I’m currently a student at Lancaster University, and as such I get to race at BUCS which is the acronym for sports for competing universities. This is the fourth and final time that I was representing Lancaster and it was also my 51st triathlon. I’m the one with the beard.
The race was in Calne, Wiltshire, way down south. Fortunately one of the team lived in Bath and his parents were not only happy for use all to crash there for the night, but also to feed us. This also allowed us a more relaxed race morning as the first competitors were not off until 10 am, although the last wasn’t off until gone 3 pm. After a hearty breakfast we set off for the race, negotiating bridges too low for the minibus and van. Once everyone was registered the bikes were racked, numbers were pinned to race belts and general faffing could begin. It was the first triathlon for most of the club, although I can still faff with the best.
The race has grown amazingly over the last few years with over 500 entrants and involves a 750m swim, 25km bike and 5k run. As with most pool based triathlons the slowest swimmers were off first, although this isn’t done with the greatest efficiency. Each wave doesn’t begin until everyone from the previous wave has finished. As expected it was soon running behind schedule.
Soon the first competitors from Lancaster were out on the bike, and with the start times spread out there was always someone cheering. Before I knew it, it was time for me to set off. Swimming is my slowest discipline, but I also take it easy and don’t go off too fast. There were five of us in my lane, with 10 seconds gap between each of us starting. Within two lengths I felt a tap on my feet as the guy behind me had set off way too fast. I let him overtake, but at the end of the swim we climbed out of the pool at the same time. The next time that I saw him was when I had less than a km of the run to go and he had only done one km. For me the race starts when I finish the swim.
The bike course was flat and fast, involving heading out, a small loop and then back the same way. There was one small climb, but compared to Lancashire it was nothing more than a pimple. I soon overtook nearly everyone from my wave and finished with a 41 minute bike split. A little slower than last year but I’ve been doing long distance training all year. After a slow transition (I don’t have tri shoes at the moment) it was out on the run.
The run was an out and back affair, although this year the route had been measured correctly and was exactly 5km. It was long last year. Within a km there was three of us running together at a good pace, although two of us opened a gap on the other. At the turn around point I didn’t take on any water, but the other two did. I knew then that I would beat them both knowing that drinking would slow then both down. My run split was 18 minutes, which I was very pleased with, and both of the guys that I had started running with finished within 30 seconds of me.
My overall time was 1 hour 16 minutes, slightly faster than last year, but with a shorter run. I then relaxed and cheered on everyone else, fuelled by coffee and cake.
Once everyone had finished I was surprised to find that I was the quickest from Lancaster University, although I would expect many of them to improve vastly over the next year. After a group photo (see top) it was back on the bus for the long journey back up north, made worse by animals on the M6, delaying our return until after midnight.
During my years at Lancaster University I have been very proud of the triathlon club and will miss them all. I also wish them the best of luck in the future.