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Eastnor Castle Middle Distance...first ever win!

TeamBadTriby TeamBadTriJul 7th 2010
My fourth crack at this small but well-formed race, having been 2nd, 5th, and 2nd in the last three years. A wonderful location reasonably close to Bristol, a challenging course and a cheap-and-cheerful feel: what┬'s not to like!
This was also my second go at racing with no watch/HR monitor/speedo ┬- it worked like a dream at Weymouth, I was hoping for more of the same.
The swim was uneventful, though not for one poor lady who really badly injured her hand when her rings got caught on wire netting on the edge of the lake ┬- not nice!
As is the norm I was off the lead pace from the start of the swim, but by halfway was (I guestimated) only about 3 minutes down on the Olympic-distance leaders, which was ok. I gave the swim a bit of a bash today, pushing harder than I normally would and increasing my stroke rate, but not at the expensive of maintaining form. It was over pretty quickly and then with a bit of a wobble on the bike mount (still not entirely a master of the elastic-band trick!) I was off on the bike, no idea of my swim time or what place I was in.
Knowing this bike course helps a lot as it is a real mix of long climbing, very fast descents and some rocket-like flat sections. That said, it┬'s 4 laps so everyone┬'s in the same boat after lap 1! It was also quite a windy day, so some parts of the course would be faster/slower than usual. I had something of a kit malfunction early on as my saddle bag was intent on detaching itself from the bike, which led to a fair amount of slowing down, wobbling and frowning. Having sorted this out (took quite a while and some swearing and nashing of teeth) I pedalled on, getting my legs warmed up into cycling mode. At the start of lap two I passed Rich Hathway, who yelled ┬"you┬'re in first┬.....I think!┬". Realising that is was probably best to cast this from my mind, the focus for the rest of the bike was on ┬"saving my biscuits┬", drinking enough, stuffing in a few gels, using sensible gearing on the climbs, descending as fast as I could, and dodging the sheep and car drivers, who seemed to have approximately the same conceptual grasp of space-time. This however was all just details, the main element was in having brilliant fun roaring round the countryside, unperturbed by watches and monitors. Having no gadgets actually made the whole thing go much quicker. It also meant I could say hello to people as I passed them ┬- I hope they appreciated it ;-)
Dismounting the bike I was pretty sure I had ridden well and fast (no-one in sight behind at any point, no-one had passed me) but I met the marshall┬'s comment of ┬"well done ┬- you┬'re 20 minutes up on second place┬" with some degree of disbelief. Even if I did have a good lead, I am quite capable of throwing it away on the run! The best bit of the run to start with was having my own mtb-escort to show me the way┬... he would also announce ┬"lead man coming through!┬" to various spectators (not that there were many!) which was the first time I┬'d heard that! I had been in the lead at this race once before but it hadn┬'t lasted long enough for me to get used to it!
Knowing the hilly run course was again an advantage as I had a good idea which bits were going to hurt and where the easier, faster sections were. Going through the turn on lap one I reckoned I had something like a 5 or 6 minute lead over second place (not quite the 20 quoted!) so with each step I started to get a bit more confident of holding on, but running is never easy and it was a struggle to keep strong on the interminable uphill drags. After the last turn and on the final half mile into the wind I felt pretty knackered and my legs were tied up, but by that time I was reasonably sure that I could have crawled home and still won, which was a great feeling! A genuinely tiny crowd was there to cheer me over the finish line of this equally tiny event, but no matter it was a win and I┬'m taking it! I had also managed to knock 11 minutes off my previous best on this course, and 3 minutes off both my bike and swim splits for the previous year.
I spoke to lots of really positive people afterwards about their races ┬- old hands and ┬'newbies┬' alike had enjoyed themselves and like me couldn┬'t understand why more people don┬'t come and race in this beautiful part of the world. I now intend to retire gracefully - only from racing at Eastnor, you understand ;-) - and go back next year to Marshall; maybe they┬'ll let me pace the leader round on my mountainbike┬....

Matt E
BAD Tri has sponsored teams for both triathlon and cycling. The aim of these teams is to provide support for athletes within the club at high-performance age-group level and above. As a club we are grateful to those who represent us at this level and understand that it takes a great deal of time, money and dedication. In return for this support, triathletes are expected to represent the team and perform well at the races throughout the summer. Cyclists will be expected to race regularly and place well at local road races and/or support others in the team to do so.
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