Thursday, November 23, 2017

Despite its high profile and media coverage, the Blenheim Triathlon has never really appealed to me:  too short(!), too busy and too many first-timers.  I had the impression that it’s a great ‘first taste’ of triathlon, but not for serious racers.

This impression was borne out to a degree when I raced the bike leg of a sprint distance race in 2013 as part of a corporate relay.  The bike course is quite narrow and full of everything from mountain bikes with baskets on the front (literally!) to road bikes and then full-on TT race machines.  When you’re bombing along at 45kph passing people doing less than half that speed, it gets a little nervy and too close for comfort sometimes.

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Okay, so you know the story: the Escape from Alcatraz was one of the first triathlons I ever witnessed (without even knowing it at the time) and as soon as I knew what it was, it had to go on my bucket list of races to do before I die.

This year I entered the $25 lottery and, to my surprise, got a slot to take part in the 35th annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon on June 7th.  Just the small matter of paying another $400 to confirm my slot, then ship myself and my bike halfway round the world for a race that’s barely longer than an Olympic distance triathlon.  In terms of pounds-per-mile, it’s an expensive one!

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I kept quiet about this one. In my head it had to be purely a training race and as Adam Gibson made clear when I asked him if it would be a good idea to enter or not: “yeah, go ahead, but you’re not going to win it, you’re going to be knackered!”

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My first encounter with the Swashbuckler middle distance triathlon, held in the beautiful New Forest, came in 2012.  It was also my first attempt at a middle distance triathlon.  A shame then that I chose the 2012 event, where the water and air temperatures were both so cold that many of us ended near-on hypothermic and there was a record number of DNFs.  I freely admit the race brought me to tears.

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After a somewhat disappointing winter of training and a DNS at the Wokingham Half Marathon, I kept my entry to the Pewsey Terminator, a mostly off-road 12 mile cross-country course with 410 metres of evil (and I mean evil) climbing, pretty quiet.

I certainly didn’t expect to win the darned thing.  I just wanted to put myself firmly in the hurt locker and get comfortable with being uncomfortable again.

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