THE MARSHMAN HALF
13/06/2021 | Event link
Past results: never I competed in a triathlon in Kent. And only 3 half-iron distances so far on the board. 2017, The Gauntlet, Chantilly (France), 5h35mn. 2019, IronMan 70.3 Les Sables d’Olonne (France), 5h11mn. And 2021, Marlow Classic (UK), with the swim leg replaced by a run, 4h34mn. With only one goal in mind, a sub 5 hours.
- sub 5 hours – success
- swim under 39mn – success
- top 3 finish (AG) – failed
Saturday, 3 pm, pre-activation race bike and run sessions done and dusted. But I haven’t packed yet. I need to think about camping, my gear, my clothes and my nutrition. Thinking about camping, I did remember seeing something about it on the website, but nothing in the pre-race email I’ve received the day before.
Saturday, 6 pm, the car is fully loaded, and I’m ready to roll. Apple CarPlay on, Spotify on, and sat nav indicating an ETA of 8 pm.
Saturday 8 pm, arrived at the event location. A small path leading to the campsite with the transition area on my left, lakes on the right and left-hand side. Nice. Less nice a few seconds later when the campsite manager tells me it isn’t free. And it’s full. They have a weird definition of full in Kent. So after about a minute of negotiation and £20 through the drain, I was proudly throwing my 2sec Decathlon tent in the air and pinning it down.
Saturday, 9 pm, the bike is ready after a long fight with the front tyre refusing to pump. I did have some help from a fellow triathlete from Ful-on tri. Thanks. Dinner al fresco with kids shouting, dogs barking, and a Tiesto fan playing loud music. The joy of camping. I might get revenge at 5:30 am.
Early wake-up and early breakfast with some plant-based overnight oats. And a can of V energy drinks as a replacement to my morning coffee.
6:30 am registration. 7 am fluid in my Shiv hydration system, race number on the race belt, bike racked, belt on the handlebars and helmet on top of it, shoes and socks placed on a mini towel next to the bike and bag behind. All ready to go. 7:20 am, anti-chaffing/lube and wetsuit on. And a Rawvelo gel down in one.
7:30 am a short race briefing followed by the lake entry. Surprisingly warm compared to the sessions I did at Bray lake weeks before with water between 12 and 14 degrees. I stay at the back, I’m a slow swimmer. And I’m not in the mood for being kicked. So 35mn later, I’m out of the lake, I will take that, thanks.
8:05 am quick transition, about a minute, and I’m off for the bike leg. And this is where I catch people usually, and I’m rarely overtaken. Not because I’m super strong. But because I’m in the last of exiting the water. However today, I have trouble pushing, I feel a lack of power. Maybe some nutrition issues. I overtake one triathlete. But I’m caught by three. I try to follow – within the legal non-drafting distance – but I can’t. The road is flat and nice. The weather is stunning. It’s getting hot, but with a nice breeze. And then, it’s Rye, a left turn, a stretch of road going to the beach, and for 10 kilometres, it’s carnage and traffic jam. Twice as we make two loops on the bike. Should I overtake on the left? Right? Stay behind the cars? A painful and stressful moment that I’m not ready to experience again in a race. I drink fluid every 10 minutes or so and take a gel about halfway. Somehow the legs start to feel better, and I have the feeling to ride faster. Post-race analysis, we can see in the graph below the 2 sections where I got stuck in the traffic, and the second lap is faster than the first one.
10:50 am bike in the transition area, running shoes one, and off to the run route for four laps. It’s hot. I’m at 4:10/4:20mn/km. A bit high, I think. Don’t overcook it; slow down. I aim for 4:30mn/km. Drinking water between aid station 2 and 1 and taking a gel on each lap at aid station 1. It’s working well. And I’m overtaking people.
11:25 am (approximately), I cross the line with a 1h35mn half marathon run and a 4:57:20 half iron PB. Well done me.