As I wheel my bike over to the bike racks there is an air of calm that fills the fierce morning air. The wind swirls as each racer tries to rack their bikes. I rustle my way to the front rack which looks to have the cleanest exit from the transition area. I stake claim to a section of rack that will be my launching pad for the bike leg of the race. The pre-race chitter chatter begins to build as a nervous but exciting energy fills the carpark. This is the personification of “The clam before the storm”.
With the tension growing and the pre-race briefing out of the way, the marshal signals the athletes to the starting line. At this point I have butterflies flapping around so much in my stomach I am about to take flight. The adrenaline starts to surge and then it begins, the countdown starts 3, 2, 1….
The crowd takes off, my first mass start, the first race I’ve ran since I got disqualified for cheating in the egg and spoon race. I tear off after the lead group, we are only a couple of 100 meters down the road and already the lead group has broken free. A feeling of pure energy surges through the group as runners feed off each other’s pace and the group starts to move as one.
I run a couple of yards back in admiration of the lead group as the steam rises into the tress above and the entire group pulses as different runners jockey for position.
The race is on!
We swing a left and head up into the mountains. The road is covered in by the canopy of trees, I can only imagine that Cuchulainn use to run these very roads.
Before I realize it the hustle and bustle of the transition area can be heard in the near distance. Time to refocus, I go over my game plan in my head as I bound towards the transition area. Helmet first, then cycling shoes, grab the bike and relaunch.
As I shuffle towards the exit there is a roadblock of cyclists as they all try to mount their bikes in a peculiar frenzy. All I can think is, I’m still in the race.
I leave the transition area, vaulting onto my bike in full sprint as if I am a Clint Eastwood after robbing a bank. Unfortunately, this was no ride into the sunset. The cycle is a battle, the downhill is met with a stiff wind to halt any unearned progress and the uphill is relentless. The race begins to flow as the hum from the aero bikes mimics an F1 race.
I tuck into the drops on my trusty road bike and try to stick with the pace. After two loops of the cycle, I can see the marshals signalling for the transition area. I wipe the sweat from my brow and dart into the transition area. Letting out a large sigh of relief one quote fills my mind as a head out for the last leg, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends”.
Clambering out of the transition area all I can think of is, time to claw back those places I lost on the bike but in reality, I should have been thinking pace yourself young man!
I leave the transition area in a small group of 4 or 5 guys. After almost 50 mins we are neck and neck. It’s the same run so we all know what’s to come…. THE HILL….
We start off downhill pacing stride for stride, with not one athlete giving an inch. The run continues down over the river and up to the second to last turn. Once we turn, we all know it’s uphill to the end. We meander up hill and the steep gradient can be seen on the face of some of the runners as they fall off, the surroundings and feeling in my body, which was mostly nausea at this stage, flattens the gradient and I just run free to the finish line.