Serpie Planner - event reports

South Coast Classic Triathlon - Olympic (13 Aug 2011)

This race starts from Martello Fields, Seaford, West Sussex. I took Friday off work to allow me time to travel on the train with my bike before rush house, find the B&B and possibly register and look at the course. Registration closed at 5pm on Friday. The train pulled in at about 4:10 so there was plenty of time. I realised that a fellow passenger (with flat handlebars as opposed to drops) was looking to register as well. I’d printed the briefing email out which also contained my number. They offered to write my number on then rather than the next day. I didn’t feel in need of a shower but hesitated in case it came off on the B&B sheets. They assured me it would not. I had my numbers drawn on - left arm and right leg “No chips” they explained. For this reason you also get two numbers and even if you are wearing a race belt they require you to wear both numbers. It was windy and cool, the light was fading and I was not sure about logistics so decided to buy food, find the B&B and worry about the race the next day.

All night it rained. The B&B had picture windows overlooking a road and then the sea, rain lashed the window and the wind lashed the madly flaying trees.

I was surprised to see the B&B proprietor had kindly taken my bike out of the garage (it was a 9:30 start and I was procrastinating - it was now 8:15) and it was in the hallway. I was glad to see it was dry as I had not yet put its sticker on. I was also surprised to see my fellow train traveller. He had a supporter with him who had never watched a triathlon - she was picking a tough one to start with - lots of wind and rain and not much shelter. We cycled our way while she walked to the start. A mini event was set off at 9am after some prevarication by the lifeguards about the state of the water. Our course was shortened from 4 laps to 2 and the layout of the swim was changed with us getting into the sea from the right rather than swimming to that point. We were told we had five minutes to the start and if we wanted to warm up to do so as we would have to get out again. The beach was pebbly and we’d all suffered on the walk. As you stepped into the sea the boiling waves pounded your feet with the stones. I stumbled as I tried to get water into my wetsuit and for some reason my fellow competitors felt compelled to pull me out. I was quite grateful but could not feel my goggles … A brave fellow launched himself at the surf and on about his third effort withdrew my blue and white goggles - not the easiest target in that beautiful bluey green water. I implored anyone who would listen to put their hats OVER their goggles and tried emptying the salty water out of mine as we awaited the start… It was chaos in the surf, people seemed to spend a lot of time “upright” rather than swimming, knowing how poor I am at swimming I tried to get my head down and go but a surf-boarded lifeguard politely alerted me to the fact that I was swimming parallel to the beach and away from the buoy. I then headed out to sea and the first buoy. From there it was a left to another parallel to the sea. Crashing out through the waves felt fine - I think I’m used to that from childhood holidays. I am less used to putting my head down and driving through sideways moving waves but eventually looked up and realised it was time to turn left back towards shore. Now we were supposed to head for a “gate”.. two buoys maybe 15m from shore and then back to buoy one. As I turned left towards “the gate” I was shocked to see the pack heading straight for me and the shore… I had to drive across them towards the gate “Have you all done two laps?” I gasped… Nobody answered. When I got dragged out towards the coir matting an organiser must have decided I was delirious and accompanied me to the top of the beach. From there I followed the coir matting back down into transition. In that respect it’s a bit like the swim/bike transition at Windsor but steeper and more pebbles. These pebbles also make themselves felt on the road of the bike (12!) laps. There were plenty of aero bars in evidence and as we headed into the wind I could see why. A slight rise as you head out and then a descent back towards transition and a beautiful white cliff beyond that. After about 7 laps became conscious of the delicious coffee smells emanating from a shop near transition, this also lead to jay walking tourists later on the race once the participants thinned out.

The four laps of the run were glorious - apart from the jay walking tourists and even a competitor who’d finished?/was preparing for a later race and decided that the 10km course was the place to stand and take off his trousers… (gnash)..

Because of the laps there were loads of competitors to look out for and wonder which lap they were on. Near the transition area I heard one saying he had two more to do (all Olympians were started at the same time). I was about halfway through mine but not discouraged. There were people with suspension and baggy tea-shirts, there was another bike with a luggage rack (like mine!) - I didn’t feel I’d be last. Some competitors were doing relays, there were shorter races before and after the Olympian.. it all felt fine. I finished second from last female in 3:13:35. Two (younger!) men took longer than me but I have finished last in Lanzarote and I know it doesn’t hurt.. I thought I’d done it in 3:45 so was really happy when I found the results page ( What with the confusion over the swimming and the fact that there were no chips and I didn’t see anyone counting the bike laps I began to wonder if there would be results They include your transition times into your leg times so they will appear longer than usual.