England result at Holme (Pierpoint) – Team Relays Race Report

It all started when Tony said ‘how do you fancy a weekend in Nottingham in August?’ oh yes I thought, it’s a great place for shopping ‘it’s the National Triathlon relay weekend and Ollie is organising teams from Lincsquad. We can all camp together, it’ll be a brilliant weekend’ Camping?? Triathlon?? Camping?? I don’t know what scared me the most…

‘You’ll be fine’ he said, ‘you’ve been training for ages, swimming at the Pods, track at Quibell and park runs and you’re alright on your bike. Besides it’s a sprint so the distances are short. Oh and you will have to come open water swimming at Barton too and we will have to get you a wetsuit’

As the weekend approached the teams were randomly selected by Ollie for Saturday and Sunday, loosely based on famous people from Scunthorpe and I was allocated to Sunday’s team named Kevin Keegan’s Perm along with Jane Taylor, Fred Saxon and Anna Gibbs who like me was a Tri novice. I wanted to point out to Ollie that Kevin Keegan was actually from Doncaster and only played for Scunthorpe Utd but I guess he was struggling to identify too many famous Scunthonians so perhaps it was just as well that we only had 4 teams!

Friday arrived and we packed the van with all the gear (seriously I do not know of many other sports that require so much kit) and headed off to Nottingham National Watersports Centre.

Saturday’s racing was brilliant, so many clubs from all over the country taking part and our two teams really put on a great show. They made it look so easy I began to think I could do this too. Saturday evening was chilled, us campers all together, chatting, laughing, drinking beer eating take out pizza (thanks to Dave Hinch for taking the large order and collecting it and to Lincsquad who paid for it too).

Sunday morning arrived all too quickly and the butterflies began to kick in but thankfully racing started at 9am so I didn’t have time to think about it for too long. So off we went, Anna, Shona, Dan and myself over to the Watersports centre, just a stone’s throw from the camp site and met up with everyone else.

It was a new format for the Sunday team relays and it felt like organised chaos, competitors/teams milling around with arms full of essential equipment-bike, wetsuit, helmet, shoes etc all waiting for the race briefing. It was definitely going to be fast and furious…

Looking round me I couldn’t help but think that some people were taking this way too seriously…Julie start

Poor Ollie, if I asked him once I must have asked him a dozen times where I had to rack my bike, where do I exit transition! Before I knew it we were off and Jane started her swim and it wasn’t long before she was out and into transition. As soon as she was out on her bike, I was able to rack mine and Fred took his place at the swim handover point next to the run finish line. This was my cue to squeeze myself into that wetsuit with the realisation that it was all starting to feel a bit too real!

‘I’ll oil you up’ said Steve Cannings Errmmm ‘I’ll help you to get the wetsuit off in transition’ Aahh what a relief I was starting to wonder if I’d ever be able to look Shona in the face again. Jane was quick and handed over to Fred who was handing over to me so off I went to wait in the swim transition area with Shona who was waiting for Dave. And wait I did. Now don’t get me wrong Fred wasn’t slow but boy was there some amazing triathletes in this race which was why I was probably the last ‘blue’ hat member of a team waiting to get into the water. But on the upside at least Fred wasn’t loosing valuable time in trying to spot me…

In I went, I mean how hard could it be? I’d been practicing at Barton, hell I even managed to do a full lap once. So I gave myself a good talking too, ignored the ‘yellow’ hats of last team members powering past me and got the nerves under control. Time to put into practice what I’d learned from Lincsquad Sunday swim training Bubble Bubble Breathe… Thankfully the water wasn’t particularly choppy or cold and I was soon dragging myself out of the water and trotting off into transition. The one good thing about being behind everyone else is that you can easily spot your bike. And yes I was grateful for the oil on by arms and legs as the wetsuit glided off with ease (Top Tip Mr. Cannings!). Out onto the bike lap, head down legs powering round as fast as could. Whoosh the familiar sound of TT bikes as they passed me. If only I could have caught them up I could have drafted!julie T1

It was just one lap for the bike so I was soon entering run transition remembering to dismount before the line and off onto the run. Now I’m not the best runner in the world made worse by the fact that I am suffering at the moment with plantar faciitis in the right heel and it was the bit I was dreading the most. It was painful (on many levels!) But I ran a bit, hobbled a bit, and ran a bit…well you get the picture. Up to the turn point and water station muttering to the marshal ‘Why am I doing this?’ to which she said ‘I know why and I’ll tell you on the way back’ Damn I had to carry on now otherwise I’d never know. Her reply was ‘because you’d only be sat on the couch otherwise’. Yep she was right, at least I was having a go.

Julie runI may have been slow but the support and encouragement from the spectators and competitors (admittedly as they passed me) was fantastic. And then I spotted a familiar face, Tony was there waiting for me to come past the Boathouse giving me so much encouragement and it was the boost I needed and he stayed with me to just before the final home straight with shouts of ‘sprint finish!’ There was no way I was going to hobble over the finish line where I knew Anna would be waiting (on her own by this time) so I dug deep and went for it (Thank you Jacqui and Ollie for the coaching at Quibell park) and I sprinted past the Grandstand, cheering from the crowd with Lincsquadder voices the loudest of all as I sprinted over the line and straight to handover the wristband to Anna.

Passing that line was exhilarating, the sense of achievement I felt far outshined anything I’d done before. Did I enjoy it? Yes! Would I do it again? Definitely! Would I go camping again? I’ll let you know…


Julie England (Officially a Triathalete J)