The triathlon relays weekend held annually at Nottingham’s National Watersport Centre were re-vamped this year. With the ‘traditional' Club Relay formats held on Saturday, Sunday saw the inclusion of new elite style relays. As usual, there was an exciting and action packed weekend of team racing with national titles on the line and bragging rights for the following year.
Described by the organisers as “Organised Chaos”, the Saturday races consisted of 4 team members, each swimming 500m, cycling 15km and then finishing with a 5km run. Each team member completes one leg, before handing over to the next member who then does the leg, resulting in a race of swim, swim, swim, swim, bike, bike, bike, bike, run, run, run, run.
The race caters for all ages and three types of team; All male, All female and Mixed (2 men and 2 women). Having entered the Mixed event our team from Westcroft Triathlon Club arrived at around midday for our afternoon session, with the Male and the Female teams racing in the morning. It seemed like we were the last team to arrive, with the grass bank opposite transition swarming with bikes and people, so we were happy when we found a patch of shade on the bank to protect us from the scorching sun.
After a bit of confusion with the transition procedure, the race got under way and our first swimmer, Emma, entered the water. The cool water was a lovely relief after being stood in our wetsuits and swim hats for so long! Unfortunately for Emma, she was surrounded by burly men who penned her in until the first buoy. She still finished well and passed on to Sam S, who made up a few positions, then onto Rachel who kept us in the hunt, followed by Sam R taking the last swim leg. We came out of the swim in eighth position.
After the swim legs were completed, the fast (except for the headwind – which strangely occurred both on the out and the back parts of the route) and flat bike leg started. With the lead team already well into the bike leg, the other teams were playing catch-up through the whole race. This resulted in some exciting racing between the lower placed teams who were either competing for fun, to be the best team in their club, or indeed to battle out for 2nd or 3rd position overall. This was Westcroft’s strongest leg of the race, so we went out with the intention of pulling back some places and putting some time into the teams behind us. As predicted, we made our way up the field into fourth place by the end of the ride, but still some two minutes behind third place.
The run leg was again a fast route, with a couple of grass banks to contend with, just to add a bit of variety. Having been competing all afternoon in the bright sun and with minimal food (to avoid the inevitable runner’s tummy), the run proved to be more of a challenge than first expected, and many finishers succumbed to heat stroke. We were holding our own in the run, pulling another place back after only two legs. Things were looking good. Rachel set off strong on the third leg, but with a kilometer to go, injured her ankle meaning a paining hobble back to the transition zone. Sam S set off looking to pull back some time and move us back up the leader board. Coming into the finishing straight, he spotted the team ahead of us and put in a strong finish only to be pipped on the line by one second.
We finished sixth overall, but later found out that we claimed second in our category (Mixed Race Team), only behind the overall winners, Team Erdinger, who incidentally included Ironman Pro Dan Hawksworth, and regular 70.3 winner Karl Alexander.
Overall, a great result for us with room for improvement next year, and a fantastic day out. Hopefully next year we can put in more teams and make it into a fun end of season team outing.