The Miners’ TRIal is billed as ‘one of the most rewarding and beautiful events in the West Midlands’ so the expectations were high as myself and Martyn Rogers set out at the leisurely time of 8am as our start times were not until past 11am. The final section of the trip to Highely Leisure Centre revealed the early competitors already starting the first of several climbs on the bike section. Parking was in several fields close by and we were fortunate enough to be in the closest to registration. Numbers were handed out and marker pen was swiftly applied to arms and legs giving us plenty of time to setup in transition and have a brew whilst watching the earlier waves complete the swim.
The out door pool looked deceptively small for its 25 meter length and in contrast to most out door swims was a tropical 31 degrees C – which might sound nice but by the end of the 16 lengths I was praying for a few drops of the cool rain that had cleared earlier in the morning to return. The pool is only four lanes but the 5 minutes between each wave of four meant a maximum of two in each lane so congestion was no problem.
Transition was set up in the tennis courts a short run from the pool, where locating your kits was straight forward given the masses of space allowed due to the plentiful racks. The run out to the mount line at the front of the center was a mixture of grass and tarmac and longer than expected but did give me time to remember to press the all important Garmin button.The bike course was very scenic and on relatively quiet roads, with a loop at the end of an out and back route making up the 18km. Whilst there are some flat-ish sections there are also a couple of challenging climbs to keep you honest! Whilst I managed to pass a couple of people, the ride was generally solitary with only the marshalls at a few key junctions to offer any support. The space in the pool obviously translated in to space on the bike so need need to worry about breaking any drafting rules, but also no one in sight to chase down!
One of the great elements of the race was the range of abilities and experience taking part and giving everything, with finish times ranging from just under 1 hour for the winner to over 3 hours making this a great event for all.
Overall a well organised event with a good atmosphere in a spectacular setting not to mention a decent goody bag and medal at the end as well! – Chris Barnes