Competing in an Event under Social Distancing

Your intrepid chairman has been out in the big bad world and has done a real life triathlon!

I did the New Forest Triathlon last weekend - one of the first to be run after Covid. It was an open water swim, followed by a cycle through the New Forest and a run along a road and track. I did the standard distance but the distances didn’t really match the standard.

So...what was it like? What was different?

The layout of the site and the routes kept changing in the weeks and days up to the event.

👆 Be prepared for changes as the organisers work out how to run the event under the new rules. This was a very established race which has run for years and they totally changed the location of transition and the run route.

👆Take a second (old) pair of trainers in case you need to run a long way from the swim exit to transition. They might move transition to get more space.

The briefing was done via Zoom on the Friday night…

👍 You kind of knew your way around the site when you arrived

👆 Make sure you work out the buoys for the swim course, no-one will point them out on the day.

You were asked to pick your race pack up on Saturday to avoid queues on the Sunday

👍 I like doing that to get a feel for the layout anyway

No spectators were allowed around transition, to see the swim or to watch the finish.

👎 Mike just dropped me off and then I was on my own. Had to carry all my stuff and I had no-one to chat to while waiting ☹

👎 Also the whole event felt rather flat and lacked atmosphere. There was no energy from the event - kind of the opposite to a normal London Marathon.

There was coffee for competitors but spectators were not allowed in that area.

👆 Make sure that you know what your supporters will and won’t be able to do, and have a robust plan for their breakfast! 🍩🍳

You were told not to arrive too early. Only an hour before your start

👎 It was quite a big site so that felt a bit rushed. I didn’t have time to warm up.

👆 Make sure you allow time to walk from your car to the site and then start your hour. In reality, I don’t think anyone was checking this.

There was more space in transition

👍 You had at least a meter each to rack your bike. Luxury!

There was hand sanitiser at the toilets and there were plenty of toilets for the rolling start.

👍 Big thumbs up for that one!

The swim start was from a queue going off every 15 seconds. Start times were published from a week before. The queue started on land and made its way into the water. The start was from deep water controlled by a man in a canoe who checked your race number and then confirmed it to a man on the bank who then counted you down to start. I think the starter must have been pretty hoarse by the end of the morning! The slipway into the water was quite slippy and I think that must have been why then didn’t have people starting on the bank and running into the water.

👍 There was no mass start punch up - much better if you are nervous of such things

👎 I got cold standing in line in the lake even though the water temperature was bordering on no wetsuits and I wore one. It could have been very cold. I also quite like a good punch up to get me started!. You need to be fired up and self-motivated to get off to a flying start with such a low key start.

👆 Make sure you monitor the progress of the queue and are in the right place at the right time. That queue is not waiting for anyone! (Much like the Thames Turbo really)

Transition was open all the time and you collected your stuff as soon as you finished.

👍 Good for getting home

👎 Again not much atmosphere

There was a pro athlete in my race. It was won outright by Katrina Matthews. I would imagine that the pros are finding it just as hard as us to find events to do so look out for them.

👍 Very exciting to race against a pro!

👎 I never saw her and didn’t realise she was even there until I saw her amazing time in the results.

How safe did it feel?

Very safe apart from when the rescue boat failed to work and the whole thing was delayed by 20 mins. Then people were gathering in a big bunch at the start.

Did I enjoy it?

Not quite as much as a pre-Covid event but great to race again and much better than no event. Don’t think it was great from a supporters point of view, though it was possible to see the cycle and the run out on the course and there were a (very)few spectators at certain points.

Hope this is useful. Obviously, other events may have different approaches.

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