Outlaw Full Distance Triathlon, Nottingham,27th July

31 July, 2016 No Comments Uncategorized

This report is by Colin Brown, a very comprehensive assessment of the event-Noreen

On completing my second standard distance tri, at a hilly Castle Howard in July 2015, I said immediately to my mate Foss (Jesmond Joggers) ‘can’t see me ever doing a half iron mate, if I’m knackered after this’. Somehow, by the end of August, after getting all excited at the prospect of getting a tattoo, and clearly in the full grip of mid life crisis, I’d conferred with my mates Gez Davidson (Wallsend) and our own Phil Coulson, and earmarked Outlaw for a full iron distance in July 2016. Gez says I was mesmerised ‘wide-eyed’ by his IM tattoo. He’s right.The journey has been amazing, and the support from all quarters both unexpected and huge, but that’s all for my memoirs. This is an event report!

Event Entry:Pre-reg was in August, and guaranteed (if memory serves) a 1 day window for priority entry a few weeks later (September/October ?) £290 I think – a massive saving on IM events. Entry was fine – it actually took a few weeks to sell out, but seems to be getting more popular every year, so no guarantees for 2017. 1350 capacity I believe in 2016.Pre event info: Not great – didn’t really get any until about 10 days before. And very poor at answering emails using the ‘contact us’ on their website, and FB messages. I had to phone them eventually to get advance info about things like feed stations and nutrition – important for a first timer.When the info did arrive, it was comprehensive and pretty clear.

The routes for bike and run are published online and there is an unofficial FB group, so you can dry-run if you want to. There are also some pre dates available for practice swims.
Event Weekend: Event day is Sunday. Registration is available Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. Bikes need to be racked and briefings (1 hour long!!) attended on Saturday. There is also a lot of baggage to be sorted out and deposited in T1 and T2, which some nervous types (me ) did on Saturday too, but could be left until Sunday if preferred. It’s all clearly stated in the info and at briefing what needs to be done and left where and by when so no surprises.I do think the briefing was too long, as most of the info was already covered in pre event reading. However, it was very informal, good fun, and had Erdinger alcohol free on tap (2 pints of which still had the effect of relaxing me, bizarrely) so I left quite chilled.Pre-Event and spectator facilities: Catering was quite limited and, as expected, pretty expensive. Roasting hot day on Saturday (30c) and scant shade, coupled with lack of veggie options and wallet emptying prices made for some tetchy personal support crew!

You have to hunt for the toilets – not many obvious ones in event HQ but loads of portaloos around, mostly though in places where competitors would need them on Sunday.

Parking, Accommodation etc: Loads of parking, £5 for the weekend. Short walk (max 1k)  Camping on site, but I think that filled up in advance pretty quickly.  Loads of hotels in Nottingham and surrounding area – we stayed 3 nights in Riverside Travelodge about 4 miles away – cheap as chips.

Event Day: 04:00 car parks opened and 04:15 Transition and bike racking opened. We’d been advised on Saturday, due to temperatures, to deflate tyres, so a bit of a scramble first thing to inflate, put bottles in cages and other nutrition into transition bags in the T1/T2 tent. Plenty of pump sharing going on!

06:00 race start came around very quickly despite the early start – time disappeared in a haze of logistics and mild terror!

I’d met Foss and our own Mel George the previous day at registration and over evening carb-loading, and we grouped together for a bit of moral support as the time neared, and agreed that as we’re of similar swim pace we’d start together in the same ‘pen’. It worked – I didn’t want to be on my own and I don’t think either of them did either.

The Event: Thankfully temperatures were lower than the Saturday, but still forecast mid-20’s though mostly light cloud, and that was how it turned out.

The gun went off. We swam. Decent swimming in a warm man made lake. Poor underwater visibility, but the course was, basically a very long straight, a very short turn and across, a very long return swim. Only 2 turns was easy but the outward swim directly into the rising sun, so I found sighting a bit tough and my garmin measured almost 4.3k!
Dozens of helpers on exit to pull us up the ramp, loosen zips and help us out of suits / very efficient indeed.
Transition was easy – your numbered bags on your numbered pegs in a massive, carpeted tent with plenty of benches provided. Sun tan cream liberally applied by marshals/helpers if you wanted, and off for a short jog to bike racks. All good so far – PB open water 3.8 swim for me.

The bike course was 2 short loops and 2 long, joined by a long straight, so plenty of places for supported to catch you multiple times. Mostly flat/gently undulating but one decent hill on the long loop. Feed stations every 15 ish miles.
I started fast (about 20mph average first 15 miles) and got chatting to a fella almost immediately (a relationship which lasted, off and on, for the rest of the event, but I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember his name). He told me he’d marshalled the Outlaw Half recently and as long by as we stayed side by side we were legal (important in a non-drafting race). The banter really helped pass the miles, even though we weren’t glued to each other’s side all the time, it was great to catch up when one or other slowed up a bit, as happens inevitably, e.g. for some scran (salted new potatoes and jelly babies for me).
I loved the first 80 miles but then needed a pit stop and never really got going again afterwards, not helped by a double figure head wind by that point.
Still good though – 24 mins inside my ‘A target’ time for the bike and only missed the ‘B target’ due to the pit stop.

Run: Multiple 5k Laps around the lake and 2 long laps through park/scrub land, along tracks and out and back along the Trent. 4 times underneath one of the goal end stands of the City Ground  (Nottingham Forest FC) gave me goosebumps every time, and does as I write this now – and a little much needed  boost. All that history and all those legends in huge photos in the plate glass windows. Twice European champions. Awesome.

The support on the bike was great, but the run support from everyone – marshals, aid stations helpers, spectators, general public, and fellow competitors – blew me away. Miles 14-22 were pretty dark for me, but the feeling you get from someone doing something as simple as shouting your name or giving you a hug (how they managed that when I smelled, frankly, revolting) is very hard to put into words, even 7 days on.

At various points I also struck up some banter with fellow sufferers. My bike friend, a lady called Josie, and a hearing/speech impaired man (using the power of hand signals and facial expressions – mostly pained!) The camaraderie and gallows humour was immense. Bike friend bought ice creams for himself and anyone else around us who wanted one from a van along the Trent on each long lap. Not strictly within the rules but bliddy funny, although I declined both times due to nausea.

So, a diet of Jaffa cakes, ready salted crisps, coke, water, high5 zero, applause, shout-outs and hugs sustained me on the run.

I didn’t see either Foss nor Mel on the bike, but saw each once (I think!) on the run. Foss looked pained but still finished about 55 mins ahead I think, despite being within about 5 mins at the end of the bike.
Mel looked fresh as she passed me on the run, having smashed it and eventually clawed back the 45 min deficit and more or less reversing it. I know where I need to improve!

Overall: Well organised, safe (as can be reasonably expected), reasonably priced, supportive (a Parkrun vibe on a bigger scale). Emotional. Brilliant. Rewarding. Utterly Unforgettable.

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