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Race Buddy Gail Edmans
Nothing beats actually racing itself but the next best buzz and without the butterflies I love making sure others have a great, stress free race which I can cheer on from the side-lines. So I am really excited to be a Race Buddy at the Xtra Mile triathlon at the beautiful setting of Chatsworth for Race Force in July, looking forward to ensuring everyone has a fantastic race and achieves their goals whether that be to finish or with a specific time in mind. I am as excited but tons more nervous to be helping with the set up and route reccie as I also hope to complete Challenge Almere on September 10 dressed head to toe as a Race Force representative.
I am 49 and did my first triathlon, a half in Cornwall when I was 40 in preparation for Ironman Austria a couple of months later. From my first triathlon to my second was a massive learning curve and on the day in Austria I certainly didn’t stop to put on deodorant in T1 this time. Austria is still one of my favourite races and my only expectation was to finish – what I didn’t realise was how much I would actually enjoy the day and having invested in a lot of expensive kit and with the endorphins still buzzing round, I’d signed up for my second ironman the following year within 2 weeks of crossing the finishing line. I completed 5 more ironman distance races including Norseman and Embrunman, many half iron distance races, one Olympic and not a single sprint race – speed’s not my strong point. I like to go long, go slow.
Since 2012 I have got into ultra-marathon distance races and started with the Marathon des Sables multi day ultra across the Sahara. This is probably my best and worst race – best because I actually loved it and I didn’t expect to appreciate it at the time, it was a privilege to be able to live in the desert for a week and want to do the race. But I guess also the worst as by the end of day 1, my feet looked like they’d been pushed through a lawnmower. The biggest lesson I learnt was in my first attempt at completing the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, a 104 mile race with 10,000 metres of asscent around Mont Blanc and crossing through France, Italy and Switzerland. My headtorch failed on the second night and I couldn't complete the race and got timed out as stumbling around in the dark cost me valuable time as already up against the clock, i missed the penultimate time check-point. If I'd stopped to think, calmed down and focused, I would have stopped and asked an official to help with the tourch situation but I was so tired having been on the go for 33 hours that I wasn't thinking straight. So I would say don't panic, find time to calm down and whatever new situation a race throws at you, can be overcome - providing it's mechanical and not physical.
In terms of the kit I use, it’s a Blueseventy Helix wetsuit and doesn’t cut into my neck like my previous Orca 3.8 and I ride a BMC Roadmaster bike but I am coveting a Canyon bike. I love Hoka shoes – they’re quite cushioned and perfect for ultras and to keep a check on how slow I am going, I need a watch with a great battery life and the Suunto Ambit2 has a GPS setting which lasts up to 50 hours.
As well as Challenge Almere coming up in September, I also have a couple of ultra-distance runs planned, including Centurion running’s South Downs Way 100 mile shuffle from Winchester to Eastbourne along trails.
I met Kate – Madame Race Force at a fantastic weekend of cycling last summer and was guided around, IMHO, the friendliest and most challenging cycling county in the UK – Yorkshire. Even lovely local Mike couldn’t predict the weather and it was the windiest, hardest, constant headwind I’d ever cycled into on the Saturday but Race Force’s sense of fun and enthusiasm meant that despite our protests, we were all raring to go again on the Sunday for more of the same.
I am looking forward to working with and being part of the Race Force team – Kate knows triathlon from the ground up and understands that an enthusiastic, cheerful and understanding Race Buddy can make all the difference to clients on race day.