Swim Report (Maxwell Randles)
Following some unusually warm weather, a non-wetsuit swim looked very likely, however, by race morning the lake had cooled enough to allow competitors to don our neoprene flotation suits… I mean wetsuits – the relief was palpable!!! The rolling start (at 10 second intervals) meant that the normal chaos of a mass start was avoided, so I quickly found my pace and settled in.
Athletes were well spaced, which made sighting through the low sun easier as I was able to follow the line of feet between the turn buoys. The water was flat calm and far clearer than expected. In fact, I could see the bottom of the lake for much of the swim.
I was a little unsure of my pacing as I haven’t been able to swim as much as I would’ve liked over the last few months, so I tried to cap my effort at about 70% to avoid spiking my heart rate and burning matches too early in the race.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the swim, which set me up for an enjoyable day in the Cotswolds.
Bike Report (Maxwell Randles)
With the prospect of a neutralised, COVID secure transition, the normal post-swim wobbly legs weren’t such an issue as I was able to take a few extra moments to compose myself, walking where necessary to remain socially distant. There was plenty of space between bikes, so my transition area could be a little more spread out than normal.
Following a short jog to the mount line, I was out onto a 2 lap, flat and fast bike course. My initial concern was an unsighted crossroads about a km into the ride, but this was excellently managed between the local police and race marshals. From there, junctions were well signposted, and the route was clear to follow.
Although the race was held on open roads on a sunny August weekend, there was very little traffic, which made the 56-mile ride more enjoyable. As competitors had been seeded by surname, rather than predicted race time, I found myself having to overtake some earlier starters, which was not an issue as everyone on the course was very conscientious.
The road conditions were mixed, so I had to keep an eye out for potholes, but this is the reality of any race in the UK. Athletes had been instructed to be self-sufficient on the bike, but an “emergency” aid station was provided, should any of the competitors run out of fluids. It was set up in such a way that it would induce a small time penalty, which meant that it was not abused.
Considering it was a relatively small event, there was great support during the bike leg, which always makes a huge difference. If you want a bike PB, this is the race for you!
Run and Finish Report (Simon d’Albertanson)
As I approached the dismount line for the bike leg, I was looking forward to the luxury of a 5-minute COVID compliant neutralised transition, but planned to keep a sense of urgency as good practice for future races. The Transition area was calm, and I did what I need to do with minimal fuss and was out and on the run well within the allocated time.
The run was a 3-lap course that began through the car park of the water park and then narrowed to trails as we proceeded clockwise round the lake we had swum some hours earlier.
As the lap continued the quality of the trail deteriorated with parts run over rougher ground and several very sharp turns. Running in recently purchased Hoka Carbon-Xs with a significant stack meant I had to place my feet carefully to avoid rolling an ankle. The second loop of the lap was more open on pavements and quieter roads.
Despite the COVID regs, there were 2 aid stations that operated virtually identically as normal, we just needed to hand sanitise and collect our water from a table rather than have it handed to us.
Due to the staggered alphabetical start to the event the run course got progressively busier as the laps progressed but not to a level that was unworkable. Everyone was respectful as they passed or were passed.
Despite this being a ‘behind closed doors’ event the support from the marshals and other spectators in the public areas was amazing and felt no different for pervious pre-COVID events: ‘Well done Navy,’ ‘Come on Jack’ etc etc.
A little over 1 Hr 50 min and I was into the last few kms and I tried to empty the tank as much as possible. Coming into the finish chute the announcer almost pronounced my name right and it was over. Possibly the great challenge was yet to come though as I needed to bend down to remove my timing chip from my ankle without outside help. Once this was done, I was handed a medal and a goodie bag containing a finishers t-shirt, bottle of water and what we used to call a ‘buff’ but will now double as a useful face covering.
I waited at the finish area and soon Max, Elsie and Sam came through and so we celebrated with a Socially Distant finishers photo standing in the lake.
In summary a brilliantly safe COVID compliant event with a flat lake swim, fast bike on variable quality roads and a flat moderately technical run. Highly recommended.