(Before I start, this is not having a go at TI or marshalls or whoever- I understand they have to make safety calls, and whether I agree with them or not, I'll always abide by what they say.)
I was looking forward to Tri the Hook sprint today, especially the 750m sea swim. Took the family down in the caravan, forgot that a certain class of Dubs also like this area, so any sleep was truncated by the obese loudmouths in the pitch next door (in "Traps Army" and "Liverpool" jerseys), on the gargle, and talking ****e for half the night. Anyway, morning comes, packed and ready. Bit of a breeze last night, so when I get down there and see the waves, I'm rubbing my hands, here's a bit of swimming that will sort the men from the boys. Small waves (no breakers), a bit of a breeze, sunny day, warm water, cove beach, RNLI and kayaks everywhere. Then I notice the two bouys look a little close, and during briefing, we are told the swim has been chopped to 500m, on account of conditions. Also told that safety is the most important element (why didn't we all just stay in bed?). I'm not being foolish here, there was a swell and it was a difficult swim, but surely that's what a sea swim is all about?
Waiting down at the beach, two waves (I'm in second with chicks and auld fella's), told the TI marshall has made a call, the swim will now only be less than 250m. Cue huge relief from the "have-a-go" bunnies, much joking and laughing, can we just scrap the swim altogether? I'm very annoyed by this, I hate when back-of-the-pack ability dictates what everyone else does. The swim was well within capability of anyone prepared, surely a better option was to have those fearful of the swim to elect to run a Duathlon on the day? If its safe to put hundreds in the water to swim 250m, its surely safe to put most in to swim the whole thing? Ok, rant over, I don't know how I did time or place wise, so I'll just give a general report, as last week.
We would now be swimming diagonally from shore to a bouy, and back. Into the water, marshall marks an arbitrary line straight out perpendicular from shore, and says go. It's a difficult swim alright, taking gobfuls of water and being thrown a bit by the swell. Sighting is difficult, I had taken a general bearing off the peninsula, although this seemed to be taking me a little wider than the general pack. Hard going at times, you knew you were working. Turn at the bouy, swim to shore alongside a group. Don't know what position I exited, between 4th and 8th according to conflicting eyewitness kids accounts. Certainly it was as good as I had, so beaten out fair and square, although my strengths are in the longer stuff. Would have fecking loved a 750m in those conditions today!
A big steep run up from Baginbun beach to trans, get the suit off, no messing around, helmet on, race belt, run to Mount. Got my feet in pretty quick, thanks to using elastic bands to hold the correct position (means the shoes don't hit the ground when running with bike, and are steady when yo hop on, Dory
Thought the surface was better than I had expected (maybe I'm just getting used to crap surfaces). Since the first swim wave was 10 minutes before ours, there was constantly targets to pass. A couple of TT bikes whizzed by me in the early stages, but I kept turning at a nice cadence, and was taking loads. One lad from my wave passed by, went outside of draft zone, and seemed to slow. I took him on a downhill, he got me back on an uphill. This ding-dong battle went out throughout the 21k loop, and caused us both to up our game. One would get a good bit further ahead, so far there was no drafting benefit, and the other would attack. If my swim was to be ruined, I put my foot down over the last couple of k to make sure I won this phyrric battle, coming into trans just ahead.
No issues, fast enough, although I again took the shoes off the bike, rather than the feet out, at Dismount, and slowed a bit running through a muddy field to my rack.
My bike friend exited trans with me, and took off. I was suffering from jelly legs a bit, so the first km was slow (superb cliff run over Carnivan Bay). From there I plodded on the undulating backroads, passing a stream of runners. One strong guy passed me with 2k to go, more training is required if I'm to be able to fight on runs again soon. Knee didn't hurt too bad, into the well-supported finish at Fethard-on-Sea.
Well run Tri, lots of marshalls, all turns and junctions were doubtless, water and pasta at the finish. No booming music either
. Crowds and locals were many and supportive. The swim I'm annoyed about, for reasons stated above. Wouldn't do this again, and am very wary of doing any sprint Tri, if water safety under conditions like today, is an issue. Lots of guys I was talking too at the end (so they weren't tail-end have-a-go's) were baffled as to why the swim was curtailed.