Don’t Let The Team Down!
I have watched the elites compete at triathlon relays but never competed myself before, so when the opportunity came around and the date was announced I jumped at the chance of competing. The next problem was to get the commitment of another three decent athletes to be part of the team. The reason I say decent, is for those who know me well will appreciate, I am a little competitive!
Luckily the people I had in mind where all available and up for a bit of fun; competitive fun that is, haha. So the team consisted of the following like minded nutters; Firstly my partner Nat who although relatively new to the sport is strong across all disciplines and runs like the wind, she has also just qualified to represent GB at the Worlds in Rotterdam!Becky, who is now a seasoned GB athlete having already represented GB on three occasions so far this year and again is a very strong athlete. Last but not least is Craig who again is a seasoned GB athlete and someone I have had the pleasure and fun of travelling around the world with to compete over the last three years. Craig has seen some great improvements over the last 3 months and is currently in great shape.
So on paper we looked to have a very strong mixed relay team. We called ourselves Team Humber Triathletes with 3 of us being members but during registration we were forced into the Open category as Nat is not a registered member!
Then we looked at the start list!!! When I say we looked strong, that is the case for the amateur club athletes that we are but on reading the list of competitors it was clear that their were some elite level athletes taking part. No Pressure! These included the likes of strong teams from Racehub including Kimberley Morrison an elite ironman world champion, Lucy Gossage team Erdigner, 7 times elite ironman champion and Kev Dawson a monster and 10 time champion time trialist to name just a few. My comment to the team in a desperate attempt to make it feel less daunting was, you have to compete against the best to be the best! Not sure it worked but we were determined to enjoy the event.
Despite my team mates laughing at me, we agreed to a strategy for the handover of the band. No athlete was allowed to start their leg until they had the wrist band on, in effect it was the baton. The agreed procedure was simple but effective, we had givers and takers! yes it raised some banter! Simply put, if you had the band you was a giver and was responsible for placing the band on your team mates arm. If you was next up you was a receiver and responsible for holding your arm out for the giver to make a clean exchange haha.
This really worked well and allowed us to pick up free speed during transitions. The team order was as follows, Me, Nat, Becs, Craig, the reasoning simple, I could take the battering of the mass swim start, push hard and hopefully give us a good position off the bike, the girls lay a strong foundation across all disciplines and Craig smash the last leg of the run to bring home the bacon.
Now in the open category we were up against teams who had hand picked members from around the country to be as strong as possible. The way it worked was that everyone started at the same time, mass start. Each team member then completed the swim before handing over for the bike then finally the run section. Due to the amount of teams taking part it was as the marshals t-shirts displayed, ‘organised chaos’ but it worked.
So how did it pan out? The lake itself is rank, and the pre-race brief mentioned they had detected blue algae, nice, really try not to swallow any water! I started each discipline first which meant a floating swim start for the 500m distance. Well with so many mixed abilities it was hard to position yourself not knowing peoples abilities. Within the first 200m I got sandwiched twice, managing to hold my line the first time and then getting one side of my goggles kicked off the second time resulting in one eye open swimming for the rest of the race. Frantic is an underestimation but all part of the fun. I came out in about 55th position across all categories in a time of 8:01, not the best but not too bad considering the battle I had! The rest of the team all swam really well with both girls coming in under 9 mins and Craig dipping under 8 with a great swim, oh and all handovers going swimmingly haha.
Unusually in a triathlon you got a rest in-between each discipline as your team members did their thing. This gave you time to gather your thoughts and take on some fuel. The overall effort from the team put us in 20th position going into the bike leg. I was quickly out of transition and put the hammer down from the off, its a straight forward course as it follows the lake for 3 laps totalling 15km, I maintained 300 plus watts all the way knowing that I would get another rest before the run. I made up some places on the bike and managed a time of 21:58 bringing the team up to 9th place across all categories. Again Nat, Becs and Craig absolutely smashed the bike all playing their part to advance the team position to 8th going into the run leg.
By this stage the sun was burning down and with the run around the lake their was nowhere to hide. We all ran hard and emptied the tanks, each member of the team maxed out across all disciplines which is what made us such a strong team. Our tactics played out perfect in leaving Craig to chase down a couple of teams in the final stages with a great run to give the team a fantastic result of 3rd in category out of 152 and 9th overall.
Oh, and beating Team Erdinger by 50 secs, as I said before the event, you have to compete against the best to be the best!…..and Believe
Next stop is the big one, the World Championships in Rotterdam.
Thanks as always to my sponsors, David Llloyd Hull and MyEndurance for your continued support.