As the alarm bleeped at me at 2.30am on Sunday morning I realised the past 8 months had passed very quickly and my biggest challenge to date was suddenly here and signing up for the Cotswold Classic Middle Distance triathlon all those months ago (having done no more than a super sprint triathlon at the time) may have been on the optimistic side. Nerves put to one side, I soon found myself at the start line with numerous others from Triathlon Redditch.
Knowing the swim would be my weakest of the three disciplines, I was happy to stay out wide and avoid the pack on the first section, find my own pace and not push to hard knowing there is more to lose than gain at this stage. The lake was warm and clear enough to see the bottom for the majority of the 1900m course which was generally nice and deep, although there were a few short sections of very shallow water were progress was more of a crawl than a swim. The dreaded cramp seemed to be holding off until it came to the swim exit, where I has to pause for what felt like an age but was probably just a few seconds as my right foot temporarily refused to move. It was then a short grassy run to transition which while not being the fastest was drama free.
This was my first middle distance triathlon event after a couple sprint tri’s (not recently); I predominately participate in running-only events. I wouldn’t say I particularly enjoyed tri events until this one. I don’t generally enjoy swimming, I am very mediocre on a bike and I do like running…however not after the first two disciplines. This event was really lovely and has given me the tri-bug. It was really well organised, the race briefing the day before the event was thorough and the organizers were clear and approachable (even when my swim hat went missing and I needed a replacement 10 min before the start). The lake was clean and clear, a bit shallow at parts (we were well warned of this). The exit was a bit of a challenge however they had marshals lending a hand to scale the mountain out of the lake. Transition was well marked however space was very tight. Bike course was predominately flat with a single, short climb which you get to do twice as it’s a two lap course. The course was well explained however self explanatory really if you paid attention to the marshals and posted signs. The carpet after dismounting the bike could have been secured a bit better, although this might just be normal considering the number of feet and tyres tromping across it, seemed a bit of a trip hazard. The run course was really nice, and possibly the flattest consecutive 13.1 miles I have ever run. It is three laps which enables you to pace yourself and have a good mental tally of what you’re up against. It’s mixed terrain, the trail bits were my favorite as the views were calming and the trail was great under foot. I found all feed/hydration stations to be appropriately placed and accessible. The offerings were plentiful and the ‘snack marshals’ were incredibly helpful and keen to support as needed. – Erin Roberts
It felt good to be out of the water and on the bike, the torrential rain of the previous day had cleared and the roads were nice and dry. Whilst the wind had dropped a lot since the previous day the was a noticeable breeze to contend with. I got into a comfortable rhythm, a good pace but not so much I would not last the 56 miles of the 2 lap mainly flat course and soon seemed to be catching and passing those who had had a stronger swim. Whilst there seemed to be plenty of others suffering with punctures, the first lap felt good and seemed to pass by quickly as I concentrated on my fueling strategy. However, just a few miles into the second lap one of my bottle cages decided to part company with the bike after hitting a pothole. Having managed to save it as it dropped to the bottom of the frame, the bottle was tucked in the race belt and the cage hooked over the handle bars as I didn’t want to run the risk of the instant disqualification penalty for littering! This setup worked well for the next 10 miles or so, until the cage somehow managed to jump of the bars and into the back wheel, breaking a spoke in the process. Whilst this played on my mind the remainder of the ride, my progress remained steady through to T2.
The Cotswold Classic Middle Distance Triathlon was my second attempt at a half-ironman. Having completed the Viturian in 2014 I chose the Cotswold event as people told me this was a flat fast course, which the Viturian certainly is not!! The communication you receive in the run up to the event regarding the course, organisation, and anything you could possibly want to know about the day is excellent. Race day arrived and with it the expected nerves and the ‘am I going to finish’ feeling! The swim waves contained around 120 people so a nice small group with no pushing or shoving! The reeds did start to grab at your ankles as we were treading water waiting for the hooter to start us off which made it a bit more interesting. The swim was a one lap course of the lake in very clear water.
We had been warned it was rather shallow due to the lack of rain in the weeks preceding the race (that doesn’t sound right for England!) so when my fingers touched the sand at the bottom of the lake on a few occasions it wasn’t pleasant but not unexpected. The bike course is 2 laps which are flat with only 2 hills. The wind was very strong on race day which made the return leg of the bike route hard going. The run course again is flat, round the lake and through woods mainly on trail paths. It’s a scenic run route but on the third and final lap I had seen it all and just wanted to finish. It was great to see other members of the tri club on the course and exchange cheers or waves. – Lisa Rushton
Transition was again fairly smooth and it felt good to finally be on the run knowing the only thing that could stop me now was me. The legs felt good and the cheers from the crowds, which contained many familiar faces, both marshaling and supporting were very welcome and really helped with keeping the motivation up. The two way section of the 3 lap route was also opportunity to see some of the other Triathlon Redditch competitors which again was great motivation, as everyone shared an encouraging word. Whilst the first lap of the run, which is a mixture of trails, grass and roadways, felt good the second was mentally tougher, with me resorting to the well know parkrun count down, 3 parkruns to go, 2 parkruns to go and so on. However passing the finish line to start the last lap lifted my spirit and I continued on knowing the finish was in sight. A bit too much water at the last water station saw me slowed to a walk as I was struck with stitch. Half a mile of walk – run – walk and much swearing under my breath and I was off again to finish the last few miles strongly with a final time of 5 hours 53 minutes. – Chris Barnes
The swim which I dread was very pleasant the water was so clean and clear that freshwater oysters could be seen on the bottom of the lake. Also I became ill in the run and decided not to continue, although disappointed at the time I’d say that I’ve taken a lot of plus points and learning from my first 70.3, unless your intending on winning the event or your age category stick to your plan during the event and don’t get drawn into racing/ chasing people. Despite doing a lot of training for the event, the two days prior to the event the following 6 P’s apply (well 7 in my case) ‘P*** Poor Preparation Promotes Poor Performance & Puking’ DO NOT let this put you off this was a fantastic event and I WILL smash my next 70.3 – Mike Griffiths
Although it was challenging (no surprise there), I think it has to be one of the best beginner events available for that distance. I would highly recommend it to anybody that is up to the challenge, recommend they train hard and I certainly hope to do it again next year! 🙂 – Erin
It’s an extremely well organised race, you even get to pick your race number and swim wave, the marshals were very encouraging and cheered lots especially the Triathlon Redditch ones. It is what everyone says; a fast flat course and I would definitely recommend it. – Lisa
The whole event was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to do a middle distance event. From the familiarisation day, to the email updates, organisation on the day and the great course its hard to fault the event. Sharing the experience with so many from Triathlon Redditch was also a bonus – congratulations again to all of you! – Chris
Louise BEASLEY 5:32:04.1
Robert WILLIAMS 5:41:41.5
Erin ROBERTS 5:41:42.2
Lisa RUSHTON 5:45:47.9
Kelly MASSIE 5:49:20.5
Martyn ROGERS 5:50:17.7
Rosalind MCGRATH 5:50:36.4
Christopher BARNES 5:53:09.7
Russell MOREY 6:15:23.3
Michael GRIFFITHS DNF