A good 9 months ago, me and one of my best mates Paul, decided we’d sign ourselves up to an Ironman relay event. For those of you who haven’t heard of/are unaware of what iron distance triathlons are, let me fill you in. They consist of a 3.8km swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, finished off with a marathon 26.2 mile run. I’ve got ambitions to complete the full thing myself in a couple of years time (watch this space), but for now had to be content to just take on one leg of this challenge.
With me the obvious choice to take on the run, and Paul a pretty decent swimmer, that left a bicycle shaped hole in our plan. Paul promptly got on the phone to his dad, and before you know it we had team ‘BrownTown’ (obviously not named by myself). I’m not quite sure Dave (Paul’s dad) knew quite what he was getting himself into, but we rushed through the application process, making sure he didn’t have a chance to back out. So, nearly a year down the line and Weymouth weekend is upon us.
Saturday started at a ridiculously early hour, as me and Katie had decided it would be a shame to miss out an opportunity to take in a Parkrun somewhere. So we found ourselves on the 8.08 from Clapham Junction, which would leave us just enough time to arrive in Ashford and rush over to Bedfont Lakes Country Park. A quick cab ride later and we’d arrived in a quite lovely park a stones throw away from Heathrow airport. We went and had a brief chat with race director Rory, who was more than welcoming and gave us a quick run down of the course route, and let us know the 2 laps of the park were fairly flat; result.
With a marathon to run the next day, the plan for me was to coast round at a very gentle pace, so I placed myself towards the back of the pack and let Katie move further forward as she’d be going a lot faster than I would today. It was quite refreshing not to be sprinting off at the front of the field when we set off, having more of a chance to actually take in what was going on around me and pretend I was interested in the scenery around the park. What I found most surprising at the back of the pack, was the number of people that were having a leisurely conversation along the route. I guess I’d never got it into my head that not everyone want’s to absolutely murder themselves over 5K – instead preferring to catch up on the latest neighbourhood gossip or discuss what went down in episode 54 of the Great British Bake Off.
After about 1K of plodding along, I noticed I was going along at a fairly similar pace to another runner, so we started struck up conversation. It turned out her name was Nikki and this was her 85th park run (great going). We ended up having a long chat about not very much at all to pass the time and it was brilliant to hear another persons take on what brings them back to park run every week. Towards the end of the second (and last) lap I let Nikki push on and cruised home to the finish in what was the slowest ever 5K i’ve ever done by a considerable margin. Katie ended up finishing 6th female, which was a cracking effort. The less said about my placing, the better!
Getting back to Ashford was next on the agenda. We ended up hitching a ride with a lovely older chap who volunteered at Bedfont Parkrun – Norman. He gave us a mini ‘tour’ of the local area before dropping us at the most well know landmark in Ashford – Barclays bank (his words not mine – I’ll let you judge on how exciting a place it is). We jumped out and he gave us his business card in case Paul didn’t turn up in the car – turns out he was an MBE and on the Executive Committee of the British Friends of Vanuatu. Who would have guessed it.
Shortly after, Paul arrived with his girlfriend, also called Katie (I know – confusing), and the 4 of us made tracks for Weymouth. Unfortunately, it seems like the rest of the UK was also heading to Weymouth this weekend (I’m assuming they’d come to watch us compete), and so we got stuck in a number of annoying traffic jams, which caused us to miss the race briefing. However, no problems here as our main man Dave Brown was on the case, accompanied by his minder Lindsey (Dave’s wife), so he went to get us registered and picked up all the relevant event info.
We checked ourselves in to the B&B which was conveniently located 10 minutes from the transition area (where the race would be starting and the change from Swim to Bike and Bike to Run would take place), and wandered over to have a look and see what was going on. Dave was having a bit of a panic for two reasons. Firstly, he claimed to have the worst bike out of the 2000 or so racked in transition. And secondly he appeared to be the fattest person taking part over the weekend. I won’t comment on the second point, but there were certainly some very expensive bikes in transition.
Now you may be thinking that the most important sporting event of the weekend would be Challenge Weymouth. You’d be mistaken. Saturday featured the team BrownTown crazy golf invitational event, and with months of training behind us, everyone was raring to go. Unfortunately I suffered an unbelievable sequence of bad luck, coupled with some outstanding stroke play at the head of the field which saw me finish dead last. By a long way. Actually, the girls completely showed us up, with Katie #2 narrowly beating Katie #1, despite Katie #1 nailing the only hole in one on the day. It’s safe to say I’ll be back with a vengeance next year.
Paul decided he better go for a splash to test out how cold the water was. I decided against this option (Obviously I had to keep myself in peak condition for Sunday, it was nothing to do with the fact that the water was stupidly cold), so we told him we’d keep an eye on him while he swam out to sea. In reality we watched for about 72 seconds before embarking in a game of beach cricket. Luckily about half an hour later he emerged from the water unscathed and we headed back to change for dinner.
More spectators arrived for dinner, with my Mum and Dave (another one – we’ll refer to him as Dave L) having made the drive up from Bishop’s Stortford. We all headed to a nice little pub for dinner which had obviously made the executive decision to draw punters in by giving them Americanised sized portions of food – it would have been perfect if I didn’t have to run a marathon the following day.
We wrapped up pretty early and everyone said their goodnights – it was going to be a very early start.