If I was to describe this race in one word, it would be ‘WET’. After six weeks of blazing hot sun, the rain came at last, on race day. It chucked it down for the whole race. I think I was wetter at the end of the run than at the end of the swim, it was that wet.
I was off in the first wave at 8.30am, which is why there isn’t anyone in transition. It also meant that my alarm went off at 5.30. Sensibly my beautiful wife Helen opted to stay at home, missing out on the very early start and also missing out on standing around in the rain for a couple of hours.
The race is based at the Media City, with the swim in the quay. The company where I work is one of the sponsors, so we receive a few free entries, which are used in the relay events so that as many people from work can take part as possible. Last year I did the swim (read about it here) and was slightly annoyed at myself for not doing the whole thing. So this year I paid my £70+ entry fee for the full individual race. At registration I also realised that I had forgotten my race belt, second time this year. Fortunately they were selling them at registration, and I now almost have enough race belts to open a race belt shop.
Getting ready in transition I chatted to someone who was doing their second triathlon. He told me that he wasn’t even born when I did my first race back in 1991. Thanks mate!
This would be the third time of swimming in Salford Quays, and it is amazingly clean, and this year the temperature was a nice and pleasant 20 degrees. Unlike at Isoman (Isoman Race Report) I sensibly used a wetsuit. The start was busy and took most of the first lap to find some space. As usual I took it easy on the swim and didn’t go off too hard and from my time of 25:03 I expect that the swim was a little short. I haven’t swam that quick for years.
Being in the first wave meant that in theory the bike course wouldn’t be too busy at least for a couple of laps. The first section was good with a hefty tailwind, but the small rise of the Manchester Ship Canal with a headwind and far too many potholes wasn’t as much fun. Due to road works there was a small route change which threw in a tight corner and more potholes. After a few laps I was feeling like a hamster in a wheel, but I overtook more people than overtook me and rolled into transition feeling fairly good. Despite the wet conditions I only saw one bloke who had come off, although I saw at least a dozen with punctures. Considering the adverse weather I was happy to average 20mph for the bike leg, especially as I was riding my 18 year old Principia, without deep section aero wheels or tri bars.
The run has always been my strongest leg of a triathlon, and after a sub 19 minutes 5k the previous week I donned my racing flats and shot off. The run loop has a couple of tight U-turns and therefore isn’t the quickest, but once again I overtook far more people than overtook me, although many of them were probably a lap ahead of me. I also had a brief chat with another bearded triathlete before pushing on past him. I was very happy with my run time of 41 mins. My fastest 10k for many years.
The full results haven’t been published yet, but the live tracker suggests that I was 32nd out of 435 finishers, and 7th in my age group (40-49), which I’m also pleased with, seeing as I turn 50 in just over a year. My overall time was 2:28:29. My target time had been to finish in under two and a half hours.
The race was well organised, the marshalls were friendly and cheered me on all the time, especially one loud and colourful man on the far side of the bike course. This is a race that I would definitely do again, hopefully without the monsoon conditions. Nice finishers T-shirt and another medal (which doubles as a bottle opener) to add to the collection.
As a bonus, the organisers uploaded over 500 photos to the Facebook page, allowing people to download them for free, rather than trying to charge a small fortune. I don’t think that it is too much to ask for a few free photos to be included with the race entry fee, especially as races are so expensive.