Preparation is a big part of triathlon and I’m not just referring to all the hours of dedicated training, kit selection and nutrition practice but also studying, even reccying the race course beforehand. This is sound advice and also a note to self. Living in London meant it wasn’t easy for me to do a dry-run but I really should have realised that the Peak District would have hills and that when the pre event booklet said the course is ‘a firm favourite on the UK triathlon calendar and also acknowledged as one of the toughest’ that it would be far from fast and flat. As I drove to Chatsworth House at 5am on the morning of the race, all I could see as the sun came up were hills. As someone said – the trouble with comprehension is, it often comes too late.
Once at the start I had time to meet up with Steve, the Race Force bike mechanic who was helping nervous competitors with pre safety checks before racking their bikes. Most just needed gears tweaking and the odd last minute puncture but I felt for one competitor whose rear mech hanger had snapped off and nothing could be done apart from go home. In the drive up my gear leaver had somehow twisted in the boot of the car so Steve managed to sort that out and off I went to transition to get ready.
The atmosphere was great and everyone was so friendly. I was grateful to get chatting to a woman called Jo from Chesterfield Tri Club who knew the course, had some tips for me and told me not to worry that the River Derwent was only 12 degrees – a good 4 degrees colder than Shepperton Lake where I’d done lots of open water swimming recently.
The whole 3 hours and 10 minutes passed in a blur but I do know that although chilly, the swim route was a beautiful out and back, starting from an 18th century bridge and passing in front of Chatsworth House. The bike was on a really stunning circular route taking in the best of the Peak District, although it all seemed to be uphill - perhaps my judgement had been frozen in the swim. The run was on a wonderful trail around Chatsworth and by now I was resigned to the fact it would also be not only hilly but also muddy and I should definitely have worn trail shoes with some grip and not my super cushioned Hoka’s as I slipped about on some of the steeper descents.
I did the standard distance but for those doing the Sprint distance there was the chance to qualify for the ETU Championship race so there were some good, fast competitors there.
The organisation and relaxed atmosphere of the Xtra Mile Event means it’s one I will definitely do again next year and with only one request to the organisers on behalf of the softie southerners who took part, please add a little hot water to the River Derwent before next year’s race.
I will be racing Challenge Almere in September and follow my progress on Twitter @Norsemouse
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February 24, 2017
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