By Jon Ford-Dunn
Report on Jon and Anne’s (and a bit about Darrin even though he’s no longer a club member–boo) adventures at the Deva Triathlon which is a World Championship Qualifying event for London 2013, written in the vein of the lovely Hana. Of course being very much a gentleman I won’t stoop to the blatant sexual content and innuendo of the aforementioned scribe.
Every year the International Triathlon Union provide World Age Group Championships. These are usually run alongside the Elite World Championships in whichever country is down to host them. For 2013 the host city is London, and the championships will be run over both Sprint ( 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) and Standard or Olympic as they are better known (1500m swim, 40km bike,10km run apparently this will be over the same course as the Olympics) distances. Partly due to the 2012 Games there has been a big upsurge of participation in triathlon, and the honour of competing for the Great Britain team has upped the level of competition considerably.
Both Sprint and Olympic have three events where you can attempt to qualify. To ensure GB selection you are required to place in the top five in your age group. In Darrin’s age group at this the first qualifier there are 126 entries, in mine 57 and in Anne’s 43. So we’ve all got difficult tasks, Darrin most of all.
Brenda and I set off on Friday at 10:30 am after dropping the dogs off at the pet hotel (that’s what we tell them it is anyway). Knowing it was Spring Holiday week I’d reckoned Saturday would be a no-no on the roads and had told Anne as much (she was travelling up Saturday doing a car share with Darrin). So off we set in our white Peugeot van. This has no name, I don’t wash it, cuddle it or worry that it may get scratched or abused, so there Sydney Skoda you big girl.
We end up having our lunch three hours later on Bodmin Moor less than 30 miles from home! The traffic is appalling all the way and the journey takes us nine hours (Anne and Darrin manage it in five hours on the Saturday!)
I’d hoped to spend Friday driving round the bike course, but we’d arrived too late, so we checked into the room at the Premier Inn we’d reserved. Pretty good, large room, double bed and put-up, en-suite bathroom with super powerful shower, all done in the Premier corporate livery. Large flat screen tv, 30 minutes/day free wi-fi and the usual coffee/tea making facilities. Alongside was a Brewers Fayre, which did reasonable food.
Saturday dawned and with it the tour of the bike route. For this triathlon the entry out of, and into, Chester is on closed roads on race day. The first thing we notice about the route is that the roads are in pretty poor repair with badly recessed drain covers and a broken up road surface. It is pretty flat, although there is a 200ft climb at 6 miles, which is in Wales (yes, we enter Wales for about 10 miles of the bike–scary), the roads here tend to be better surfaced. There is also a fair bit of technical content in the course around here, with narrow twisty lanes. You then come out onto some super fast duel carriage ways. It is at this point that Brenda and I have an interesting discussion into her map reading capabilities when we end up in Wrexham. Why is it that women need to rotate a map to follow the road they’re travelling? The normal hierarchy of life is resumed when I realise the roads are newer than the map and have to give a grudging apology. Back on course we come across a section of about a mile that has just been surface chipped, that should be fun. It’s now time for a spot of lunch, and decide on a tea house sitting alongside the river, which has proper waiters/waitresses. Have some of the best sandwiches I’ve tasted, washed down with pear and elderflower press ( well at £20 they should be good) overlooking the King’s Salmon Pool and the bridge to Wales, whence from the plucky English sallied forth to give Owen Glendower and his wild eyed followers a good kicking (things don’t change much).
I must say that the River Dee isn’t a stretch of water you look at and have an immediate desire to swim in. It looks distinctly uninviting, the colour of mud with a slight tinge of green. It also looks cold. There is also a fair current, which should mean poor swimmers will struggle as the course is biased with 850m against the flow, and just 650m with. Wandering along the bank I spy an Edwardian toilet block, and mindful of Hana I decide to enter. The porcelain is magnificent and the copper fittings have been highly polished. Inhaling the heady aroma of ancient drains I wonder whether a photo is required. I don’t think my journalistic pluck is up to Hana’s, I can just see the newspaper headlines.
Next it’s off for a commentated open-top bus tour of the city. A few factoids for you: There is a Victorian cemetery containing the grave of a women who gave birth to 16 sets of twins, and a few singles–ouch. The clock shown below is the second most photographed timepiece after Big Ben (alright smart arse I know that’s the name of the bell).
But how do they know, do they keep a record? We pass a square clock tower, with clock faces on just three sides, apparently they ran out of money. Guess which side doesn’t have a clock. Yes, that’s right the side that faces Wales!
After the bus trip I’m busting. Brenda points out a MacDonalds and suggests I go there. I have never ever been in a MacDonalds. We enter and the direction pointers to the toilets are adults interpretations of what a five year old would produce. Stick figures of male and female. The toilets are basic, but clean, no faults here, and no photo taken. Whilst waiting for Brenda I peruse the adult two year olds that are eating. There are no utensils, they are using their manky fingers to push around sauces and stuff food into their faces. It is OBSCENE. We leave here and seek sanctuary opposite into yet another centre of worship: Chester Cathedral. There are women choiristers practising and it is very peaceful and uplifting (for those atheists this is in no way meant to offend you).
Back at the triathlon area activity is increasing. The registration centre has been opened, and athletes are arriving. The whole operation is highly professional (take a note Cornwall Leisure) they are having to process 1200 athletes who will be setting off in 10 waves the following morning. The cost to enter was a highly reasonable £47. You’re kitted out with stickers for your helmet, transition box, support crew and bike. You get a goody bag containing: Rather nice triathlon tee shirt, quick fastening trainer laces, shower gel and energy drink powder. You are provided with a useful quality swimming cap. You are handed your timing chip and personal number tattoos (arm and leg) see below and top, and your personalised race number/name see below. We are invited to take a bottle of energy drink as well.
Get changed and head out for a jog to look at the run route. This is a two lap affair over surfaces ranging from grass, through gravel to cobbles over two bridges and along the river bank. Do a very slow 5km interspersed with three flat out hundred meters, actually feel quite good.
Arrange to meet Anne and Darrin at the Brewers Fayre. The flavour of the evening is set by Anne who chooses water as her drink. Brenda has a wine. I want a wine but Darrin has an orange juice, so I have one too. Darrin chooses chicken and salad, I have rump steak, and so does Anne. I feel I can’t be outdone in the healthy athlete stakes so decline a dessert. Darrin and Anne both have one. Bastards!
Darrin and Anne want an early night so leave for the accommodation that Darrin has sourced (don’t ask, I don’t know!) Brenda and I head to our bedroom and sink half a bottle of red wine each–bliss.
I don’t get much sleep, the room is too hot.
Now to the race report.
Sorry there are no images of the race as Brenda switched to movie mode.
Sunday dawns sunny and warm. The first waves are off at 07:00, but in deference to us older athletes we are off later. There is no messing about; each wave goes off smack on time. I spend a fair amount of time faffing about in transition lying my kit out. I then do several practise run ins so I know where my kit is and in the process stub my big toe and remove a chunk. Thank you God. Mosey on down to the start to listen to the race briefing and cheer off first Darrin then Anne. Then it’s me. I want to get into the water fast, first for a pee, then to grab a good position at the start. There is no elegant way of entering the water here, you just jump in and sink. There are 110 athletes in my wave, and I plan to go off at full bore to miss the melee and then slacken off a bit. Amazingly this seems to work, because I’m in clear water for the first 200m. The swim against the current seems never ending and it’s not long before we’re overtaking competitors from previous waves who are struggling. Reach the red turn buoy and then it’s downhill. We exit via a floating jetty, then have to reach transition via a rather cruel set of steep steps. Out onto the bike, the surface is appalling and fillings are doing a dance in my teeth. Already catching lots of TITS (Totty in tri suits) which is rather pleasing. All my life support systems are functioning. Heart rate–check. Cadence meter –check. Good to go. I gradually start to realise that it’s not just my fillings that are effected by the vibration. My triathlon club ordered the cheapest, flimsiest triathlon suits that you’re likely to find. When you invest as little as the cost of an entry fee in a piece of technical equipment you have to expect something to be missing. For those ladies of a sensitive disposition look away now! In this case it’s the essential padding that protects the genitals. It’s not like I was anywhere near the front of the queue for this attribute (ask Sam or Anne) the pad is just so small, the first time I wore the suit it I felt like I was pissing glass for a couple of days. Hopefully with the amount of Vaseline I’ve applied it won’t be too bad. I seem to be going quite fast, but my heart rate is very low. I put this down to my body being cold from the swim (I didn’t feel my feet until the last 5km of the run).At 5 miles my tri-bars are falling apart, the vibration has loosened the clamps on the ski bars and on the arm pads, I’m now holding them together with my hands. Get to the only real climb and it’s time to get out of the saddle, shake the cricks out of my neck and get some gels down. Next problem: I’ve got cramp in my left calf. I’ve got over 15 miles to go, and every time I try a bit hard I get cramp in either my right or left calf. Each time I have to stop pedalling and straighten the effected leg. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll even be able to attempt the run. Amazingly I am still overtaking TITS and some guys from earlier groups, and as time goes on I realise that some of the TITS are in GB kit. Near to Chester there is more traffic on the road and the triathletes ahead are causing tailbacks. This is a blessing in disguise because I can’t overtake so I’m not putting in much effort to keep up and I am able to increase the cadence to help the bike/run transition. Through transition and onto the run. The first couple of hundred metres is along closed park paths so I indulge in a bit of Gordon type Morris dancing to try and stretch the cramp out. Well, what can I say about the run, it always hurts, it’s never ending and it always seem to be double the distance. Only one person overtook though, and I overtook plenty. Over the bridge into the finish chute and over the line. Jaffa cakes, bananas, coke and exercise drinks available for free– excellent. The results are available instantly and you get a printout. So how did we do?
Darrin Porter 45-49 age group
1st Pete Eggleton 2:07:44
28th Darrin 2:21:36 Swim 33:04 T1 2:26 Bike 1:06:41 T2 1:03 Run 38:22
Jon Ford-Dunn 55-59 age group
1st Terry Bates 2:21:19
3rd Jon 2:23:18 Swim 29:21 T1 1:26 Bike 1:07:39 T2 1:06 Run 43:43
Anne Maskell 45-49 age group
1st Maria Powell 2:20:49
3rd Anne 2:31:28 Swim 33:03 T1 1:22 Bike 1:13:57 T2 1:03 Run 42:00