Monday, 27 August 2012

National Club Relay Championships 2012

Two years ago, Salisbury Tri Club made their first venture into the havoc-filled world of the National Relays with two intrepid and courageous teams. Only three of those triathlete warriors were brave enough to return to Holme Pierrepont, face the carnage and represent once again along with five newbies. We were wiser this time around, we knew sheer guts, determination and epic fitness just wouldn't be enough; what we needed was vast quantities of wine, comfortable chairs, a fine selection of cake and enough meat to feed a small army.

The Tigers
I don't know how many teams take part in total, it's a complex system with proper championship categories, but in with each proper "race" there is also an open category. None of us really cared about any of that because we all had one thing and one thing only on our minds: which team would win. The banter has been going on for weeks and had reached utterly ridiculous levels. It was time to settle the score and see who would emerge victorious.

The Sharks
Once we had all arrived and settled into the aforementioned comfortable chairs, race prep begun. Susan, our team captain, had informed me in the previous week of her positive experiences relating to pre-race wine hydration. I thought it was a team secret but our competitors had clearly gotten wind of it and everybody was ensuring they were adequately hydrated. 

We were fortunate enough to be racing in the afternoon on the Saturday, and so spent the morning having a recce of the start and the transitions. One thing we hadn't sorted since last time was setting up a spot to leave all our stuff during the race, but our lovely friends at Andover Tri had kindly offered us space in their gazebo for bike and kit storage.

Despite a very questionable weather forecast, the sun had been shining all morning; the roads had dried up nicely and everybody was becoming more concerned about sunburn than about getting wet. In fact, we all had a sweat on before the race had even started and struggled to haul ourselves into the neoprene. We had sacrificed our most experienced team member, Shaun,  to the mass start and the Sharks team captain Mark had sacrificed himself. The rowing lake is especially foul tasting and full of all sorts of green stuff and goose poo. There was a nervous air about the place but as soon as the horn went, everybody got themselves in the zone. The number twos shoved their way through the bustling crowds to get a prime vantage point and be ready to jump up and down and scream the names of the number ones, ensuring a quick and effective handover of the team band.

Once everybody had escaped the lake of ming, the bike of joy commenced. Three 5k loops of the lake. It was fast, flat tarmac with only a couple of slightly dodgy corners and plenty of room for overtaking. It is the sort of bike course where you can't help but love to make yourself hurt, and we did. Everybody was blasting their way around the circuit and I even found myself cheering wildly for our rivals as it was all just so fun and exciting. I was number 4 in the team and whilst I was very glad that the rest of my team had all experienced a   wonderfully dry and sunny bike leg, I was less than impressed at the extreme and sudden hail/thunderstorm that ensued moments after I'd left transition. Not being able to see as hail drives into your eyeballs is not conducive to a successful ride. At least I made it round and managed to stay upright, several others were not so lucky and there were a number of crashes about the course.

Fortunately all of STC made it through safely and got out onto the run. By this time (and it is a long time), we had all forgotten our differences and were united in the run transition area, screaming wildly for each other. Everybody was pushing hard on the run and a sense of pride and camaraderie had overtaken the previous competitiveness. Saying that, running down the home straight to the noise of my team mates filled me with joy as I knew we had won, YES! 

In true sporting nature though, we cheered even louder for our beaten club mates. All in all, a fantastic day out for Salisbury Tri Club. Wine, apparently, is also good for recovery. Suffice to say we recovered very well together that evening and celebrated surviving the Club Relays once again. 

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