We had heard very good reports about Bassenthwaite triathlon but had never tried it before and the date was just a couple of days after a BIG birthday for Chris. He decided to do this one as his first open water triathlon in celebration of the BIG event, however he ended up doing Northumberland sprint tri in June as his first open water tri. I of course would do it too not wanting to miss out on doing a triathlon. We had been checking the weather forecast on the run up to the event and only entered one week before when we knew the weather was going to be OK. Unfortunately for Chris the standard distance was sold out so we had to do the sprint distance instead – phew!!!!
The weather forecast remained good, light wind, no rain, 16C – perfect conditions! On driving along the A66 towards Keswick however, there was rain and lots of it! The clouds were low over the mountains and it looked like it was going to be wet. I checked the weather app on my phone and it said Keswick was dry all day!! Oh dear! Unusual for the weather forecast to be wrong isn’t it?!
We drove on through to Bassenthwaite and the rain did clear up – phew. We drove round the cycle route and saw that the road to the north of the lake was very undulating so we knew to take it easy as we would also be heading west into the wind on that side of the lake. We drove the run route too and found the brutal hill that we would have to negotiate. It didn’t look so bad in the car!
We were initially a bit concerned about the swim route as there were some small sailing boats right where the start of the swim would be and also some random floating oil cans, however, they hadn’t finished setting up the swim route and the boats and oil cans were removed and replaced by the large orange buoys marking out the swim routes. The motor boats checked the distances and drove round the sprint and standard routes so the competitors knew which way to go. Then it was time for the sprint competitors to get in the water. Now, anyone who has only ever swam in Northumberland lakes like us, it was weird to find the water clear, not completely clear but you could see people around you in comparison to Northumberland lakes where you can’t even see your own hand in front of you and of course the taste of the swam poo. Bassenthwaite water is safe to drink and no taste J. The water was pleasantly cool, 15.9C to be precise and perfect for swimming in. The hooter went and we were off. I knew I had the swim advantage over Chris and wondered where on the bike he would catch me. The swim route completed and off into transition and out onto the bike.
The bike route initially sends you along the A66 towards Keswick with the wind behind you so we knew it would be quick. Unfortunately the road surface on that stretch was being replaced as the surface was very bad. They had taken the surface on the inside lane which meant sharing the outside lane with passing motorists. Luckily not too many motorists passed by so it was safe enough. We anticipated that when we turned to head back to the sailing club on the north side of the road would be bad, undulating and into the head wind. What we found was that it was actually quicker than expected. The route was also long for a sprint tri at 27km!
Back into transition and onto the run with the dreaded brutal hill. The route was undulating at first and we shared the road with the guys on their bike leg doing the standard tri which is always nice when you get to pass others. Richard Winter was doing the standard and did pass me on this section so I gave him a cheery shout of encouragement. The long route bike section carried on along the road while the run route turned left and there it was, the brutal hill. Head down, tiny steps, keep running, don’t look up – I kept telling myself. I saw 6 or so people ahead and everyone was walking. I would not be defeated! I did run the whole way, although slowly. That was brutal. Cresting the head of the hill it was weird on the legs to be running on the flat again and they seemed to take some encouragement to do so. We weren’t on the flat before long when we turned left to the downhill back towards the finish. The poor standard distance guys would have to turn right here and go further uphill, I felt very sorry for them! Turning downhill, again I had to encourage the legs to try and run properly downhill. I was a bit concerned about my dodgy knees on this downhill bit but they held out. Last little push to the finish line and a bit of a sprint to the line. The run route was long for a sprint tri too at 6.1km. The commentator announced my name and club as I crossed the line and mentioned it was a family day out for us! The commentator was great and created a really good atmosphere.
Bassenthwaite sailing club were hosting the event and Tri Lakeland were the organisers. We were impressed by the organisation of the event and to have the facilities on offer at the sailing club were a real pleasure; refreshments, hot and cold sandwiches, cakes, hot showers, large changing room, plenty of loos, plenty of masseurs. The organisers were very friendly and helpful and created a really lovely event. Swimming in Bassenthwaite was a pleasure. Although Chris isn’t converted to open water tri’s yet, I think this one is definitely one we will be doing annually unless our summer holidays happen to clash with it. It would make a fantastic club trip out. We hope to see lots of Ponteland Tri there next year. Oh and did I mention the brutal hill?