I have to say that it is a bit weird doing the exact same Triathlon twice in a year but it has two different names! Essentially though the Wilmslow Tri and the South Manchester Tri are identical just to clear up any confusion! Same organisers Xtra Mile Events , same course exactly just different dates..
Doctor Sprockets tri team turned out in force for this one and I have to say we had an amazing day. Three of the team were virgins when they started! Tri Virgins that is… as this was their first ever triathlon and I have to say they all excelled themselves! More on that later…
Saturday, the night before the event, as dusk fell we rolled into the car park at Wilmslow Leisure Centre in ‘The Meth Lab’ as she is endearingly called by the team who are serious Breaking Bad fans! It has become a bit of a tradition to tip up the night before and go out for a pint or in this case stay in with a rather cheeky bottle of red and some tapas…
The night was surprisingly cold and we woke up to a slightly foggy but crisp morning. I really should have said woke up with a start! as Mark H brought his loudest knock with him and decided to use it at 6.50 on the dot… ( Mark please put a quicker swim time next year!)
Mark was a little bit nervous about his first tri but in fairness he was hiding it well.
Having removed three of the team bikes from the roof of his car he started on his pre-race nutrition of choice! A cold can of rice pudding which isn’t for everyone and turns my stomach just watching I’m a ‘has to be hot with jam’ kinda bloke!
As we pre-race serviced the 5 bikes we had on site the rest of the team slowly rolled in. Mike and his lovely wife Pam turned up next. Pam got on with making the best sausage and bacon butties like she had owned a burger van all her life! I had to have two since I was starting after lunch..
Emma tipped up next having dropped off the kids… closely followed by Mark B and Elaine.
Mark was another first timer and I had my money on him being a dark horse! I did have a wobble as he was getting changed when he extracted his run belt from the array of goodies in his bag or rather hamper! Mark’s run belt included the obligatory gels with the addition of a Toffee Crisp and a Mars Bar! All that was missing was a jug of Pimms and some cucumber sandwiches!
Sara made us up to seven. A seasoned triathlete of half a dozen triathlons she didn’t look phased by any of the day’s events and got stuck into the hob nobs for energy ( apparently !)
Last but not least our newest member Heather came walking across the car park. Bags perched high on bike and a worried look across her face!
Heather was another of our first timers and although she is a great cyclist moving into the heady world of triathlon had given her a few worries…
That said she has a wry sense of humour and made me smile when in her broad Scottish accent she proudly announced ‘ Aye am shittin ma self’!
I have to say we looked a bit like the Clampett family taking over the car park.. tables and chairs out in the sun… Bikes on stands getting serviced.. bacon and sausages on the grill and cups of tea galore supplied by the lovely Elaine who will definitely be bringing her bike ‘Daisy’ out on a triathlon one day.
It was a great atmosphere and everyone was having fun which, after all, is why we were there..
The race start times had changes this year, not sure why, but we had found that it had split us up throughout the day. This did, however, have its upside as it meant we could all cheer each other on during the day.
The swim is 400 metres indoor in the pool at Wilmslow Leisure Centre. It’s a lovely set up with a great pool and changing facilities. There is a small race briefing 15 minutes before your wave start and there you get allocated a lane and position. There are 4 per lane and you start 5 seconds apart which works if everyone has got their estimated swim time correct..
It was great to see the Scouting Movement ( Thank You all !) helping out in force and the girls were acting ably as counters for the swimmers. In all 16 lengths of the pool and they signal you when you have two lengths to go recording your time as you leave the water. There was even a photographer poolside for some of the early starters.
Leaving the pool and outside for a quick run across the grass to transition. The sun beating down on my back and very little breeze gave me hope of a fast ride.
The transition at this event is cleanly laid out and well signed to help you find your bike. A quick change into bike shoes, glasses and helmet on before grabbing my trusty carbon steed. 24.2km (15.1m) ahead of me and it’s a great route..
Head down and off I go pedalling like a banshee round the residential back streets into Wilmslow and off up Wilmslow Road. There is a surreal point a couple of miles in where you go into the underpass and directly above you is the runway for Manchester Airport. Planes land and take off about every 30 seconds which is quite a sight if you catch it right. With the heady smell of jet fuel in your nostrils you power your way under the runway towards a left turn into Mill Lane…
A cheeky little hill follows and then the course is pretty much undulating all the way through the villages of Ashley, New Mills and Knolls Green before heading swiftly back into Wilmslow for the finish of the bike leg.
The roads are typically British with rough surfaces and the odd pothole to catch you out but it is a fast run and mildly challenging making it perfect for first time triathletes.A last push of the pace on the run in through the back streets and a sprint into the dismount line back at transition. 24.1km done and just a little jog to go !
Racking my bike by the seat on the rail it was nice to see the chap next to me had put his bike the correct way round this time! although he was still changing on the wrong side of the bar..
This happens quite a lot, in fact in every event I have done apart from the Ironman events where the marshalls check keenly.
I really can’t understand why on your numbered sticker on the rail they don’t also print an arrow pointing in the right direction your front wheel should face ( Maybe XtraMile (if you are reading this) will lead the way next year??) Simple solution that would save a great deal of confusion.
A quick change into trainers trying to shave a few seconds off my transition time and I’m off running. Now at this point I always tell myself I should do more brick training ( Bike then a run straight after) as I generally get cramp in my calves. This time I left at a slow pace and built up to my race pace which more or less prevented the onset.
Following a chap who was slightly quicker in front I managed to push myself a little harder. The run out across the back field takes in it’s first bridge over a busy main road which saps the legs a little. Up through some passageways and down a track or two you pass by the return route and see runners coming the other way. It’s all very jovial as you passed each other with a few shouts of ‘well done’ and ‘ push it out ‘ from the other competitors.
The heat was making things a little bit more sweaty than usual but ploughing on downhill crossing a well marshalled main road I made good time.
A nasty, short, sharp climb follows leading you through a path to a housing estate. The long winding road seems never ending as you reach the farthest point out on the run.
Turning for home and a welcome downhill follows retracing your steps for another mile to greet the competitors just starting out… A bit more joviality from me as I know I’m nearly finished!
One last nasty bridge is for the taking at this point. Some choose to walk up the steps as they are quite steep but I chose to run as I did the previous year. I’m not sure why as I probably wasn’t much faster? Must be a psychological thing!
With the bridge fading into the distance behind me I make the right turn out of the trees into the dazzling sunshine and the finishing chute. Ably assisted by the cheers of the supporters and loudest cheers of all from the rest of Doctor Sprocket’s Tri Team. I cross the line in 1hour and 31 minutes which isn’t too shabby for a 50 year old fat kid with a carbon bike fetish ( n+1 ). Pleased with my time as I had knocked 3 minutes off my previous attempt so a good day out in all.
The rest of the team all excelled themselves and put in some great times. The first timers all completed the course and gave the rest of us something to worry about next year!
Mark B turned out to be ‘La Dark Horse Exceptionale’ considering he had only owned a bike for 7 days prior to the event and posting a 1hour 41min time.
Mark H a glutton for punishment rode the Wiggle Pendle Peddle the day before his first tri here and still posted a great time.
And well as for our newbie Heather … she totally nailed it although she did have some lasting reminders after taking her event tattoo’s off to everyone’s amusement. 333 is now emblazoned on her sunburnt chalky white Scottish arms for a day or two at least!
As event organisers go XtraMile are a great company with loads of experience. We have done quite a few now and none have failed to impress. It was shame this year that the neighbours complaining meant there was no PA or music and the atmosphere was noticeably subdued. The event itself is one of the best I have seen for first time triathletes and one which we always enjoy twice a year. If you are looking for a first tri or just a great sprint distance this one is for you.
Doctor Sprocket’s Tri Team would like to all give a big shout out to XtraMile Events, all the marshalls & event medics, staff at Wilmslow Leisure Centre, The Scouting Movement and last but not least 391 Squadron Air Cadets who came over for a chat with the team in the car park.
See you all in May 2017 for Wilmslow Tri.. the next one! Different name same tri !
Heather commentAfter weeks of nerves they were quickly elevated by all the lovely friendly people I met who were simply giving it a go whether for the first time or umpteenth - no pressure and only racing against the clock for yourself.
'The Doc’ is a keen triathlete and lifetime cyclist who runs Doctor Sprockets Workshop servicing and repairing Race, Tri and Road bikes in Wallasey, Wirral. He is a fully qualified cycle technician and also certified as an Iron distance coach.
The Doc offers professional bike fitting services for Triathlon and Road cyclists. If you are looking for a bike mechanic for any of your family bikes on the Wirral look him up on social media or contact him here.