ERDINGER Alkoholfrei Team Race Reports
18th June 2015
Windsor Triathlon is one of the oldest and certainly one of the most well-known races in the UK. I have raced the event a number of times but after having a couple of years break from it I decided it was time to come back. This year it was the 25th anniversary and also a non-drafting event which I felt would suit me. Without much specific run work the plan was to swim with the lead group and then ride comfortably so I could run well.
The start of the swim went well, found myself out in the lead within the first 50m and slowed down a little to get on the feet ofStannard and Hayes. This was going “swimmingly” until about 400m in when I looked up out of the muddy depths of the Thames to see I had gone slightly off course and lost the feet of the two in front. I chased them down but couldn’t get anywhere near them. Cut my losses and decided to swim at my pace. I eventually lost some 30 seconds out the swim and managed to cut it down a little coming out of transition. Feeling a little frustrated I jumped on my bike with real determination. I knew what power to hold so I was happy that I could put some time into them. That was until I realised I had made a school boy error and left my computer in my bag. First triathlon for a while so hopefully I am forgiven. I tried to ride at what I felt was a comfortable pace. I quickly over took Standardand at the turn around I could see Hayes. I think Stu (Hayes) must have turned the gas on for the rest of the ride because he put some time in to me. It was a strange run in, lots of athletes on the course and lots of cars making it a little dangerous. I was close to a few age-groupers pulling out but not looking to see what was coming up behind them.
Going on to the run I was a little worried how my legs would feel but with all the bike work I had been doing they actually felt really good. I even started to gain some time on Stu. By the third lap a stitch had hit me and I was running out of road so I enjoyed the atmosphere for the 25th Anniversary. It was a fantastic event and the new course was fantastic. It was really nice to also get to spend some time with my sponsors ERDINGER Alkoholfrei and team mate Karl Alexander. I will hopefully be back next year and aim for one step higher on the podium.
Triathlon is a young in sporting terms, with the first race to be named a ‘Triathlon’ held in 1974, it will be celebrating its 41st birthday this September.
The 2015 Windsor Triathlon celebrating its 25th anniversary is an amazing milestone in our sport and as such was recognised with a dinner the night before the event that I was fortunate enough to attend.
This included Q&A sessions with former winners of the event including Stuart Hayes,Richard Stannard and Spencer Smith. It was fantastic to hear their personal memories of the event and I was looking forward to the race.
Despite being on my doorstep, this would be my first time racing this event and I would be joined by my ERDINGER Alkoholfrei teammate, two-time Ironman UK winner Dan Halksworth.
With nearly 2000 athletes participating, registration and racking was held on the Saturday and staggered through the day based on surnames. As I arrived I spotted theERDINGER Alkoholfrei stall and made my way over to say hello – this was when I learned that the ‘Race With The Stars’ event was to be non-drafting and a quick visit to the helpdesk I swapped from my 35-39 age group and would be on the start line next to Stuart Hayes and Richard Stannard.
The swap would mean mandatory attendance at the race brief at 4pm, but since I would be taking Dan Halksworth there any way it didn’t make a difference. As a benefit I was first to rack my bike so I had prime location to put my Planet X Exocet 2. Once we were sorted, we headed home to relax and go for a quick spin before the race brief and the anniversary dinner.
Another bonus was that the change in wave meant I would no longer be off at 06:35 which meant an extra hour in bed. Arriving at 7:30 we could see the earlier waves already out on course and there was a fantastic buzz in the air. Having left my bike outside overnight I was keen to get into transition and give it a quick once over and adjust my tyre pressure, with light rain and drizzle forecast I didn’t want a repeat performance of my crash at The Outlaw.
After a short run to get warmed up it was time to get the wetsuit on and head down to the Swim start. The swim course had been changed for this year’s edition of the race, starting upstream athletes would swim approximately ¾ of the distance downstream and turn at Eton Bridge before turning back upstream and swim exit.
I opted to start directly behind Richard Stannard, a man nicknamed ‘The Fish’ figuring if I could hold onto him for a few hundred meters it would set me up for a good time. I didn’t hold him for a few meters let alone a few hundred, within seconds Stannard,Halksworth and Stu Hayes were away and I made myself uncomfortable in the chasing pack.
The transitions at Windsor are quite long and the format of the race was more swim, run, transition, run, bike, transition and run! I moved quickly through T1 and headed out on the bike, I quickly began passing the faster swimmers and up ahead I could seePaul Burton (Optima Racing Team) throughout the duration of the ride the gap never fell or grew and we rode at a nearly identical pace although my bike split was one second faster…
On the out and back of Drift Road I caught site of Stu Hayes leading the race, withDan Halksworth in 2nd and Richard in 3rd. In between them and Paul there were riders from previous waves out on course and I was looking at each of them to try and determine if they were in our wave or not. I continued to push hard but as I approached a roundabout just before the Great Park I got caught up in heavy traffic. On a short climb some of the previous waves had bunched up and cars were unable to pass, this was quite frustrating and spotting a gap I was through and free to ride. Coming through the Great Park I was holding over 50kph, coming into Windsor there are a number of turns and roundabouts to negotiate and again my line wasn’t as quick as it could have been but nonetheless I came into T2 in 59:47and was chasing.
The top three were too far ahead to run down in 10km but 4th was very much up for grabs, at the turn point in front of the castle the gap between Paul and I had come down a little, by the 2nd turn point at the King Edward VII bridge I was closing and at the end of lap 1 I was up on Pauls shoulder, I was so close that he wasn’t aware I was and I could see him looking to see where I had gone.
A spectator shouted to him that he was in 4th just as I made my pass and accelerated up the hill to the castle turn. I heard him say “nope, I’m in 5th “which made me smile. Working hard on the climb the crowds were amazing and shouting support to everyone. Then I heard “Keep it going Karl, looking good” I looked to see my Planet X team mate, legend and all round nice guy Spencer Smith cheering me on.
Approaching the bridge turn I saw Stu and Dan but further down the road, further than on lap one was Richard – I was gaining on him. This filled me with a massive confidence boost and I pushed hard. On the third and final lap I had gained but I knew that unless he spectacularly blew up I wasn’t going to get across. I held strong and crossed the finish into 4th place behind Stuart Hayes (1st)Dan Halksworth (2nd) and Richard Stannard (3rd).
I’m really pleased with the result, it was yet another excellent race from Human Race Events, the spectators, and volunteers were amazing. I can’t believe I’ve not done this event before.
Diane “Boo” Smith
After a rather soggy day on Saturday supporting my husband in his sprint race at Blenheim, it was refreshing to wake up to a dry, not too cold, June morning. As Olympic distance isn’t my favourite I felt there was no real pressure and the main thing was to enjoy the 25th running of the Windsor Triathlon. Although I live relatively close by, in Uxbridge, it was tough to set the alarm for 4am.
We racked our bikes on the Saturday, but with so many bikes there, my main concern was how I was going to find my bike during transition.
After a winter working hard on my swimming I was happy with the adapted swim course, with far more downstream swimming since the last time I did this race. I don’t feel that I swam to the best of my abilities, however the water wasn’t too cold and I wasn’t fighting the current. The 500m swim upstream after the turn buoy didn’t seem too difficult either. I should never have worried about finding my bike, my new bright pink back pack was a homing device. I was out of transition pretty quickly. It seemed I had to keep running for ages before the bike mount line.
The weather stayed pretty clear for most of the bike route apart from a few light showers of drizzle, nothing to make the road’s too slippery. The course was marked clearly with nothing left to chance. The marshals were fantastic and it was great to see lots of motorbike and vehicle support for anyone having technical problems. I was really happy with my bike leg, overtaking lots of people from my wave. Upon finishing the cycling leg, again, I easily found my space for my bike, (which I fondly call Ladybird) with my pink backpack being easy to detect. The run out was straightforward. Again this route had slightly changed. There was no running over the Eton Bridge. The three laps were relatively flat apart from the sharp climb up alongside the castle.
I can actually say I enjoyed the run, with lots of encouragement from spectators along most of the course. I was really surprised to come in second in my age group. I now know I had pipped the third lady in my age group on the turn point of the third lap. It was fantastic to see so many people racing in this event. There were lots of newbies to triathlon as well as the fast and the furious racing side by side. Thank you Human Race and of course it was fab to see everyone enjoying their ERDINGER Alkohollfrei isotonic recovery drinks!