Isoman Race Report

or to be more exact, Isoman swim only race report.

Why only the swim? Why not the whole triathlon? Me and my beautiful wife had both entered the triathlon. I was doing the full race and my wife just the quarter distance, although the quarter still had a 1.75 mile swim, so not an easy race. We arrived at the race venue on the Friday and had a look around the lake. All good. We had a look at some of the run route. Again all good. We still had an hour before registration opened so we decided the drive one lap of the bike course. The lap was approx 15 miles, I would have to do it four times and my wife just the once.

We set off in the car and the bike route immediately took us onto a dual carriageway, and turned left onto another dual carriageway. Worrying, but not too bad. The next few miles were kind of industrial until we popped out onto another dual carriageway, uphill, busy, with a left filter lane to negotiate. The photos below were from the race the following day.

The route turned off the dual carriageway and headed into the countryside along some very pleasant roads, before once again throwing you straight out onto the dual carriageway. Back at the venue neither of us were happy about the cycle route, so after a chat with the race director we dropped down to swim only entrants. Back in the 90’s the Bournemouth Olympic Distance Triathlon used to be mainly on dual carriageways, but one lane was coned off and the race was early on a Sunday morning. I would have been on the bike at Isoman from 11 to 1-ish, on a Saturday. Far too busy to be safe.

The race director apologised but said that there wasn’t a lot they could do in Redditch, as there was so many busy roads. Maybe don’t hold the race in Redditch!

The morning of the race was far more relaxed as we didn’t need to rack bikes or set up transition. Instead we ambled to the swim start and waited for the off. The full race/swim was off at 7am and Helen would be off at 10.30. As I was only doing the swim I decided the make it a bit tougher by going without my wetsuit.

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There were only three of us without wetsuits. As we waited in the water for the gun to go off I spotted TC, the numpty, arriving late and rushing into the water after the start. At least I wouldn’t be last out of the water I thought with a smile. The water temperature was fine without my wetsuit and I was soon into a nice rhythm. The long swim involved eight laps and I planned to stop for a drink at the end of laps two and four. It was a lot harder than I expected and was glad that I had a couple of gels with my water bottle.

At the end of lap five I was feeling tired, but I spotted Helen next to the feed station which gave me a boost. Lap seven was really tough and I seriously considered stopping, especially when faster swimmers from the half or quarter overtook me like I wasn’t moving. Half a banana and a drink and I knew that I could manage one last lap.

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I dragged myself out of the water in a time of 4 hours and 34 minutes. Not last. My longest swim both time and distance, and my longest swim by a very long way without a wetsuit. It also appeared that each lap was a bit long, as most people took longer than expected and recorded more, so it was probably nearer to 7 and a half miles instead of the advertised 7.

Originally I had planned to head back to the car, get changed and faff about for a bit before seeing Helen finish her swim, but I had taken so long she finished only a few minutes after I did. My beautiful wife was well pleased, it had also been her longest open water swim and she had enjoyed every minute of it, except for losing sight of a buoy one time and having to swim a bit extra.

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In the heat I was very pleased not to be doing the whole triathlon. In previous years the winner has taken just over nine hours, this year only the winner went under 12 hours. We were finished and back at Helen’s brother’s house by 1pm and Helen had enough energy to go for a short bike ride while I had a sleep. The swim only event meant that we could enjoy the weekend and go out with the outlaws for a posh pub meal, so it all worked out in the end.

 

Ironman UK Bike Route Update

For those of you living in the south, or those of you not too good on your geography, there is a large fire on Winters Hill at the moment.

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Why is this important? Well, the IMUK bike route goes up and over Sheephouse Lane, which is next to Winter’s Hill, and is currently closed to traffic. Firefighters and the army are using it as a base to combat the fire. This morning the A675 from Bolton to Belmont was closed because of smoke from the fire. If I was to look for an alternative route, the A675 is what I would use. The BBC has stated that the fire is expected to continue for at least another week, and with no rainfall predicted, the current IMUK bike route looks like it will have to be changed.

The race organisers are aware of the situation, so I assume that they must be working on an alternative route. I doubt very much that the race would be cancelled, and at worst it might involve three or four laps of the second half of the route. It would be a shame if Sheephouse Lane was closed for the race, as along with COLT Alley (Babylon Lane) it is one of the noisiest and more iconic parts of the route.

I think that IMUK should publish a revised route as soon as possible, so that supporters can find alternative places to cheer. I’m intending to be near the Bolton football stadium in Horwich, cheering everyone one when they still have a hundred miles to cycle. I’ll be wearing a COLT shirt and be sporting a rather large beard. Wave or say ‘hi’ if you see me, and good luck if you’re racing.

Book Review 2018 – Part V

I’m catching up with another book review here. Generally I like to group two books that go well together in one review, but this time they are like the opposite of two peas in a pod. Maybe they are similar, much like a carrot and a washing machine are.

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I like Tim Moore’s writing and have read most of his books, including reviewing one of his in my first book review, many aeons ago (read it here). In that book he was cycling from northern Finland to the Med, in winter, on an old shopper made before the iron curtain came down. Bonkers! Loved it!

This time he is driving around Britain visiting the worst places, staying in the worst hotels, drinking in the worst pubs, driving the worst car and listening to the worst music. The car is an Austin Maestro, say no more. Hotels and pubs as reviewed on Trip Advisor. He went to Hull, Grimsby, Middlesborough and even staying in the last surviving Pontins.

It was a good read, although slightly depressing in an up-beat kind of way, although I would have put my foot down if I’d had to endure listening to Phil Collins.

The Rivers of London is a book that I’ve heard lots about, but it passed me by, until browsing my local Waterstones with a book token in my pocket which needed to be spent. I enjoyed it, but I still can’t really explain what it was all about. It’s got Vampires and Ghosts, a small sub-division in the Police force that deals with these sort of things, and a multitude of women who are ‘The Rivers of London’. There is also Old Man Thames and his tributaries upstream from London. They are all part of the main plot, a whole slew of grizzly murders.

The book is bizarre and unlike almost anything I’ve read before, and although I did enjoy it, I’m not sure that I enjoyed it enough to buy any of the sequels, which I think there are another five in the series. If I see one in the little library round the corner I will definitely pick it up (read about it here).

In other book related news, my parents have found my Kindle and returned it to me, which is a bonus if I’m traveling light, but might want to read lots and lots.