Blog: Stroking jellyfish in hurricane conditions at the British Triathlon Champs in Liverpool

GB age-grouper Tom Williams wins third at Tri Liverpool, and tells his tale of the race...

Tom Williams with his medal at Liverpool Tri

There are times in life when you wonder what on earth you’re doing. This is one of them. It’s 6.45am and I’m standing in the dismal rain, cold and barefoot on the side of the Albert Dock. With the exception of a few hundred other lunatics beside me, the rest of the world is in bed. We do this for fun… right?

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After a short wait some chirpy volunteers guide us on to the most unstable pontoon I’ve ever set foot on – I feel seasick by the time I reach the other end.

Into the water we go; the horn sounds and we’re off! I use my friend Chris to give me a quick tow away from the pack (not literally unfortunately) and I get into a rhythm. It is slightly disconcerting stroking the odd jellyfish, (that is not a euphemism) but the swim goes reasonably well. The narrow dock means even I can’t get lost, and I’m out of the water in just over 21mins. 

A rule unique to Liverpool Triathlon is that you have to get your wetsuit off and into a bag before entering transition. This involves doing the “wetsuit dance” in front of a slightly awkward-looking volunteer (any of you who have tried to get out of a wetsuit quickly will know what I mean by the “wetsuit dance”). Personally I prefer the pull-pull-stamp-stamp-and-lift move. Now I think about it, I might try this next time I’m on a dance floor. To be honest, my dancing couldn’t get any worse.

Onto the bike and the first thing to hit me is the cold driving rain. The first thing to avoid is a junior work colleague from the previous wave who crashes right in front of me. I try to stop, but braking on wet carbon rims is a bit like using a chocolate teapot: pointless and likely to get messy. The resulting slide actually helps me turn the bike and I just miss him. He seems to be shouting “I’m alright”. although it may have been “Oh s**te”. I decide to crack on.

The Met Office had labelled this a hurricane – that seems a touch dramatic. Growing up in Yorkshire I would probably describe the bike leg as moderately damp. Although, I admit the standing water and overflowing storm drains may have made it officially wet. And it was a tad breezy.

Out onto the run and I have a plan: I want to run a 35min 10km. It hurts. They say that with training it always hurts, you just get faster. About 8km in, I decide it actually hurts more. I’m passing people but I have no idea if they are in my age group or not. My sprint finish is me simply clinging on to hold my pace – I could not have gone any faster. 

As I cross the line I hear the commentator say something about third place. He can’t be talking about me, can he? Within a few seconds two friends rush up congratulating me. They don’t know each other and are both talking at me. This is a slightly awkward social situation at the best of times. When you can’t get your breath and are trying to keep that last energy gel down, it is even more so. But the upshot, unbelievably, is I’m third.

A British Championships medal, still not sure I believe it!

Tom at flapjack stall

Now, as any experienced athlete will tell you, recovery is vital. Nutrition is clearly an important part of this. It is with this in mind that I proceed directly to the Eureka Cycle Sports stall for the biggest piece of flapjack I can find. Not exactly textbook, but it tastes great, thanks Holly!

So what have I learned from this experience?

1. I clearly perform well in moderately damp “hurricane” conditions.
2. Stroking jellyfish (it is still not a euphemism) is clearly lucky.
3. I would much rather be dong a triathlon in a hurricane than watching Disney on Ice.

With thanks to Eureka for the help and support and Holly for the great flapjack 

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Did you race Tri Liverpool? How did you get on? Let us know in the comments below!