The Ringmer Sprint

Today’s race was a bit of a blast from the past. I have done this event before but a lot has changed since 2008, like where to park, where transition is, the bike route and the run route for starters.

So why a sprint? My wife likes this event and she does the Novice (super sprint) distance every year. I go to support her as she is my biggest supporter and I try to be hers (although one or two events of hers versus the number I do per year including travelling, camping etc for mine, she is a more dedicated supporter than I am! I haven’t yet supported for 6 hours at a time like she does for me.

Anyway, as I was going to support her, and then would have to do my own training session in the afternoon, I thought I would do the sprint distance and kill two birds with one stone.

So, for me, this was solely a C race, a training event. But when you are lining up by the pool (yes a pool swim GULP) it would be untrue to say I didn’t treat it as a training event.

The event is very small and low key. Less than 200 starters in total (covering both races), some marshalling but not many marshals, manual timing so no timing chip and so three times: Swim, Bike and Run and no transition timings.

We got there in plenty of time, but were told the car park was already full so we had to park ‘elsewhere’. Bluntly anywhere we could find that was legal, we were told.

We finally parked, walked back to the car park, registered, racked and set up transition and listened to the pre race briefing. Then over to the pool. I was number 116 and my wife was 210. We did some quick maths and worked out (as the first 16 people started) I was well over an hour away from starting and my wife even longer. A long wait then.

I finally started and had a good swim. Solid, well paced, mainly clear water (after a bit of over taking) a swim time of 9 mins 26 secs. Out the pool and then out the door, then around the car park, thru the tennis courts, across the grass and into T1. Longest route to transition ever! Not sure where the swim end was and whether the long route to transition was part of the swim or part of the bike?

A slow T1 mainly due to me flapping and then out on the bike. A good pace on the bike, I felt strong, I over took a couple of riders and saw the THREE arrows telling me to go left, up a small incline and then to the end of that road and did a left (as signposted), as I did I saw other competitors coming from the right, one of them shouted to me that I had taken a short cut. I finished the first lap wondering what to do. The race was over for me as I had not done the full lap for lap one, but as it’s a training event I might as well do lap two and then do the run and then come clean and disqualify myself. So I ploughed on.

Lap two I went past the sign posted left (which was for a different bike ride event that was happening nearby on the same day) – didn’t mention that at the pre race briefing did they! As I did the second lap I thought ‘hang on, if I go past the left and do the full loop, but then do a left where I came out on lap one and do that loop again, I would have actually done more than the race required 24K. I would still let the race ref know what I did and can show them the Garmin proving I did it all and more, if they needed it. Where I come isn’t an issue – I just didn’t want people to think I had cheated.

I finished the bike and after another flappy transition I hit the run. Two laps of a 3K loop, mainly tarmac (road or pavement) but also involved going over a stile, across a field and back on to the tarmac for each lap.

Mainly an uneventful run. A good pace of circa 12 kmph (my fresh 10K pace) that I tried to sustain for the entire run. I felt myself slowing the second half of the first lap and was glad to finish that lap and run past transition and hear the cheers to get me going for lap 2.

The official run time was 32 mins and 5 secs, but by the Garmin it was 31 mins and 30 secs so I think the run included T2. Lap 2 was 1 min slower at 16.17 than lap 1 was at 15.14.

So overall a finish time of 1 hr 38 mins 17 secs. That placed me (overall) 76th out of 139 finishers. Swim I was 38th, bike 104th and run 68th. That pattern will tell you the bike was a longer course for me than others had done, but a good solid run. (The extra run training is paying off Mark).

Now I know the course error was my fault under the rules and small print ‘it is the participants responsibility to know the course and count laps etc etc’. But why have a pre race briefing if it isn’ to tell you there are two events happening that day in that vicinity. There were two or three marshals on some roundabouts, one could have gone to the far turn and the instruction been (at race briefing) go straight unless there is a marshal there?

Anyway I reported what I had done to the race ref and the time keeper and why, and the race results don’t have me as disqualified. So I guess they believed me.

The wife had a good event too. A fast swim (she is a good swimmer) placing her 29th, an eventful bike coming 49th and a run putting her 50th. This meant she finished in a time of 1hr 16 mins and and she finished 50th overall and she achieved her target ‘finish in one piece and not come last’.

I say eventful bike as she too took the signposted left, following another rider in front of her, who did the same. But the person in front then turned around and so did my wife.

I wonder how many others took the wrong left and didn’t do the full distance ………

The race did achieve two things though. One – it inspired my wife to do another event, she is looking at the Uckfield Tri in early September and it confirmed my thoughts that I am an endurance triathlete and not a Sprint triathlete.

All in all it was fun and made a change to training.

Thanks for reading.

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