Human Race’s Eton Sprints Triathlon– 23rd May 2015

Run 3

Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Push Nutrition


Tom Tom

Photos by Laura Kimberley, Hayley Lloyd and Sport Cam

Part 1, by Dave Sherman

For some strange reason I love setting myself crazy challenges which initially seem unachievable to me, so with that in mind I decided to designate 2015 as my ‘year of the Triathlon’ with the end goal to complete a Half Ironman triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile cycle and 13.1 run).  Last year at York’s Castle Howard, my first ever triathlon, I’d tackled the smallest distance available but with ‘half the gear and no idea’ I’d found it tough but achievable. But this time I’d been training and it was time to smash a sprint distance Tri – the first of the season and the first on the road to the Dublin Half Ironman…  This was Human Race’s Eton Sprint!

I’ve been running for a while now and have even completed a few cycle sportives so 13 miles on a bike and a 3.1 mile run didn’t worry me too much, but if you look at a Triathlon as if it’s a 3 course meal, unfortunately I had to work my way through the 400m open-water swim starter before I was allowed my main course and dessert and, to put it bluntly, the starter scared the shit out of me!  And it wasn’t the case that I could say ‘no, it’s ok… I’ll skip the first course in case it ruins my appetite’ as this was a set menu where skipping courses isn’t allowed… oh crap!

As with all of Human Race events I’ve attended in the past, leading up to race day the communication was absolutely brilliant with emails counting down the event – ‘1 month to go… 3 weeks to go… 1 week to go… 2 days to go…!’ – and while these probably should’ve built up my excitement and prepared me, I’ll admit each one built up my levels of worry until eventually race day arrived…  The pre-race instructions warned of a 20 minute walk from the car-park to the race village so we aimed to arrive on-site an hour before the event but of course the M25 had other ideas so we pulled into the car- park with just 30 minutes until the event start… Panic time!

Thankfully registration was nice and quick (possibly as most people were already in transition!) and I was handed an event t-shirt (the wrong size unfortunately as they’d run out of small tees and only had mediums left), my timing chip, race number and various race-number stickers for my swim cap, bike and helmet.  Then it was time to rack my bike, set up my transition area, struggle into my wetsuit and jump in the lake.  Now this is one thing I’m really struggling with about triathlons – with most running races you can turn up with your race number and run straight through the start-line and even with cycle-sportives you just need to ensure you’re carrying everything you need, but with a Tri you need to set up your transition area and make sure you’ve got everything you need for the swim, cycle and run…!  Stressful isn’t the word – especially when everyone is already in the water and you’re rushing to squeeze yourself into a skin-tight neoprene suit!!

Wetsuit - pre race

Thankfully I was in the water in time to hear most of the safety briefing, and then we were off – water churning everywhere and this is where the real panic set in…  As I said earlier, the swim is my least favourite part of a Tri and this was magnified by the fact I really hadn’t prepared for open water!  Over the previous year I’d been working on improving my swimming so I was starting to feel confident (if not very fast) in a swimming pool, but I’d been warned open water was very different and I’d watched time slip away as I’d found myself not only too busy but also too nervous to jump in a lake and get some real open water practice, so as the air-horn signalled the start of the race, I found myself surrounded by the churn of other swimmers and I was well and truly bricking it!!  Initially I attempted front crawl but where I was panicking my breathing was all over the place and before long I was crawling along with breast stroke watching everyone gradually disappear into the distance…  Thankfully the event utilised huge orange buoys to mark the turns and plenty of helpers in kayaks were on the course offering assistance and checking if I was ok (I must’ve looked stressed!) and eventually I even settled down enough to manage a bit of front crawl.  Before long I was heading towards the swim exit and, with a bit of help from a marshall, I wobbled up onto the jetty and out of the lake and passed slowly through transition (it’s bloody hard getting a wetsuit off when you’re stressed!) and onto section 2 – the cycle!

Cycle 2

I’ll admit, although I feel comfortable on a bike I’m not the fastest cyclist and I’d been dreading the thought of 4 laps around Dorney Lake, but in the end I absolutely loved this part of the event – especially the fact I was able to overtake so many people who’d shot off and left me in their bubbles during the swim!  The route followed a slightly wider path than the Race Your Pace Half Marathon which I’d completed a few months earlier but it was still a fast, flat route offering a chance to really push and get some speed up and even the headwind as you headed away from the event village was bearable as it carried you back nice and quickly with the wind behind you.  After the event my TomTom told me I’d hit a max speed of 23.9 mph and had averaged 18.8mph during this section, but throughout every lap I’d enviously watched the runners alongside the lap and at the end of my 4th lap I felt great as I headed back into transition ready for the third and final section… the dessert I’d been looking forward to… the 3.1 mile run!

Of course, as a typical Triathlon rookie I tried to head out onto the run while still wearing my cycling helmet (!!!) but thankfully one of Human Race’s lovely volunteers warned me about it and offered to take it back to my bike for me (something I was later told I should’ve been disqualified for – more on that later…) and after passing a drinks station offering water, ZipVit gels and energy drink it was a quick 2 laps alongside the lake – again passing more and more people and speeding up as each mile passed and my legs adjusted from cycling to running – and before long I headed towards the run section finish-line in a finish time of 1h 33m 56s – Eton Sprints and my first ever sprint triathlon – done!

Run 2

After such a great, well organised event it’s a shame to say this is where things started to go a bit wrong!  For a start, I’d been expecting a medal or some sort of item as I crossed the finish line, but instead I was offered a glass of water or alcohol free beer… now I understand Human Race only offer medals for certain events but still for such a big event I was expecting some kind of race bling and I felt cheated that I’d done so much and, apart from a race t-shirt which is too big for me, I didn’t have anything to show off my achievement!

Then came the grief with locating my helmet and a run-in with Triathlon England… as I said earlier, a really nice and helpful volunteer had offered to leave my helmet by my bike when I’d been stupid enough to attempt to run while still wearing it, but when I went back after I’d completed my run it wasn’t there!  After sending a few of Human Race’s volunteers searching, one of them eventually found it at the spot where I ‘should’ve’ racked my bike – it turned out I’d racked my bike in the wrong place and according to a rude man from Triathlon England, I was ‘lucky he didn’t disqualify me for racking my bike in the wrong spot OR for handing my helmet to someone else rather than taking it back to my bike myself!’

Seriously?!  Even though I hadn’t entered the Elite wave and had obviously finished much later than most other competitors, he felt a need to speak to me as if I should appreciate the fact he was doing me favour by not disqualifying me! What was he going to do – confiscate my oversized event t-shirt?!  Thankfully Human Race’s representatives didn’t share the same attitude and were incredibly polite and even apologetic, and every volunteer I spoke to throughout the day was a credit to the company!

As with other Human Race events, the race results were available the same day (via. an onsite computer with a printer set up, a text sent to my mobile within minutes of finishing, and also online) and both methods showed all splits so I discovered I’d taken 21m 42s for the swim (much faster than I’d expected!), 3m 48s for transition 1, 41 m58s for the cycle, 1m 32s for transition 2 and 24m 56s for the run.  I also learnt I’d finished 251st out of 325 competitors and to be honest I was pleased with how I’d done as I now have a benchmark to work from, and with the proper training I’m sure I’ll well and truly smash it next time.  Bring on the next one!! 

Cycle 1

Part 2 by Hayley Lloyd

It was a nice sunny morning when I loaded my car with all of my triathlon gear and headed to Eton Dorney for my first open water sprint triathlon. I was excited to be heading to an iconic Olympic venue. When I arrived, marshals were organising people with their parking. There was plenty of on-site parking which made my arrival stress free, I grabbed my things and headed to registration. My first impressions of the event were that it seemed really relaxed with a good mixture of abilities taking part, which was reassuring; people were there with their families and dogs, enjoying the sunshine and cheering everyone on.

I received the pre-event information a week before the event which was really clear so when I arrived I had a good idea of what I needed to do. I was feeling quite nervous, however when I arrived at registration I felt reassured by how friendly everyone was, I collected my race number, timing chip and other information and had plenty of time to organise my transition area and relax in the sunshine and take in the atmosphere before my start time.

As the time drew closer to my start time, I found myself in need of a nervous wee! In my club, I am always the one that needs the toilet, and on our training runs I am quite often the person running into the local supermarket to use their facilities! Thankfully, the event had a number of portable toilets that were clean, which was a nice surprise as quite often these toilets can be quite traumatising!

It was then time to get my wetsuit on and prepare to get into the water. I was lucky to have hold of the handrail as the floor was quite slippery. As I was walking into the water a lady slipped and fell on her back. She was fine and carried on, but an important tip I learnt – if there is a hand rail, use it! When I was in the water I was pleased to see that I was in the female wave so no testosterone around and everyone was giving each other space ready for the start. I was quite apprehensive about the swim because I had only swam in open water once before (and that was a coached session with Tri ‘n’ Swim Well, which I would highly recommend).

A few of the members in my club, Havering Tri had taken part in this event last year and reassured me that the water was great and spotting was not a big issue as the water is clear. Thankfully, they were right, the water was lovely and clear and I only went off course towards the end! I managed to complete the 750m swim in 16.02. A slower time than what I would do in a pool swim, but for my first open water swim I couldn’t complain.

Hayley - Swim

With the swim complete it was time to head for the bike, with my wetsuit off and my cycling gear on, I ran my bike to the bike start. I was worried that I would not know where to go or break the rules but the marshals gave clear instructions which really helped. Once on the bike I had to complete 4 laps, which was a total of 20km. I had been training hard on the bike in the build up to this and was looking forward to a flat course.

Hayley - Cycle 2

The course had one tight corner which I was worried about as I have an irrational fear of going around corners fast and am well known amongst those that I ride with for braking too much and screaming as I whizz round corners! Luckily the bike course was not packed with riders and there was plenty of room to approach the corners however you felt comfortable. I loved the bike leg, although some people may think doing laps gets boring, the cornering on the laps kept me entertained. I managed to finish with a time of 41.56 and an average speed of 19.19 mph!

Hayley - Cycle 1

The bike was finished, which meant only one thing, my least favourite part – the run! The run was two laps up and down the water. It was nice and flat so great for anyone looking for a PB! It also gave the opportunity for people to see friends along the way, another member of my club was racing and he gave me some much needed encouragement as we passed each other with a high five! I completed the run in 30.58, not my best 5k time so lots of work to do on the run, with many brick training sessions to endure!

Hayley - splits

Overall, I finished with a time of 1.34.31 and I was pleased with the result. The event gave me the opportunity to test my fitness and identify areas to develop, those being spotting in open water, faster transitions and more training on my run, so just a few things! It was a great event, and I would strongly recommend it for any first time triathletes like me, as well as anyone seeking a new personal best. My only criticism of the event was that there was no race bling! However, with the event being in May, it is a great opportunity to set a time for the year, find areas to improve for your next race and test that all that winter training has paid off!

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