A slightly different format from the norm, we have reports from three participants, Pete, James and Ruichao.

Pete Jones

Having entered the race a good few months back when some enterprising member got us a team discount, the news that it was in 2 weeks’ time came as a shock. I hadn’t swam since last season’s open water sessions, hardly ran due to pain, indifference, the village being flooded but my cycling was ok. All that said I was beginning to put an excuse dossier together as I really didn’t fancy racing. Thanks to one of our newer members (Ray) teasing these excuses out of me and giving me no excuse really I started getting my head around doing the event. The tri bars went on with seven days to go and insufficient time to get my neck accustomed, I managed a 10km run with a bit of walking and a 1km swim with no walking at all.

I registered the day before and it was good to chat with members old and new which ramped up the positivity and the good luck and motivational messages added to the excitement. No pub visit on Saturday put the dampers on proceedings but I slept well and arrived at the race in plenty of time to chat to most of the fellow members racing and was encouraged as ever to see plenty of members had come along to support. With Ryan’s swim tip “don’t worry about the distance just focus on your technique” I was ploughing through the water like a sea anchor marveling at my lack of technique but 33:15 later I was crawling out helped by Shouty Dave and feeling quite pleased. Next up I messed up the multi sport settings on my Garmin which meant after a reasonable t1 I was messing with my watch. My new prescription and no shades to match it made for a messy first 1km while I guessed my way through the Garmin settings but I was soon into the groove. The next bit of advice was Charlie’s “suck it up princess”. I can’t say it helped and bizarrely I pictured G 🤷🏻‍♂️ 1:16 later and I’m walking dejectedly through t2 dreading the run to come. True to form and prediction I was slow, it was painful not helped by a chafing Achilles but I stuck at it, and how rewarding to arrive at the finish in 59:58, 2:56:39 overall to cheers from the blue and orange TTG gang.

Not my best performance by a long way but given my lack of prep, more time in HQ than running and the fact I wasn’t going to do it a week ago I’m really quite chuffed and even more proud of the TTG community who I feel are getting even more supportive at races like this. Thanks to everyone that helped me over the line 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

James Baker

Today was a day I was honestly buzzing for. Last year being the final finisher and holding up the leader table at bottom place I had to show that all the hard work and training would pay off.

Arrived early and as always great to see so many TTG family arriving and ready for the day ahead.

The swim started and I felt comfortable, a bit of hustle and bustle in “The Pack” as some wayward swimming had people crossing my path but nothing major. At the end of the long straight I was able to check my watch for time and was pleasantly shocked, I had hit 20 minutes and although wanted to push on I was conscious to stay as smooth as possible and not burn myself out. This paid of and my swim time started with a 3! 39:59 and a new PB.

The bike next, and I pushed hard, hit some of the rolling hills getting out the saddle and recovering on the flatter sections, the plan was to go as close to 1hr 10 as possible, this took a little longer but mainly because I knew had brought some time from the swim, and wanted to keep some legs for the run.

Now the run, that was tough…. It was hot and the aid station felt like it was near the end. For me it was about staying consistent and to run the whole thing! That I did and despite some tight calves and a little light headedness at the 9k marker I finished having run the entire 10k and set my best time to date and taking off over an hour from last years performance.

For me the highlight of the day was the support for one another from the TTG crew and the fact that the day just just flipping great!!

Ruichao Zhu

Combined with an irritating left ITB, I was unable to run 2 miles continuously for two weeks. Blessed with some warm sunshine the weekend before the race I did a practice bike course ride with Steve. Lack of brick training and under that midday heat, I had to stop to stretch multiple times during a 5K. Still, it was great to learn the bike course and, re-learn how to ride my TT bike, which had stayed home for a whole year. Four weeks post-marathon, I was finally able to run a Parkrun non-stop the day before race day. 

My other big concern was the water temperature. As a tropical creature, I do not cope with cold water very well (15 degrees would probably be my lower limit). Two weeks prior to the race the water temperature was hovering around 12-13 degrees. Luckily a heatwave arrived just in time, and the lake warmed up to a ‘boiling’ 18 degrees in less than two weeks! I did two open water sessions in Ploddy and felt quite comfortable. 

Once again, the weather turned out to be just perfect on race morning: partly cloudy conditions with light winds. Brain and I got up at 4 am, and arrived at the lake at 5:30 to register and set up the transition area. Time was rather tight and we went to the water edge just by wave 2 start time at 6:45. The swim was very, very pleasant: clear water, mild yet fresh temperature, and my strokes felt great. In fact, having done 10 or so triathlons, this was the first time I enjoyed swim the most out of the three legs, rather than feeling somewhat panicking! I was able to check my watch thanks to the clear water: I was on a sub 2 min/100m pace throughout. Just when I was getting thrilled about smashing a 30-minute swim, I realised the finish was actually further than I thought. I hit solid ground again after just over 33 minutes and my watch recorded 1670m. Wasting no time getting onto my bike, a 2:38 T1 time was my fastest ever! 

Every race in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed passing people on the bike which made me feel like a ‘pro’. This time was no different. The fast sections of the course saw me taking advantage of the aero position, achieving a PB 10K split time of 14:42 (40.7 km/h) according to Strava. Final official bike time 1:08:39, ranked 23/117 in my category. I have yet to break my 40K PB achieved during my 70.3 debut in Melbourne (1:05:46). Need a better road surface to do that… 

Then came the toughest part of the day: I had absolutely no idea how my legs would feel during the 10K. Would I start to cramp after the first 1K just like the week before? Out of T2, I went sub 4:30min/km pace, targeting my 45 min goal. The run course featured long stretches of climb, unshaded sections, lack of crowd support, and what was more, no water station until 2/3 into the run!  I had to be self-reliant and focus on catching people in front to gain motivation. My pace dropped during the uphill section, and my legs started to feel odd. Fortunately, it did not deteriorate and after the water station, I was able to pick up the pace a little. Finally, I could hear the finishing line calling. Through the last section in the dark woodlands, I sprinted towards the finish arch, passing one more yellow wave athlete. 

Final finish time 2:32:10 – 10 minutes improvement from my last Olympic distance in 2022! The next one, Challenge Wales half ironman in three week’s time: a sea swim, 1000m total climb on the bike, plus a brutal 80m hill for three times on the run! I am very pleased to be racing together with ~20 TTG members and Brian from Loughborough University.