Tour de Tri – 24hr Team Triathlon – Race Report

I was pretty relaxed about this race, perhaps too relaxed? I got a little packing done the night before, but not as much as I should have.

The wife wanted to go out for dinner; I wanted to pack for tomorrow’s 24hr Tour de Tri and get an early night. So we did what most experienced couples do in this situation – we “compromised” – ie. we went out for dinner! Pants? Can someone lend me some pants!!?

As a result, race morning was a bit more stressful than I would have liked! I basically just threw stuff in the car, crossed my fingers and we were off! 3hrs on the road and the two kids had had enough; we’d arrived in Kawana Waters on the Sunshine Coast.

Setting up site was remarkably easy – some of us setup the tents, sleeping bags and mats went in, the kids jumped on their scooters and disappeared, and CPops checked in and grabbed the race number. All that was left were bikes and gear went into transition. After hunting round for 4 spots together, we were ready to race!

camp.jpg

The Race Begins

I took the first lap – it started with an extra 2km run to spread the field out before the first swim (in a 50m pool). I started at the back of the pack which contained all of the teams, as well as the 24 hour solo folks. Some were already pacing themselves for the long day ahead – I quickly got bored and started picking my way through the field. I began wondering if this might be my chance to run to the front for glory, but those lead guys were goooonne! Absolutely flying – must’ve been sub 3min/km. I couldn’t have kept with them even if I’d started beside them!

By the time I passed our tent, I was pretty close to top speed (about 3:40min/km); I got the first of many, MANY loud cheers! This was one of the best things about the race – you were never more than 5 mins from your tent site and if they didn’t yell for you, you could just yell at them instead!

(Apparently my kids enquired why I was running so slow – “He’s holding himself back because it’s an endurance event” they were told. That was full speed, bro!! I’m still not sure if it is a compliment that I look slow when I’m going fast, or not?!?)

On the return leg my kids called out that I was in 11th place. That was the first and only time during the next 24 hours where we’d have any idea of placings. There’s no pressure in this race – just go as hard, or as soft, as you want!

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Wotcha mean I heel strike? Actually, I look like I’m running backwards in this picture…

Laps, Laps, Laps

The night before the race, a lergy claimed one of our team members and we were down to four. This turned out to be about the right number of people.

It was a 4pm start and the four of us started with a single lap each. Each lap took around 45 mins. I was happy to go first because I got to see the course in daylight. By the third person it was getting gloomy and lights were required.

We were playing it by ear. Next was a double lap each. I started at 7:15pm and was done by 8:45ish. Then it was time to feed the kids (oops!) and put them to bed. Fortunately they’d already discovered the box of Cornflakes (for breakfast) and pretty much polished them off! Cereal for dinner? Triathletes in the making!

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Planning our laps through the night was a little bit trickier. Some were less keen than others! We decided that triple laps (about 2.5 hours each) would allow the best chance of getting some sleep. That meant Daz would wake me at 2am, I’d race through till 4:30am, and then I’d wake up CPops so I could head back to bed and catch another hour of sleep before dawn. We joked that we’d all wake up at 8am and wonder who was supposed to be out on on the course.

And, in the end, that’s kinda what happened!

Race Stats

Team: 25 laps completed.
Me: 7 laps, plus two extra runs and 1 extra bike.
Average lap: 43 mins (excluding my 4hr lap during the night!).
Best lap: 36 mins.
Swim: 7 x 300m for a total of 2.1km in 39:30.
Average lap 5:39, pace 1:53/100m.
Best lap: 5:28 at 1:49/100m pace.
Bike: 8 x 9.1km for a total of 72.8km in 2:21.
Average lap 17:42, speed 30.7kph, HR 142, cadence 88, power 196W.
Best lap: 15:07 at 255W and 35.7kph.
Run: 9 x 2.3km for a total of 20.8km in 1:33.
Average lap 10:18, pace 4:30 min/km, HR 144, cadence 89.
Best lap: 9:36 at 3:59 min/km.

Things that go Blurk in the Night.

I snuggle into my sleeping bag, sandwiched between the kids, just after midnight. My cold, wet tri pants are laid out in the vestibule, along with two warm tops, ready to go. I’ve barely closed my eyes when the first spatter of rain drops hit the fly of our loaner tent. The spatter increases to a steady drumming. “Poor Daz” I muse as I drift off.

“Dad, Dad. I’m too hot!” What the?!? The tent is steamy hot and dripping with condensation. There are a few leaks but the rain has eased off. I crack the zip and get some fresh air in. Riders swish past. The child won’t settle. The “too hot” becomes a headache and then a sore stomach. We stick our heads out the fly for some fresh air, and… Street Pizza!

I’ve just finished cleaning up when Daz rolls by. It’s 2am. He kindly offers to do another lap. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we agree he should head out for a super-slow lap while I try to settle my crew. Legend! Unfortunately it’s not a happy time in my tent, and when he returns, just after 3am, we make an executive decision to call it quits until dawn. I’m bummed, but shit happens!

Back on Track

I woke at dawn, feeling like I’d let the team down during the night. I was dead keen to get out there are clear my conscience. Fortunately no-one was worried about performance and the midnight break was a source of humour rather than frustration. This really shows the importance of all team members being on the same page!

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The kids were in good spirits so it was breakfast and by 6:30am we were back to work! I kicked off with 3 laps, each with a decreasing number of layers as the sun rose higher. By 9am I was sitting down with a coffee – I realised I wouldn’t be required again until 2pm-ish! This left plenty of time for eating, relaxing, cheering for the 6hr guys (who kicked off at 10am), and taking down the tent.

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Transitions

The hardest thing about this race was the transitions – they were so confusing! You’ve got your standard two (swim-bike, and bike-run), but also, if you’re doing back-to-back laps, you’ve got a run-swim transition. And then you’ve got different clothing for different times of the day or night – jackets for the bike, towels and footwear for to and from the pool. And at night there were lights for the bike, and lights to carry for the run. To top it all off, I was trying to get the Garmin to record each swim/bike/run leg so I was using auto-multisport mode which required me to press the lap button at the start and end of each transition, and to hold reset between each lap.

I don’t think I got everything right, once!

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The secret to a quick transition was to have a different team member do the bike leg. This meant no time was lost for gear change! We learnt that on our 3rd to last lap!

Bringing it Home

For your last lap to be counted, it had to be completed inside the 24 hours. I wound my duties up with a flying bike leg and then a fast full lap with my son completing the run alongside me. Suddenly there was a bit of last minute competitiveness – perhaps we could fit two more laps into the final 70 mins? No thanks! 10 mins of discussion ended that rather nicely! We finished with a 3 person relay and the whole whanau crossing the finish line together.

25 laps. We came last. Well, someone has to!

We had an absolute ball! Not only was it an awesome event, but it must be the least PHYSICALLY tired and sore I’ve EVER felt after a race! (and I pretty much covered a half-ironman!)

However, the 3hr drive home was seriously dangerous – my eyelids were sooo heavy! Red Bull + Coffee to the rescue!

Next Year?

Already there is talk of next year. I wonder how tough it would be to do it solo? But then the reason this race was so good was the kids, the camping and the cameraderie. Fly solo and you’ll miss all of that…

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