I woke up on Sunday at 3.15am to get ready for the UK70.3 race at Wimbleball lake for the earliest race start that I know of, 6am! Getting into the car to head off to the race the temperature read 3 degrees celsius. It felt more like winter. By the time we arrived at the race car park it had 'warmed up' to 7 degrees. Got to love summer?
After all the pre race hype of who was racing one was finally able to see who had turned up when I went into transition. There were a lot of empty bike spaces. Not sure why Macca was not there, Spencer had flu and others were entered but were a no show. Still there were some class athletes starting in both the mens and womens field.
Defending champ, Fraser Cartmell, Stephen Bayliss, Luke Bell, Scott Neyedli, James Gilfillan and Bryan Rhodes were the names that stuck out in the mens field. In the womens field Julie Dibens and Bella Comerford.
This year it was a deep water mass start, the lake had fog passing over and it reminded me of the UKIM in 2005. It made it hard to see the bouys, the pros were given a a 10m gap and the start as usual was fast and furious. The water temperature was not warm, the official temperature was 17 degrees but I am guessing it was a few degrees below that. I was cold! I did not have a good swim, I really felt the cold, I am swimming better than I was this time last year yet my time was over a mintute slower than previous years. I ended up swimming on my own for most of the way. I came out the water in 12th place and cold. I thought the 400m run up the hill would warm me up but no chance.
Out onto the mother of all half Ironman bike courses it's always going to be tough.There is just no let up, so be prepared for a hard day. I decided to just go for it, if I blew up so what. Dave, the boss at Planet X said he does not mind how I do overall just have a good bike time or the fastest, so with this in mind and cramping legs from the cold wearing very little clothing were most would have winter gear, I headed off into Exmoor. I managed to pass a few on the bike, a very cold Bryan Rhodes and Scott Neyedli and rode myself into fourth place. Ahead were Fraser, Stephen and Luke Bell. They were setting a good pace in the conditions. It started to rain on various parts of the course which made it a bit scary, especially on the decents. Try going down a hill at 70kmph into hard rain when you are cold, it hurts! On the second lap I passed a few of the back markers walking and pushing bikes up some of the many hills, hard to do wearing bike shoes with cleats! Riding back into transiton was a relief, like the swim I rode the whole bike section on my own and the run would be the same.
Heading out onto the run it felt like I had no feet and it took at least one lap to start getting some feeling back. The top 3 were a good few minutes ahead so I tried my best to narrow thier lead. I only managed to put a very little time into Luke Bell but they were too far ahead. Fraser and Stephen were putting a good race on for those watching and as a result smashed the run record as well as the course record, Fraser crossed the line a lucky 13 seconds ahead of Stephen with Luke Bell rounding off third. I held onto fourth having raced most of the course on my own, a lonely day! Great result for Fraser and Stephen as consistant as ever.
I the womens race Bella was victorious, she is just as hard as nails when it comes to racing, she is having such a good year and may it continue. Julie dibens was second and age grouper Sara Moeller third, a good day for her.
799 athletes managed to cross the line, around 99 were unfortunate not to finish. Well done to everyone who was brave enough to enter and 'turn up' to the toughest 70.3 event and thanks to the organisers and volunteers.
Next event for me is IM Switzerland(July 13th), watch this space for the race report. I will hopefully have a good result to report on.
16 June 2008