National Club Triathlon Relays

6 Teams compete at the National Club Triathlon Relays in Nottingham

Afternoon Serpies,

24 Serpies travelled to Nottingham this weekend to compete in the National Club Relays at Holme Pierre Point. This is the 24th year of the event and was the biggest Serpie contingent for a few years. The 24 Serpies comprised 6 teams, 1 male and 1 female team racing Saturday AM and 4 mixed/open teams racing on Saturday PM. 4 of the 24 had also entered the elite style relays, a new format being tried for the first time this year, on the Sunday.

For those that don't know the relay format starts with a 500m swim. Once the first swimmer is done they tag the second team member, taking the all-important band, and swimmer 2 then does their 500m swim. General chaos is guaranteed as trying to find your hand over person in a crowd of 180 all of whom are wearing black wetsuits and the same colour hats is at times comical! There are random actions and vocal calling cards to help each team identify each other, much to the amusement of spectators and the commentator, in amongst general name shouting and hand waving. Anyway once the 4th swimmer is done they hand back to person 1 who starts the 15km bike leg.

Comedy strikes again at the bike hand over, with athletes so keen to pass on the band like it’s a hot coal, the hay bales in place as barriers take a battering from the speed of everyone running into them. The hay takes even more of a battering if the next cyclist isn’t racked and ready causing the cyclist who is waiting to hand over, to stand on the bale, jump up and down and shout their team-mates name. Once all in the team have done the bike it's on to running with all team members completing a 5km run. The event is entirely self-contained on closed paths / roads within Holme Pierre Point. Given the format, what ensues is fast and frantic at times but most of all a really fun style of racing.

Given that national titles are at stake the standard at the front is high but the event is tailored for all. The times ranged from 2.56 to 4.43 on Saturday AM and from 3.11 to 4.46 on Saturday PM. The quickest Serpie team on Saturday was the men's team in 3.33 which placed them 46th out of 199 teams. The women’s team was going well when disaster struck at bike dismount for one of the team ruling them out of the run. Fortunately there were no broken bones. Heal strong Abi :-). Anyway, with a woman down Catherine Farringdon stepped in to complete a double 5km run so the team was able to finish in 4.24 with another 22 teams still behind them and demonstrating true team spirit.

Due to a late drop out, one Serpie team in the afternoon had recruited one of the morning team to compete again in the afternoon and now they needed to do some more persuading as Abi's injury meant she couldn't compete in the afternoon. Eventually Ivan volunteered with a smile on his face, thanks Ivan! The afternoon's racing was no less fun. First team home was Serpentine ‘his and hers’ in 3.41 for 23rd place out of 165 teams closely followed by Serpies ‘late to the party’ in 3.44 (although 2 of their team had also raced in the morning so they claimed the moral victory). The other 2 afternoon teams raced neck and neck for over 4 hours and in the end just 20 seconds separated the 2 teams!

On Sunday, the format is similar to that done by the elite’s at the Commonwealth Games and in Hamburg this year. Each team member completes a super super sprint triathlon (250m swim, 5km bike, 1.6km run) before tagging the next team member. Although it is billed as an ‘elite style’ relay, the front end of the field certainly is elite with the likes of top ITU racers Adam Bowden and Tom Bishop on one team, however it’s really the format that is elite with a wide spread of abilities racing, so next year don’t be put off by the elite tag, it’s really good fun! The morning’s racing is a qualifying session for the afternoon, with the top 10 teams in each category to qualify. The final is a team time trial, with drafting allowed on the bike within the teams as the time is taken when the last person in the team crosses over the line.

4 Serpies had planned to compete, however with Abi who damaged her hand unable to take part, Simon volunteered to double up doing legs 1 and 4. Team Serpentine finished 30th out of 82 teams. Unfortunately this wasn’t good enough to make the final.

All in all, it was a great weekend. All who raced had fun and it would be great to get a lot more Serpies involved next year, whatever your ability, making a whole weekend of it. There are camping options across the road from HQ and in previous years Serpies have had an evening BBQ washed down with a few beers after a day of racing. So come along and get involved for next year.

Alex Elferink

Submitted: 24 August 2015