A sunny and warm Sunday 28th May 2017 and the scene is set for the inaugural Southend Sprint Triathlon: Competitors and Supporters aplenty... Havering Tri were out in force!
The inaugural Sundried sprint triathlon at Southend was my first event of the year, and second ever race at sprint distance.
We arrived very early to get a good parking spot and used up the time by strolling along the esplanade to the exquisite Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Poppy Display.
The reduced 500m sea swim ran parallel to the shoreline and there were a few murmurings of discontent as the sea was a long way out but we knew it would come in by the time it was ready to race.
The race briefing was belted out at a number of decibels similar to a jet engine taking off. So I knew exactly what was what.
I found myself in the third wave. The previous two waves had set off after a short delay which meant the klaxon caught me by surprise. So much so that I forgot to start my watch. Keeping it casual I tried to start it as I was swimming along (with no luck). I don’t remember the water being too salty or the current very noticeable (this was my first ever sea swim) and I managed to work my way through the pack and exited the water first in my wave.
The bike was less of a success after I got stopped at a zebra crossing as a coach-load of tourists arrived and trundled across the road at a snail’s pace. It must’ve been fairly obvious I was competing in a race with three or four race numbers stuck to my helmet, bike and back but they were in no rush. Then I accidently jettisoned my sunglasses on a fast corner. I felt like I wasn’t going as fast as I could and without a watch I couldn’t gauge how far into the race I was. Then, all of a sudden, I arrived back at the seafront with about 500m to go to transition. I’d totally lost my bearings.
The run was tough in the heat – I think it was about 28 degrees. I’m usually okay running when it’s warmer than average, but I had trouble calming my breathing and the heat really took it out of me. The route took us out east along the seafront and back and as we neared the busier part of the esplanade it started to get more crowded with people milling around and cutting across the path. In hindsight, it wasn’t as much of a problem as we thought it would be before the race. I ran in the cycle lane parallel to the path when I could and kept out of trouble. Again, without my watch I was clueless as to how far I’d travelled and how much was left until I hit the turn point and knew there was 2.5km left to go.
I managed a sprint finish for the cameras and as I reached out to take a bottle being handed to me I received a blast of water in the face – the person who I thought was a helpful steward was in fact one of our many fantastic supporters, Lee Dale. Cheers United!
Here’s a breakdown of my results:
500m swim: 08:17;
20km bike: 40:46;
5km run: 24:29.
Total time: 1:15:35.
I’m happy with that. I was shocked and pleased to find myself out of the water first (although I suspect I was in the wrong wave). I was also pleasantly surprised at the run time given the conditions. I felt I could go quicker on the bike, so that’s something to aim for next time.
I should mention I also raced with a few other club members – Sean O’Brien and sister and brother-in-law Lucy and Glen Edwards who all performed superbly.
I would definitely race the Sundried Southend sprint triathlon again. I thought the marshalling was good and the general organisation was fine considering it was their first event. Although it would benefit from closed-roads for the bike and run – that said, it’s probably unfeasible given how much Southend relies on tourism during the summer – I really enjoyed the race and the day in general.
What really made it special was the amount of family and club mates that were able to come and support by virtue of the fact it is such a local race. All in all a very enjoyable day!
Great performances all around from Sean and the rest of the Havering Tri crew;
Swim 09:38/ T1 02:30/ Bike 45:06/ T2 01:35/ Run:29:36/ Overall 1:28:26
(150th overall and 3rd in AG)
Swim 07:57/ T1 00:59/ Bike 35:13/ T2 00:33/ Run 19:21/ Overall 1:04:03
(9th overall and 1st in AG)
Swim 08:17/ T1 01:34/ Bike:35:23/ T2 01:00/ Run 21:12/ Overall 1:07:26
(14th Overall and 2nd in AG)