Sarah Jepson’s race report.
Arriving at the race venue on Saturday afternoon I got myself booked in and picked up my transponder and race numbers. As I haven’t done too much sea swimming it was decided that I, with my chief support and new husband, would swim the course to get ‘a feel’ of the water and make sure I had knowledge of good sightings spots to ensure I stayed on course.
Race morning arrived and everything appeared calm, I’d had one of the best nights sleep for a long while and felt ready for what was to come. Due to the swim being in the sea the organisers had to arrange the start times to co-inside with tide times so I had a later than normal start time of 10:55am. Arrived in a well set-up and managed transition area too find I could not have been in a better spot. As the morning went on it was noticeable that the wind was getting stronger so a very last minute decision was made to change my rear disc wheel to my deep rimmed one. This meant a 15min run return trip for Pete but thankfully he made it and the wheel was changed with moments to spare before transition was locked down.
The race started from the beach, so on the hooter I ran as far into the sea as I could and started swimming quickly. Without too much incident I arrived at the first turn bouy and made it round with no hassle, then came the second where I found myself between the feet of two equally matched swimmers. It was at this point I took on my fair share of sea water – with every breath to either side I was faced with water from the kicking feet of the other two swimmers. When one of the swimmers drifted off to the side I took the opportunity to pass the other and get myself in some clear water. Onto the swim exit and the long beach run into transition arriving with a lot of sand attached to my feet. I had done a bit of preperation for this knowing that a cycle shoe full of sand would notbe comfortable so with a quick squirt of water to both feet I was out of transition and onto the bike.
Due to site size restriction the mount line was quite narrow and as I arrived a couple of women had taken the decision to stop just past the line to get on their bikes, as it was crowded I decided to pass through this comotion to find a clear spot to mount my bike with no outside interference. The bike course was a short 3 lap race totalling 23km and it was soon apparent the decision to change the rear wheel was the right one as the wind speed had increased and was now also gusting strongly. The bike course was fairly flat with a couple of very small inclines to start onto a fast dual carriageway section and then a fast downhill return into town. I felt I was able to hold my own on the bike and was able to keep a good pace without stepping over the mark.
Into T2, controlled and ready for the 5.3km, 2 lap run along the promenade. The run discipline is not my strongest but something that has been, and will continually be worked on. Heading out I was able to get into a good cadence and felt good setting off on lap 1. Being able to see the other competitors in front is always good but I often get passed by the better runners coming from behind, however today with a better awareness of my running I was able to pass people myself, something I would really like to get used to. With this giving me confidence in how I was running I was able to finish as strong as I ever have coming in with a finishing time of 1:21:13.
I am already looking forward to Bala next weekend and another chance to qualify for next years Europeans in Kitzbhuel, Austria. (Sarah Jepson)