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Home / Blog / Alpe d’Huez assault part eleven: Mission Blenheim

Alpe d’Huez assault part eleven: Mission Blenheim

Supported by Warren Pole Team 33Shake take on their first ever race, the 2013 Blenheim Triathlon...

And so it came to pass that very early on a bright Saturday morning the girls of Team 33Shake found themselves within the glorious grounds of Blenheim Palace. Getting there hadn’t been easy.

“This is a nightmare”, Giovanna had wailed the week before as she dealt with van hire to ship their bikes to the race (living in central London, none of them own a car), rustling up husbands – whose ideas of a peaceful weekend had been shattered – to drive, support and carry water bottles, and tried to sort out her own kit all at once. Ah, the delights of triathlon logistics.

Fortunately, some guardian angels had come through on the kit front to make sure that whatever worries the girls had on race day, the right gear wouldn’t be one of them. They had a trio of their Polar RCX5s, and some seriously pimped 2XU Z1 wetsuits and trisuits, too. With wardrobe and timing now covered, the team’s brace of Specialized Dolces – freshly cleaned, lubed and checked the night before – were bundled into the van and it was off to Blenheim.

Then, disaster. Anya realised none of them had packed any glasses for the bike section. Would their races be ended by a fly in the eye? They resolved to buy glasses on arrival, only to discover the magical shrinking of time that happens in those final pre-race hours.

“The time just vanished,” said Giovanna, “we were left with a difficult choice – eat breakfast, or buy glasses. Breakfast won.”

Before they knew it they were at the water’s edge, struggling with timing chips for the first time and taking the plunge.

“We started together, near the back of the pack so we could settle into our own rhythm,” explained Erica, “and that worked pretty well. Transition was cool, and although none of us were that fast we had at least walked the route before so could find our bikes, and had our gear ready.”

On the bike, two realisations dawned. First, more work was needed on gear use to maintain a steady spin on the pedals as the course rose and fell – that’s the next training session set then – and also, the surprise of what fellow competitors ahead might be jettisoning.

“I hadn’t expected so many people coughing, spitting and sneezing as we rode,” said a surprised Anya. “I had to be careful to avoid anything flying towards me!”

By the run, all three were close enough to yell encouragement to each other, as previously grouchy husbands, now amped on race excitement too did the same from the barriers, and in no time all three were crossing the finish line within minutes of each other for their first ever tri medals.

Anya was buzzing, Giovanna was stunned into silence by the experience and needed a couple of days before she made the switch from “never again” to “I can’t wait for Alpe d’Huez”, while Erica took the lessons from Blenheim and immediately started planning the training blanks they all needed to fill before their big race.
After a couple of days well-deserved rest, it was straight back into the training and if I’m not mistaken there was some freshly added purpose and drive there, as well as the tiniest hint of a swagger. Rock on.

Team 33Shake is naturally fuelled to perfection by 33Shake, 100% natural superfood sports nutrition (www.33shake.com), with additional big thanks to Specialized bikes for the Dolces (www.specialized.co.uk), Polar for the RCX5 GPS watches (www.polar.com), and Evans Cycles (www.evanscycles.com) for the 2XU wetsuits

Profile image of Mike Anderson Mike Anderson


Mike Anderson was 220 Triathlon's staff writer between 2011 and 2014.