I raced this event in 2015 when it was in its infancy. Now 5 years old, it’s turned into a cracking local race for the South West. Taking place in the stunning Stourhead National Trust grounds, it’s the only opportunity you’ll get to (legally) swim in the picturesque lake.
I entered a couple of months ago when I realised that I didn’t want my first triathlon of the year to be IM Lanza. A good chance to test the legs, practice transitions and kit and get a decent hit out on a short course that wouldn’t create any fatigue.
Swim: 900m. 14:08.
We slid off the end of the pontoon like a bunch of unwilling seals, slipping into the murky depths (or rather, shallows) of Stourhead lake. It was fairly grim. Had a couple of minutes to warm up and introduce the parky water to the extremities. Brrrr. 3,2,1, we were off. I settled into a decent rhythm in the front pack and felt comfortable. Didn’t feel I was pushing too hard and settled onto the hip of the wetsuit next to me.
One swimmer had plowed on, so I cruised along, occasionally scraping the bottom of the lake with my fingers. Mmmm nice. I don’t think anyone was displaying their best swim technique. Heck, one person even stood up and started wading. It was all pretty slow, mashing through weeds and duck poo, so I’m sorry HUUB but I know the Albacore will be more in its element in Lanzarote waters.
As we rounded the last couple of buoys, I pushed a little harder to make sure I was first out from the pack, exiting in 2nd place overall.
T1 is a bit of a long slog uphill, but it’s a good chance to catch your breath and run alongside supporters.
Bike. 18.6 miles. 48:24.
T1 was slick enough, though I don’t have anywhere to hook an elastic band on the back of my bike shoes, so they were spinning wildly on the pedals as I ran to the mount line. Will have to fashion something for Lanza.
The first guy out the water was a solid 90s up the road by this point, but I wasn’t too worried. I got onto the main road and started pushing the pedals. I was sitting around 315w for the first 10 minutes before we hooned down a cracking descent. 1st place was in sight most of the time, and I could see he was coming back to me so I didn’t push it too hard. Better to save the effort for later.
I passed the leader about 6 miles in after the cheeky 47mph descent, and could see he was keen to stay with me. After weaving through Bruton, it’s a bit of a climb and then into nice rollers all the way back. I put the effort in on the ups, worked the downs and hunkered down whenever I ran out of gears. Looked back with about 2 miles to go and couldn’t see anyone so kept it generally steady to the end of the bike. With about 5 mins to go, I necked a Gu Roctane gel which I knew would give me the beans I needed on the run.
Run. 4.7 miles. 29:53.
I flippin’ love entering T2 and seeing no other bikes there! On with my Ons and on my way I trotted on. Man I love these shoes.
Out of T2, I didn’t know how much of a lead I had. I got about 50m away and heard the cheers for the bloke in 2nd, so I knew I had about 45 seconds on him. Was he a good runner? I was hoping that because he was a fish in the water, he’d struggle on 2 feet! Unfortunately, I saw he’d closed the gap about a mile in, and waited for the next mile for him to pass. The first couple of miles are uphill, and a bit of a grind.
Turning into the woods at the back of the estate, we hit the trails and I glanced back. Couldn’t see anyone. Happy days. I pushed on the steep descent and the average pace came own to 06:30mm
Summary – 1:38.45. 1st overall.
Overall, a wicked evening’s racing. The swim was pretty lame, but I’ll let that go. I know I’m better than 1:34/100 over 900m. I’ve come away delighted that my bike legs are showing signs of returning to the party, just in time for the big dance in Lanza. I felt strong on the hills and the position was ace. Even though the run felt laboured and I felt anything but light and springy, I churned out a decent pace.
At the end of the day, it’s a small local race and doesn’t mean much, but it’s always lovely to stand on the podium, particularly that top step. The best bit about the day, actually, was having Mum, Dad, Isla and Maya there. Such a wonderful team, and it’s always particularly touching to see Dad so happy. He loves watching me race and it gives me massive delight seeing him smile at the finish.