Well ladies and gents I now officially have a DNF on my racing record, not quite the objective for Equaliser triathlon but if I’m honest not altogether surprising. The 3 weeks before the race featured major toothache and then pain due to the removal of said tooth, it didn’t feature much in the way of training. Coupled with very little sleep the night before due to very noisy campsite neighbours and my expectations weren’t high.
So it was that after one lap of the bike course I decided to call it quits, my legs had been cramping from the moment I got out of the swim and I had nothing in my legs on a very hilly course (650m of elevation gain per lap). The build up didn’t help, nor did riding my bike less than 10 times before the race, turns out you can bluff you way around a hilly half ironman. But hey, I got to stand in the sun and watch my friends suffer in the increasing heat rather than drag myself around the run course.
The premise the Equaliser triathlon was men vs. women with the women setting of 32 minutes before the men which apparently is the average time difference between the sexes in a half ironman. There was a decent cash prize for whoever finished first, male or female, and there were some fast people there as a result. This race certainly had a very different feel to it than the Cotswold Classic, a very small field of 90 competitors vs. 500 odd and I’ll be honest I’m not sure I liked it. With the money on offer and the small field it all felt a little serious and there was very little chat with the other competitors.
The swim was in Roadford lake with the transition and race HQ on the banks, a really beautiful location, but despite the big lake it did feel a little cramped as a race location (more of that later). I’m sure the swim was a little long, it took me 40 minutes which is 6 minutes longer that I’ve done in practise and even the fastest swimmers took 26 minutes. The route was 2 laps of a triangle which worked well, most of the women were almost finished when we started. My only criticism is that it would have been good to have more than 3 buoys marking the course, it was really hard to spot them in the distance and keep on track. But the most important thing is that I wasn’t last which having looked around transition seemed a distinct possibility.
Exiting the swim was really nice with a sloping, soft lake bottom, the run to the transition not so much fun up a very steep grass bank. Still when the adrenalines pumping you don’t really feel it do you? In transition I had that classic issue of needing to get my wetsuit off but having my calfs cramp every time I tried, really quite tempted to just cut it off in my next triathlon and buy a new suit. Or maybe this is the perfect excuse to justify a new suit purchase next year?
Having avoided being last in the swim the next key race milestone was to keep the time respectable and not get lapped by the lead girl who not only had a 32 minute head start was also likely to be flying around the bike course on a shiny TT bike. So with this in my mind I ran through transition, mounted my shining steed and promptly crashed into the verge within 100 metres. Apart from looking like a complete tit there was thankfully no damage done, can you imagine getting a DNF for crashing that near the start?
The bike course starts with an uphill, then a nice sweeping downhill followed by what felt like one very large never ending hill. Your legs never feel great as you head out on the bike leg but there was no opportunity here to gently ease some blood into them again. It was fairly relentless and by the time I got to halfway around that first lap I was pretty sure my day was soon to be done. My legs felt empty (see earlier excuses) and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun. Not that if ever really feels ‘fun’ at the time but physically I felt crap and mentally I wasn’t ready to commit to another 2 hours of suffering on the bike followed by a half marathon.
It’s an odd thing retiring when you aren’t really injured and you have to explain to the confused faces of the marshals what’s happening. But as I wandered back into the transition area and was asked if I’d finished the bike course already (a sub 2 hour bike leg!) I actually was really not that bothered which probably tells you all you need to know.
Would I do the Equaliser again? Probably not, I got half price entry as they were doing a special deal so it was great value for money at £46 but it’s really not a race for me. I do the occasional triathlon for fun and that’s not what this race is about. But I’m also not convinced by the course; transition was relatively tight despite the small field, the bike course was a little dull with most of it an out and back on the old A30 and the run course looked cramped as it ran in a figure of 8 with transition in the middle. I can’t fault the race organisers though, very friendly, good info pre race and a decent (long sleeve hurrah) t-shirt in the goodie bag. No medal though which would have annoyed me if I’d finished.
That’s me done with triathlon for a while now I think, but I am still swimming in the lake most weekends simply because it’s awesome and I’m trying hard to keep the cycling going now I have a decent bike.