the year of the wooden spoon
Rumour has it that the older we become the more we count out our days in coffee spoons. As it transpires, the five members of Team 212 (aka Team Four Play and yeah, we’d already broken the rules by smuggling-in an extra participant) count out theirs in the number of Captain Challenges they’ve competed in.
Yesterday saw what was for many participants, the final race of the triathlon season, Berkshire Tri Squad’s (BTS) Captains’ Challenge: a challenging yet socially-oriented team relay event where BTS and fellow tri clubs enter teams of four competitors and compete over the thee disciplines to varying distances, dependent upon age, experience, desire and the persuasive capability of the respective press-ganging captains. Unsurprisingly, for long-term stalwarts ‘Team 212’ (our collective age and celebrating, I think, our tenth anniversary) it was our first and only race of the triathlon season as none of us like to peak too early. Probably.
Seven o’clock saw four of us wondering if our wet-suits still fitted as the last time they had been in the water was at last year’s race, but if we looked a tad nervous, it was nothing compared to that of new recruit, virginal Vytas, who was facing his first ever wetsuit swim in his first ever open water dip. Oh, and his first ever-triathlon and first ride since losing four teeth in a face-planting cycle accident. Uh oh. Being captain I did the decent thing (for once) and nominated him to go first! Nah, only kidding. Nick-the-fish-ish dived in, swam hard in the surprisingly balmy water of Bray Lake and came out mid-shoal, almost in contention. Needless to say, that’s when the fins fell off and we were no longer going to trouble the pointy-end in any of the classes.
In the manner of a boxing-match referee stepping-in and stopping the fight before any permanent damage is done, race-organiser, Gemma Korff, now understandably relegated to us to our very own ‘mixed C team’ category and deemed it necessary that we complete only eight laps of the 5km cycle loop and seven of the 2km running lap. Looking at the panoply of carbon time-trialling machines and associated aero-kit, not to mention the number of IM tatts on display, I can only thank her for doing exactly the right thing. Mind, the ride was great fun (as you only had to do one loop – ed.) as the others more than held their own and we all did our collective bit on the run. The beauty of the distances within the Challenge is they’re cunningly chosen that you have no choice but to give your all, every time, as evidenced by the fact that Vytas’s HRM hit the incredible number of 202 (no, really), which I’m pretty sure means that he should’ve needed CPR!
Undoubtedly, the most rewarding thing about this year was there appeared to be more teams and more competitors than ever. I counted, I think, fourteen teams (including the long-suffering Hillingdon, Three Counties, Farnham and recently-amalgamated, Eton Tri) and this places the number of participants close to the sixty mark. Great news, well done to Gemma and her team. Furthermore, there were lots of new faces with, shock-horror, several of them being those of relatively young people and long may this trend continue. The only downside was the continued, and very visible, absence of EVO, who apparently can’t even be a*sed to return Gemma’s calls and emails. What are they like!
So, lessons learned:
– BTS’s Captain’s Challenge is THE best race on the calendar, bar none. It’s fun, almost free (the £5 entrance fee goes directly to Bray Lake for allowing us to use their fantastic facilities), its distances encourage a ‘balls-out’ sprint approach, and they bake great cakes for you to scoff en-route. What’s not to love! Tell your friends, tell your family, tell people you’ve never met before to put next September in the diary. Someone tell EVO what they missed out on.
– Hillingdon were the deserved overall winners and there sure are some fit boys and girls out there.
– The upside of climate change is the temperature of the lake was spot-on and we bathed in glorious Indian Summer sun for the remainder of the day.
– The baker of the lemon-drizzle loaf was robbed.
– Rest assured we shall be back next year to defend our ‘Wooden Spoon’ status, though I suspect our wet-suits will remain dry until that date.
– Three cheers to BTS.