Huge thanks to Chas Bickford-Smith for sending us this report of his experience at the Woodhorn Museum triathlon at the weekend!

The road to Woodhorn Museum Triathlon 

Consistency is king in training and through bad luck, supported by personal stupidity, this aspect for me has been lacking this year. I fell over while running in March and broke 2 left ribs (not for the first time) but made a speedy recovery to do both the Isle of Man Mountain Marathon Half (reduced from the full due to missed training) in April and the Outlaw Half Ironman triathlon in May. 

4 weeks ago, I crashed on the bike leg in the Stafford Half Ironman (my first DNF) resulting in a cracked helmet and severely bruised ribs… but on the right-hand side this time. This was caused by stupidly going too fast down narrow country lanes and a misjudged 90 degree bend, but even if I had managed to make it round the bend I may well have ended up hitting the unseen parked ambulance, which would have probably caused more damage.

I then spent 4 weeks of painful “recovery” with low quality painful training. Biking consisted of short efforts in the garage as I could reduce upper body pain. All running was reduced to short painful lunchtime outings but swimming was a total no. Two weeks ago I managed 6 very painful lengths which with the help of pain relief gel I extended to 60 lengths a week ago. I must say a thank you to the NDRC Black training group who on request provided a long list of possible physios in my desperation to try and reduce my pain – I found an appointment which helped considerably.

The reason for the determination to train was the Woodhorn museum triathlon. This was the first of two qualifying races for a GB team place at the triathlon World Champs in Spain 2023, the second being at Ellesmere in September.

Saturday 9th July

Saturday started with a 4 hour drive to Woodhorn, which is north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The race bizarrely starts at 4pm. I was told that the reason is because the museum is a wedding venue, so they can’t race in the morning. So, laced with coffee, painkillers, adrenaline and numbing gel I was “ready” for the Olympic distance race: 1.5km swim, 48km bike and a 10km run.

The swim was the first mass start I have done since before Covid. This resulted in a constant battle with others all the way round and not helped by the excessive amount of weed in the lake. Swim and uphill run to transition completed with no rib pain. Then it was off on the 2 lap undulating bike course along the beautiful coastline in the evening sunshine. Apart from the flock of sheep on the road, which I narrowly avoided by cycling on the grass verge, it was uneventful… I didn’t fall off.

The run showed my training had been lacking but on the plus side I swam, biked and ran with no rib pain only leg pain. You know that your run is not great when you notice that a marshal at a key turn has abandoned their position, which happened on my final lap, but amazingly it looks like I did manage 35th out of 113 in my age group.

So, there is a slim chance I could qualify for Spain (calculated as a % of the time of the first person in your age group) but at least I have a 2nd chance in September and now with consistent training, hopefully with no more accidents, I am hoping to go a bit faster in Ellesmere.

Final times: Swim: 21 minutes, Bike: 1 hour 28 minutes, Run: 51 minutes