The Avenger Triathlon is held at Ragley Hall, Alcester, and so is one of our most local triathlons. The event offers three distances, Middle distance (Half Iron), Standard (Olympic) and a Sprint. The Swim is in the lake in the grounds of Ragley Hall, the cycle is held on the roads around Warwickshire and Worcestershire that we often train on, and the run is off road, again in the grounds of Ragley Hall. Here’s our intrepid competitors and what they thought:
Avenger Middle Distance
08:30 an air horn blast started 2nd wave swimmers off, the swim was a lot more touchy feely/up close and personal then I’ve known before especially rounding easily sighted giant minion buoys. Coughing fit interrupted my three laps of steady swimming resulting in arrival at T1 at about 50 mins. Great to see John Legge and Kevin Parsons of Triathlon Redditch on the run up there. Wet feet covered in grass clippings, whipped towel off floor forgetting about fold laced with talc powder, large cloud of Johnson’s descended on tri neighbour and her million pound piece of carbon, she being too interested in getting on the road did not hit me on the head with my own cycle helmet. Grateful of now being on bike riding familiar course able to drink and eat energy bars from frame bag on well known straights and down hills. Marshals with red flags showed the way at all junctions plus indication arrows before hand left nothing to the imagination. A little daunted at doing 2 laps, looked at Garmin checking progress to see I was still in T1 and had failed to press lap button. Fantastic cheers from Tri Redditch members Louise and Russell Morey on both laps. Approaching drinks station on 2nd lap checked behind for followers then rolled empty bottle into layby and grabbed full one from 1st marshal then 1 out of 2 energy gels from 2nd marshal, all without stopping, felt pretty cool – 2nd energy gel is still in the verge if anyone’s interested. Plywood sheeting covering cattle grids on approach back in to Ragley caused no problem. Didn’t trust legs/quads to complete a rolling dismount, Safely back in T2 wasted seconds looking for my kit space, finally moved to correct rack. Took off helmet and one swim ear plug fell out as well, hadn’t noticed it had still been in! Sun and heat now full on, why didn’t I bring sun block and cap? grabbed runner’s bottle and ran out. On 2nd lap found a marshal who had sun screen I took some more from him on 3rd lap. Triathlon Redditch’s Louise Beasley, the other Middle distancer breezed passed me and offered encouragement like ‘Out my way slow coach’ Didn’t have the heart or breath to tell her about rumours in transition before race that no one wanted to cycle with her today as she had pink tyres and a dirty bike. The course was well signed by friendly marshals but thick grass and mostly trail conditions sapped speed, excellent encouragement from spectators surrounding the finish line turn which changed to surprise when I told them I had to go round again. Another lap of ‘Electrolyte or water?’ From the 2 drink stations and a handful of Haribo, a farewell to the singing dancing marshal at the lake turn and all of a sudden I’d finished. 96th out of 117 at 6hrs 42 mins, 3hrs 13mins were the 56 bike miles, 2hrs 35mins for a trail half marathon is 4.8mph still officially running? – Phil Hall
This was a fabulous series of races held at Ragley Hall organised by Raceways which raises money for the charity Kids Run Free. The middle distance event comprised of a 2100m swim, 56 mile bike and a 12.5 mile run. Both Phil and I were slightly unlucky that we were in wave 2 meaning that the majority of the middle distance triathletes started 1 hour before us, which meant that they didn’t have to run for long in the early afternoon sun. Despite this disadvantage, the swim flowed well, followed by a 250 metre uphill run into transition. The 56 mile 2 loop bike course involved rolling roads and lanes. I found the bike course lonely, probably due to being in wave 2 with less competitors and not many competitors who cycle at my speed, however I powered on. The final discipline involved a 4 lap undulating trail run on uneven surfaces. A highlight for the run was also a little strange as it involved going into the Ragley Hall courtyard for a small circle loop around a grassy island! At the end of each loop, we were greeted with encouragement from spectators before beginning our next lap. This race has a big thumbs up from me! – Louise Beasley
Avenger Standard Distance
At 8.30am Chris Barnes, Kevin Parsons and myself set off on our Avenger triathlon challenge in the beautiful grounds of Ragley Hall Estate.
Weather dull but promising for later. It was Chris’ first full tri; for Kev and I it was one of many. Plenty of time to setup, fix Kev’s seat post on his bike, hydrate, re-hydrate and visit the loo!
The call to swim gave us 5 mins to acclimate before horn set us off. A bit manic even near the rear and it took a lot out of me trying to get clear of legs and arms before after around 200m or so getting into a rhythm for a good 2 lap swim. Grateful of eager hands to pull me out of the water. Onto the bike for a longer 51K bike ride and great to see Russ and Louise at Flyford cheering us on. Spotted the blue Triathlon Redditch tops a way off. Both Chris and Kev passed me on the bike 🙁
Good marshaling and bike signs and feed stations along the route. The run is very much a tour of the estate grounds but by mid day it was getting really hot and sunny so again we were grateful for several drinks stations. Cross country, tricky, challenging but a good run. I also recommend trail shoes which I wore. Really good atmosphere, well organised . I recommend it to others. – John Legge
Having checked, checked and rechecked the kit on Saturday Evening (and it feels like a lot of kit) the walk down to setup in transition for a first Triathlon, in this case the Avenger Standard distance, all the questions you know have been answered are still swirling in your head, have I trained well enough, have a I got everything, will the wet suit refuse to come off without a fight!. Once in transition the with everything laid out ready, the nerves start to subside as you see countless others mentally asking the same questions and the adrenaline and anticipation start to kick in.
Down to the start and before you know it the start gun has gone and the crowd is off. I stuck to the plan of avoiding the scrum for the first marker and went out wide before finding some space and settling into a routine. Two laps and out of the lake for the short run up to transition, where a few second is lost when I find my kit is not where I expect it to be before realising I have gone one rack to far!
Out on the bike for 30 miles of undulating countryside, with well marshalled turns and generally quiet roads with the exception of a short stretch on the busier A44, before coming back up Ragley Halls main drive and back into transition. No problems this time round and straight out onto the run course in the midday sun. Whilst the run takes in the fantastic grounds and gardens of Ragley Hall its no PB course with a mixture of woodland tracks, grass, gravel and tarmac. With two laps complete and its over the finish for the customary banana, energy bar and plenty of water.
Would I do another – definitely, and the location and organisation of the Avenger means a return to this event is likely! – Chris Barnes
My third time at the Avenger, and the event seems to be getting better supported each year. As much as I love swimming at Ragley and the cycle course is fast but challenging the run still lets the event down with it being changed for the third time. Running on uneven ground and grass is far from ideal at the end of a tough event. However, it’s local so I expect to do it again and again. – Kevin Parsons
Avenger Sprint Distance
Very well organised event, the team were really helpful and gave me a bunch of tips for my first triathlon! My swim was awful getting out in 59th, but I was happy to of finished it in one piece. I managed to really give it some on a familiar bike route, the feeling of passing people was awesome! The run was a tough one I found with the mixed terrain, but very enjoyable with some enthusiastic marshals. Very happy to have finished 27th of 70! – Ben Brown