Maxifuel F3 Half Ironman, Marlow, Sunday 24 June 2012
The UK has reportedly seen the highest levels of rain in the month of June since records began. The high water levels and flooding have ironically caused the wettest part of a number of recent triathlons to be cancelled, so in the lead up to this race it was touch and go as to whether it would be a triathlon or a duathlon. I only decided to race the event shortly before race day, so I knew what to expect, or potentially not to expect, as the case may be!
Racking our bikes the afternoon before the race, the winds were strong but the rain was relatively light. The rain and winds persisted overnight, with race day dawning under dark clouds.
Sunday (race day) saw a swim only event only a couple of miles upstream cancelled, but the swim at Marlow was allowed to proceed, albeit shortened to 1500 metres. As ever, the Thames was a little chilly as the swimmers were set off in two waves. The slight current meant that the swim was slower upstream than down, and I soon reached T1. I squelched through an already sodden transition area to empty my helmet of rain water and grab my QR bike. I waded through some more mud, mounted my bike and headed out onto the bike course.
The rain presented further challenges on the bike course, with some greasy conditions and one part of the course flooded right the way across the road! The route itself comprised 2.5 laps and was relatively flat with one hill and one drag per lap. My bike leg was a little slower than I anticipated but the road surfaces didn’t make for the fastest splits on the day.
Into T2, I opted to keep my shoes on as I transitioned off the bike. I wouldn’t normally do this as I can run faster without them, but remembering the mud in transition I thought it wise to keep my feet from being caked in mud before starting the run. Little did know what lay ahead!
I started the run in second place overall in my wave (after a guy) but I didn’t feel good starting out into the run. My back felt tight for some reason and this slowed me down but I pressed on. After about 100 metres the run picked up the river path. In the normal way this would have provided some welcome variety from the many road based run courses, however on this day it had turned into an indescribable quagmire. I have run many cross country races that have been far less muddy than that!
My racing flats proved no match for the puddles and I needn’t have tried to keep the mud out of my shoes in T2 because I was soon taking ‘the most direct route’ through the mud and sludge as there was simply no way round it. Much of the time it was all I could do to stay upright, let alone make any haste. But I took it in good heart with a smile on my face as I slipped over into the mud once more.
The mud only lasted about 1 km of the course but the problem was that it was a four lap course and I then ended up carrying much of the mud round the rest of the 5 km lap until I reached the mud again! So it was with welcome relief that the finish chute came into sight on my final lap. I crossed the line as 3rd place female after Lou Collins and Nicki Aitkin who both raced superbly.
Well done to everyone for completing a pretty tough day given the conditions!