Swim 1.6km (1 Mile), Cycle 68.8 km (43 miles) , Run 18.4km (11.5 miles)
As always, when you book into these things, September seemed ever such a long way away and trying our first middle distance race seemed like a fabulous idea. Needless to say on Saturday morning, September had come around far too quickly and a middle distance race seemed like a very bad idea indeed, I mean, who really needs to go further than Olympic distance?!
Registration and the compulsory safety briefing were on Saturday lunchtime (in true Katie & Ian style we managed to cut the 2.30 registration end time rather close). The briefing was a very detailed (but very useful) 36 mins of the race organiser talking us through all 3 parts of the race and giving first timers tips on how to survive! The setting for the race was stunning and, after having driven the bike course after the briefing, we were no less terrified, but pleased with our choice of location which was stunning in the afternoon sun.
05:30 Sunday morning arrived far too quickly and we were off to rack our bikes and make last minute escape plans. We got all settled in and started to quietly panic. Before we knew it we were wet-suited up and waiting to be called into the river… and GO!
The swim was 2 x 800m laps of the Beaulieu river, which had quite a strong current and, as it is tidal, tasted of the sea (which I noticed when I tried to empty it for everyone by drinking as much as possible (yeuch!)). The 2 lots of 400m swimming with the current meant I felt like I was as fast as Michael Phelps, the 2 against the current made me feel like Eric the Eel. Out of the swim, a 400m UPHILL run into transition. As I am a girl pants, transition meant sitting down to put on socks and then trying to work out how to put gloves on wet hands… not too much time elapsed before Binky & I were off into the wide blue yonder… well, we were for the first 5 mins until the heavens opened and we proceeded to cycle the next 41 miles in torrential rain and side winds. As bad as it sounds, the cycle passed quickly – sped up by diversions such as watching the cyclist in front of me go around a corner on his face; and lots of bouts of me swearing at the stupid Sunday New Forest drivers who were trying to use me as target practice!
Back to Buckler’s Hard and into transition to get ready for the run. I swear that I was wetter when I got off of my bike than when I got out of the river. The run was 3 laps with a hill at the end of each half (apparently to even it out….!). It was surprisingly ok, with lovely people at each turn around point offering water and, importantly, energy drink, to everyone. They also had an excellent system where they gave you a different coloured wrist band after each lap so you didn’t have to worry about which lap you were on.
We both eventually crossed the finish line, incredibly pleased that we had survived and that we’d both done better than we thought. It was then time for lots and lots and lots of snacks!
In short, shame about the weather, but brilliantly organised, lovely people, lovely location and a great first middle distance race. Plus a totally cool t-shirt with a skull & cross bones on the front! We would 110% recommend it to anyone and would definitely do it again (hopefully, next time in the dry!).