Race report: Sussex Triathlon – 03/07/2011

“How nice” Ian and I thought, to have a triathlon which starts at such a dignified hour on a Sunday, let’s do that one. The fact that this would mean the race would start in the midday sun had not occurred, nor had the small matter of travelling back to Basingstoke at 5pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the M25…. but, by the time you’re parked on aforementioned motorway it’s slightly too late to think about it!

Anyway, this was the inaugral running of the Sussex Triathlon, set in the grounds Ashburnham Place, a lovely country house tucked away in the Sussex countryside near Battle. There were both a sprint and olympic options (relay entries available for both), we opted for the olympic distance.

The swim was in a lake in the grounds, which was lovely. The mass start was hectic with quite a lot of punching, eye gouging and the norm. Ian picked a fight with a girl, and lost! 2 laps on the swim, exiting via the rather disgusting tasting water which was churned up with silt and duck weed. Quite a long run into transition, which was fine with me as it gave me longer to struggle out of my wet suit. Out onto the cycle, which had been advertised as “not difficult, but challenging”. Er, right. Probably the most difficult cycle either of us have ever done in a triathlon!! (Even worse than Swanage or Portland.) It started with the drive to Ashburnham Place. That’ll be needing the small chain wheel then – not the best start when you’ve still got serious oxygen deprivation and quite a lot of lake water in your eyes, ears and nose! The cycle started as it meant to go on – not a flat piece of road in sight. all of it was either up or down hill, mostly along twisty & turny (but very pretty) country lanes with blind corners and lots of LandRovers in the middle of the road!!

2 laps on the bike, then out on the run. This had been advertised as “flat, with the exception of one steep, but short hill 2.5k into each lap”. Whoever wrote that description had clearly been drinking and/or has never actually run on a flat course. This flat run was rather hilly. The “steep, but short hill” looked very similar to the one in the Lord Wandsworth TRXC course AND it was NOT alone – there seemed to be another 4 hills that the race organisers had forgotten to mention. Not to mention the very steep downhill section, which was not a friend to my cramping and broken quads!

This is in no way a PB course – the winning time was around 2 hours and 15 minutes, a good 25 minutes longer that you’d expect in an Olymic distance triathlon.

However, for those who are up for a challenge and happy to race a non-PB course, we would highly recommend this race. The settings were stunning, everything was superbly organised and the marshalls were excellent. The entry fee for the Olympic distance was a snip at £40 for BTF members, with a lovely usable technical t-shirt in the race packs. It was one of the rare races where there was a specified warm up time in the lake, which was a much appreciated chance to cool down. We’ll be doing this one again next year, all other nutters welcome!!!

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