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Triathlon Training & Races - Matt's Blog
Sharing my experiences in training, racing and learning the 'science' of progressing in Triathlon - from total novice to top-ten finisher (and hopefully beyond!). Stop by to listen to what I have to say, but don't forget, the whole point of web 2.0 is interaction, so don't be afraid or too shy to leave your own thoughts!

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Bristol City Centre Triathlon (22 Aug) - Race Report

prhimby prhimAug 23rd 2010
Yesterday I lined up along with 145 other competitors for BAD-Tri's 'pilot' sprint triathlon in Bristol, ahead of a hoped-for larger event next year.

Overall I thought the BAD-Tri and Bristol organisers did a great job and the marshaling was top-notch (thanks again to all those that clapped and offered words of encouragement, something that is much appreciated when you're hurting!).

In terms of the individual aspects of the race, the transition area felt a little cramped and (and this was my fault for choosing a poor racking position) the run out of T1 onto the bike course involved a tight dog-leg which didn't help times.

The swim course was a mixed bag. Despite some fears, the water quality seemed fine (even after I had my goggles kicked off in the melee) but the course was tight. It was evidently quite a challenge to fit a 750m course into the Cumberland Basin. As it was, in a wave of 60-odd it wasn't a big deal and the close racing added to the event. However, I think they'll struggle with any more than 70-80 in a wave next year (assuming the same course).

This lead to the problem of the swim entrance and exit - which was via a single narrow pontoon with a make-shift ramp up to the dockside. The main logistical problem to this (aside from some structural issues!) was that it was impossible for one wave to enter the water until all competitors from the previous wave had exited - otherwise those coming down the ramp and standing on the pontoon could have easily impeded those heading into T1.

With limited numbers this wasn't a huge issue yesterday but is something the organisers will no doubt be considering for next year. The more serious point was the actual swim exit itself - which consisted of a narrow area with two scaffolding poles suspended under the water - which we were supposed to clamber up and pull ourselves out of the water. I had three major gripes with this: 1) the poles were difficult to locate in the murky water and were slippery, 2) the pontoon edges were sharp metal and I gashed my hand badly, 3) the marshals seemed reluctant to actually help competitors exit the water.

It's this third point that I really don't understand. Given that the exit was tricky at best, a helpful 'hook under the shoulder' to help pull people out would have been a) very welcome and b) led to less congestion on the scaffold poles - but the marshals seemed less than interested. Sorry guys, but I really think that was the low point of an otherwise excellent race (Every open water race I've ever done has had marshals to assist on the swim exit - if only to avoid a pile up of bodies).

Onto the bike was where the race starting getting great again - although I personally had a poor bike section, the course was fast and smooth (not much of a test of bike handling skills, but that's fine). The route around Transition onto Lap 2 was well thought out and the signage was excellent (an abundance of marshals helped too!).

Into T2 and the run route was fine, no issues to report. Again lots of marshals to ensure we stayed on track and give us encouragement along the way. Two water stations were well-placed (although I noticed they ran out of water for the elites! Not good!).

A note on race timing - it was a pleasant surprise to see chip timing on a pilot event but also a little disappointing that times were published without separate splits for T1 and T2 (T1 was included in swim time, T2 with the run). Hardly a big issue, but as someone who is striving to improve with each race, I would have loved to know my 'exact' swim and run times.

And one final note (as a marketer by profession, I can't resist...), they need to decide on a brand for the race. Since signing up I've heard/seen the race referred to as the 'Bristol City Triathlon', the 'Bristol Harbourside Triathlon' and the 'Bristol City Centre Triathlon'. Best pick a name and stick to it guys! Having also raced the Tockington-based 'Bristol Triathlon', I'd say this is the better race by far - so I think we have a 'new' Bristol Triathlon. Just my tuppence!

So overall it was a very good pilot event - well done again to all those involved in organising it. The weather was also exceptionally kind, which didn't hurt! I'm sure next year's event will be something special indeed and I can easily see it becoming a premier event on the UK triathlon calendar.
AndyBby member: AndyB, Aug 23rd 2010 10:15
HI Matt

Thanks for your comments. All will be taken into account and put into the mix for next year. We have a fair idea on the areas we need to improve but competitor feedback like your is vital to put on the best race possible. Give us a few weeks to conduct our debrief then we'll crack on with making it bigger and better next year!

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