The Outlaw Half is a half iron distance race, which equates to a 1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike followed by a 13.1 mile run.
The venue was the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham.
I have raced the full distance Outlaw on two previous occasions, once as a solo competitor, and once as part of a relay team, so I was familiar with the course and venue, which always makes the pre-race preparation much easier. Training has been going well, so I felt quite relaxed and ready as the weekend of the race arrived.
I had booked into a nearby hotel on the Saturday night before the race, with my youngest daughter, and chief cheerleader Evie, along with fellow competitor Gary Burt from Ribble Valley Tri Club and his family.
It was a shame that my husband Paul and other daughter Rosie couldn’t make the trip, but it was great to have Evie and our good friends the “Burts” to cheer us on the next day.
I woke up at 4am on race morning to find that the weather forecast had unfortunately been accurate, and yet again I would be racing in cold, wet and windy conditions!
After a light breakfast and my usual two cups of tea, Gary and I set off for the race venue, leaving the rest of our crew still asleep in bed.
With approximately 1500 competitors, the transition area is very big, but I was pleased to find that the all the female competitors, about 300 of us, had all been put in one smaller side area.
The race started with the first swim wave at 6.30am, with others setting off at 10minute intervals. The last swim wave to set off was all female at 7am.
I had discussed my approach to the swim with Rodge a few days earlier, and we had decided that I needed to be more positive, so with this in mind, I put myself in the middle of the swimmers waiting to start, rather than on the edge, and much nearer the front than I would normally do. This positive frame of mind seemed to work well, and I completed the swim much quicker than I had anticipated.
As I exited the swim, both legs cramped badly, so I had a bit of a hobble to transition. Although painful, this is a reasonably regular occurrence for me, so it was no surprise. I struggled to get out of my wetsuit due to the cramp, but I managed eventually, and also took some extra time to put on some socks and a rain jacket due to the poor weather conditions and the length of the event.
Once out onto the bike, I really started to enjoy myself. The course is undulating, but fairly fast, with lots of time spent on the aerobars.
I passed numerous competitors, both male and female, as I worked my way up the field. By the end of the bike course I had moved up 31 places in my age group, to 8th.
I had a good quick T2, and headed out onto the run feeling strong. The run was two laps. I noted during the first lap that there was a brutal headwind approaching the finish, so I made a mental note to save some energy and be prepared for it on the second time around.
As I approached the finishing chute, my daughter Evie ran out onto the course and we sprinted down to the finish line together, which made it really special. It was also great to see Rodge at the finish line, cheering me on.
I was thrilled to find that I had broken 6 hours in tough conditions, finishing in 5hrs 56 minutes, and 6th in my age group.
Despite the weather, the Outlaw Half lived up to my expectations, and the organisers, One Step Beyond Promotions, should be commended for putting on yet another excellent event.
And finally a massive well done to Alex Foster who won his age group and finished third overall. (Wendy Drake)