Half way round the bike leg it suddenly dawned on my how much fun the team relays are. This was the fourth time that I’d done the relays, but the first time with COLT. The last time I had done them was back in 2003 with Oxford Tri. I don’t have the full results from back then, but in 2000 we were 12th mixed team in a time of 3 hr 29. My individual time was just under 50 minutes, although the swim was a lot shorter. The race might have stated that it was a 500m swim, but it was definitely no further than 400m.
Anyway, 2022 is now, and while none of us are as quick as we used to be, we all gave it everything. COLT had two teams racing, a male team in the morning and a mixed team in the afternoon.
How does it all work? First swimmer goes off, hands over to swimmer 2, etc, and then swimmer 4 hands over to the first person again who sets off on the bike leg. The distances were 500m swim, 15km bike (3 laps of the rowing lake) and a 5km run (1 lap of the lake).
Our team consisted off some very experienced triathletes, with Craig off first, then me, followed by John and finally team captain and organiser Chris (Hobbit). The first leg of the swim is a mass start and is always carnage. Craig had some issues during the swim, but still managed to be quickest out of all of us. The hardest part for me is the swim handover. Fortunately, Craig spotted me and handed the red band over to me. John also spotted me and I could gratefully hand the ‘baton’ over.
The bike is three fast flat laps of the lake, with a tiny uphill section into the wind near the start. The path is nice and wide up one side but a little narrower coming back, but with it being straight and flat there are plenty of fast times.
The run has a couple of very small uphill sections, but at the time they felt quite steep. The first mile is on a perimeter path with plenty of support, but then the long grind up the lake takes its toll mentally, as it feels like the end of the lake is never going to come.
I was very happy to hand over to John at the end of the run, with an average heart rate of 168bpm. One thing that has changed from when I did this race all those years ago, was that the whole team could run through the finish funnel together, which we did, although Hobbit had no intention of slowly down for the rest of us as we were very close to sneaking under 4 hours. I have to say we did look good in our COLT kit.
What made the race special for me was my lovely wife came with me. Friends looked after our dog for us so that we could relax. The whole event is brilliant, and far better organised that it used to be. It is great to be able to chat with your team mates between legs, and there is always something going on. Watching a regular triathlon can be a long boring day. This event is the complete opposite. Helen enjoyed it so much that she wants to race next year, which will be even better. Unfortunately, we did have to get back for old Nelly, so we could stay to watch the mixed team race in the afternoon. Next year, we’re going to book two nights at the campsite next to the event so that we can relax the night before and not have to rush off.
Finally, if you want to read a much better written report of this race, you can find my team mate, John Sutton’s blog here.