Timex WomenOnly Triathlon
14th June 2006
Report by Julie Traupe
Well, today I managed to put another race under my belt. My first open water and the longest one for me yet. I am suprised that I finished as all of these things just kept happening as if they wanted to see the worst in me.
Matt and I got to the race and I was all ready to register, I realised that I forgot my wetsuit at home. DUH!!! I was willing to do the race without one, but unfortunately it was compulsary. Matt and I had to dig into the pocket book and buy a new one. Shame that there were no special deals especially since we just bought my initial one not even a week ago! Oh well....makes a good story eh? They told me my swim time would be faster than without a wet suit, but I have quickly discovered if that was the case.... I am glad I wore the wetsuit!!!. The swim was kinda cool because we got out after one loop, had to run a bit and they got to dive in again. Felt like one of the pros. It looked like Nilu had a terrific swim, especially since she arrived at the race about 15 minutes before the start. The M4 had a lot of traffic and an accident. Glad she made it!
The bike went really well, but because I am still a little wonky on my bike, especially when drinking (not from drinking), I lost my water bottle and ran over it! Luckily I had Lucozade as well, but after a while it started to make my teeth feel like they were wearing little woolie jumpers. Gross!!! That seemed to get me through, but talk about adding salt to a wound... every lap I completed I had to pass my poor little bottle lying there. Everytime I saw it, I couldn't help but think about how badly I was gagging for water, or a beer! Suppose it ended up being a blessing as the energy drink actually seemed to give me some energy on the run.
The run was great, but a bit of a challenge mentally as it was an out and back loop that was done three times. Since it was on the rowing lake, it had massive signs showing the distance every 250m but they never seemed to get any closer. I swear I was on 250m for at least 10 minutes. I saw each sign six times, we bonded well ;-), but Matt and Frances were quite encouraging! I never let myself stop as there was a lady, who was a real inspiration! She was probably in her late 60s early 70s maybe, who never stopped. She kept going with the biggest smile on her face. Amazing!!!
The race was flat with the exception of a small little hill, but it was so small you didn't even notice it until you were already over it.
I finished about where I wanted, and was on target for my run and bike, but still not sure what happened with the swim. But mysteries are mysteries for a reason eh?
It was a pretty hot day with a water dude hired to hose people down! Nilu sure looked like she enjoyed it. Hey, at the end of the day how often do we get a man showering us down at the end of the race :-) Definately a perk!!!
All in all, I had a pretty great day and I am glad to be home.
18th June 2006
Report by Matt Lawrence
"On what may become regarded as the hardest Ironman 70.3 course in the world Chris McCormack and Catriona Morrison won the UK Ironman 70.3 at Wimbleball Lake yesterday...."
- is the start of the official race report on the Ironman website.
We arrived at the race venue midday Saturday and were instantly amazed by the roads. I turned to Julie, "I hope these are not part of the race!" I said as my 4x4 struggled up the 16% gradient hill. I continued on through the back roads and a few wrong turnings later we came across the marvellous site that was Wimbleball Lake and the setting up of Ironman UK 70.3. Wandering through all the banners, marquees and all the sponsors stalls it felt like a carnival had arrived. People everywhere! They were enjoying the music and food, getting hats signed by the pros and acknowledging those who had worked so hard just to get to this point. "Registration" I asked a volunteer who directed me quickly to the tent. I was in and out in seconds with goodie bag, athlete pass and a funky HIMUK bracelet that reminded me of those things that you wore to get on the waterslides. Into the TriUK expo and as ever Julie was wondering about her next pair of running shoes, (because you don't already have enough Julie!). I racked the bike and dealt with the blue and red transition bags. I was thinking I didn't like leaving my bike overnight in some field.
"It can't get stolen, besides there are some nice bikes so mine won't stand out." - Next morning and the eventual winner was the one without his bike. Chris McCormack had his bike stolen overnight. Probably the competition!
It was getting on a bit and the weather was hot. Memories of Weymouth and the heat that I experienced there made me a little worried, but I had learnt a thing or two from all of the guys down there. We decided it was time to make the 1 hour long trip back to Taunton to the hotel.
Food and an early night were in order as we had been up since 4 a.m. Settling down I knew it was an early start so I tried to go to sleep. The heat didn't make it very pleasant and the room was not great with the sun riding straight in.
3.40 a.m. - ALARM! I didn't know there were two three o'clocks in one day. I rolled out of bed and started the process of getting the stuff together. The aim was to get to the site for 5 a.m. as my wave would get called to the water at 5.50 a.m. We didn't see anyone in the darkness of those back roads until 2 miles out from the venue and then this convoy of car lights started to appear.
Park, final check for stuff and then down to put the shoes, bottles and CO2 cartridges on the bike. Mike and I had a quick chat in transition, but neither of us were really awake. I started getting the wetsuit on as it was now 5.30 a.m. and they were calling for a final count. "Here we go" I thought and moved through to where all the athletes had gathered ready for the long descent to the waters edge. Again Mike and I were talking about the course and the fact this was an impressive set-up. Waves 1 and 2 went off no problem and the cheers from the dedicated family and crowds went up, it was amazing so many people crawled out of bed at such a ridiculous hour to watch a load of lunatics go and splash in the lake. A quick dip in the water to seal the wetsuit and to my joy it was not to cold at all (remember Weymouth!)
Music from JAWS playing in the back ground and then the inevitable "3, 2, 1……" and off went the horn! (No I wasn't looking around and thinking 321 was my number!) It was mad as everyone moved into the water and looked to start their swim. I knew in my mind if anyone touched me that I would just keep calm, focus on my technique and give them a swift kick! My memories from that swim are few as it was so quick. Clear water and easy sighting meant that the wave who had started in front of us were now among us. "Different colour swim caps?" I thought as I made my way past those who were struggling. I knew it was a good swim, but as I crawled out and saw the 33 minutes on my watch I was blown away. Then the hill! Yes, the swim had a hill! A run 400m up to transition on uneven grass and trying to keep your bearings. "Go Crystal palace!" I heard from people I had never even met. I had lost contact with Mike now and wasn't going to see him again till the run, but I was hoping that he enjoyed the swim as much as I did.
Into the tents, wetsuit off, and out to the bike. In transition the volunteers were just cleaning up after us. I took my time after the race to thank those who I saw as this could not have been done without those passionate people.
Grabbed the beast and out I went. I just remember thinking at this stage to keep it steady. Anyone who knows me and the bike knows that I pick up all my time here, but with hills like these I wouldn't last a lap. It was overcast and slightly cold but that beats burning hot sun. It started straight away with a big climb away from the lake. 1900m of climbing here in HIMUK so definately a course to be respected. I knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle.
A two lap course with the first half of the lap mainly downhill with some tricky 1:5 descents. The second half of the lap had all the climbs that just never stopped. The first time I've seen athletes get off their bikes take off their shoes and push their bike up the 14% gradients barefoot. The first lap was ok but the climbs in the second lap started to get the
better of me and I was only too happy hand over my bike in T2 and put on the running shoes. Weymouth had taught me I needed proper nutrition and hydration and I am glad to say it went without incident. Coming back down towards the lake I was glad to have finished and to see Julie smiling at me. It was then that I realised my luck. During my morning set-up I had forgotten to put the CO2 on the bike. "How lucky am I?" One puncture and I was on my own. Couldn't believe I had made that mistake and I had seen more than a dozen punctures out on those roads.
Into T2 and the legs were feeling ok. Got the running shoes on and off I went. Well if the bike course was meant to be a killer then the run course was the final nail in the coffin. I have never seen anything like this. The
combination of the sharp up and down hills on hard surface and otherwise uneven terrain to run on after such a hard bike made this half marathon more difficult than most.
It was the big hill that cracked most athletes and reports of people being sick were common. I made the decision to walk the big hill and then carry on with the run. I had a gel at the same aid station in each of the 3 laps even though by now I was sick of them. I was carrying water so I could never be dehydrated and kept refilling at every aid station. The key to this was pacing and survival. Those who had been quick on the bike and first lap were slowly going behind me and I started thinking how right it was to pace myself on the bike. Thanks to Andrea Newton for the best tip of the day, "If you can't breathe on the bike when you're eating then you are going to fast!" This rang in my head and no doubt that was the reason I was still running and others were slowing.
Mike and I had a brief conversation, but it was clear that he was working as hard as me and so we wished each other the best and strode on.
The end came and it was only in those final hundred metres that my body started to complain. The cheer of the crowd and the self satisfaction of conquering such a hard course was worth all that pain. I am sure that Mike will agree that Julie was fantastic support and unlike Nigel gives POSITIVE words of encouragement that lifted our spirits. (Nigel we did miss the abuse…. A bit!)
I was so hungry that a quick hotdog was on the cards. Didn't feel too good though, but I didn't care. As I sat on the grass and listened to the finishers crossing I realised that Ironman sanctioned events are truly the best in the world. I could not knock the Wimbleball event. Mike finished safely too and he seemed pretty satisfied. I cannot repeat how he told me he felt during the race, but I am sure you can guess.
I was changed 30 minutes later and still eating anything I could lay my hands on. A final shopping reward and it was time to say goodbye to Wimbleball and HIMUK. As we drove back I showed Julie the 16% hills and she looked at them in disbelief. Entering Taunton and the traffic was heavy. Elton John was in town, just my luck!
A race that I cannot describe really, you have to go and do it! Notable events on the day are that Chris McCormack had his bike stolen. A ladies bike "snapped" 10 miles into the ride and a local Tri club gave her a mountain bike to finish on….and she did! Rumours of 55+ MPH speeds on the course also circulated. All I know is it was quick.
Registering for the 2007 Ironman 70.3 UK starts soon. I would highly recommend this to anyone who wants to push their boundaries; this is a course that will find your weaknesses eventually.