Blenheim – Chris Hemingway

Inspired by recent “proper” race reports, I thought I’d break tradition, and do one myself (as an antidote to the earlier obligatory silliness I posted 🤣)

Its a bit of a tome, so if you fancy, grab some supper, settle down for the evening 🥂😀


Blenheim Triathlon is very special to me. It was my first Triathlon in 2010, I joined Ox Tri for the pre Blenhiem swims- i still get memory notification on my fb page “it was so cold i thought my teeth were going to fall out” every May, and bar 2 occasions I’ve done every year since, so 2022 is my 10th BlenhiemI love the sense of occasion, the buzz, the beauty of the course- and the support. I can honestly say I do not recall ever having a bad race hereAfter 8 years of Sprints, I was tempted by Weekend Warrior. Doing sprints was ok, but it was all over in 95mins- i wanted more, so in 2019 i went for it… didnt quite go to plan, but these things happenUndeterred, I went in for 2020, but covid came- the June date was postponed again and again, it was very frustrating- will it, won’t it, if it will, when…?

Eventually we raced in September- i had a glorious weekend, my best ever, not to be equalled, did 3 and 2, and could have done another if i had have really emptied the tank- but that was not was the weekend was about- I’d done it- and only wanted to come back for more2021 was not to be. I didn’t want to go through all the “will it-wont it” uncertainty in the continuing pandemic- and there were more important things to be taking care of in those unprecedented times, so 2021 was just a training year- “I’ll be back in 22” was good enoughAnd my training was going well, my running just took off- I had in mind a 4 and 3 for my WW return. Then Mr Crulefate knocked on the door with a broard grin on his face.

First i got covid and spent a fortnight in bed feeling rather unwell- but, once recovered, seemed to have none of the after effects…Then winter drew in- and my training dropped- and i noticed when i did do a session my breathing was awfulI knew what was needed here- I had obviously not been training hard enough- so I set up an Alpe Du Zwift session on my Turbo and went for a PBI was 3s off, and staggered into the house and announced to Rachel “bugger, that nearlly killed me”12hrs later i was being fed through a scanner in JR Hospital 😕 I’d woken in the night barely able to breatheRachel called the Dr as i couldn’t I overheard “you need to get him to hospital”, “Shall i take him now?”, “No, you misunderstand, you need to call 999 and get an ambulance right now!”

It turned out i had quite a decent infection on my lung- Pneumonia- and Pleurisy- oh yes, and a Pulmonary Embolism 😦 I told the Dr of my recent activity “So, you’ve been suffering breathing problems after having covid, and decided to do a high intensity endurance session!- are you mad” she asked, with a wry smile”Im a Triathlete, does that count?” i gasped, She added a withering “Paddington Bear” stare to the wry smile.

So, that was 6 weeks off work, and longer off training- I only had 4 months till raceday. Got the all clear to go back to work- 1 week in, and a routine covid test comes back positive! I wasnt ill, no symptoms at all- but it was “suggested” to me that this was not the time to be doing high intensity endurance sets…🙄So, I wait for the neg test- try a run- 2 miles and oh my giddy aunt- i had to sleep the rest of the day! I ended up spending the weeks away in a hotel as i was too tired to drive home after work. This also meant i was missing what training sessions i would have hoped to do. I was beginning to hope the race would be postponed!

I got scanned- all clear- but informed that i probably had long covid”Ive already had 2 covids, i dont want another, Im into Triathlon, not Tri-corona-thon!”I propely had enough of this game of soldiers- so i went for a run- and Strava kindly pointed out i was 90s per mile slower than this day a year ago! 😟Race day nearsMy Crulefate pops by to mock me once more…oh you are a wag sir! This year the last Sprint wave will be 13:30 on Saturday and 11:30 on Sunday Not so much a “Weekend Warrior”, more a “Half Day Closing Warrior”. That settled it- the most i could hope for was to equal 2020 with a 3 and 2So, the night before the race arrives. I enjoy a large “Now thats what i call carb loading” Fried Potato Sandwich before bed ” … supper of champions! 👍🤣

The Race


So its off to the palace. One of the little buzzes about being a Warrior is when you arrive at the Palace entrance, you are waved past the queue of standard competitors “Weekend Warrior… this way please” and we march off to our own reserved Transition area, on a podium overlooking everyone else.Bike racked, its off to the lake, wave 2, a huge cheer and were off- I’m back!The water was cool, but not cold, and clear, and i settled into my slow loping stroke, going for efficiency, not speed.Before long I’m at the exit pontoon- and its the famous leg sapping climb to T1. I broke into a trot- but was very aware that my muscles disagreed intently with the plan! Onto the bike, and one of my favorite parts of the day- that big open downhill stretch, over the big bridge that allows you to to effortlessly build up speed and get the wind whistling in your ears and the tri-suit dried in an instant.

Round the downhill esses, now its my first real test, the long climb. I had thought that all my “Alpe du Zwift” sessions would let me stand on my pedals and power up, but the hill had a few words to say about that “Im the real deal sonny boy, not one of those make pretend games, just you sit yourself down and we’ll say no more about it””Yessir, sorry sir” I mutter, knock it into first, and begin grindingBut before long its the best bit- the great long descent- and on a newly resurfaced path, and with few other competitor’s around yet, it was down on the aerobars, and let her fly, on past “my bridge”, not a wobble- we’ve made our peace, and im grinning like a lunatic.Its not long before Im on my 1st run. I put in a formal request for my legs to get a bloody move on, they respectfully decline the invitation. Its going to be like that then?Yes, it would appear so!As a WW you get 2 number bibs, one for Sat, one for Sun. I just wear them both, one pinned to my front, one on my back, both days. This means no race belt needed, but akso on the run, as other competitor’s come to pass me, which i can assure you is what most of them will be doing – they can see you are a WW from the yellow bib. You get cheers and banter from the other Warriors, and many other runners give a high five and “go ONNNNN Warrior- how many today?” shouts of encouragement and kudosSome while later, its down the finishing shute, to the roars of the crowd, the announcers holler “its a Weekend Warrior … Chris HEMINGWAY…” and thats one in the bag 😀Another WW little buzz, as you exit the finish line, assistants are there to take your timing chip- I raise my hand, and they recognise “Weekend Warror!” and i walk through- a few cheers from the other finishers- you can hear some of them explaining to their families “hes off to do another now….” in hushed tones…And so i was- with the shortened days there was no time for a break and a look around, i could afford a gentle amble back to Transition, but it would be straight into race two today. On with the wet-wetsuit, rinse and repeat.Another WW buzz, off to the swim start, you bypass the wave start holding area, and jog down your own private path, past the pen- the announcer sees my yellow swim cap “here comes a warrior” i turn and give everyone a massive shout “have a bloody great race” leap and clap, and recieve a rapturous cheer from the 100 or so competitors as i enter the lake alone.

The second Sprint was noticably harder, but I got to see Elanor on her race, and probably a decent photo as we passed the camera together. Also saw Simon a few times as he sped round like a scalded cat!Well, thats two, can i do a third… yes i can, See all the above- but harder!


Sunday arrives, i lay in bed, and consider getting up. I intruct my aching joints to put our differences aside and to make an effort for the team A few moments later I finish my close inspection of the bedroom carpet. My muscles appear to have made other arrangements for the day. We settle on a mutually agreed compromise that if i get up, I wont do it again. Haha, suckers! So we’re back, and by the time Im in transition, im feeling fine. The race was sedentary to say the least, as my joints, muscles, heart and lungs all unified in protest at the abysmal treatmnt i was putting them through, but i grinned rather than grimaced all the wayI got to the finish, and thoughtIt been a great weekend

Ive loved it all.

I can’t do a 2nd sprint as the last sprint wave has gone, so only super sprint left I hand in my timing chip, no regrets I could have rested, gone to the last wave, and done a 5th, i even though i could do the super sprint 400m swim, then just do the full ride and run for the hell of it- its not like they’ll drag me off the course!…but it would hurt, it would really hurt, it would be horrible- and i was here for fun. (Next week, the 113, is for hurt!🤣)So, inexplicably overcome by sensibleness, (I’ll pop by the surgery tomorrow just in case its anything serious!) i settled on 4I spent the rest of the morning just enjoying the vibes, cheering my clubmates, the warriors, and all the other competitor’s and eating eccles cakes, the recovery fuel of heroes!I had a fabulous weeked, great to be out flying the OxTri colours again after what seems an age…now where is that Steak i bought?

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