The Hathersage Hilly Triathlon 2015 – Andrew Lawson’s Race Report
With the possible exception of Lincsquad’s own Brigg Sprint, the Hathersage Hilly is my favourite triathlon – I do like hills and as it says on the tee shirt, “It’s not flat”. The scenery is beautiful and there’s a friendly atmosphere. It’s quite a challenging course – The Sufferfest is one of the sponsors and whilst quite a few sprint triathlons have course records of less than an hour, the fastest time at this year’s Hilly was around 1 hour 13 minutes.
It’s a popular event and sells out quickly – I missed out the last couple of years by not signing up quickly enough and only got a place this year via the reserve list. One special feature of this event is that the T1 and T2 transitions are in different places, about a mile apart, so some pre-planning is needed to sort out the logistics. I took a spare helmet and pair of cycle shoes so was able to use my bike to ferry my kit to the transitions (although with a bit more planning, I could perhaps have avoided the need to ride 1-handed whilst holding boxes of kit in the other hand).
It was raining heavily before the start but I’d planned for this and managed to keep myself and my kit dry. Once the outer clothing came off, the wait on the poolside wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but it was soon over. The 422 metre swim went fine, the lanes were wide and I actually managed to overtake someone! My swim time was 1 minute 40 seconds faster than my last time at Hathersage – thank you Lincsquad coaches – my progress may be slow, but it is still progress!
Then I was out of the pool and running to transition. The path came to a T-junction in front of a high wall. Which way? I went left, up some steps, realised I’d made the wrong choice & went back the other way, wasting several precious seconds in the process. My transition times were less embarrassing than they’ve sometimes been in the past however – I’d planned & practised and was aided by my new quick-fastening triathlon-specific cycle shoes. The guy I’d been next to in the pool had got into transition before me but I was out of there and on my bike well before he’d finished. Free speed without exertion!
The 19.2 km bike route http://www.strava.com/segments/hathersage-hilly-ride-1552013 has around 240 metres of elevation gain and the majority of competitors used road bikes rather than TT bikes. The rain had stopped whilst I was in the pool and the sun came out part way through the ride.
I was down to 12 mph at one point but still steadily picking-off those who’d got out of the pool before me. Then came the final 35 mph descent into Hathersage (passing one more rider in the process) followed by hard braking for the dismount line into the second transition. I wasted a few more seconds here – despite my best efforts to memorise my location on the racking and counting the number of steps needed to run to it, I still managed to go past it.
I soon found my place however & was off on the run. http://www.mapmyrun.com/sc/victoria-english-river/copy-of-hathersage-hilly-run-route-route-12563712
The run route is around 6.25 km with 154 metres of climbing and is mostly cross-country. I was worried that the overnight/early morning rain might have turned it into a quagmire, but it wasn’t too bad. Trail running shoes are advised but I survived it OK in ordinary trainers (our Lincsquad winter duathlons provided good training for this). There was a hairy moment on the descent when I realised I’d inadvertently taken up skiing, but after some frantic heel-scrabbling, I managed to stay upright and regain control.
Then all that was left was the final sprint around the football field to the finish line. I ended up in 50th place overall out of 295 finishers and was 2nd in my age category. More importantly, I really enjoyed it. I hope to do it again next year & will try to get my entry in a bit sooner!
Full results: http://www.stuweb.co.uk/race/14b/
Organiser’s website: http://sheffieldtriclub.com/hathersage-hilly/