Monday, 22 May 2017

Ouutlaw Half, Nottingham. 2017 by David Sloan

Today was always going to be a tough day, the weather had been looking unkind in the build up with torrential downpours on Saturday when we were all making our way down the M6 through the sea of rubber-neckers admiring a fatal accident on the other side of the carriageway (i won't give my opinion on that as there are children present, but safe to say it disgusts me). Anyway, we all got to the venue nice and early to sit through the 45min race brief, which, to be honest, is not the death by slideshow you would expect, these boys can hold a crowd.
With everybody appeased that they knew what was happening in the morning we all headed back to our respective hotels, grabbed some food and a couple of pints (to help with sleep) and set our alarms for 3:45 (yes, am!)
One thing about the Outlaw Half that isn't ideal is that bike racking is on the morning of the event, which is the same for most half distance events, but because of the traffic on the local roads they also have an early start which means that bike racking is between 5-6am with wave 1 setting off at 6:15. It is here that I would like to thank all of those who came early to help/spectate and remained there for the whole day, you were amazing and much needed and appreciated!!
So to the race, 9 A&T members lined up for the start, Myself, John Lee, Chris Scholes, Phil Riley, Ian Joslin, Michelle Fairclough, Jane Ecclestone, Tracy Waterfall-Chadwick & Emma Higgins. All raring to go with the exception of Emma, who was having jitters before her first ever open water triathlon after a bad experience in the cold water of Salford Quays the week before, but after a few pep talks we were all ready to go and do ourselves proud.
What can i say about the swim start! Well, they break it down into 4 waves at 15minute intervals, and for good reason too. For me it was daunting, I generally have a panic in the water in my first couple of races and this delivered, 2 stops in the first 250m to catch my breath and get a bit of space, then I was off. It seems that I got off a bit lightly though, as Scholesy had a similar issue, but in the middle of the front pack and ended up clinging onto a canoe, luckily they let him continue and everyone got out of the water safe and in good time.

T1 was where Emma and Phil had their breakfast and a brew.

The he start of the bike loop is quite nice for the social triathlete as it gives you 3miles to go around the lake and sort your kit/food/drinks out for the day, get a photo from your loved ones and hopefully not ride into a duck, Phil!

There were some cracking times posted for the bike leg and it was a great course to do it on too. The first 8-10 miles were flat with the rest being undulating with one decent hill to speak of which even for us slow cyclist

...even for pedestrian cyclists like me only takes 5mins to get over. It was reassuring to see John fly past me at 50miles grumbling about how his technology had let him down ,f*ing power, f*ing cadence and such things, John you had a great ride. I must have missed Chris fly past my when my cassette came loose and i had to improvise and tighten it back on with an alan key at 22miles. I also spotted Emma on the bike briefly, which made me smile to know that she got in there and had survived the swim.
The final 2miles of the course does let the ride down a bit as it is down gravelly tracks/bumpy private roads, but it is picturesque and an honour to be able to cycle through the stately grounds (rather than the hectic A52).
As i came into T2, i saw John heading out and after a couple of minutes sorting my stuff and visiting the facilities I was out on the course to chase everyone down (I knew Scholesy was out there somewhere too!) I also saw Phil docking his bike on my way out, so the race was on (even though all of these boys had started 15-30 mins after me).

It is safe to say that the run was tough for everyone, some pushed too hard on the bike, some were just not as fit as they'd have liked to be (me), some suffered with the nutrition and others had over-indulged on honeymoon. We had all joked the day before when they gave us sunscreen at registration, but the sun came out and it got very warm, as Emma's new tattoos are testament to:

The run course is pan-flat with 2-laps of a narrow out-and-back section followed by a lap of the lake. The out and back section was quite good for gauging how far ahead or behind someone you were, as me and Phil noticed as both times we saw each other it was a quick check of the watch and a high5. It was here i caught my first glimpse of Jane and Michelle. I would like to say it was with them running strong, but they both seemed to be loitering around the aid stations, after speaking to Jane afterwards apparently it was the story of her run, lesson for the day - nothing new on race day!

The finishing straight for Outlaw is a one-off, with friends and family around it is amazing and the only event that still allows people to finish with their loved ones, it was a heartwarming site to see Emma come down there with her son Daniel after a long hard day and after such an achievement to be able to share that moment is awesome, thank you OSB events.

Everybody finished safe and we all had our individual stories of how the day went, but the most important thing was that we all enjoyed ourselves, the event was well organised and we had some great support on the course, especially the guys on the hill for the run, you know who you are!
I must say also, the food was fantastic, a crack team of chefs absolutely smashed it!
Would i do this race again (for a third time)? Absolutely! I'm not sure that every body else shares my enthusiasm, but i loved it!!!
David Sloan

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