RACING IN THE UK

Training and racing in Cyprus is so easy - no worries about having to squeeze yourself into a wetsuit for the swim, or deciding whether to wear an extra layer on the cycle section to keep warm. It's a whole different story in the UK - firstly, it's unlikely that you will ever do an open water swim in the UK that is not wetsuit compulsory and secondly, the weather is so unpredictable that you never know if your race is going to be in the heat of the sun or with the chill of wind and rain.

I travelled back to UK in July, predominantly so I would be there for the Inter-Services Triathlon on 21st July and not really taking into consideration that Bay to Bay was 23rd and our league race on 25th!

Since I was going to be in the UK from the 9th, I thought I would check 220 Magazine to see if there were any other races around that time. Funny old thing, round 3 of Eton Super Sprints were being held at Dorney Lake, near Eton on Sun 11th. As it was less than 30 miles from Northwood with distances of 400m Lake swim, 20km bike and 5km run, I thought it would be ideal to stretch my legs after the flight and check my bike had survived the baggage handlers!

The morning of the race - predictably - saw drizzle and cloud.

Bugger, I thought, what am I going to wear to stay warm? As it turned out, it started to clear with a hint of sunshine so I didn't have to go for the fleece option after all! This race is seeded into age groups, each having their own start time and allowing for a whole days racing for spectators. The bike route of 4 laps does not allow enough space for the amount of cyclists to have a mass start. This format proved very popular and worked well. I was in one of the early start waves, along with all the other 40+ women.

I had a particularly good swim (in a wetsuit) and found myself near the front of the group. After the first lap or so, it is difficult to gauge exactly what position you are in, although I knew I was cycling strongly and had overtaken a couple of people. It was 4 laps of about 2.5km with a turn at each end and the wind getting progressively stronger as the race went on. After months of Tuesday time trials, the wind was never going to be a problem! As I started the first lap of the run, I was watching out for females coming back down the other side - I thought I saw two so assessed that I was in 3rd. Similarly, on the way back, you can see who is behind you and if they are catching up or not. As I crossed the line after the 2nd lap I was given an envelope, a tub of Gatorade powder and a trophy indicating that I was in fact 2nd.

When I opened the envelope, I found it contained a voucher to exchange for £50 cash or to use it for a future race. Cash, thank you! It was a very good race (made even better with a cash reward!) and I would recommend it as one to consider doing if going back to the UK whether you are a Novice or seasoned Triathlete.

After a week of travelling, visiting relatives and generally over indulging, it was time to go to South Cerney in preparation of the Inter-Services. For the first time in a number of years, the RAF ladies were able to field a full team to contest the 1500m swim, 40km cycle and 10km run.

Funnily enough, the sun of the day before had been replaced with heavy overnight rain and a cool start to the morning. Back to square 1 of deciding what I was going to wear on the bike for the race. Once again, the clouds began to part with a hint of sunshine to come but I decided to stick to the vest I had put on over my two-piece for a bit of extra warmth.

Again, I had a fairly good swim and strong cycle leg, but was caught by a couple of females who had been behind me on the run. My final time was 2hrs 27 which I was more than pleased with and although there were 5 Army females ahead of me at the finish, I still managed to cross the line first for the RAF ladies. With the exception of the ladies team runner up trophies, and the overall individual menís winner who was from the Navy, the Army dominated the event and took the majority of the remaining spoils.

Maybe we can reverse the fortunes next month at the Inter-Services (Cyprus) race.

Bev Childs