I’d promised to drive Helen Tuite to the venue, and the Car Pool Karaoke went better than expected as she sang into a microphone I’d disconnected the night before.
There had been no mention of individual swim start times only a confirmation of entry email stating registration would be open from 0900-0930, a race brief at 0945 and the race would start at 1000. Arriving at Tewkesbury School in plenty of time just one minute from junction 9 of the M5. We took a familiarisation walk from the pool exit to transition (located in a chain-link fenced playground) through the run exit and out to the playing fields which were somewhere under a foggy blanket, apart from the playground 100% of the run is on grass. A Ladies’ running club meets at the school for 9am so if you do intend to compete in one of the next 3 Aquathlons, don’t get mixed up with them by mistake, I was ushered away from watching them warm up in the playground and into registration. Which was a simple process, like our own GO Tri events re-useable race numbers are issued which do fit race belts, Helen’s number 9 hadn’t been handed in last time so she got 59 and was told not to worry as it would all work out in the wash her start time being 9 mins past 10 my number 16 equated to 16 mins past, we had been asked for estimated 400m swim times on entry. ‘Simples’. Plus we found out 54 folks had entered. With no lockable lockers at the school I’d bought a spare car key for my passenger to lock her kit up and get it out after just in case I got lost running in the fog or was airlifted to hospital after eating too much cake at the finish.
Transition was now set up and a few marshals with brooms had even swept the route from pool to playground, there were no set places it was first come first served. The race brief was held there on time and we were reminded of swim etiquette, four laps of the playing fields would total the 5k run proven by collecting wristbands at the drink station. A point was also made that gentlemen wearing a front-loading tri suit like myself must ensure the zip’s all the way up in order to maintain decency, I considered applying a safety pin under my own YKK in case my pecs suddenly burst out Judy Finnigan style. After a week of frantic messaging to Louise Morey it appeared my new club tri-suit would arrive tomorrow just a day too late, she had even flatly refused to knit me one overnight, stating she couldn’t knit. The knit one, pearl one coaching course was probably the only one she hadn’t attended last year. The 20m pool seemed tiny compared to the Abbey and it had been divided into 4 quite narrow lanes the heat was full on. We’d both bought Tri Redditch swim caps which could have caused ID problems with the seated lap counter if we’d pulled the same lane – as only our Mothers can tell us apart, and settled for the Tewksbury Tri Club’s issued caps. It seemed uncomfortable starting from the deep end which was closest to the fire exit, I soon lost count of the 20 lengths needed which went on for ever, there was never any more than two other swimmers in the lane however at one point someone ducked under the rope to get to the steps too exhausted to climb out the deep end after finishing. Eventually a red float was dropped in front of my nose so I made an effort for the last 2 lengths. Shout your race number to the marshal on the way out the fire exit if you want a swim split time later as needless to say I knackered up my Garmin buttons in transition.
All I needed in the playground was elastic laced trainers, race belt and a swig of Ribena, the fog on the fields had lifted but going was a little boggy in places particularly around the taped corners which would only get worse for faster swimmers starting later, the route was marked with flat agility cones which led back to the drink station and wristband operatives. Later in the run up ahead triathlete 59 could be seen and eventually she was reeled in, I thought of wrestling Helen to the floor and stealing her wristbands for an early finish but being low on energy I might not be able to pull it off. Later still with a full set of bands it was time to follow the finish arrows to the inflatable finish arch where clipboards and stopwatches recorded times. Other marshals left us in no doubt that their club wanted the race numbers and wristbands back in. After a quick but crowded shower it was into the school hall for the prize giving and famous tea/coffee with cakes all for a voluntary contribution, desperate to pay in some way for petrol money Helen put in for me but I and made her go up three times just to make sure I got my money’s worth. Shortly the results were announced and Triathlon Redditch’s Stephanie Cox hobbled forward to collect the Female Vet prize, sadly she’d aggravated an older injury on the slippy course but still came home in 32.30 outstanding for her first ever Aquathlon.
A cheap and cheerful event £15 – No T shirt, medal, chip time or photo but great refreshments and prizes for the winners also a chance to gauge your progress and keep motivated over the winter months. Be prepared to pack trail shoes.
12th Feb 2017 Aquathlon 2
12th March 2017 Aquathlon 3
9th April 2017 Aquathlon 4