy, I was back on their feet and going past them. As we rounded the top buoys I found myself sitting on three people’s feet with two other swimmers to each side of me, boxing me in. I zig-zagged trying to find a way past but they were swimming in perfect synchronisation. In the end, I dropped right off and went around the left side.

At this point, my swim cap went sailing away. This meant all of the water filled my hair which made me surprisingly less aero. I headed for the final buoy while the rest of the swim pack incorrectly headed back towards the start despite the many warnings during the pre-race brief that they should head straight for the final buoy.

Lacking my swim cap, I came out looking like the creature from the Black Lagoon.

The bike

The bike course starts off on The Stray and I headed down the hill carefully avoiding any comfort breaking. Then a gust of wind blew a leaf into my arm and almost gave me a papercut. That sums up long format racing: one minute you are on top of the world, the next you are close to crying because you’ve been beaten up by a particularly aggressive leaf.

The course then goes out into the Howardian Hills. And they are hills. There are over 1,000 metres of climbing over the 90k which is about the same climbing as the full course at IRONMAN Copenhagen. Climbing really gets to my back when I’m putting out any kind of power so I spent most of the bike course with a lot of lower back pain. Thankfully, the second half of the course flattens out slightly and I could get down on my aero bars a little more.

The run

The run course also starts with a lovely downhill. My stomach hadn’t really settled all day and I was feeling sick by this point so I reminded myself that I was here to get the distance in and have fun. The course is entirely inside the castle grounds and is all off-road making it very scenic but difficult to get a good footing. There are only two real fills but it does go up and down a fair bit.

The weather was a weird mix of warm with a bit of rain occasionally. To cool me down, I took two cups of water at each aid station: one to drink and one to douse myself in. This worked well for the first two aid stations but on the third, I got the tables mixed up and managed to pour isotonic all over myself.

I went through the first lap in 55 minutes but made a decision to back off a little and under fuel to keep my stomach a little happier. I gave a “well done, keep going” to everyone I went passed but there wasn’t any chatting as everyone was hurting by this point. I pushed a little at the end to ensure my half marathon time was uncomfortably under two hours.

Post-race we got a massage and a chicken salad (both included in the entry fee), and I also ran into Jack and Kirsten who were running the yoga tent. After I went into the food tent, the heavens truly opened. Nice timing for me although everything in transition, including my towel, ended up soaked.

The result

I finished in:

6:23:53

Good enough for 76 out of 135. Here are my splits:

Section Time 2019
Swim 43:07 41:59
T1 7:02 4:12
Bike 3:34:28 1:58:51
T2 4:34 2:20
Run 1:54:39 58:41

I’ve included my 2019 times for comparison even though that was a standard distance. I’m pleased with the swim time was I was almost as fast as 2019 despite doing 400 metres more, and having to fiddle with my goggles and swim cap. My bike was 10 minutes quicker per lap and my run laps were faster, too.

Not quite Outlaw X but pretty much what I expected: a hillier bike course makes for a slower time. It had a similar course profile to Weymouth but I was a good 20 minutes faster despite a longer swim here.

This was my 50th triathlon. Does anyone know where I get my t-shirt?

Manvers Lake swimrun

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 | Sport

Manvers Lake swimrun is an event organised by As Keen As Mustard that takes place in Rotheram (at Manvers Lake, as you can probably guess). It’s a swimrun so consists of multiple stages of running and swimming with no transitions: you wear the same thing for the whole event.

This event is very beginner-friendly: they offer a 5k and 10k options that are 80% running and 20% swimming. Compare that to Breca Loch Lomond where the “sprint” features 6k of swimming and 15k of running. Unlike Love SwimRun Llanberis, the run at Manvers Lake is flat (pretty much) and the water is a lot warmer than 14 degrees!

It also has a lot more sections. While Llanberis had an 8k run up a quarry and two swims of over a kilometre, Manvers Lake’s longest run section was 2k and the longest swim was 320 metres. To make up the distance, the course featured 13 run sections and 12 swim sections.

The race

It was over 20 degrees air temperature on the day so plenty warm enough not to be in a wetsuit. Most of us opted for it anyway to help with our swim. They used ankle tags rather than bibs which made it much easier to zip down the front of my wetsuit while running. Flooding the suit before the end of the swim helped a lot as well.

My main aim was to have fun so I took it steady. People generally overtook me on the swim sections but the 2k run section at the end of the park was a good chance to take some places back. In fact, I frequently saw the same faces as we traded places between the swim and the run.

The course was a two-lap affair with an aid station on the second lap so I stopped to get a drink. It was “bring your own cup”, which I had stashed in my wetsuit back pocket along with a Mars bars and an energy gel. But no phone: yes, I a millennial, survived two hours without my phone.

I did overtake at least one person on the swim as I put in a push to finish the final swim strongly.

The lake

Manvers Lake is not my favourite lake. It was murky, like the Blue Lagoon, except that some parts were extra muddy so it was like a blackout when you put your face in the water.

Other parts of the lake were clear and you could see all of the weeds. These were not too bad except for the final swim section of each lap where you were grabbing and kicking handfuls of the stuff even more so than at Ripon race course.

The result

My total time was:

1:50:28.8

Good enough for 34 out of 56 athletes. I’m happy with that as swimming is not a strong discipline for me and I don’t have a perfect swim setup: no pull buoy, hand paddles, and I even bypassed my calf sleeves because it was so warm. So, to still end up mid-pack feels pretty hood.

The event was well organised and a great beginner event. It felt like less of an adventure than Llanberis as it did not have the wilderness or beautiful scenary, but that is ideal for someone new to swimrun.

Round Sheffield Run

Thursday, July 7th, 2022 | Sport

Round Sheffield Run is a multi-stage trail race that starts and ends in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield. It is a stage race in that there is 20k of timed stages with another 4k or so of walking in between. It’s Sheffield, so it was pretty hilly. I finished in:

01:46:38

Happy with that. The course was busy, especially on the single-track sections, so there was a lot of getting stuck behind people. It also made it difficult to see upcoming roots and quite a few people took a tumble. The feed stations has bananas and jelly babies. I’m not sure I would do the event again, but it was okay. I think they missed me on the race photos. Or maybe just decided I’m not photogenic enough, lol.

Man Vs Coast

Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 | Sport

Man Vs Coast is a 36-40k adventure race from Marazion Beach to Land’s End. It’s my A- event for the year: not as important as Copenhagen but still one of the big events I have been focusing on.

It’s predominantly a run but includes six trips into the sea (be it wading or jumping in), a very small amount of climbing and a couple of rope bridges to traverse. Rat Race describe it as one of those obstacle course races except that the obsticals are the Cornish coastline.

Registration

Registration took place the day before in Penzance. They have quite a long mandatory kit list and checked everyone’s kit before we were allowed to pick up our numbers and satellite trackers. The queue took quite a while but luckily it wasn’t raining while we queued.

Race day

I parked up at Land’s End and took the shuttle bus to the start. I felt a bit sick at this point so when we arrived at Marazion I got a hot chocolate and a brownie which helped settle my stomach. It rained most of the morning and there wasn’t much shelter. I got the 7am bus but you could have got on the 8am but and still got to the start comfortably, even if you were in the 9:00 wave as I was.

They had an open-topped trailer where you could drop a finish line bag so I kept my warm clothing on for as long as possible before sticking it in my bag and handing it in. The rain did stop before the start, which was nice.

Part 1: 0-14k

The race starts with a run along Marazion Beach including wading out to waist-deep water and climbing over a sea wall. There was a second sea-based activity further down the beach where we had to dip under an inflatable so this was a full immersion. At each of the sea-based activities, there is a bag drop so you can keep your kit a little drier.

After this is turned off the beach. To get under the main road into Penzance we climbed into the river and walked up the river under a set of two low bridges. It wasn’t quite hands and feet crawling but pretty low. I nearly knocked myself out on a pipe coming out of the bridge; a moment the photographer was good enough to document.

After this we were onto tracks and roads. I stopped to empty the sand out of my shoes before we took the long climb from the south coast to the north coast. At the top, the first feed stop was waiting for us. They were well stocked: crisps, cakes, sweets, fruit, flapjack bars, water and electrolyte drinks. Finally, there was a cross-country stretch to bring us to the north coast.

Part 2: 14-20k

This part was hard. We dropped onto the South West coastal path but calling it a “path” was generous. The terrain was very technical with the route being filled with rocks and often at steep inclines. I felt like I was moving really slowly here with each kilometre taking anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes.

There was a water activity where we had to wade out and around an inflatable. The water seemed a lot colder on the north coast and the rocks were super-slippy so it was slow going.

At one point, we either left the path or it disappeared completely and we had to climb down a very small cliff and back up again. it was only maybe 4 metres, so if I slipped I would only fall my own height. But that feels like quite a lot when you have only been bouldering once!

At least the views where beautiful, overlooking the rugged coast line below.

Part 3: 20-33k

Mercifully, the trail got better from here. it was still very up and down but the paths tended to be gravel and far more runable. We went passed some of the old tin mines and ruins of old stone buildings.

I was slightly delayed in getting through one gap in a wall when a horse decided it was going to block it. Thankfully, it did eventually moved when I asked it to. Some of the paths are cut into the cliffside themselves so a little nerveracking being so close to falling down a cliff.

One section was the “vertical kilometre”. Honestly, if It had not been labelled I couldn’t have told it apart from the rest of the hills on the course.

Part 4: 33-38k

As we approached Sennen the route dropped down onto the beach and we were running in soft sand again. The first activity here was body boarding: you had to grab a body board, run into the sea and board back in. Unfortunately, most of the body boards were snapped in the middle and there were was not much surf to be had, so I didn’t get very far.

At the end of the beach there was a large rocky section where we had to climb or jump for rock to rock. This was a long section that took a while to traverse. At the end, there was another water activity where we had to duck under a line limbo-style.

The final activity was just around the corner and involved climbing down another little cliff and traversing two rope bridges. They move a lot! There were only a couple of metres above the rocks but that felt pretty high at the time. Finally, it finishes with a cliff jump which again was only 2-3 metres high but that’s a lot when you’re standing there, so I treated myself to climbing into the water lower down and swimming over the other side.

After this, there was a climb back up the hill that brought the Land’s End visitors centre into sight.

The finish

The route took us up past the buildings around Land’s End and into the event village to go under the finish arch. Everyone gets a free finisher photo (the others you have to buy) and a cup of “award-winning” soup. Rat Race admit they don’t know who gave the soup said award but it was probably for the weakest soup in the world 😂.

My official time was:

5:36:01

It is a run, not a race: Rat Race publish results in alphabetical order and any comparison of the timings are meaningless because the activities are all optional so you could go much faster by skipping the trips into the sea. That said, I was moving faster than most participants: 116 out of 800.

My watch clocked the total distance as 37.95 km with 1,222 m of elevation gain. Technically, it is not even a marathon, but I would rate the difficulty as up there with the shorter end of ultra races.

Conclusion

The event was challenging and well organised. A lot of people asked me “was it horrible” on account of the cold water and having your shoes filled with water and sand. But not of that really came to pass. The water did not feel cold (except on the north coast) and I soon warmed up again. My shoes soon drained and although they stayed damp the whole time, I didn’t pick up any blisters. I was sore on Sunday but not overly so.

Some of it was fun. But I really signed up to push my comfort zone: trips into the sea, wet feet, climbing, cliffs, rope bridges, point-to-point races, all of that was uncomfortable and I wanted to push myself, which I did.

Love SwimRun Llanberis

Sunday, June 19th, 2022 | Sport

Love SwimRun Llanberis was my first swimrun, an advantage-style multi-sport event which includes several sections of running and swimming with no transitions: you swim in your trainers and run in your wetsuit.

While the UK baked in the consecutive days of the hottest day of the year, North Wales stubbornly hid behind clouds. The water temperature remained at 14 degrees (compared to 22 at my local lake) so I came as prepared as I could with a thermal neoprene vest under my wetsuit, calf sleeves and neoprene gloves, but still worried I might freeze to death.

Run 1

Despite raining at registration on Friday, Saturday was reasonably bright and rain-free. We set off on the first 2k run with me in the last position. I moved up as the run went on but having already donned my swim cap I was very toasty by the end of the run section. We headed into Llyn Padarn for our first swim and the water felt pretty pleasant after that.

Swim 1

Entry to the lake is slippy on the slate and not something you want to fall over into. The 550-metre swim section took us along the coast to an exit that was even more slippery. A giant slopping rock meant that the only way we could get up it was to queue, lie on our belly and attempt to get some purchase on the far edge, pulling ourselves up along it.

Run 2

Into run section two was no kinder: this was only 2k but went straight up a muddy hillside that was overgrown with nettles and thorns. It then continued in some tarmac before heading straight back down the hill on a technical descent that frequently became artificial steps.

Swim 2

The second swim headed straight across the lake. The far shore is often further away than you think of it. Mercifully, this time it wasn’t and the swim over was fairly brisk. The 450-metre stretch heads over and into a narrow cove that gets so shallow you have to walk across it. And yes, it’s very slippy slate. You can then swim again to the exit where the first feed station is located.

Run 3

The third run section completes the easy half of the figure-of-eight loop that takes you back past the start and the first feed station. I grabbed some crisps and a gel from my back pocket. It is only 300 metres and you stop in the middle of that for the feed station so there is not much chance to warm up. That’s relevant for the next section…

Swim 3

Now we are into the proper swimming. We have left the sprint racers behind and it is just the long course athletes taking the 1k stretch down to the far end of the lake. There is no turns, you just keep going until you run out of lake. It reminded me of swimming in the rowing lake at Outlaw: it just keeps going and going.

I started to feel a bit sick during this swim and also get cold. We had not warmed up in run 3 and this time I was in the water for 27 minutes so I was very pleased to have done with it by the time we reached the swim exit. Luckily, the slate here was only moderately slippy.

Run 4

The final run section constituted the main body of running. We started with a few kilometres of flat, albeit with a wooded climb in the middle. I used this chance to unroll my tow float and pull our a Yorkie bar. With hindsight, a few more chocolate bars would not have gone amiss. I tried to keep a descent pace here, while eating, to get my body temperature up.

After the first three kilometres, you start to climb up towards the slate quarry. It’s not a scrabbling with your hands climb and the surface is good underfoot: but is relatively sleep with a series of switchbacks to get to the top. Then you are treated to a little bit of flat before arriving at feed station two: time for another gel and some jelly babies.

The views up here were amazing. We were lucky that we got a clear day. I didn’t take a camera on the event but here is a photo from the castle looking over to the quarry we ran up.

The downhill starts on a gravel road and I tried to run hard down here to keep my body temperature up as I knew we were then going into a steep technical descent through the woods where I was back to carefully picking my foot placement at little above walking speed. The climp up was a lovely chance to chat to some of the other competitors and share stories.

Swim 4

Onto the final swim. At 1.1k this was the longest swim section but was maybe a little easier psychologically because we swam along the shore to a buoy and then turned, knowing that all we then had to do was cross the lake to reach the finish line.

I felt even sicker here. I am not sure whether it was the amount of lake water I had drunk by this point but I found that if I concentrated on exhaling continuously while in the water I felt a little better. A bit of wind caused a very slight chop on the water: nothing major but it did make it harder to breathe.

Turning the final buoy was an exercise in patience: I wanted to push harder to get the thing done but if you go too hard you can often end up cramping or tiring, so I tried to tempo it into the finish.

The finish

It was cold when I finished! As ever, I thought I had brought enough warm clothes but then wished I had brought more: I ended up wearing a merino base layer, hoodie, rain jacket, changing robe and towel all layered on top of each other.

My finish time was:

3:15:53

I was in the water for less time than estimated, but running for significantly more as I walked a lot of the steep uphills and technical descents. I don’t think I’m going to be a champion swimrunner: I was 60th out of 83, with additional DNF and and 25 DNSs.

That said, I did win! Despite finishing an hour and 12 minutes behind the winner, they also have a series of lucky dip prizes to encourage people to stick around for the medal ceremony and my number was the first to be called out of those that actually had stuck around. As such, I had first pick on the prizes and went for the bobble hat.

Thoughts on swimrun

All of this running in your wetsuit and swimming in your trainers business was fine. That said, on a hot day it would have become very toasty very quickly. Carrying your tow float was more of a pain in the ass. Even though I brought some carabiners to clip it, it still bounced around and sometimes I ended up carrying it.

Specifically for Llanberis, I wouldn’t want to have worn any less as the water was cold after you had been in it a while. I’m doing Manvers Lake next month and I will see how that compares: it is a more beginner-friendly affair with shorter swims and water that should be a lot warmer.

Love SwimRun seem well organised: I didn’t know how well you could manage a water safety team with a spread out field but there was always a kayak nearby and plenty of marshalls on course. Wearing a bib vest was better than having to mess around with a pinned-on number or race belt, even if it did make it a little harder to get to the chest zip on my wetsuit.

Sub7 / Sub8

Friday, June 17th, 2022 | Sport

Since Kipchoge broke the two-hour marathon barrier, albeit in non-world record conditions, there has been talk of doing a similar thing with full distance triathlon: could men go under 7 hours and could women go under 8 hours? Given this would involve taking 20+ minutes off, rather than the couple of minutes #breaking2 required it seemed like quite a challenge.

However, the way they set up the challenge made things a little easier. They chose four athletes: Kat Matthews, Nicola Spirig, Kristian Blummenfelt and Joe Skipper (who stepped in for an injured Alister Brownlee just a week before) and gave them 10 pacers each. Importantly, they could also use the pacers for drafting.

This meant that they hit their targets almost with ease. The special wetsuits, swim pacers, nutrition on a bike were all nice extras. But the thing that really made the difference is that Joe Skipper had eight professional cyclists doing a team time trial in front of him. This meant they circled the track at 55 kph with the athlete on the back only needing to put out 280-300 Watts to sit in the draft. That’s still way more power than I could put out but less than they would usually racr a full distance triathlon at.

Blummenfelt finished in 6:44:25 with Skipper three minutes behind him. On the women’s side, Kat Matthews finished in 7:31:54 with Spirig also three minutes behind her. So, the barrier was broken easily in the end. But in no way comparable to a regular full distance race because the drafting made such a huge difference. Potentially they could go even faster as the swim conditions were not ideal and if you matched Skipper’s superior bike team with Blummenfelt’s run you would have a faster combination.

Wuthering Heights Wander 2022

Thursday, June 16th, 2022 | Sport

I first did the Wuthering Heights Wander last year to expand my trail running experience. It is an 8-kilometre loop that you can do any time from Once (like I did last time) to lots of times (for the ultra distance). This year, I was there for the three-loop course.

The course starts with a climb over the hills and down to the Bronte waterfall. I was fifth by the time we reached it but once we got to the top of the hill it changes to a downhill road section so I opened up my stride and moved up to second. I held onto this until almost the end when I had a chat with fellow HPH-er Michelle. As we were chatting the guy in third came past me so I had to sprint off to reclaim my second place!

I finished in:

02:30:39

Not quite as fast as last year but I did run three times farther!

Organisation by It’s Grim Up North Running was pretty slick with the exception that they couldn’t get hold of any toilets due to the Jubilee weekend and having no card facilities for the barbeque.

World Triathlon Leeds 2022

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022 | Sport

There are not many things worth getting up at 6am two days in a row. But World Triathlon Leeds is one of them.

Saturday

Saturday was all about the cheering and a big family affair: my dad and sister were in the sprint and my mum and auntie were in the GoTri. We also had two family friends racing and three Harriers: Stu, Hanna and Yvette. I’m terrible at spotting faces so I was pretty pleased that I spotted most of them at the swim exit and on the run. Knowing people’s swim caps and wetsuit brands in advance is a big help.

It was pretty chilly so I had to go home at lunchtime and put some warmer clothes on. I made it back in time to watch the elite race. They changed the course direction this year meaning that they came down the hill on their bike. The result was the bikes came past at 60 kph. The blurs looked lovely, though.

Sunday

I was in the Yorkshire wave at 8:20, which still meant getting up at 5:45. Luckily, there were no queues to enter the park, register or get into transition this year.

We were back to a mass swim start this year so I let the rest of the field go before setting off. It only takes about 50-100 metres before they realise they have gone out way too hard and I start picking them off. By the first buoy, I had found someone’s feet to sit on. It’s different from swimming by yourself as you have to match the accelerations but otherwise felt pretty comfortable. Apparently, I was one of the few athletes that remembered to swim all the way up onto the swim ramp.

T1 was tough. They somehow made it even longer and even though the water was a luxurious 18 degrees, my cold hands failed to get my wetsuit off, even after I sat down. That cost my nearly a minute.

The bike started frantically. You climb up Park Avenue and once I was onto Princess Avenue my top priority was trying to stuff an energy bar into my gob. As a result, I didn’t settle until we reached Street Lane and I had passed the photographer. The bike course was rather windy but I managed to spend most of it on my aero bars. There was a big headwind coming down Stonegate Road and a big tailwind coming up it: as a result, I could descend at a comfortable speed and on the climb, I felt like I was flying. There was plenty of support on the bike course with Harriers at least four different points.

It was not quite a Vincent Luis-style crash but some poor guy went around the outside of the U-turn at the end of lap one and almost ran into a barrier on the far side of the road. On the second lap, I was ready for the photographer having hastily shoved another energy bar in going the other way.

T2 passed without incident. It was annoying to have to run so far in cleats, but JP assumes me that running in bare feet was no more joyful.

The run was the same as last year except in the other direction. This meant a steep climb out of transition (similar to running into town in the old days) but you are then rewarded with a long downhill. I made the strategic version to walk up the hill on the second and third lap. That cost me maybe 10 seconds per time, but also gave me enough recovery to peg it down the hill and I think there was a lot of time to be gained by running downhill effectively. I saw Graeme, Grace, Dan and Rafet on the run course and there was plenty of support on course from both Harriers and my family, too.

As we turned the final corner I was on 43:something and knew I ran a 45:something last year, so figured I might be able to get a run PB. Ths meant sprinting down the hill, but saving enough to look good for the photos.

I finished in:

2:42:43

Good enough for 18th out of 50 in the Yorkshire championship, but not as good as Ali who took second in his first ever standard distance race! Here is how I compared to last year:

Discipline 2022 2021 2019
Swim 34:18 33:34 39:25
T1 6:38 5:44 8:32
Bike 1:13:08 1:13:16 1:19:04
T2 3:58 4:52 4:02
Run 44:43 45:28 46:59
Total 2:42:43 2:42:52 2:58:00

The courses aren’t directly comparable. The 2019 event ran down into the city and the run direction changed between 2021 and 2022. The bike course also changed between 2019 and 2021. That said, I did beat last year’s time by a full 9 seconds! I had no idea until I looked it up later.

Afterwards, we had some lunch and watched the elite mixed team relay. It was freezing cold again but lovely to see the elites up close.

Summary

World Triathlon Leeds is probably one of the best weekend’s of the year. It’s right in the heart of the city so close enough that everyone comes out for it and there is something for everyone from the GoTri races to the elites. I hope Sunderland get as much joy from the event as we have.