I have to start by thanking my boyfriend Oliver, as without him it would’ve been an impossible challenge before I even got to the start line.
We took a long ride up to the Staffordshire, it was raining heavily and was not looking too promising for the race day. Managed to just register on time and hear about a half of the race briefing. Walk back to the car through all the cars parked or trying to park. Getting my stuff for the T2 that was in the race village and putting it away. This started to look more and more like a tough mudder.
With cars everywhere it took us a while to get back on the road and on our way to the T1 to rack my bike. Coverage was rubbish, only navigation on a phone that’s already slowly dieing. Somehow we made it. If I thought it was crowded at the T2, you should see the situation at the T1. Place where the parking was available only for few hundred cars was full. Oliver dropped me off on a little road and I had to carry my bike and T1 gear through a big puddle and no wonder in all this I forgot to bag my socks.
Just over a mile of walking later I was finally at the T1. Got a bike cover issued to protect it from the rain during night. Was eyeing the entrance to the T1 suspiciously, with thousands of athletes pushing their bikes through it has turned in a mud bath. Got my timing chip and got out of there.
Both cold, tired and hungry many hours after we left London we agreed – food 1st, then hotel. I had booked in Stafford, about 30 minute drive away.
The race morning arrived crisp but sunny. Got my swim gear and numbers on. Oliver dropped me off same place as last night and I flip flopped to the start line. My wave was one of the last ones, but had to put the bottles on and remove the bike cover before 7am, when transition closed. Then around an hour and a half of shivering in my wetsuit waiting to get in the water. At least saw the pros go off.
Swim was great. Water clear, could see my hands and the bottom of the reservoir towards the end. Almost no wind so small waves and easy breathing. For a while got stuck behind a weird formation but sneaked past at a turning point. Bit slower than I hoped but out I was and gravel covered tarmac run to the T1. Fun!
Someone joked that the T1 does not stand for Tea for one. Spent so much time there. Decided I’m not pro enough to pee on my bike and had to peel off all the layers of my wet skin. I now have a 2 piece tri suit. One way or another I was off. Couple of miles later my legs were warm and I went for it. After all, bike was the only part I could expect to do reasonably well.
Bike bike bike! Loved the course! Rolling hills, straight flats, great support from the locals, well organised feed stations. On the last climb at the end dropped a lot of people and it gave me confidence and strength for the last push! 3:16:16. T2! Here I come!
Got on my run quickly and got carried away. So many people, cheering crowds, amazing! After the 1st stretch through the race village we had to run behind the big country estate building, that was quiet and I was able to set my pace. Run is 3 laps with one hill, mixed terrain and 2 feed stations plus girls with Redbull. As we went up the hill 1st time we had a giggle, there was a big yellow sign “Max speed 15 mph”. As I was going up the hill I noticed some men younger than me walking up it. That’s when I told myself, no run/walk. Slowly, but I jog it all. Atmosphere was great. Village we run through had set up a big party at the local pub and everyone were out to cheer us on. It nice to have your name printed on the race number, people shouting out your name!
On my 2nd lap Richard went past me shouting encouragement. Fast as a gazelle he is! It gave me second breath and had to make sure I don’t go too fast too early. After all, I have been running only around 5km before the race day… Somehow I managed a 2:08 half marathon. My best time so far…
And then it was the finishline!!! Red carpet! Medal! Food! Foil blanket! 6:23:44
Overall, it’s an amazing race to do and based here in UK, so easy to get to, but logistically it’s a bit tough. Give yourself extra time and maybe arrive on Thursday or Friday already…