The grand finale of the BUCS triathlon season took place last Sunday in Staffordshire. Exeter university triathlon club sent a team of three to compete in the BUCS standard distance triathlon, made up of a 1500m open water swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. Men’s Captain Jack Bristow was competing at the BUCS standard for the second time, whilst for Jack Turner and Greg Webb it was their first ever time racing at this distance. Turner had already decided that, unable to compete against the “shaved legs and low BMIs”, this race would be more of a “personal challenge”. Both Turner and Webb were feeling somewhat unprepared due to the triathlon taking place shortly after the exam period whilst Bristow was hoping to do his best job to represent Exeter.
The run of good weather that he blessed the week preceding the race failed to last and the morning of the race saw the arrival of wet and windy conditions. However, knowing they were going to be getting wet anyway, Bristow, Turner and Webb were unperturbed by this. When the starting horn sounded at 7:40 in the morning the three triathletes from Exeter joined the other 175 entrants in the men’s race in a mad rush for the first corner. Both Bristow and Turner found the crowded conditions hard to deal with, with Bristow taking measures to avoid the worst of the crush which set him back in the field. However, he was able to move back up through the field and was back in touch with the sharp end of the race by the end of the swim. Webb had followed the bunch from the back and was content with a relatively uneventful swim.
The quick shift from being horizontal to vertical can cause some disorientation but, although Turner endured some initial dizziness, all three Exeter athletes had smooth first transitions. Bristow blitzed through T1, getting out of his wetsuit and putting on his helmet before running out of the transition area in 58 seconds.
A heavy rain shower during the bike leg failed to dampen any spirits. If anything it spurred Turner on and he put in a strong performance. Webb had borrowed a bike for this race and found the replacement a much better machine than the mountain bike he had been training on, though discomfort did begin to set in towards the end of his 1 hour, 23 minute ride due to his lack of experience spending that long in the saddle. Bristow had a great stint on the bike. His time of 1 hour and 3 minutes was the 17th fastest of anyone on the day and saw him move well up in the field. This was despite the fact that it later transpired he had been racing with a badly indexed rear mech that meant he could not use the fastest gear.
By this point the team had already been racing for around an hour and half and it was starting to take its toll. Bristow’s second transition was slowed down as brief cramp forced him to sit down to pull on one of his running shoes. Nevertheless, all three Exeter triathletes were in and out of T2 in under a minute.
Webb enjoyed the run, his strongest of the three disciplines, and appreciated having more competitors around him on the three lap course to spur him on to a respectable time of 43:03. Meanwhile Turner found his lack of training catching up with him and also found the lap nature of the course demoralising as he had to repeatedly run past the finish line before being able to finish. Turner found himself racing against a student from Oxford and was disappointed to just miss out in a sprint finish but was very happy to finish in a total time of 2:21:53, just over 8 minutes faster than his target time. Bristow stated that he felt terrible for the entirety of the 10km run but still completed the run in 36:35, smashing his previous personal best.
Results for the Exeter triathletes are as follows:
Jack Bristow – 30th overall – 2:06:48
Jack Turner – 89th overall – 2:21:53
Greg Webb – 177th overall – 2:45:43
Overall it was a grueling race that left all three athletes physically and mentally exhausted, though all were happy with their performances. Bristow and Turner will be looking to carry their form into the races they will be doing over the summer.
Full results can be found here.
On a final note, this has been my final race report for the club after two years as Publicity Secretary. I have really enjoyed my time managing the club’s social media presence and I feel I have learned a lot. I now leave you in the capable hands of Matt. – Jack Bristow