Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon Part 2

This is the 2nd part of a 2-part post about the 2013 Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon. The first part detailed the preparation for the event.

It’s 3:30am and I’m awake. I’ve slept intermittently (as expected) and have various race day concerns going through my mind. However, it’s too late to worry now!! Just need to try and get another hour or so’s sleep and look forward to the event. I’m ready for it!

In other news, I signed up for another Try Tri event last night, the NOWSC Sprint Tri at the New Forest Water Park near Ringwood. This is another open water Tri event but uses the official sprint distances of 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run.

I had toyed with the idea of going Olympic (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) but decided that as the event was a week before Bournemouth Marathon Festival that I should play it safe. Olympic events can wait til 2014!! Having said that, I’ve registered for the Valley Leisure Tri (aka VLT) which has a 600m swim, 30km cycle and 7.5km run so that’s a hybrid between the sprint and Olympic distance.

Why do I keep choosing Try Tri events? Well, they’re a local company with a great team who’re very supportive. Those events are aimed at a range of abilities but seem to focus on those that are less experienced in multi-sport events. Next year I hope to venture further afield and go to a mass event and have either Windsor or Blenheim in my sights. In fact, if I enjoy today’s event, I can see myself focussing more on Tri events next year than running races especially for the latter half of the year.

Right, it’s 4am and I’m going to try and get an hour more of sleep…

Well, that plan didn’t work. I didn’t sleep and was up at 5am for breakfast. Shortly after, I was dressed and ready to head down to the event having arranged to meet Chris at 6:15am. An early start.


In triathlon, the early bird catches the work or, more precisely, gets a good spot in transition. The best place to be is as close to the transition exit as possible.

When we arrived at registration, we met Ben and Race Director, Charli, for the event, Charli. The whole Try Tri team is really friendly and it was very clear upon arrival how much work had gone into the event.



Registration was painless and all we had to do was stick out bike labels on and put our cycle helmets on and we were ready to rack up in transition.


We were the first to rack out bikes and we chose the end of the transition area. Although I had plans for pre-clipping my cycle shoes and running barefoot, I decided that it was best not to, and to run in my cycle shoes instead. That meant a slightly modified set up for transitions and I’d have to put my cycle shoes on in T1.

In hindsight, this was a very wise idea. Running barefoot on the stony paths at Lakeside would have been very uncomfortable.

We were soon racked up and ready to store our valuables in the changing room before relaxing prior to the race brief.


The lake looked very peaceful!!


It wasn’t long until transition looked very different to when we’d racked our bikes…


Photo courtesy of Try Tri Events

… and it becomes clear why racking in a easy-to-remember location is very useful!

It wasn’t long until the briefing was over and the first wave set off. We were handed out timing chips just before we entered the lake.

Chris was in wave 2 and I was in wave 3. This meant 15 minutes between our start times on paper.

It was quite surprising how much difference in ability there was I’m each wave from very fast front crawl swimmers to more sedate breast strokers.

The swim

In no time at all, it was my wave’s turn to get in the water. Much like Thursday evening’s Aquathlon, getting into a water and them staying on your feet was a challenge. Once you could start swimming, it was much better. I swam around a bit. Let’s call it a warm up!

The first challenge of the swim was to get on the right side of the line before the start. Bizarrely, although it was the same 400m swim distance as the Aquathlon, it had an extra leg! Odd!! Maybe each buoy was closer to the centre of the pool.

We were off. Throughout almost all of the swim I could feel the other swimmers around me whether I was hitting their legs while they swam ahead of me or feeling a tap from behind. There’s nothing you can do about it other than just swim, ideally in as straight a line as possible to the next buoy. My mantra was to just relax and enjoy the swim. Relaxed breathing and stroke. No pressure to charge off and try and exceed my abilities (or lack of!) in the water.


The swim was 1 3/4 legs of the lake and it was soon time to get out and head for transition. I didn’t want to hammer through transition so kept things steady. The whole event was about relaxing and taking it steady. I could have given more in the swim and T1 but didn’t want to then burn out for later in the event.


My T1 wasn’t bad. I managed to get my wetsuit off fairly quickly and got my helmet and sunglasses on before putting on my bike shoes and race belt. I unhooked my bike and ran for the exit.

The Bike

Running in bike shoes is tough. It feels (I would imagine) like your trying to run in heels. Almost impossible. I can see why triathletes run barefoot if they can. If I get a chance to do a try without gravel paths (or similar), I’ll definitely go for the clipped on method (shoes clipped to pedals) and practice, practice, practice.

It was quite a distance to run to the mount line and rather than attempting a running:flying mount, I went for the sensible option. Sprawling on the gravel and tarmac in the car park would have put a big damper on the day.

I was off. The cycle is 20km (2x out and back to Chandler’s Ford). A few too many traffic lights and roundabouts for my liking and an incline or two on each ‘lap’. The cycle was largely uneventful. I picked off a few cyclists on lap 1 and has a few overtake me on lap 2. I was happy with my effort though.


Fortunately, I only needed to unclip once whilst out on the bike course. This was for traffic lights at Eastleigh Parkway Station. Although we were told that there would be marshals recording participants who got stuck at lights and the associated time, this wasn’t the case at a few of the sets of lights. I was one of the unlucky ones. I had to unclip and wait for about 40 seconds. Worse was the loss of momentum though as this gave a couple of cyclists ahead the opportunity to extend their lead.

Before long, I was heading back into Lakeside car park. Unfortunately, the flattened end of the ‘sleeping policemen’ were non-existent on the return trip to dismount.


I came to a stop at the dismount area and kept my shoes on and ran back to transition. Again, this was slow and a little precarious in cycle shoes.


When I got to transition, it was simply a case of racking my bike, swapping my shoes and removing my helmet to replace with a cap. This should have taken next to know time but, foolishly, I decided to sit down to do this. Acute cramp hit my left upper leg and I was writhing around the floor in pain. Needless to say, such antics lead to the 2nd worst T2 of the sprint competitors for the day!! Lesson learned!!

The run

When I eventually got on my feet, it was time to get out of transition and start my run. This follows almost exactly the old Eastleigh parkrun course with a few subtle differences.

james - tri - run

The temperature was rising and I was beginning to flag a little. However, I was determined to run all the way for both laps… And that’s what I did. It was great to get a boost as I passed transition for T2 and having alerted them to the fact I was passing, I got lots of encouragement from Chris and Ian B who was spectating.

The finish

Arriving at the finish I was glad it was over but pleased and proud that I’d completed my first triathlon. It wasn’t a great personal performance with a finish time of about 1h31m but it was something to beat the next time.

I’d share my Garmin stats but again I struggled with auto mult-sport mode again. The whole event was captured in swim mode :-S I will get the hang of it.

Yesterday I was a runner, a cyclist and a swimmer. Today, I am a triathlete!! Not a fast one but a triathlete nonetheless!

In part 1 of this post, I guestimated the following times:

  • swim: 9 minutes
  • T1: 2 minutes
  • cycle: 43 minutes
  • T2: 2 minutes
  • run: 27 minutes

The actual times were:

  • swim: 12:27 (3 mins 27 seconds slower than estimate. Suspect this was partly due to long course
  • T1: 1:55 minutes (actual 5 seconds quicker than estimate)
  • cycle: 47:06 minutes (actual 4 minutes 6 seconds slower. This was partly due to caution with wrists)
  • T2: 2:25 minutes (actual 23 seconds slower than estimate. Should have been far quicker but got cramp)
  • run: 27:37 minutes (actual 37 seconds slower than estimate)

Overall, about 8 minutes slower than I hoped for.


Having caught up with Chris and Ian at the finish line and cleared transition, Chris and I decided to head to the Lordshill 10K road race which had started at 10:30am. Rather than drive all the way, we cycled most of the way and cycled the last 4-5km to Ordnance Survey. We arrived just as Chris’ partner, Ali, was crossing the line. Amazing timing!!

After that, I helped out distribute goodie bags and chatted with several friendly faces. There was a great vibe around race HQ. Lots of runners and supporters enjoying the sun post-run. LRR sure know how to put on a race!!

Getting to OS was easy. I could follow Chris and the runner direction arrows for the 10K. I was worried that Chris had left and I’d have to work out how to get back to my car. Fortunately, I was spotted by Ali after the children’s fun races and then Chris and I headed back on our bikes to the cars.

Overall, a great morning.


3 thoughts on “Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon Part 2

  1. Pingback: Wyvern 10K DNS and other news | Running - one step at a time

  2. Pingback: A year of achievements | Running - one step at a time

  3. Pingback: Cotswold Super Sprint Triathlon 2014 | Triathlete In Training

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