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Blenheim double header

Tri Academy member Caspar, recalls his day out at the palace


One of the perks of the London Triathlon Academy is the free entry afforded to certain IMG events. With this in mind, I decided to really make the most of my Blenheim weekend and signed up to race twice.

Day one saw the team relay, searing heat and the pressure that came with the registered team name of ‘IMG Triathlon Academy’. Luckily, we had Kate [Mahony] to get us off to a great start on the swim. She had won her leg of the London Triathlon despite going the wrong way so I was pretty confident she’d handle the Blenheim Waters well. She came out in fifth having been beaten by a guy using the race as a warm-up for a forthcoming cross channel swim. I feared that he’d have Lance Armstrong as a team member but it wasn’t to be as Paul [Jackson] took the bike leg by storm.

Standing in the courtyard of a Palace in hazy sunshine with Hans Zimmer’s “Now We Are Free” floating through the air was an interesting way to prepare for a run leg and the novelty soon wore off as our cyclist bulldozed his way across the red matting sending water bottles and trainers in all directions. Following Paul’s destructive example, I sprinted out of T2 amid abuse from all parts for “taking it too seriously” and, despite sending a few ladies of leisure sprawling for cover, made it to the mat in sub 60 seconds.

Having set off like a rocket, I unsurprisingly felt terrible for the rest of the leg and showcased a master class on inconsistent pacing. I crossed the line in 18:59, which gave our team second place overall by an agonising 25 seconds.

Day two and time to go solo. I racked up pretty early and settled back to more Hans Zimmer and watched the elite athletes in transition. At the top end where drafting is legal, the philosophy seems to be miss the pack and miss the prize. In the ensuing chaos, which resulted in one bloke losing his helmet and glasses and thus the race, I was thankful that our ‘status’ as ‘Academy Athletes’ hadn’t meant an elite start as had been muted. Indeed, as the crowd dispersed I noticed two bikes hanging in a lonely fashion from the bar, gently swaying in the wind. I was later shocked to find that their owners had still come in from the swim a good three minutes ahead of me…

Tip of the day came from Bill Black who advised on a post-swim wetsuit removal before the 400m uphill transition. Indeed, despite adding nearly 45 seconds to my swim time, it saved me over a minute in T1 as I powered up the slope to the bikes. The less said about this stage of the race the better as I struggled badly to put the hammer down due to a mixture of accident induced downhill nerves, non aggressive cornering and the necessity of having to circumnavigate men on mountain bikes.

I hit the run in poor spirits, and perhaps with Saturday’s pain still fresh in the memory, I slipped into cruise mode which probably cost me another 30 seconds. I came home in 1:15:27, 2.5 minutes outside my target.

I stayed on for the afternoon to watch some friends and my spirits soon lifted as I soaked up the atmosphere. Particular highlights included the sight of a friend cycling with his helmet smothered in masking tape (does this aid aero dynamics?) and an honourable bloke running for charity with a large inflatable banana strapped to his back, of whom a report on how he managed the swim and the bike would be much appreciated.

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