A Game of Two Halves
This latest update looks at two recent half distance races from two very different locations! First up is Claudia with tales from the Ironman 70.3 world championship race:
We arrived at Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA in 90 degree heat!
During the acclimatisation swims over the three days leading up to the race we were informed the race was likely to be wet suit NON LEGAL with river temperatures just sitting below 80 degrees. This, coupled with the news that the river was travelling at a speed of 5 mph (the average pro apparently swimming at a rate of 4.5mph) was not well received by us mere (age -group) mortals. The course route required us to swim 300 metres across river, 800 metres UP RIVER, 300 metres back across , then 500 metres down river to exit. Statistics, currents and weather conditions were the main topic of discussion (and night mares) all week. Great excitement ensued when a big name brand were allowing trials of their (legal) skin suits. In a moment of hedonism I genuinely contemplated splashing out ££££'s with the prospect of gliding effortlessly upstream like a salmon. This quickly dissipated when I remembered I need a new boiler in the"real world".
Two months prior to the Championships I suffered and ligament injury which meant I had not been able/allowed to run (other than on the Anti Gravity Treadmill at Cheltenham Nuffield Hospital in the week prior to flying to the US). For this reason I left the U.K. with the knowledge there was a rel possibility that I may not finish the run.......... now there was a possibility of not finishing the swim....!
We only managed to recce 5k of the actual bike route. Due to epic map reading fails we took the wrong turn at the top of "the big climb" section. However Lookout Mountain was (painfully) conquered ahead of race day.
We were so hung up over the terrors of the swim, and the mountainous bike route (and scary, still elusive descents) that we gave no thought to the last discipline...... More fool us! A nice German age-grouper, informed us that the run route was brutal....with almost 400m of assent! We. Were. Doomed.
Race day brought the heart warming news that "wetsuits are go"! Phew. Except...... did I mention that we were informed in briefing we were allowed to dive (like the pros on telly) from a pontoon into the river. Yikes. Fresh cause for anxiety. We covered a lot dring our Monday night club training sessions at Croft Farm (THANKS EVERYONE)- sadly diving from pontoons was not in our syllabus!
Anyway, wet suit on, dive mastered (first dive in 27 years) and we were off........slowly ........ it was exhausting. Even though the city had turned off their powerful electricity generating water turbines (thus reducing the river speed) the current maintained its efforts to shove us back down river.
The bike was challenging with a total ascent of over 1000m. However individual Villages operated their own street parties with cheerleading squads to keep us going. It was particularly emotional cresting Lookout Mountain to deafening cheers.
The run was tough, hot, scenic and fun. Everything ached.
Crossing the line after 5hrs 32 to my children, family and Scott screaming my name was emotional. There were tears (not only mine). 72nd in my age group BUT 1st Brit! The race was dubbed "an adventure for your soul". Initially I thought this rather American and a bit corny. I changed my mind. It really was. No time to celebrate (or rest) as Scott was racing the next day.
Another 5am start, more heavy back packs, and racing around being official "Scott cheerleaders" was cripplingly exhausting (and painful) but worth every second. The opportunity to experience the spectacle unfold both as an athlete and a spectator was a truly humbling experience; the volunteers who went above and beyond..... the kindness of the locals..... the standard of competitors (especially 'old man Bob' the oldest athlete racing for 85 and over category) and the awe inspiring para athletes. Wow!
Thanks everyone for helping us meet this challenge-what an adventure!
Closer to home, five TTC members competed in the Weymouth 70.3 where it was not quite so warm. Martin takes up the story.
Race morning was a bit fresh but at least the forecast promised to be dry. The sea was choppy to say the least and with the sun in your eyes on the way out it was proving challenging, I came out of the water in 37mins which I was really pleased with.
T1 was a nightmare, running around like a headless chicken trying to find my bike 9mins later I was on my way. The course was challenging and lumpy with most of the downhills finishing with twisty technical sections.
Off the bike in 2hrs 58 and onto the run, was great to see all the other TTC members out on the course and all looked in great shape, finished the run in 1hr 48 for a total time of 5hrs 39 mins
Also out there were Malcolm (6:04), Jason (6:29), Paul (6:50) and Jill (6:54). Hopefully everyone else was equally pleased with their performance!