Human Race’s Steelman Olympic Distance and Challenge Distance Triathlon

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Trek and Run were supported during this event by;

Salba Chia 

Columbia Sportswear

Push Nutrition

&

Helly Hansen

Photos by Laura Kimberley and Sportcam.net

Olympic Distance Triathlon by Dave Sherman

Leading up to Wiggle’s Steelman event I’ll admit I was worried… This would be my first Olympic Distance triathlon and I wasn’t feeling incredibly confident considering my recent attempts at shorter distances! The distances had only slightly increased from my previous Sprint-Plus triathlon at Castle Cholmondeley, however I’d be covering a 1.5km swim, 42km cycle and a 10km run one after the other – that’s a lot to tackle in one hit! It was time to take on the Wiggle Steelman Olympic Distance Triathlon…

During the week leading up to the event, Britain had been experiencing a heatwave with average temperatures around 26 degrees and I’d spent a lot of time panicking we wouldn’t be allowed to wear our wetsuits. It’s not that I can’t swim without one, but I’d discovered just how much extra buoyancy offered by a wetsuit and I didn’t like the thought of how tough the event would be in just a tri-suit! Thankfully, as event day loomed a Facebook update informed us wetsuits were optional so that was one piece of pre-event panic quelled!

Leading up to event day Human Race’s email contact was superb as always with plenty of information about wave timings, suggested arrival times, registration advice and so on… On the day once we’d arrived onsite we had a 15 minute walk from the carpark to the event village (as is the case with most Eton Dorney events) however once onsite everything was very well organised with a huge registration tent set up where you first checked your number on a huge board, then collected your race pack (containing your race number, coloured swim-hat, and number stickers for your bike, helmet and swim-hat), event t-shirt, free energy bar and timing tag.

As always the marshalls here were happy to welcome you to the event and as it was my birthday a picture of a birthday cake had been placed on my race envelope so everyone in the tent sang happy birthday to me – pretty embarrassing at the time but a really nice touch for anyone as mental as me choosing to complete an event on their birthday rather than taking it easy!

With my bike labelled up I headed to my spot within the transition area to drop off the kit I’d need for my cycle and run, then it was time to pull on my wetsuit and head to the lake for our safety briefing…

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1.5km swim – 32m20s…

The swim consisted of 3 laps around the lake with 4 huge orange inflatable buoys marking the course. Maybe it was due to the fact the water was slightly warmer than last time, or maybe because I’d spent quite a few early Saturday mornings practicing my open water swimming in the lake at a local adventure centre, but this time I didn’t panic as the mad rush kicked off even managed to draft a few times!

One of the great things about Dorney Lake is the fact there are small permanent red buoys in the lake so you’re able to follow their anchor ropes to keep you on track and as a result minimal sighting is required, although I learnt not to follow them too closely at one point as I swam straight into one of the larger orange buoys! A huge number of marshalls in kayaks were also spread through-out the lake to ensure we were all ok throughout this stage.

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Apart from one idiot whose zig-zagging all over the place cut me up a few times, the swim went without a hitch and I managed a great time! Well… great for someone who hates swimming although I have to admit, swims like this one are actually making me begin to enjoy open water swimming – and especially in Dorney Lake!

As usual, back in transition I struggled with my wetsuit for far too long (resulting in a T1 time of 3m44s), then it was back out onto the course for the cycling section…

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44km cycle – 1h26m02s…

The cycle section involved 8 laps around the lake and I have to admit, it really did feel mind numbingly boring at times! The plus side was the fact the course really is almost pancake flat making it predictable, however a strong headwind on the outward journey seemed to come from all directions at once, and of course you had to face this 8 times!

There was one slight incline which annoying enough occurred at the point where the wind was fiercest! Of course the wind should’ve meant the cycle back towards the rowing centre was wind-assisted but it really didn’t feel this was the case…

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Following the cycle it was back into the transition area and thankfully my forward planning and preparation meant T2 was a much faster 1m35s before I was back out and onto the run section…

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10km run – 51m25s…

The run course involved 4 laps and during my last Tri at Eton I’d almost started the run with my helmet still on (and been DQ’d as a result!) so this time I had a plan – in transition I had a baseball cap ready to put on – part to shelter from the heat but also as a fail-safe way of ensuring I wasn’t still wearing my helmet – problem solved! Unfortunately however, even though this is supposed to be my favourite discipline and the one I’m best at, yet again I struggled and didn’t do anywhere near as well as I should’ve…

Now one of the things I really dislike about Triathlons is the fact the main race season runs May to October with a number of events held in the summer. Of course, British weather is unpredictable so you’re not always guaranteed sunshine but even if your event starts early in the morning you’ll sometimes end up running at midday when the sun is at its highest point. This was the case today as by the time I’d reached the run section the earlier clouds had dissipated and it was absolutely roasting! Thankfully Human Race were prepared for the heat with hoses beside the course showering participants and two drinks stops along the 2.5km loop (staffed by very happy marshalls) helping to keep us hydrated.

After passing through the finish I was handed some water and a pint of alcohol free beer but unfortunately, as with most human race events, no medal. Although I’d known this was the case it was still a bit disappointing to finish my first Olympic Distance triathlon and not receive a medal to celebrate the achievement – come on Human Race, we want our race bling!! After catching up with my team-mates about how they’d done, we went to check our results at a computer set up by the finishing line and my print-out told me I’d finished in 2h55m06s – not the fastest on the course (that honour went to Chris Fox who finished in an incredible 2h08m52s) but still I’d dipped just under 3 hours which I was very happy with. I have to admit, even though I’ve taken part in a few triathlons now and had the support from some great friends within my local triathlon club Havering Tri, I still find these events incredibly tough compared to your typical run or bike ride. That may seem like a silly statement – of course an event with 3 disciplines is going to be harder than a straightforward run – but I’ve finished marathons before and felt much better than I feel even halfway through some of these events, and this one was no different. In a way I think that’s because I still have so much to learn; am I getting my nutrition right? Is my training covering the right areas? Am I taking the correct advice from all the articles I’m reading online and in triathlon magazines plus the various people I speak to? One thing’s for sure though – with each event I take part in, I’m learning more about triathlon and more about myself, and with each event I finish my mind feels a bit stronger – even if my body feels destroyed… Bring on the next one!

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Challenge Distance Triathlon – By Sean Robins

I arrived at Dorney Lake at 9:35am – slightly later than I had planned due to sleeping through my alarm – not the best preparation! Thankfully Wiggle had provided a handy checklist for everything I needed and I was confident I hadn’t forgotten anything major as I set off by car from Essex. This was to be my second triathlon, slightly longer in distance than my first which was the sprint distance tri at Blenheim Palace.

I registered and met my sister, brother-in-law Glen and Dave, all fellow Havering Triathlon Club members. The lady at registration was great. She explained everything – where to pick up my time chip, when to make my way to the start line, where the toilets were etc. – and she even handed me a free energy bar to go with my race t-shirt! The event village provided everything we needed. The toilets were clean, food and drink was available and the option to print off your race time straight after finishing was a really good touch.

Glen and Dave were competing in the Olympic distance event, which began 25 minutes before my race, and after a chat I took my bike into transition and set everything up. There was enough space for all my gear. I tried to familiarise myself with the position of my bike in transition but there were no stand-out features so I resolved to use the numbers designated to each position.

Glen and Dave set off into the water and the nerves began to jangle. We watched them take off and complete one and a half laps of the 500m course before I made my way to the start line. In the water, I waited next to the pontoon which I clung onto to reserve energy.

Guidance as to safety and transition was given over a loudspeaker as we bobbed in the water and we were reminded of the numbers of laps we’d need to complete for each discipline. When the klaxon finally sounded I managed to glide over two fellow competitors and take up a good position at the front of the pack. Part way through the first lap I noticed I could follow the rails that the buoys were attached to beneath the water. This meant I could keep my head down which really helped as it negated the need to sight and allowed me to focus on a strong technique. One small problem was that periodically I’d have to dodge (or recover from crashing into) a buoy!

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A slight mishap came in T1 when I ran past by bike. It’s surprising how you manage to lose the ability to count in the chaos of transition.

The cycle was probably the most difficult part of the race for me. The wind was quite strong in places and as the course was relatively flat I thought I should’ve gone a bit faster.

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On the way around I did notice a few people fixing punctures – I really must learn how to change a tyre! Lower back pain during the last two laps meant I was happy to finish and transition into the run. Having not learned my lesson the first time I ran straight past my bike, again.

It was a hot, sunny day and this was really noticeable during the run. Luckily, there was a set of sprinklers and I’d like to give the organisers a big thumbs up for this! I ran past Glen and Dave as they headed the opposite way on each length of the course and exchanged words of encouragement. These turned into unintelligible gasps as the run went on (on my part anyway).

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My pace picked up on the third and final lap and I managed to squeeze out a sprint finish. I completed the race in a time of 2 hours 2 minutes and 46 seconds which put me in 25th place out of 50 competitors. As soon as I’d crossed the finish line, and managed to catch my breath, I made a B-line for the obligatory post-tri beer and followed this up with two chocolate brownies.

My time of 37 minutes for the run was pleasing, so too was my time for the swim. More practice on the bike is the lesson I’ll take from this one. All in all a very well run event, the stewards were all very helpful and the facilities were more than sufficient. Retrieving my gear from transition after the race was problem-free and we were able to make our way back to your cars without any trouble. I am looking forward to doing the Olympic distance triathlon event next year.

To find out more about Human Race’s Triathlon events visit: http://humanrace.co.uk/events/triathlon

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