Race Report: Triathlon Pink | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Triathlon Pink

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Race Report: Triathlon Pink

WHAT:  200m swim – 6k bike – 2k run
WHERE:  Bath University, Somerset
WHEN:  8th June
WHY:  to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer

They did it!

Of course they did! I had no doubt my friends would ace their first triathlon, and after raising a staggering £826.08 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer, they kind of had to. There were things I wasn't certain of, though – will they enjoy it? Will they hate me for asking them to try? Was it something they'd be proud of doing? But the answers to all my questions came clear as I watched one friend bounce over the finish line, asking which triathlons she could do next. The other flopped on the grass beside her ever-so-slightly-jealous-of-her-achievement boyfriend. Her answer to his suggestion that "we should do one together"? "Err...maybe..." I'd call that success!


The swim almost always feels like the worst part of a triathlon. It's the first leg, the one you wait around for as you get more nervous – you don't have time to think about the others once you've dipped your toes in the water. But even our nervous swimmer, Sally, was made to feel relaxed at this, what I'm calling, the friendliest triathlon ever. The briefing for our small group of middle-distancers was held at the side of the pool by one of the original organisers of the Australian Triathlon Pink. With only women racing, each sat nervously in a bright pink cap, almost all as first time triathletes, now would've been the time (if any) for a bit of patronising chat from a retired ironman. There was absolutely none – not even a hint - only encouraging words and helpful tips with a few jokes in between to lighten the mood.

So with minds put to rest, it was time to (literally) jump in the deep end. Our trio was last in the pool, our supposedly slow swimmer leading the way, me bringing up the rear. She wasn't phased by the unexpectedly long pool (Bath University are spoilt with a 50m indoor one) and had done her homework on how to zig zag across the pool around each buoy. So our convoy casually glided along and, brilliantly, past one of the other swimmers, then another. In total I think we passed six swimmers before hopping out towards transition. First section done.


The transition to bike started a little earlier than planned. All sporting advice, including my own, will tell you to test out your kit before race day – we didn't think to include bike racks. So, of course, the newly borrowed rack began to slip on the M4. A quick stop on the hard shoulder to disassemble all the bikes and put them in the second car saw us safely to the start but with limited time to talk the team through transition tips.

Now, after celebrating being one third through our triathlon, I felt two sets of eyes looking at me, waiting to see how I go about getting ready to cycle. Putting my shorts on backwards (I decided to not wear my trisuit as the others didn't have one) was not the best way of demonstrating my knowledge. Luckily, there was no timing for the event!

On our first of four laps, I also realised my mechanical knowledge was somewhat lacking. Steph was pedalling like crazy without going anywhere but not knowing much about bikes, I couldn't work out what was wrong. A pit stop to seek help from the always-supportive marshals soon revealed that it was a case of not knowing how to use the gears properly. After a quick crash course in bike gears 101, we were back on our way along the winding route and soon clapped and cheered back into transition. Two thirds finished.


"Why can't the run be first?!"

I did feel for Steph. She'd had the whole event to worry about the running and her bargaining had been unsuccessful – unfortunately, we couldn't do triathlon the other way round, nor could we replace the two lap run with more cycling. The only way to finish would be by putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving until we reached the pink carpeted finish line.

She was tired but still managed to smile her way round, perhaps slightly more so when she realised the water station gave her a welcome excuse to walk. Despite going slower, we never stopped moving, and Steph's determination was clear then we reached the short but steep hill for the second time. She said she'd run up to it then walk the incline but she didn't stop! It was brilliant to see her determination to do her very best and even though it was hurting, she gave it her all.

As we crossed the line, a rush of pride filled my eyes. I was so proud to see friends take on this challenge and I was honoured to have been able to tackle it with them, side by side.

There are still three more events in the Triathlon Pink series this year in Sunderland, Leeds and Basildon. If you fancy a friendly introduction to triathlon or just a brilliant day out for a good cause, sign up here.

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