220 Evening Series round two

The sun shone at Dorney Lake

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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.

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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 There and back six hours. 360 minutes of motion and that attachment to the oars rescinded slightly.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…

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ROUND THREE ON 29 JULY 2009 – ENTER AT WWW.HUMANRACE.CO.UK.