Peter Goes To London

In his latest adventure uncle travelling Peter heads to the bright lights of London:

ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships, London, 13th September 2013.

In 2010 I stumbled across Triathlon Ireland’s (TI) “Age Group Selection” on their website and discovered that Irish triathletes can compete at various events around the world, the most obvious being the European Championships that were held in Athlone that year.  I had missed the boat on Athlone but did manage to qualify through one of the designated races (Athy Sprint, 2010) for the ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships in Budapest in September 2010.  Sharon and I went over for a few days and enjoyed ourselves in a class city; the only negative being the rain that fell.  It was incredible.  By the end of our time there, I was wearing plastic bags in my shoes over my socks because I could not get my shoes or runners dry, and Sharon’s size 5 four inch heels are a bit tight.

So, having invested in the trisuit with my name on my bum and belly, it would be shame to retire it after one outing.  London 2013 popped up and in 2012, the aim was to qualify through the designated race or the National Series, thankfully I did.

The whole family set off for London on Thursday 12th September.  The trip was thinly disguised as a visit to my newly wed little sister, her new South African husband and their 2 kids (2 pugs called Boris and Frank, yes, Frank; who bears a striking resemblance to the character in Men in Black who is oddly named Frank also).

Logistically bringing a bike anywhere is a pain in the rear especially when one misses the opportunity to book it on the plane and the boys in “shipmybike” are full, d’oh!  I managed to find a fellow athlete travelling by van and he duly carried my bike for me. Nice, as it was left at the venue for me.  Plus, when he returned it to me, it was cleaner than ever; thanks Shane!

Having collected my bike, which was a bit shabby compared to the other bikes it travelled with, think Mater in Cars, we noticed some of the bikes on display in London and they were incredible.  Even my sister commented on some of them and she knows even less than I do! (Before she saw my bike, she said that I could have borrowed her hubbies bike rather than shipping my own over; nice offer but his is a mountain bike!).

The race HQ was in Hyde Park and as with many of these events, there was a considerable expo (indoor and outdoor) for everyone to sample foods, test gear and measure what watts you can push.  For anyone that knows me it goes without saying that I did none of the above, except buy a race belt because my old one is apparently “embarrassing” and I was told that “no-one uses safety pins anymore”;  That was news to me.  But to be fair, the new one had “Zoom” written on it, twice, and it was definitely more aero than the old one.  There were plenty of nice young ladies looking for my e-mail address also and entering me in all sorts of competitions – I don’t have any further comment to make on that.

As I only arrived on the day before my race, TI had to register me and get my race pack etc.  TI had a marquee in the expo and it was a hive of activity. The Irish team had 3 managers on site attending to all of our needs.  My team manager was Ditch Moore, yes Ditch.  And yes, he is Irish and a sound man (ask Davin, he knows him quite well).  There was also a mechanic on site which was a help but every-time I was in the tent (all 2 times), he was lying down so we either have excellent bikes or he was extremely efficient.

The goodie bag was good, we received a lovely navy t-shirt outlining the event and its status but unfortunately had a big Union Jack emblazoned on the front. Hhhmmmmmmm – I’m wouldn’t be too sure about wearing it so I left it for my brother in law as a “memento” of our visit.

On the Thursday, the U.23’s were racing and I managed to see them on the bike course and on the run; not an ounce of relaxed muscle anywhere.  They were in groups on the bike course and were flying.  The Junior Elite had also raced that day with the Irish doing well.  There was a great buzz around the expo and Hyde Park.  All the races were to start and finish at the same point but would have different bike and run courses within or just around Hyde Park.  There were to be 9 events in all from the Wednesday to the elite mens race on the Sunday.  The organisation was staggering and at no point did you feel you couldn’t access anywhere or were you rushed to any point.  There was a grandstand open to all with large screens showing parts of the races along with commentary all day.  Each group of athletes had designated times to register and bring their bikes to transition and this ensured that there was no waiting or delays, which was brilliant.  After scoping the logistics of transition, leaving my bike in there for the night and sussing out the layout of my own race, I headed home.

We were staying one hours travel (including walk, tube, walk) from Hyde park.  I was due to race at 9.25am but transition was only open from 6am until 7.30am so that meant a 5.30am start... uuuuggggggghhhh.  What we do for sport!  All the Ironmen are now calling me a wuss and yes they are right.  Having said that, I started at 7.35am in Budapest so I wasn’t complaining this time; well not really.

Arriving in transition, nerves were evident among the masses.  I set up my gear and introduced myself to some of the other Irish lads in my age group.  There had been lots of rain so many people were worried about the bike course being slippy and the swim being compact as people had being complaining the day before that the swim starts were very physical.   Transition closed at 7.30am on the dot.  The first race began at 8.00am (on the button!)so I waited around for that and watched that kick off.  The Molloy family from Kilkenny had representatives racing in the first group off so they had a good vantage point for the swim exit.  The first few swimmers were out of the water in under 10 minutes!  Unbelievable.  The lads got out and raced away.  5 Molloys competed over the weekend, 3 generations raced, all representing Ireland and Kilkenny really well.

I got togged off in the Irish tent where nerves were clearly evident (among the ladies, mostly)!  There was panic over start times, numbers, etc  so I changed and bolted as it wasn’t the place for humour of any sort.  I was due at the start 20 minutes before throw in so I made my way down to discover almost all of my wave were in the first of 3 pens, all ready to go – I should really get my wetsuit on now I thought!.  The whole event is choreographed to ensure nothing is delayed.  At 9.22, we were led onto the pontoon, a couple of quick handshakes and suddenly we were ordered into the water and told we had 60 seconds.  In no time we were off.

There were Irish lads on my right and I was with them for a few strokes and I turned to see how the guys on my left were moving (with a view to sneaking an aul draft!), they were gone... After 4-5 strokes, they had a body length or two on me.  I must admit, at this stage I began to have doubts about bringing home the gold medal, silver was at risk too.  The swim went well and before i knew it we were swimming back towards the pontoon to exit.

Transition was crazy long and initially it was on the famed blue carpet but then went onto grass.  I got to my bike and noticed that many of those in my age group were gone which had me thinking that the silver was definitely gone but we’d plough on.  Exiting transition, Caroline Russell was shouting encouragement which was great, nice to see someone from home.  Caroline and Ned raced the next day and did very well and I have no doubt enjoyed the whole week.  They sneaked off to Majorca then for a holiday!

To say the bike course was super would not do it justice.  Despite being unbelievably slippy, there were two 180 degrees turns, a couple of 90 degree turns and a couple of roundabouts.  Crowds lined the majority of the route and between shouting the whole time and ringing cow bells, the atmosphere was electric.  I cycled hard and could feel it in my legs on the first lap of 3 but settled into it after that.  There is chicane type bend at the busiest spectator part of the course and it was lethal.  On my first lap, the back wheel started skidding and I don’t know how I stayed upright but I did.  “Good job guy” came a roar from a yank in the crowd.  I smiled but had no intention of repeating the trick on the next two laps.  There were a number of speed bumps that caused a few hairy moments for me as well but nothing too serious.  I felt I was flying and I was catching and passing many others.  I had to yell at some athletes to let them know I was coming but everyone was  cool and enjoying themselves.

Despite the rain, my fan club appeared on the bridge in Hyde park and it was great seeing them, and hearing them.  After the 3rd lap, I veered off and headed back to T2.  Again it was a long slog through it and some traffic within holding matters up a tiny bit but it was the same for everyone.

On the run, the legs didn’t feel great starting off but I got going after a while.  I high fived the fan club on lap one and as they were near the finish, I flew past them on lap 2.  I was passing people all the time and that drove me on (Obviously, the new Zoom race belt was working a treat. £5 was money well spent). I finished strong but felt wrecked after it.  In the “mixed zone” afterwards, it was good to meet the other athletes and have a quick chat.  Shower facilities were available to all athletes with, wait for it, HOT WATER!  A nice hot chocolate and a cake and I was set then for the day.

Transition opened soon after 1.30pm and even that was a military operation.  We were called in by number and couldn’t leave until we signed an oath of allegiance to the Queen (Leo Varadkar for the Irish).  All kidding aside, it was excellently organised.

I went back to the TI tent and anybody that I met seemed happy.  Some had raced and some weren’t racing until Sunday (this was only Friday morning!) so they had lots of time to kill.  But, there was plenty to occupy everyone as the AG sprint finished up at lunchtime, the paratriathletes kicked off in the afternoon.  The elite women raced on Saturday morning and there was an open race on Saturday afternoon.  Sunday was the final day where the AG standard distance took place followed by the race that everybody wanted to see (except me, I was at home in Glenmore cutting the grass, blissfully unaware that it was live on BBC2 – d’oh!), I’m referring to the Brownlee sisters against Mr Gomez of course.

We didn’t hang around on the Friday as we had stuff to do in London.  Buckingham Palace, etc and of course, Legoland, which was a big hit all round.  I bet the Brownlee girls (they’re so skinny, they must be girls!) never had fun like we had in the 3D cinema in Legoland.  We flew home on the Saturday night.

It was a great trip, London should seriously consider holding the Olympics some year; it would be an ideal venue for it and the people are so organised and focused.

Needless to say, I was just out of the medals.  Seriously though, I finished 44th in my age group which I’m more than happy with.  These events are very competitive but are a great experience.  One of the Irish guys commented as we waited in our pen, pre swim that he didn’t see too many flabby tummies among the masses but I disagree with that.  Yes, there are some unbelievable athletes racing but there were 80+ year olds taking part too.  It is important to see that anyone can do these events.  I would imagine that it brings the crowds and atmosphere of Ironman but has a lot less time involved in preparing for it.  I like the idea of racing against other athletes in different countries without it taking over my life.  Next year its Canada and its Chicago in 2015; and that is only the world championships.  The European Championships take place every year too and if anyone would like to race in any of these, you should look at the TI website and see how its done.  I don’t think I will be going anywhere next year but perhaps we will the year after that.  London was perfect because it was so close and the crowds and buzz around sport in general in the UK, made the event very special and something that I’m glad I took part in.

Ps – Frank,if you’re reading this, the neuralyzer is under the sofa in the sitting room.  It needs new batteries.

ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships, London, 13th September 2013.

In 2010 I stumbled across Triathlon Ireland’s (TI) “Age Group Selection” on their website and discovered that Irish triathletes can compete at various events around the world, the most obvious being the European Championships that were held in Athlone that year.  I had missed the boat on Athlone but did manage to qualify through one of the designated races (Athy Sprint, 2010) for the ITU Age Group Sprint World Championships in Budapest in September 2010.  Sharon and I went over for a few days and enjoyed ourselves in a class city; the only negative being the rain that fell.  It was incredible.  By the end of our time there, I was wearing plastic bags in my shoes over my socks because I could not get my shoes or runners dry, and Sharon’s size 5 four inch heels are a bit tight.

So, having invested in the trisuit with my name on my bum and belly, it would be shame to retire it after one outing.  London 2013 popped up and in 2012, the aim was to qualify through the designated race or the National Series, thankfully I did.

The whole family set off for London on Thursday 12th September.  The trip was thinly disguised as a visit to my newly wed little sister, her new South African husband and their 2 kids (2 pugs called Boris and Frank, yes, Frank; who bears a striking resemblance to the character in Men in Black who is oddly named Frank also).

Logistically bringing a bike anywhere is a pain in the rear especially when one misses the opportunity to book it on the plane and the boys in “shipmybike” are full, d’oh!  I managed to find a fellow athlete travelling by van and he duly carried my bike for me. Nice, as it was left at the venue for me.  Plus, when he returned it to me, it was cleaner than ever; thanks Shane!

Having collected my bike, which was a bit shabby compared to the other bikes it travelled with, think Mater in Cars, we noticed some of the bikes on display in London and they were incredible.  Even my sister commented on some of them and she knows even less than I do! (Before she saw my bike, she said that I could have borrowed her hubbies bike rather than shipping my own over; nice offer but his is a mountain bike!).

The race HQ was in Hyde Park and as with many of these events, there was a considerable expo (indoor and outdoor) for everyone to sample foods, test gear and measure what watts you can push.  For anyone that knows me it goes without saying that I did none of the above, except buy a race belt because my old one is apparently “embarrassing” and I was told that “no-one uses safety pins anymore”;  That was news to me.  But to be fair, the new one had “Zoom” written on it, twice, and it was definitely more aero than the old one.  There were plenty of nice young ladies looking for my e-mail address also and entering me in all sorts of competitions – I don’t have any further comment to make on that.

As I only arrived on the day before my race, TI had to register me and get my race pack etc.  TI had a marquee in the expo and it was a hive of activity. The Irish team had 3 managers on site attending to all of our needs.  My team manager was Ditch Moore, yes Ditch.  And yes, he is Irish and a sound man (ask Davin, he knows him quite well).  There was also a mechanic on site which was a help but every-time I was in the tent (all 2 times), he was lying down so we either have excellent bikes or he was extremely efficient.

The goodie bag was good, we received a lovely navy t-shirt outlining the event and its status but unfortunately had a big Union Jack emblazoned on the front. Hhhmmmmmmm – I’m wouldn’t be too sure about wearing it so I left it for my brother in law as a “memento” of our visit.

On the Thursday, the U.23’s were racing and I managed to see them on the bike course and on the run; not an ounce of relaxed muscle anywhere.  They were in groups on the bike course and were flying.  The Junior Elite had also raced that day with the Irish doing well.  There was a great buzz around the expo and Hyde Park.  All the races were to start and finish at the same point but would have different bike and run courses within or just around Hyde Park.  There were to be 9 events in all from the Wednesday to the elite mens race on the Sunday.  The organisation was staggering and at no point did you feel you couldn’t access anywhere or were you rushed to any point.  There was a grandstand open to all with large screens showing parts of the races along with commentary all day.  Each group of athletes had designated times to register and bring their bikes to transition and this ensured that there was no waiting or delays, which was brilliant.  After scoping the logistics of transition, leaving my bike in there for the night and sussing out the layout of my own race, I headed home.

We were staying one hours travel (including walk, tube, walk) from Hyde park.  I was due to race at 9.25am but transition was only open from 6am until 7.30am so that meant a 5.30am start... uuuuggggggghhhh.  What we do for sport!  All the Ironmen are now calling me a wuss and yes they are right.  Having said that, I started at 7.35am in Budapest so I wasn’t complaining this time; well not really.

Arriving in transition, nerves were evident among the masses.  I set up my gear and introduced myself to some of the other Irish lads in my age group.  There had been lots of rain so many people were worried about the bike course being slippy and the swim being compact as people had being complaining the day before that the swim starts were very physical.   Transition closed at 7.30am on the dot.  The first race began at 8.00am (on the button!)so I waited around for that and watched that kick off.  The Molloy family from Kilkenny had representatives racing in the first group off so they had a good vantage point for the swim exit.  The first few swimmers were out of the water in under 10 minutes!  Unbelievable.  The lads got out and raced away.  5 Molloys competed over the weekend, 3 generations raced, all representing Ireland and Kilkenny really well.

I got togged off in the Irish tent where nerves were clearly evident (among the ladies, mostly)!  There was panic over start times, numbers, etc  so I changed and bolted as it wasn’t the place for humour of any sort.  I was due at the start 20 minutes before throw in so I made my way down to discover almost all of my wave were in the first of 3 pens, all ready to go – I should really get my wetsuit on now I thought!.  The whole event is choreographed to ensure nothing is delayed.  At 9.22, we were led onto the pontoon, a couple of quick handshakes and suddenly we were ordered into the water and told we had 60 seconds.  In no time we were off.

There were Irish lads on my right and I was with them for a few strokes and I turned to see how the guys on my left were moving (with a view to sneaking an aul draft!), they were gone... After 4-5 strokes, they had a body length or two on me.  I must admit, at this stage I began to have doubts about bringing home the gold medal, silver was at risk too.  The swim went well and before i knew it we were swimming back towards the pontoon to exit.

Transition was crazy long and initially it was on the famed blue carpet but then went onto grass.  I got to my bike and noticed that many of those in my age group were gone which had me thinking that the silver was definitely gone but we’d plough on.  Exiting transition, Caroline Russell was shouting encouragement which was great, nice to see someone from home.  Caroline and Ned raced the next day and did very well and I have no doubt enjoyed the whole week.  They sneaked off to Majorca then for a holiday!

To say the bike course was super would not do it justice.  Despite being unbelievably slippy, there were two 180 degrees turns, a couple of 90 degree turns and a couple of roundabouts.  Crowds lined the majority of the route and between shouting the whole time and ringing cow bells, the atmosphere was electric.  I cycled hard and could feel it in my legs on the first lap of 3 but settled into it after that.  There is chicane type bend at the busiest spectator part of the course and it was lethal.  On my first lap, the back wheel started skidding and I don’t know how I stayed upright but I did.  “Good job guy” came a roar from a yank in the crowd.  I smiled but had no intention of repeating the trick on the next two laps.  There were a number of speed bumps that caused a few hairy moments for me as well but nothing too serious.  I felt I was flying and I was catching and passing many others.  I had to yell at some athletes to let them know I was coming but everyone was  cool and enjoying themselves.

Despite the rain, my fan club appeared on the bridge in Hyde park and it was great seeing them, and hearing them.  After the 3rd lap, I veered off and headed back to T2.  Again it was a long slog through it and some traffic within holding matters up a tiny bit but it was the same for everyone.

On the run, the legs didn’t feel great starting off but I got going after a while.  I high fived the fan club on lap one and as they were near the finish, I flew past them on lap 2.  I was passing people all the time and that drove me on (Obviously, the new Zoom race belt was working a treat. £5 was money well spent). I finished strong but felt wrecked after it.  In the “mixed zone” afterwards, it was good to meet the other athletes and have a quick chat.  Shower facilities were available to all athletes with, wait for it, HOT WATER!  A nice hot chocolate and a cake and I was set then for the day.

Transition opened soon after 1.30pm and even that was a military operation.  We were called in by number and couldn’t leave until we signed an oath of allegiance to the Queen (Leo Varadkar for the Irish).  All kidding aside, it was excellently organised.

I went back to the TI tent and anybody that I met seemed happy.  Some had raced and some weren’t racing until Sunday (this was only Friday morning!) so they had lots of time to kill.  But, there was plenty to occupy everyone as the AG sprint finished up at lunchtime, the paratriathletes kicked off in the afternoon.  The elite women raced on Saturday morning and there was an open race on Saturday afternoon.  Sunday was the final day where the AG standard distance took place followed by the race that everybody wanted to see (except me, I was at home in Glenmore cutting the grass, blissfully unaware that it was live on BBC2 – d’oh!), I’m referring to the Brownlee sisters against Mr Gomez of course.

We didn’t hang around on the Friday as we had stuff to do in London.  Buckingham Palace, etc and of course, Legoland, which was a big hit all round.  I bet the Brownlee girls (they’re so skinny, they must be girls!) never had fun like we had in the 3D cinema in Legoland.  We flew home on the Saturday night.

It was a great trip, London should seriously consider holding the Olympics some year; it would be an ideal venue for it and the people are so organised and focused.

Needless to say, I was just out of the medals.  Seriously though, I finished 44th in my age group which I’m more than happy with.  These events are very competitive but are a great experience.  One of the Irish guys commented as we waited in our pen, pre swim that he didn’t see too many flabby tummies among the masses but I disagree with that.  Yes, there are some unbelievable athletes racing but there were 80+ year olds taking part too.  It is important to see that anyone can do these events.  I would imagine that it brings the crowds and atmosphere of Ironman but has a lot less time involved in preparing for it.  I like the idea of racing against other athletes in different countries without it taking over my life.  Next year its Canada and its Chicago in 2015; and that is only the world championships.  The European Championships take place every year too and if anyone would like to race in any of these, you should look at the TI website and see how its done.  I don’t think I will be going anywhere next year but perhaps we will the year after that.  London was perfect because it was so close and the crowds and buzz around sport in general in the UK, made the event very special and something that I’m glad I took part in.

Ps – Frank,if you’re reading this, the neuralyzer is under the sofa in the sitting room.  It needs new batteries.Clash London calling

 

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