Arundel Triathlon

Raw Energy Pursuits Arundel Triathlon is always a competitive affair but as an ETU qualifier, so it proved again this year. Most people are aware of the fast flowing 4 to 6 knot current in the River Arun; but there was surprise when taking the temperature prior to the race briefing that it was on the cusp of exceeding the point where wetsuits would be banned. However as the air temperature was 16.9 degrees that saved the day enabling the announcement that wetsuits would be optional.   Some strong Tuff performances with Tom Frith, first Tuff home through his rapid bike split. Next Tom Goddard with his trademark rapid (fastest Tuff) swim split and then Simon Thistlethwaite third Tuff home with the fastest Tuff run split, just ahead of Andy Crawford‘s equally fast run split.  Strong performances from four more club members pushing themselves up the result sheets;  Tom Gray, Dana Robertson, Nick Bolding & great to see Martin Hawkins on the campaign trail again.   There was plenty of Tuff support as Tiff, Jon, Trev, Kev, Drew, Pete & Clive were on the event team.    Nick Bolding (pictured below) has provided a competitor eyes view of morning:-

Back at Arundel again, this time for the ‘Arundel Castle’ triathlon…

The final update email before the race indicated that the river temperature was around 21 degrees, so only a 1 degree rise was needed to make it a compulsory ‘non wetsuit’ swim… I figured if that was the case I’d revert to my preferred breast-stroke as my ‘sinky legs’ are less of an issue!

I registered on Saturday and took the opportunity to check out the exit from the river – up a slipway and then down a purpose-installed ramp – then drive the bike route, most of which I was familiar with from my own training circuits (A27, Long Furlong). It didn’t look too bad…

Alarm at 5, quick breakfast & a ‘go faster’ coffee, loaded the bike onto the car and then off to Arundel. The large number of campervans hinted at the fact that this was an ETU qualifier and had attracted hopefuls from all over.

Racked and ready with a few minutes to spare before the briefing I wandered into the main marquee and spotted our own Simon Thistlethwaite frantically ‘stickering up’ etc. so lent a him a quick hand attaching his number to his race belt and he whizzed off to rack his gear.

In the race briefing we were advised to ‘keep something back’ for both the Houghton Hill climb toward the end of the bike leg and also (ominously) the ‘tough’ run… also we were advised that the water temperature was 22 degrees but as it was ‘chilly’ on the riverbank the decision had been made to make it ‘wetsuit optional’ – probably a good call as 95% or more of the competitors were already suited-up and the delay while we all changed would likely have meant that that the slack-tide ‘window’ would have closed for the later waves.

A ‘short’ walk to the start point on the riverside, then after a brief pause we were into the water and off. The turn buoy was supposed to be 200m upstream, however my watch buzzed to tell me I’d done 250m and it was still a little way upriver, I shrugged (not easy to do in the water) and carried on – it is what it is. Around the buoy and now the fast downstream leg, during which I was overtaken by most of the wave behind and the faster members of the wave after that… I’m that slow in the water!

 

The advantage of being a slow swimmer is that it’s pretty easy to spot your bike when it’s pretty much the only one left in the racking area for your wave – always a silver lining eh?!

Away on the bike and settled into familiar roads. The ride takes in some great scenery but I was concentrating more on trying to keep my pace up and reeling in a couple of riders ahead of me – local knowledge paid off here along Long Furlong as I know the climb and the fast descent to Findon roundabout like the back of my hand.

I wasn’t super fast on the bike, but I felt OK and spent a large part of it playing leapfrog with another rider – being careful to avoid accidental drafting.

T2 was reasonably efficient then out for the run. It was when I looked up so see a line of runners ahead of me going up a visibly steep (and long) incline that I realised ‘tough’ was probably an understatement.

Slogged on, up the climb only to find there was a short flight of steps at the top! up those and across an open grassy area (nice folly on the right) and blessed downhill… I wasn’t paying attention to my Garmin buzzing at the km marks but saw I was at around 850m of the current one. I figured it was probably the 5km mark, prayed it was going to be 6 and was gutted when it turned out to be 4! It was then that I realised there was no way there were 6km between where I was and the finish, which could only mean one thing… ANOTHER LAP!

I’m not going to lie, as I approached the marshals handing out the envy bands I was sorely tempted to throw the towel in… but I grabbed a band and started a mental mantra “Just don’t die… just don’t die…” I’d been trying to shake of a summer cold for the past 2 weeks and Mrs B had been quite clear that she really didn’t think it was a good idea to compete before I’s shaken the last of the cough and that I’d get ‘No sympathy’ should she be called upon to ‘pick up the pieces’ should I drown/crash/break a leg…

I jog-walked most of the second lap and was almost delirious with joy as I entered the finishing chute and passed under the inflatable arch… A very heartfelt “Congratulations!” from Drew as I exited the finish was very much appreciated, as were the cheers of encouragement from other Tuffs out marshalling on the course – there’s nothing quite like hearing “Good work Nick!” or similar to give you that little extra kick.

Bumped into a couple of other Tuffs as I was packing my stuff up… I’m going to hazard that one (possibly both) was Tom, not least because over 40% of the male Tuffs taking part (that weren’t me) were ‘Toms’… they looked in fine form, I think I was borderline incoherent…!

One of the Trio of Tuff Toms running over the crest at Hiorne Tower

All in all, a tough race but one I’d do again. As ever the REP organisation was excellent, good value, fabulous setting and on my doorstep – what’s not to love?

Nick

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