Our very own Abby Dorani’s race report on the inaugural Sprint Tri Ponteland.
With the number of members of the club doing triathlon increasing every year, and the success of our Go Tris also building year on year, it was no surprise that the time had come to put on our very own sprint triathlon. And so in the summer of 2017 the idea was born and by November 2017 a team of ambitious and enthusiastic individuals had come together to make it happen.
I was lucky enough to be one of them, which means that I really can confirm that a lot of blood and sweat (but no tears, that I know of!) went into making the event happen and, more so, making it such a success. Having said that, I will not bore you with the organizational details and instead skip straight to the big day itself, but not before a hats off to all those involved in putting on the event, all of the marshals and sponsors and the Sally Allan charity, without whom we could not have put on such a great day.
The triathlon fell on 1st July, right in the midst of one of the hottest summer periods we have seen for a long time. This of course worried me as I struggle to run in the heat, but having run, walked and crawled my way to the end of the furnace that was the London Marathon , I figured that running 5.7km in 22 degrees would probably be manageable. I arrived on the morning with no other real worries at all and truly enjoyed being met by a lot of familiar faces on my way to and at registration. An efficient registration meant I was quickly out to transition to drop of the bike and various other essential kit, where I was met by more friendly faces!
The familiar environment and the multitude of friends marshaling around me meant that I had never felt more relaxed before a race…but that all changed when I got to pool side and had a 2 hour wait until my swim start. This was when the nerves started to kick in, primarily because I was setting off just behind the infamous speedy Gonzales, aka Daniel Buffham (who I knew must have fibbed a bit when he put 8 minutes down as his swim time) but also because his equally young friend was setting off behind me and I knew they were racing each other. I have a large fear of being over taken in the pool, as I don’t want to be in anyone’s way, and so I was pretty nervous about being between two young whippets in competition. Having said that, it turns out that the set up really influenced me as I managed to summon the power to swim 400m in 7 minutes for the first, and probably last, time in my life! I am sure sugar high from the mars bar half an hour before also helped!
Getting out of the pool, I had to check that I had actually swam all of the lengths – Garmin said I had but I couldn’t believe the 6.55 time my watch had clocked. After Helen and Amelia confirmed that I had, I headed to transition where I flapped about with socks (I have since overheard that this is a rookie error) and ran to the mount line where Matty Bell and John McGargill kindly reminded me to slow down because I was in the dead zone, so there was no rush as the timer was on pause until I passed out of the dead zone further on in the village. Having been reminded about the dead zone, I got out my packed lunch, sat down and took a break before heading out on the bike leg (I jest, I did not do this…I am not organized enough to remember to pack myself lunch, or to remember to take it out of the fridge on a morning for that matter). The bike leg appeared flat, but from regularly riding these roads so close to home, I knew that it was a gradual climb for the majority of the way and so I could really feel it burning my legs. I ended up cycling alone most of the ride as the guys that had left the pool around the same time as me were much stronger cyclists. Luckily, the excitable and encouraging marshals at various points all the way around assisted in keeping me going, as did the nice gentleman cyclist passing in the opposite direction telling me to “push a harder gear and catch ‘em”.
On return to transition, I ran past my station and had to double back (another rookie error) and then struggled to get my shoes on as I don’t have those magic elastic laces (rookie error number three). Alas, I eventually set off on the run with David Stroud shouting good luck to me on my strongest discipline. I knew pretty quickly that this was not going to be my strongest discipline as by halfway around the first lap I was already walking, as the glaring sun had taken its toll on me. Even the bridal path only blessed us with about 2 minutes of shade before the trees opened up again to allow all the sun in. I felt like I had returned to London again and so was relieved to find the water and jelly baby station ran by the Allan Family half way around the course. Thankfully, despite the majority of my run being at about marathon pace, and having been overtaken by all the fast swimmers who had started after me, I managed to increase the pace on the final downhill. Despite almost running into transition rather than towards the finish line, I crossed the line in 1 hour 21 minutes, which was good enough to get me 4th place female overall (behind our very own Elaine Stroud who took 1st!) and, more excitingly, 1st senior female. My first trophy is looking a bit lonely though and so I think I will have to return next year to see if I can get another!!
Congratulations must go to all participants and all trophy winners, a large number of whom are Ponteland Tri members (It wasn’t a fix, I swear!). I hope you are all looking forward to next year as much as me!