Last night witnessed round two of the four-event 220 Evening Series (750m swim/20km bike/5km run), hosted by Human Race, raced by over 250 of you, shrouded in sunshine and swept by wind. In fact, pretty much the norm for Dorney Lake.
The easterly wind not only brought waves of warmth, but an air of relaxation. After a day manacled to a computer, the traditional Sunday nerves had seemingly disappeared into the keyboard. Virtual reality swiftly replaced by the pragmatism and physicality of 60mins-plus of high-intensity exercise.
6.30pm on the dot and wave one – the wave aimed at improvers – dived into the 21°C waters. The out-and-back course would guide them to T1, where the six lap bike beside the waters would follow with the run.
The speakers blasted out a mix of Monty Python, eclectic rock and the occasional rousing anthem. The many stewards prepared the drinks, placed out the finishers’ t-shirts, ‘encouraged’ the non-tri wanderers to “get off the course”…
7pm and wave two – the more experienced athletes – hit the lake.
(Once the second wave had exited, a surprise third wave of three athletes set off. Late through traffic, their lonely swims would begin.)
More rock music, wispy cloud and a slight drop in air temperature. A mix of aero TTs and entry MTBs. Stealth helmets and Halfords’ own. Time and action continued…
First past wave one’s finish line (1:10:28) came 19-year-old Oliver Bradbury. Rowing occupied his physical CV until a slipped disc scythed through dreams of gliding through this lake in 2012. Years of early morns and redlining forged a spirit and physicality that would defy a tactless spine.
One month previous he came second in wave one at his debut event. This time there’d be no silver medal, the post-finish thousand-yard stare and strained gasps for O2 telling you all you needed to know about the need to achieve.
A trait exposed that bit further by the three-hour trip from Norfolk. There and back six hours. 360 minutes of motion and that attachment to the oars rescinded slightly. Two more wins in the final two rounds – on 29 July and 26 August – and ‘the perfect stroke’ would occupy a new meaning in Bradbury’s lexicon.
The rehabilitated newcomer headed up the experienced campaigner Dave Mackenzie. Involved in the sport for 10 years, Mackenzie’s challenge is more refined, tweaking a discipline here and there while setting goals for that eternal goal of improvement.
Like age-groupers around the world, core to his progressive performance was the daily commute. “It’s 16 miles to work. 16 miles back,” said Mackenzie. “I do it five times a week.” To stave off overtraining, often he’ll drive halfway. But in the world of the ‘part-time’ athlete, those figures don’t contain half measures. Mackenzie’s season will flow into a Trail X event later in the year.
First lady past the line was Catherine Benger.
As for the second wave, victories went to Chris Panayiotou (1:03:57) and Carolyn Hewett (1:12:56).
And so the night drew in, marshals packed up and gates were locked. Round two was over…
ROUND THREE ON 29 JULY 2009 – ENTER AT WWW.HUMANRACE.CO.UK.