This was just a great experience. It did require a very early start – we were asked to be at Hampton Pool by 5.30 am so even with our overnight stay at the Kingston Travelodge, Pete and I had to set our alarm for 3.45 am in order to have breakfast, pack and cycle across Bushy Park to get to the start on time. I was relieved to find steam coming off the 35m open air pool when we arrived and everyone being incredibly friendly and helpful as they showed us the way to transition and, more importantly, the café – already open and serving everything you could possibly want before a triathlon (narrative continued below).
I quickly met up with other Serpies and together we had our numbers written on both our arms and legs (just like the Brownlie brothers!). After the briefing, the race started at 6.30 am. I was number 135 – we went in number order at 10 second intervals but my turn came very quickly. The idea was that you started in one corner of the pool and swam up and down the lanes, ducking under the lane ropes, until, after 12 of the 36 m lengths you reached the far corner. All varying abilities but we had all given our estimated swim time as accurately as possible so that we would be swimming with people of about the same ability and this seemed to work well. The water was wonderfully warm and I didn’t drown, did it in breast stroke – as did many others – and received loads on encouragement from the marshals. Ran into transition (took me about 2 mins) and out on to the road for the bike bit. The 12 mile cycle ride was flat and I somehow managed to overtake 16 people on the bike bit. Of the over 50 women, I was the slowest in the swim (22nd) but after the bike and the run I had improved to 12th place, so very pleased with that. Again all abilities out – some in full time trial gear and some on hybrids – everyone so friendly and helpful.
Back through transition and out onto the run round Bushy Park. My only aim this time was to try to keep running, which I just about managed to do – very glad it wasn’t longer than 5k though! Pete was there at every point with his camera cheering me on, which was brilliant and every time I thought about walking there was someone to say, “come on Serpie, you’re doing great!”
I felt absolutely fine at the end of this again (just as well since I had 15 miles to cycle back to Pete’s flat afterwards) and I wasn’t last – there were about 60 people slower than me. So I do very much hope that more of my friends will have a go at some of these sprint tris – they are just a lot of fun and don’t seem to involve much training or effort :).