Thorpe Park Oly Distance Race Report
by Shaun Mullen
The weather report you don’t want to see before kicking off a triathlon is ‘wet and windy’ but that’s what we got. Luckily I was spared the biblical downpour that hit just as I crossed the finish line. Sam Begg won the race so he probably didn’t see a drop of rain.
It’s an early start for this one. In order to get there for the 6:50am race briefing (half of which I managed to miss anyway), it meant lifting the head from a warm pillow at 4:30am. Ouch. Big thanks to Dan Goscomb for picking me up in his all singing/dancing tri mobile. A well-received Costa, some dodgy techno music and an hour’s journey saw us cruise into the Thorpe Park parking lot. Registration was in a warm, carpeted meeting/conference area which proved a Godsend at the end of the race. A not-so-quick prep (for me anyway – see lack of race briefing above) and the swarm was off for a short walk to the swim start.
The swim route was one loop of the Park’s lake. It seemed fairly clean but overrun with weeds which verged from mildly annoying to almost dangerous at times as some competitors, Katrina Turner included, were quite badly entangled. At one stage Dan inherited a pair of weed wings. In fairness, I saw marshals in kayaks who were omnipresent and any difficulties appeared to be quickly dealt with. I exited the water like a flying fish in 22 minutes. By that stage Sam had probably already started his run.
A short ramp up to the shore and run and I was into T1 and running to the bike mount which was pleasingly close by. The bike route is a single, fairly undulating 40k lap and really quite an enjoyable ride on good quality roads and, at that time of the morning, a lack of cars. 70 minutes later, a fly by from Dan on his stealth machine and T2 was upon me. Now time to sort the men from the boys!
The run was 3 laps with a small out-and-back section and then a loop through the Park, which is just about the most enjoyably surreal tri run route I have experienced, apart from Disneyland Hong Kong, but that’s another story. Nothing beats trying to catch up with Dan to the sounds of a post-apocalyptic world ringing in your ears. We got some pretty odd looks from Thorpe Park employees who had started to filter into their positions. My legs started to cramp pretty badly on the last lap and I had Goscomb in my sights who I could see was also hurting, largely self-inflicted from a trip to Vegas. 30 seconds from the end and I had caught up with my cramp-riddled, hobbling nemesis; inferno in my legs, I couldn’t resist a patronising pat on the back. Next time Dan (hehe).
After guzzling sports drink and an industrial quantity of jaffa cakes I bumped into Stephen Searby, hobbling Dan and Sam the Colossus, who had been waiting for a few days, and clapped in Katrina. I saw Alan McPherson briefly at the start who did well considering that he came off his bike a few weeks ago and still managed to compete, looking like a wounded bird. Well done though mate – great effort.
All in all an X cellent outing from 7Oaks Tri. I would highly recommend Thorpe Park and Tri Project. The race was well organised and good fun, killer weeds notwithstanding.