The Blenheim Triathlon 5th/6th June 2010
The Blenheim Triathlon is rapidly becoming an event that appears on many triathlete's calendars. The area in which the events are staged is magnificent, and the organisation ran like clockwork as the palace welcomed well over 5000 competitors, both non-experienced and professional, into its grounds.
The event spanned two days, the first of which saw high temperatures which, although great for spectators, had the potential to cause a few problems for the competitors. Luckily for me, I was competing on the Sunday which was warm yet overcast; the perfect weather for racing!
Having watched my dad compete last year and my recent switch from track running to Triathlon, I deemed this to be the perfect target to train for. The training had all gone roughly to plan and I entered the race feeling confident in my ability, yet apprehensive about my relative inexperience in triathlon. I gradually began to feel more confident as I started to talk to people in the transition area. It seemed as though they too were new to triathlon, and were either using the event as the start of a bright triathlon future, or doing it for certain charities; both of which are extremely admirable! This is what I believe makes Blenheim such a fantastic event; it caters for every level of fitness and experience.
As I watched people crossing the finish line, it was great to see such levels of determination and courage from people who had thought themselves incapable of finishing such an event. This is followed of course by the feeling we all know and love having pushed our body to the limit - the craving to train harder and do it again!
The race itself was incredibly well run with marshals at every corner, sign posts all round and support coming at you from every direction (The buzz of passing a mass of cheering spectators is something that cannot be matched). The event is comprised of many different 'waves' of people starting at 20 minute intervals. My wave began at 11.40am and started with a 750m swim in the palace lake.
I donned my bright pink swimming hat (a compulsory item of clothing, not my awful fashion sense) and plunged into the surprisingly warm water and readied myself at the start line. The swim went very well for me and I emerged from the lake in fifth place of my wave. Hoping for a quick transition I had coated myself in 'BodyGlide' to help my wetsuit slip off! The long run up from the lake saw me take two more people and I began the 20km Cycle, 3 loops of the estate, in third place.
From this point onward my positioning became a blur as one wave mixed with another and my focus became "Take the guy in front!". The cycle is my weakest stage and one I had trained hardest to improve, the course itself was very hilly with strength and power at times becoming more important than stamina. The steep inclines made hard work for tired legs, but the phrase "what comes up must come down" gave us the promise of nice, fast and at times frightening downhill sections.
With today's technology easily making a road bike incredibly light and worth twice as much as my car, speeds of well over 30 mph were often hit coming through the steepest sections, which made for an adrenaline pumping stage! The way the course was set out meant that there was quite alot of overtaking in reasonably narrow passages, which if done improperly could be dangerous. However, because of the fact that there is always people around you and you are often overtaking people from different waves, it boosts your confidence as it feels as though you are working your way through the field.
Coming into the final transition I felt good at the prospect of the 5.4km run which, being my strongest section, I could take back some places I had lost on the bike. The run comprised of two laps round the lake we had swam in, and the chance to run past the enormous crowd on two occasions.
The first lap was all about maintaining form and 'finding my legs' as they always feel jelly like after being on the bike. In all honesty I struggled slightly but found encouragement by racing a guy with a slightly faster pace on his final lap. After we separated, I began to work hard and gradually gained momentum; getting words of praise from runners I passed encouraging me to maintain my good pace. The second lap felt ten times better than my first one and I came home in a time of 1h:17m:46s. I had been aiming for a time below 80 minutes so I was overjoyed when I received my result (sent to me through text 45 minutes after I'd crossed the line!). Over all I came within the top 100 and 11th in my age group (M20-24), so it seemed as though my training had been well worth it!
My splits were as follows:
|Swim||Transition 1||Bike||Transition 2||Run||Total|
The event itself truly is one to try out. If you have ever thought about trying your hand at triathlon, I could think of no better place to get you started than Blenheim.
We have had numerous customers come into our shop seeking advice about triathlon gear and training, and generally showing an interest in training and racing hard, which is wonderful to see. The marshals and staff employed to oversee the race made sure that not only were you safe and confident about the event, but that your bike and baggage was secure as well. The event caters for all levels of experience and you will definitely come away from it feeling far more knowledgeable and knowing what to expect should you enter anymore triathlons.
Some people call the feeling of wanting to train harder and conquer more races as having the "bug", and I can certainly see what they mean. I will definitely be heading back next year with a few more races under my belt and a time to beat!