Ruth Kent: Box and sprint triathlon race report – September ’20

The alarm went off at 4:46 am which is the earliest I’ve been up since my Irish dancing competition days 30 years ago. After a quick coffee to wake myself up, I jumped into the car and headed to Box End.I thought I knew where I was going having been to Box End earlier in the summer to do the swim course. However, on arriving in Bedford I saw lots of aluminous yellow signs which I dutifully followed before realising these were signs for bike course and not actually the most direct way to Box End.

Lesson 1 - sometimes the sat nav does know the wayThis would be my first ever sprint triathlon and my second ever triathlon. I was really nervous but when I saw that I’d parked next to a very experienced triathlete (over 400 triathlons, author of many books), I thought his advice to start was helpful. After being told off for touching my goggles with my fingers (all before 6.30am), I decided to escape his comments and legged it to get my stuff in to transition

Lesson 2 - people with lots of experience may not always be the best people to chat to before a race. My bike was racked opposite the elites and their set up was quite a bit different to mine. They had bought two pairs of shoes and a bottle of water, where as I had bought my packed lunch, three pairs of shoes, two bottles of water, a towel, and my cuddly toy.

Lesson 3 - perhaps I may want to re-think my transition kit.I did my usual pre-race warmup by queueing for the toilet and then chatting a lot, only to realise that a significant time had passed and I almost missed my start.

Lesson 4 - pay more attention.Not a great start to my race and the nerves were still jiggling around - but seeing a friendly face at the swim start I started to relax and started to enjoy the build-up. The swim was surprisingly pleasant despite the coolness of the water. Having swam Box End before I knew to expect the jumps but I still found them quite disorientating. I was relieved to complete the course in an almost straight line and find the swim exit on the first attempt.After snacking on my packed lunch in T1, I changed into my bike gear and headed out to the bike exit. On the way out I got confused with my left or right so nearly took out a GB athlete on his way in. Once I hit the road I cleated in and off I went. The bike course was immense and thoroughly enjoyed it all in. Mainly due to the flat roads but also because I recognised a lot of the marshals on the course.

Lesson 5 - remember to thank the marshals - SO THANK YOU to ALL the marshals and ATW team.T2 went okay apart from pulling my new triathlon laces in the wrong direction; so instead of tightening them I managed to loosen them.

Lesson 6 - practice my shoelaces more The run course was undulating and I knew it was going to be tough not only from the tricky terrain but trying to keep Mike Martin behind me. But alas, at 3.5K he overtook me on a downhill corner section and was long gone. Today was really about taking part in my first ever sprint and embracing what is my one and only triathlon of the season. I’m so pleased it was at Box End hosted by ATW. ATW have been a life saver for me over lock down and they’ve been there to help me train. With the TriForce marshals too, I couldn’t have asked for a more friendly and supportive race.**thank goodness for selfies - totally didn't realise my goggles were upside down**

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