I have been looking forward to this one for a long time, having never done it before so it was a completely new area that we both haven’t been to for many years. But the weekend didn’t start well when we were travelling up there on Saturday morning because we started to have car problems & eventually lights popped up on the dashboard advising us to stop & get help. So to cut a long story short, we had to take a diversion to Exeter to get the car fixed & then we headed off on our merry way. What should have been approx. 3hr leisurely drive, turned into a 6 ½ hr nightmare. But once we got to Croyde we still managed to have time to reccie the bike course, get settled into our B&B & head off to the pub to register/eat dinner.
Race day morning – we had an alarm call at 4:50am with the aim to be out of the B&B by 6am, which we achieved. The night-time rain had cleared & had left us with a gorgeous morning with the sun up & feeling warm on the skin.
I racked & got everything ready well before the race briefing, which was held in transition, at 7:10am. And then a first for us, we had to walk down a very steep hill then along the beach which took us approximately 20mins to get to the start line.
I managed to get into the sea for acclimation & found that what had looked like little waves from the top of the cliff were in fact quite lumpy. There were also hundreds of jelly fish stranded on the sand so I was expecting to find plenty more in the sea!!!
The swim was 1500mtrs & I was in the second wave & found it a bit difficult to get through the initial 50mtrs of the waves, but once I had reached the first buoy I managed to get going proper & not be put off with all of the jelly fish underneath me. I got a little bit mixed up at the last buoy with the back-markers of the first wave but did some dodging & weaving & managed to swim in on the waves, to get those vital few extra metres, & with the tide being out I had a long run up the beach to a mini transition where wetsuit came off & old run shoes went on (sand in my best ones wouldn’t have been comfortable for the second run).
I would say that the run from the beach up to transition proper was a good kilometre, carrying my wetsuit, & was overtaking people who had opted to run up to T1 in their wetsuits with bare feet. Mind you, I am saying running but as it was so steep it was more of a jog.
Into T1 where Coach 2 was sitting on a grassy bank outside of transition but by my bike. I had a quick transition & then ran up a steep bank to the mount line on the little country lane. I forgot to mention that the lanes that we would be going along were only a car’s width so it was always going to be tricky if we met any on-coming traffic. So I headed off onto the out & back 23.5 mile bike course & the only way to describe this course was it was constantly either up or down & not a flat bit in sight.
All in all it contained 1844ft of climbing & somewhere along the course I clocked 45mph!!! After the initial speed-demons had overtaken me it settled down on the way out & then on the way back it got a little bit lonely but I was concentrating on two riders a bit further along the road & when we were nearing the finish they eventually came back to me, but I had worked to get them & I was hoping that it wouldn’t affect the run. As well as the narrow lanes to contend with we did have a ford with running water to negotiate twice.
Once into T2 for another quick transition, I headed out onto the 12K one loop run. Now this race is nicknamed “Stunning & Savage”. The stunning bit were the spectacular views but I never noticed them because I was concentrating on my running & the savage bit was the run course itself. Yet again, hardly any flat bits in it & it was mostly all off-road apart for 100mtrs on road. Also there were monster climbs with steps thrown in, just to add to the agony. Then they took us across a beach so running through the soft sand was a nightmare. Then to add to my mindset, I had just gone through 6K where the marshal told me that I had 7K to go!!! Now when you are told that you are doing a 12K run in my book 6K & 7K don’t add up to 12. Admittedly on the run I think I overtook one person but I did get overtaken quite a lot. I had to walk twice & both times it was because the climb was up steep slopes. I stopped at the last water station to make sure that I got plenty of fluid down me because by this time it was super hot. Eventually I got to the finish line with the title of “Stunning & Savage” coming to fruition with everything hurting, which again in my book, means that I had left everything out there.
My splits are as follows:
The total time was 2:48:03 (3rd male Super Vet & 39th overall out of 211 competitors)
Swim – 23:28 (47th)
From Swim to T1 – 2:56
T1 – 0:43
Bike – 1:17:37 (30th)
T2 – 0:42
Run – 1:02:34 (59th)
All in all we had a great weekend in Croyde & I completed a tough & challenging triathlon & finished with a smile (eventually)