Trying a tri

Tonbridge tri 2
The transition area

A triathlon can test both your physical and mental skills in one short space of time. It is one thing to cycle for 25km mostly uphill as fast as you can but quite another to attempt this dripping wet on a cold bank holiday Monday.

With other members of Rye Runners, our challenge was to swim 400m, cycle 25km and run 5km at the Tonbridge triathlon as fast as we could without taking too much time at the transition points and still keep a smile on our face for the photographer. Transition is the area where competitors keep their bikes, running shoes and any other gear, and to which they return at the end of each leg.

Triathlon is one of the fastest growing individual sports and I can quite see why. As well as the potential for copious amounts of equipment and gadgets there is also the need for great tactical awareness at the transitions, for example do I wear socks? Shall I take water? Do I need a puncture repair kit?  And another thing I discovered – there are plenty of hills around Tonbridge!

However as we found out, there are lots of friendly compatriots on the day all happy to give advice and encouragement. I would certainly recommend having a go, maybe start with a sprint distance event such as Tonbridge – there are a lot of much longer courses – and with a pool swim. For most triathlons the swim section is in open water, ie a river, lake or the sea.

All you need is a bike and a pair of running shoes and a sense of adventure. The feeling of satisfaction after finishing is unbeatable and nobody except you is bothered about your time (although mine was a little over one hour – not too bad for a first time). Just one word of warning don’t forget to count your lengths in the pool and practice getting your t-shirt on the right way round.

[Dep. Editor’s note: If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, triathlon will do it, but, a second warning from personal experience, it is addictive – do one event and you just have to do another, and another, trying to go further and faster. I can still remember clearly, after several years of competition, competing in my age-group (the sport is divided into five year age groupings) for Team GB at a World Championship event. On crossing the finishing line I heard the commentator say over the public address system in English and German – the event that year was in Hamburg – “and finishing for Great Britain is …” at that moment I felt that I could have done the entire course all over again. Even nearly 10 years later, the memory still gives me goose bumps!]


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