Bristol Olympic Tri - 15th July
Bristol Race Report from Kirsty Thompson
Bristol Harbourside Triathlon is now in it's third year and is ideal for both novice and elite triathletes. The
swim takes place in the Cumberland Basin (part of the historic Bristol Harbour) and the bike is a mostly flat,
closed road route under the shadow of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The run is a scenic trail route alongside the
Avon Gorge. Sprint and standard distances are raced alongside each other with the sprint being a qualifier for the
ITU Sprint Triathlon World Championships in Auckland (which our very own triathlete, Keith Bradshaw has already
qualified for - go Keith!!!).
This was my first standard distance Triathlon and first open water race so I was terribly nervous! After setting
ourselves up at transition and getting into our wet suits, fellow team mate Zoe and I proceeded to the swim
briefing. We had just a minute to acclimatise in the quite chilly water before the off. The start was much as I had
expected with a great deal of kicking, shoving and churning water. I swallowed a lot of water in the initial brawl
and it was surprisingly quite fresh! Eventually the swimmers started to thin out and I could get on with the 0.9
mile, two lap swim. I had been advised to take it slow and steady and that's what I did with a little sprint on the
last leg towards the pontoon. I came out of the water refreshed and looking forward to a nice scenic 25 mile
Transition went well and although a little technical, so did the bike. Cycling on fast, closed roads was great fun.
Unfortunately, I did see a fair few casualties due to pot holes and some very tight, downhill bends. One poor lady
flew over her handlebars after failing to slow down at the bike dismount point.
T2 went smoothly and I set off for the 6.2 mile run. This was really tough due to a hip injury which had almost
made me pull out of the race beforehand. I'm glad I didn't, it was well worth the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed
the whole event, great course, atmosphere, marshals, goody bag AND close to home!
Bristol Harbourside Triathlon is my new favourite event, a brilliant city centre race. I can thoroughly recommend
it! SMaRTT Championship points collected and to top it off, Zoe achieved 3th place female in her age group and I
was pleased to get 6th place in mine!
Zoe's Blog from the day ........
Bristol Harbourside Triathlon - Race report.
Having been out on my new carbon Felt bike only half a dozen times due to the wet summer of course I didn’t feel
fully prepared for this race but was interested to be competing on closed roads at a local event, it was also a
Club championship race so points at stake !
6:15am alarm start was acceptable to this queen of lay-in's, I managed to consume porridge and a banana that was
probably a little too green washed down with a huge mug of tea, then I was awake enough to get out the door,
sensibly I packed the car the night before. Mentally going through each discipline - had I got all my kit? did I
need anything else? will I get parked near the event? have I got enough gels and drinks? Relax all is good. The sun
is out, the roads are dry and its warm enough not to need a jacket or t-shirt on the bike.
Arriving on Cumberland road in just over 45 minute I managed to park up less than half a mile form transition -
love free Sunday parking in cities. I wheeled my bike along with race rucksack on my back enjoying the quietness of
the city. I even passed a city centre camping & caravan site - a new one on me.
Numbered racking on grass adjacent to the harbour where we would be swimming was all set up and transition was live
as racing began at 7am. I dropped my bike off and had a coffee with three club mates. Unfortunately one was fished
out of the harbour after a panic attack, they’re fine and annoyed with themselves for lack of open water training
Back into transition to get organised I was talking to my neighbour Jo who had just popped over from Toronto,
Canada for the weekend to race, as you do!
All waves were going off on the dot so I walked with Kirsty to assemble for our briefing and reassuring her she
would be fine. We found out that there was no chance to warm up or acclimatise for the swim, it was drop off the
pontoon, line up then….the airhorn sounded and we were off spot on 9:36am with 66 females off to tackle the
standard/Olympic distance triathlon.
The swim was the full washing machine effect, I was up in the top 10 swimmers and we squeezed 4 a breast around the
first buoy. Battling down the back straight we were still jostling for clear water, tagging toes and facing away
from fists at the last moment. Then we started to spread out across the M shaped course. The water was colder than
the lakes at only 15c but really quite clear, in fact a lot clearer than London docks. 29 minutes later I was out
of the water and running the 200m along the harbour side into transition.
T1 was not quick! I tripped on my own towel, got my socks all twisted up, tried to put my helmet on but where I
tried my hair in a mini ponytail it was in the way – I still have a sore spot there this morning.
The bike route was 4 laps, it was advertised as pancake flat, but with the potholes which were well highlighted in
orange spray paint it was a little more waffles like in places. Cycling along the north side of the Avon gorge on
the A4 it was scenic and offered great views of the Clifton suspension bridge. There was a gradual climb to the
extremely tight hairpin bend turn around point, then a small downhill section but whichever way we cycled there
seemed to be a headwind. Many other competitors commented on the unexpected swirling wind factor so wasn’t me
looking for excuses! Just within the hour and a half time averaging 17mph.
T2 was a little more planned and organised, a longer run over grass and abandoned wetsuits back to my rack
The run was along the south side of the river Avon along a trail, this was a lot muddier than expected and adding
to the gel I poured on my legs during the bike ride I now had mud. I felt comfortable throughout the run and kept a
steady pace, I even passed a couple of girls – unheard of for me on the run! Although I was passed in the last 1km
by two other girls I had nothing left in my legs to kick for a sprint finish. Maybe that 14 miles run on Wednesday
had an affect. Anyway still managed to keep under the hour for the 10k run, equal to my road race time last weekend
J Maybe I just need a swim & ride to warm up for my runs, or maybe I just stick with triathlons.
Crossing the line as the clocks LED’s flipped over to the three hour mark, I was pleased with my performance
overall on a true standard distance course. In fact I think the bike section was a couple of miles longer. When I
go back next year – as I plan to because I really enjoyed the race, I will look for more clear water and less pack
swimming, sort out my bike helmet and socks for T1, hopefully get many more cycling miles done in training and
maybe not do a long run in the week before.
The organisation, marshals and supporters throughout were great. The high viz army were at every twist and turn,
along the straights, in and out of transition and of course the finish. A great goody bag, even with womens fit
t-shirts and the Crunchie was heaven, I saved it for my finish.
I really loved the race, not just because I got my highest age group placing, I was looking for a top ten finish
this year and got 3rd. My only disappointment was that prizes were for 1st and 2nd places and so I’ll have to go
one better next year to get my first triathlon prize.
Home and a lovely hot bubble bath, food and a ginger beer. Decided easiest way to deal with my mucky running shoes
and dock water wetsuit was to drop them in the bath with me ! Then more food – fresh wood oven pizza. I was so
hungry, then bed..zzzzz…..