I had high hopes going into only my 2nd Olympic distance triathlon, not only from fitness and form but also from being a part of the 5150 Triathlon series debut in the UK. 5150 got its name simply by adding up the 1.5km Swim, 40Km Bike and the 10K run equalling 51.50km. You may also see it written as 5i50 as it’s run by the same owners and organizers of the Ironman/Ironman 70.3 series.
After doing this event last year there where certainly area’s for improvement the main one being the lack of mats down to run/walk on from the swim to transition. I would of thought the World Triathlon Corporation responsible would have been on to this and made the appropriate amendments but unfortunately it was just the same only with more advertisement banners up which ironically if you had laid them down they would of covered the distance from the water to bike no problem and would of made the journey at least a little more comfortable.
One thing the 5150 series did is make this a much higher profiled event attracting some big names into the elite field including the current Ironman UK champion Fraser Cartmell. Unfortunately we were to share the same fate and have to settle for second best as he lost out to the day’s winner Stuart Hayes in 01:49:18 and I was once again beaten to arch enemy Liam Bennett. Liz Blatchford won the ladies with an impressive 01:57:46.
My day started with a 6am alarm call and although I was well organised the night before I still managed to clatter about the house getting ready and waking baby up in the process. I’m not much of an early eater but after forcing breakfast down and racking the bike up I was on my way across town to pick up Liam.
Due to start a 9 o’clock it was fast approaching 8am and we were only just getting to the car park. Luckily we just made it into the main car park right next to the transition area. With only a short walk to registration which was smoothly operated we were back on time and in the transition area when I realised I’d left my number in the car. Liam had also left his water bottle so after a quick dash there and back we were now running a little late. They start letting you in the water at 8:50, we didn’t even have our wet suits on! Panic was over when we joined the back of the queue and then got in the water, after working up a bit of a sweat just to get there on time it felt refreshing instead of the usual shock of cold shouting up my body.
I positioned myself on the outside hoping for clear water and was just discussing this with Liam when a guy behind shouted in the style of Murray Walker “Go Go Go!” Then the masses of arms and legs started thrashing about, what no countdown or hooter like last year I thought to myself as I threw my arms forward and kicked my legs joining in with the mayhem. Not even 100 meter in and I couldn’t catch my breath, every time I popped up to take a breath I’d just get a mouthful of the Mersey. Bodies everywhere, arms hitting and pushing you, legs kicking you, and I’ve paid money for this. After about 200 meters it funnelled down and the carnage well and truly kicked in. If you’re a strong swimmer like Liam you can get yourself ahead of this massacre but for someone like me it’s every man for themselves!
Clear water finally came and I could get my head down and concentrate on swimming instead of surviving. I got myself into a rhythm and just kept going, wanting this bad swim experience to be over. The end was in sight and it didn’t seem like I’d been in the water for 30 minutes so I thought I’d clocked my target time. After a few stumbles getting out of the water as my feet found themselves again, I managed to get my wetsuit down to my waist and checked my watch, I was disappointed to see it approaching 35 minutes! Transition didn’t go smoothly either; still slightly light headed I struggled getting the wetsuit off and was glad to finally get out of there and on the bike.
I was at home on the bike and confidence came souring back as I passed other riders. I caught a glimpse of Liam on the other side of the road early on my first lap knowing he was around half way through his first lap, I estimated he had 10 minutes on me already so I had my work cut out to catch him. I got my head down and hit some nice speeds wind assisted and they felt strong into the wind keeping up my average speed. Each lap I saw Liam and the gap was closing and as I started my final lap I thought I might just catch him. I almost did too, I entered the transition area to see him scoffing some jelly babies and off he went to start his run just as I racked up my bike. I’d managed to get the gap down to about 30 seconds.
I zoomed through T2 and set about the chase. It wasn’t until the turn at half way through the first lap I saw Liam again and the gap still seemed about 30 secs but I was running low on energy but determined to give it all I had I kept pushing. I could feel myself slowing and I walked through a drinks station to take on water, by now it was getting hot too and I was struggling to keep up the pace. I started lap two with a second wind but it barely lasted a Kilometre, then a stitch in the last few Kilometres didn’t help matters. I saw Liam again just before he turned off for the finishing straight and gave him a high five as we passed each other and said well done, good running.
I wasn’t sure of my run time and pace but felt overall I was quicker than last year so as I turned for the home straight I was happy to see the clock under 2h 45. Not quite the 2h 40 I’d hoped for but after that swim I was more than happy I Knocked close to 7 minutes off my PB. I didn’t beat Liam but I had him scared and I’ve certainly closed the gap. Of course he was waiting for my at the finish line where we showed our respect with the traditional man hug. To steal Dr. Claw’s catch phrase, “I get you next time, Bennett! Next time”
Photos to follow – still waiting for them to go online.
SWIM – 33:51 T1 – 3:24 BIKE – 1:14:37 T2 – 1:23 RUN – 51:23 TOTAL – 2:44:36
SWIM – 24:31 T1 – 1:49 BIKE – 1:24:08 T2 – 2:19 RUN – 48:19 TOTAL – 2:41:04