1:47:00 – 4th Mixed (out of 37), 13th overall (out of 109)
(Weather shortened course ~ 2km swim, 12km run across 5 swims and 6 runs)
The forecast for the race was pretty poor so the route was amended. Unfortunately this meant not only a substantial reduction in swim distance (our strength) but also removal of the best part of the race – the island hopping across Derwent Water. It became an out and back course which is always fun as you get to see your competition and friends during the race.
We lined up on the start near Andy & Chris and Jo and Lotte and pretty close to the front to make sure we didn’t get held up in the right angle turns right at the start. The gun went and we raced down the hill to the first swim. Rachel was cracking along, I was only just keeping up. We attached the cord and got to the first swim very pleased to see that with all the rain this year it was a swim not a wade.
I worked hard on that swim to get away from the crowds and some clear water. It’s about 500m swim then just a 500m run before another 400m swim. We exited the first swim just ahead of Jo and Lotte who quickly ran by us before the next swim. We pushed along the second swim and came out to see Heather who gave us a big cheer. Then another short run before the swim round Lord Island. Well… not round it anymore as on the start line they told us they’d changed that so we’d go round the other side and in the lee of the wind as it would be more protected.
We quickly passed a couple of pairs early on and then had clear water. I could see quite a pack of swimmers ahead but we weren’t making any progress on them. That was until we got out of the lee of the Island. It then got a bit choppy and we started to claw them in. Given the new route the flag wasn’t visible till we were only about 20m from it. By then we were in amongst that pack. The chop was fun to swim in but it wasn’t that bad and certainly made me wonder about that last minute change to not go round the island (and the fact we wouldn’t be crossing the lake). It didn’t have the Breca feel. Ie that this is meant to be wild, meant to be hard. Ben was ill so couldn’t’ be at the race and I wondered whether that resulted in them being overly cautious.
Out of the swim we could see two mixed pairs ahead of us. They and the others in the pack soon were gone and we were running on our own. This was the longest run and would be about 10k on this amended course involving up a hill and back down to the lake to do a u-turn and back up the hill. We stayed attached and tried to push it up the hill. Early on the hill, much to my surprise, Jo and Lotte passed us. I’d assumed they were ahead of us but I guess we must have passed them on one of the swims. Rachel and I walked the steeper bits but otherwise ran. Then on the decent I kept encouraging Rachel to try and relax and let the brakes off. It’s the best descending she’s done and not only didn’t we have many pass us but we actually caught one pair on the descent. At the bottom we saw Jo and Lotte just ahead of Andy and Chris. We also counted the mixed pairs – we were in third !!
This meant I encouraged Rachel to be quick at the aid station. She grabbed some jelly babies and we were off. Only a minute or two behind us I saw a mixed pair. It was close so I ran as hard as I could giving Rachel a good tow. We soon saw Andy and Susanne. Not much later we saw Suzy and Justin. Suzy shouted we were third, confirming my count.
We really worked hard up that hill expecting the 4th placed mixed to come by but they didn’t. At the top I said to Rachel this descent could be the difference between 3rd and 4th – she nailed it. At the bottom we were finally passed but they weren’t much quicker than us which believe it or not was not good news. It meant they weren’t that much slower than us swimming. So were tried to stick with them and even passed them. I noticed they’d not pulled their wetsuits down which meant when I slowed to sort my wetsuit out they went ahead. We ran hard and kept them slow. As we started the penultimate swim they were perhaps 20m ahead in the water. I decided to swim this swim steady to get a good idea whether or not we had a real race on our hands. We passed them about 2/3rd away across whilst the lead swimmer was swimming backstroke to check on their partner. They weren’t towing which was really helping us. We exited about 20m ahead of them and raced the 500m hard to the final swim where I swam hard to give us a good gap.
The water had been fairly warm but the final 50m were incredibly cold and we were glad it wasn’t like that for any longer. As we got out we looked back and we had a decent gap so we just had to run steady through to the finish. We were very chuffed.
We then found out that Jo and Lotte had won the ladies ! Andy and Chris had managed 4th mens. We headed back to the flats to get showered ready to come back at 3:30pm to see them on the podium. Unfortunately, without letting anyone know that the details on the website were wrong they did the presentations early. So Jo and Lotte missed it as did the winning mens team apparently. We went back to see if we were third. The guy told us that ‘obviously’ with the shortened course the presentations were brought forward. I couldn’t help myself so I told him that was far from obvious. Anyway, unfortunately for us we and spectators had all miscounted and we were actually 4th. If we’d never thought we’d got third we would have been very pleased with that but as it was an already disappointing race due to the shortening (the full course is so awesome) it now felt doubly so.