Participant Report : Tenby Long Course Weekend : 60% Ironman Distance.
Firstly, let me explain the title:
- I don’t race, I don’t compete, I participate.
- The Welsh may be very good at Rugby (sometimes), Singing and Building Castles but, it seems to me, they cannot do sums. This ‘Half Distance’ Long Course Weekend included a 70 mile bike ride.
Secondly, (for those who don’t know me) I will introduce myself:
I am a hugely experienced athlete (I took part in the Inaugural Oxfordshire Triathlon c1981) and have participated in countless events since then. I have just never got any better.
Thirdly, let me share my Event report for the Tenby 60% LCW:
I was advised by the club’s resident Tigress that Tenby was one of the best Long Course Weekends – where it’s even possible to take time (if not racing) to visit Dobby’s grave.
As the LCW is a bit far, I entered the Half Distance; you can still visit Dobby.
Tenby certainly works hard to make you welcome; with signs across the A477 as you approach the town plus flags and bunting throughout the centre.
The swim …..
….. starts from a glorious sandy beach with fireworks exploding and Samba Drummers playing.
The organisers claimed a mass start of 2,500 swimmers (from 54 nations) but – as we were all gradually funnelled out of the start pen – that wasn’t as much fun as it sounds.
We were told that the swim to the first marker would be the hardest leg (I feel it took me five minutes just to swim round the buoy). The ‘quicker’, tide assisted second leg was hampered by a head wind – creating a distinctly wavy surface; making timely breathing a bit hit and miss.
The ride …..
….. I prepared well by taking painkillers the night before (the residual effect seems to kickstart my pre-race dosage) and liberally anointing all lower limb joints with Voltarol. Nothing could stop me now.
Riders were being released in groups of about 30 – so I got as far to the front as I could.
(Explanatory Note : Chip times don’t matter – it’s only important to maximise your time on the course before it closes).
Riding tight to the left (I have the lash marks from roadside vegetation to prove it) I was periodically overtaken by 30 rider pelotons for about the first 90 minutes, after which the ride became enjoyable. It was particularly pleasant through the dunes at Freshwater Bay … but the views aren’t as grand as the organisers make out. (That said, it was much nicer than Prudential Ride London).
One problem was that Garmin have no idea what constitutes a hill. I had used up all my hill climbing strategies (spinning with an extra thrust every third push) shortly after we left Tenby.
(Explanatory Note: as a slower rider it is impossible to zig-zag as you need to leave room for the wizz-kids).
(Note to wizz-kids; 1. Please let us know that you are coming 2. keep your snot-rockets to yourselves until you are well past).
I was pleasantly surprised how many of the ‘Garmin’ hills I was able to tackle – 8 in the first 90km – though a bit of pushing was sometimes required.
Most of the hilly-mischief came in the final 23km; at Wiseman’s Bridge, Saundersfoot and Tenby.
I took a ten minute rest before beginning my ascent and then, as I walked up the ‘king of the mountains’ hill I met the Samba Drummers – who were walking down, having already packed up. As I neared the summit, I did get a shout-out from the commentator …. but I was the only one to hear it.
Back on the bike, it was then plain sailing until the finish … which was a rather posh affair with lots of earlier finishers still present. These were mostly those who couldn’t fit in the pubs and were therefore drinking on the footpath …… but all their applause was appreciated.
The run …..
….. this is the only issue with the LCW organisation; coaches took us to Pembroke at 09:30 – meaning that we had an ~2 hour wait until the half marathon started at 12:00.
At 11:40, runners were ‘paraded’ to the start behind the Samba Drummers whilst the marathon runners – who had started in Tenby – zoomed past us on the way to their halfway point.
I sneakily overtook the Drummers – to secure pole position on the start line (see explanatory note already given under Ride).
You will all know that triathletes have an excuse in every limb, and I am no exception. I had therefore long planned to walk the half marathon. I got a bit of a shift on for the first 5km – as I was told that the second half was harder than the first half. I then slowed to a fast walk to the mantra of … ‘there by four’ … ‘there by four’… ‘there by four’…
There were indeed a couple of nasty hills on the second half – with some nice views across the Bay – before a long descent into Tenby and a rotten little hill just before the end.
I did mange to muster a stately run through the town and along the red carpet to the finish where, I was … ‘there by four’ … at 3:46.
If you are silly enough to start and stubborn enough to finish, I would recommend Tenby’s 60% LCW.