DESCRIPTION: 750m OW swim - 20k cycle - 5k run
DATE: 22nd September 2013
LOCATION: Southsea, Portsmouth
It’s almost the end of the triathlon season, my first, and I’m willing it not to finish. Like many, it only took one race before I was well and truly hooked – my diary’s full of training sessions and my bank account empty from buying new kit. But with the list of events for this year running out, I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. I needed a dance floor to show off my new moves. Happily, I found a party in Portsmouth.
Hosted by Wiggle in its hometown, this new end of season celebration was in good hands. They’ve been ensuring my cupboards are stocked full of Haribo since I began triathlon-ing and, as one of the biggest suppliers of equipment, they certainly know how to keep multi-sporters happy. Their invite was open to novices and pros alike with the choice of either sprint or olympic distance. Being late in the year, first-racers were given enough time to psych themselves up for the challenge ahead and seasoned athletes given another chance to chase that, perhaps elusive, PB.
Not all that turned up on Sunday were welcome, though. Every party has its gatecrasher and in this case it was a persistently pushy current that pulled revelers astray. This isn’t to say the swim in the ‘balmy’ 16-degree Solent was unpleasant, the complete lack of seaweed is always a winner for me for a start, but let’s just say most of us swam slightly further than planned by taking a more ‘scenic’ route. Thankfully, the waves chose to stay away, otherwise the party venue may have inadvertently changed to the Isle of Wight that peeked through the morning fog.
That was the only uninvited guest we encountered during festivities, with the cycle route being strictly invite only and completely closed to traffic. There was the odd disorientated local on their Sunday stroll, surprised to see crowds on their doorstep but most offered a cheerful wave of encouragement, as did the marshals – all of them pretty chirpy despite their early morning.
There were no vantage points for spectators (the sensible ones who prefer to keep to the edge of the tarmac dance floor), unless you chose to scale one of the old naval towers, as the entire course was flat. Absolutely. Pan. Flat. Not even a hint of an undulation. Need I say more?! This topographic feature certainly appealed to my hill-phobic tendencies, the biggest incline was probably the ramp up the curb to transition. It made for a pretty fast course, as the steady stream of merrymakers speeding past me proved. I’ve no doubt quite a few PBs were taken home. Those of us that preferred a slightly slower pace were rewarded with views of nautical treasures like HMS Victory and Southsea Castle, built for Henry VIII, a king no doubt familiar with parties.
The final stretch of this shindig had us dancing through the old town and along the coastline, giving us the chance to suck in the mix of fresh sea air and sweetness of candyfloss only found at a British seaside. The view, a mash-up of the historic castles and kitsch pier attractions, soon gave way to the familiar green of the field we started in – the party, and indeed the season, was at its close.
Medal and finishers’ t-shirt in hand, I left the first Wiggle Portsmouth triathlon, and my first sprint race, as one leaves any heavy weekend – achy, tired and ever so slightly emotional but with great memories and the hope of doing it all over again next year.
Thank you to Tri247 for the race entry and for publishing me here: http://www.tri247.com/article_12096.html