Jon does Bristol Tri – report

I was solo for this tri, Anne had gone with Darrin to some god forsaken place up country in her quest for world domination. I wasn’t over lonely though as a good number of athletes had travelled up from Cornwall.

Even though the event was on Sunday you  had to register on Saturday afternoon, so an overnight stay was called for. Bristol Tri was host to both a Standard Distance Triathlon event and also a World Championship Sprint Distance qualifying round.

Saturday morning dawned and the two dogs were deposited at their hotel, the looks of abject horror and Oscar award winning shaking from them convinces us that they enjoy it. So off up the A30 we travel to our parking place at Temple where we indulge in a little light banter about travelling at peak tourist times. A companionable silence is broken 100 miles later by the sighting of Humphrey the camel just off the M5 at Bridgewater. He is my lucky charm, just like Hana’s security hanky.

We arrive in the area of where we have to register, we can see the building, but how to get to it? There are by-passes, overpasses, underpasses and through passes. It’s like a mad town planner has chucked a load of tangled pieces of string on the ground and told them to connect them up as roads. At this point I wish I wasn’t a Luddite and had a Sat Nav. We miss the turning and have to travel four miles to a roundabout to return. After we finally arrive Mark King (Tri Logic) comes up to us and says “ Bloody Sat Nav missed the turning, I just had to travel 4 miles—–!

Setting up the event is in full swing, they are erecting a floating pontoon in the dock for the swim, out of interlocking plastic containers; quite stylish. The cycle is on closed roads apart from a small coned off section over the dock bridge. Most of the cycle route is along a dual carriageway that runs from Bristol to the M5 and runs below the Clifton Suspension Bridge alongside the river. You cycle up one side then u turn across the centre reservation and come back down the other. The run also follows the river and goes under the suspension bridge but is on the other side of the river along a cinder track. The exact course of the run is hard to follow, as like the road system there is a myriad of small paths criss-crossing the area. In fact after sussing it out come race day they change it!

I do my usual jog with sprints along the run route, then it’s time to travel to the Premier Inn at Cribbs Causeway where’re we’re staying. Our room has air conditioning, so I turn it down to Artic. This Premier has it’s own brand restaurant called Thyme. As Anne is not here to supervise my nutrition I order a large red wine. I now feel very guilty. I have a steak, and Brenda has Salmon. We both have a dessert (I’m even more glad Anne isn’t here), but overall the food is nothing to write home about. We repair to our room, where after a short while Brenda complains she can no longer feel her fingers and toes. Under a relentless barrage of pleading I put the air con up a degree. I don’t get any sleep, it’s too hot.

Sunday dawns grey and windy. Although the event starts at 8am I am in the last wave which starts nearly 5 hours later, so there is no rush to arrive.

Apart from the road system another problem is the lack of local parking, we end up in a residential street about 25 mins away. Racing is well underway when we arrive, and the transition area which is 200m long is a bit of a melee with racers running through having to dodge others just wandering around. Mark arrives late after having difficulty parking and we both wander over to watch a swim start. Mark is exhibiting 100% negativity. The water is the wrong colour, it’s going to be too cold and there is too much of a ripple. Lisa a former club member comes over wanting a reassuring cuddle as she says she is defecating herself (not her actual words but I see Anne requires more technical terminology) as she hadn’t realised the level of competition. I don’t do tactile, and am in race mentality lockdown so that she doesn’t get much sympathy. Sorry Lisa. The swim start is corralled into a tiny area, there is no warm up allowed and the one we view is a real fightfest.

Mindful of my real reason for being here is to review the loos for Hana I wander over to the ranks of turdii. Because the weather appears changeable I’m wearing my trisuit with a sweatshirt and an anorak. My trisuit zip stops about a foot above the appendage (I’m sure Anne will know the correct term) I need to get to. I know all the rumours you’ve heard, but they’re not true, so I need to disrobe. No coathook, but there is a toilet roll hanging on a spike, so I place my sweatshirt and anorak on it. After successful ablutions, I replace my sweatshirt, grab my anorak and am about to exit when I realise the toilet roll has disappeared, I look down it’s not on the floor so put it’s absence down to having imagined it in the first place. Walking away putting on my anorak can’t get my arm down the sleeve as it is blocked by a bog roll.

A burst of cheering erupts from overhead. The finish is located on a raised roadway above the transition area and accessed by ramps and stairways. We go up to take a look. Chrissie Wellington (Four times World Ironman champion) is greeting the young male finishers of one of the earlier waves. She is giving some a hug, I think this is worth a bit of effort. Typical, when us senile geriatrics finish about two hours later she is nowhere to be seen—how strange.

Now at last the bit you’ve been waiting for—the race:

At the briefing I’ve told Mark that as the start is going to be mayhem I’m going to get right to the front and blitz it for 100m. This wave consists of the whole 50-59 age range, two age groups, there are over 80 of us. I get in to the water and swim the short distance to the start and get to the front. A few seconds later Mark arrives alongside, he’s also decided to blitz it.

A bit about an ‘in-water swim start’—You are all jammed together hanging vertically treading water, you each take up about 2 square feet of surface area. When you start you move to a horizontal position which takes up about 8 square feet of surface area, but in the same area, hence a fight fest.

We get a 3minute, 1minute, 30 second, 10 second countdown until 3-2-1 klaxon! I take off with my arms whirling faster than Roadrunner’s legs. I don’t make 100m, at 50m’s the real swimmers run over me. Whilst drowning I have a prick of conscience about Mark. It’s a very small prick though. Several hours later when I reach the surface and re orientate myself I have clear water and am able to complete the swim with no more drama. The run to my bike is over 400m’s and there are already lots of athletes mounting their bikes; oh dear. My new bike is undoubtedly fast, but it does give an unnerving ride, however on this wide course it is not so much of a handful and I spend an enjoyable time overtaking lots of people. Back to transition and there’s only one bike on the racking that I can see. On to the run. Going well, but at about 500m someone sprints past, I catch a glimpse of his number, and he’s in my group (another problem with this tri is that there are no leg or arm markings, so that apart from the paper number there is no indication of what group you’re in), he’s moving fast. I glance at my hrm and decide I can give it another couple of beats without entering cardiac arrest so take off after him. Sorry Hana can’t give any details of the view as my vision is going a bit fuzzy. Coming up to the turn I recognise a runner coming back towards me as the recently crowned British Sprint Tri Champion followed by the guy that’s overtaken me. Up another couple of heartbeats and about a mile further on I overtake him. With about 300m to go we are running along an elevated dual carriage way and I am within about 5m’s of my initial overtakee. I am running in quiet mode, I don’t want him looking back. With 75m’s to go I’m within 3m’s, it’s looking good. Disaster: two runners from an earlier wave which we’d overtaken a short while back have decided to make a sprint for it, he hears them looks round sees me, and sprints. Game over. So how did I do:

Bristol Sprint Tri. World Championship Qualifying round (five to qualify)

Male Age Group 55-59

Swim     T1        bike       T2        Run
1st  Kenny Brown          1:09:38       11:37    2:09    32:20    1:18    22:15
2nd  Paul Gittings         1:11:36        11:45    2:39    33:40    1:30    22:02
3rd   Jon Ford-Dunn    1:11:40       12:30    2:10    33:13    1:24     22:26


  • Swim: 700m
  • Bike: 20.1km
  • Run: 5.4km

All credit to the winner, he must have racked his gear else where as I never saw him. So pretty pleased, but no real answers as to how I can get 2 minutes faster. I was really at my limit. It has convinced me that I will go for the Standard distance in London.

A Hana sum up:

  • Goody bag contents: poor, a small pack of Haribo and a massage lotion sample pack. The tee shirt was obviously designed to cover several events and the graphics lack imagination.
  • Showers: none available
  • Toilets: About what you can expect from portable loos, but could have done with coat hooks.

Well done to any of you that have made it this far. Thanks

2 thoughts on “Jon does Bristol Tri – report

  1. Great report, Jonathon! Darrin and I had a large starter, main course and no wine or pudding!
    Perhaps if you become savvy enough to buy a sat nav, you could learn to text too

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