Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Outlaw Half Iron DistanceTriathlon - Supporting My Team Mates

Bruised legs and fingers, aching arms, headache coming on strong and very tired. And that was just from supporting, heaven only knows how the competitors were actually feeling.

The National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham on Sunday May 31st was the setting for the Outlaw Half Triathlon. A 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run to be completed in less than eight and a half hours. Team Bear had several members competing and with a number of us set to support as well I jumped at a rare opportunity to meet more of my team mates in person, dispersed around the country as we are. I also got to meet my coach for the first time!

Competitors set off in waves from 6:30am. Unfortunately I wasn't there in time to see the swim section but encountered the lead bikes out on the roads on Nottingham and was on site to see a large proportion of them heading out in the wind and rain. The National Water Sports Centre is similar to Dorney Lake, in as much as it's purpose built and very spectator friendly.

As the bike section was off-site there was time to grab a breakfast butty and coffee in the cafe and set up camp before the competitors started the run loop. We picked an area of the course where we would see competitors twice per lap on the run route, giving us four opportunities to roar our support, wave encouraging signs and flags around and attempt to deafen everyone with cowbells. The supporter team were all wearing our Team Bear hoodies and it was rather wonderful to see Team Bear trisuits and vests out on the course. We certainly made ourselves known!
Credit: Sid
Our supporter group grew and morphed over the course of the day as partners and children came and went but it was a fantastic atmosphere. Cake and pizza was munched in between giving out high fives. I couldn't quite get over how fresh the vast majority of people looked. So many smiles! I may have been getting rather excitable on the course but frankly that was nothing compared to how I felt once we relocated to the finish area. Huge hugs were administered to team members who had already finished and then we proceeded to drape ourselves over the barrier to scream everyone else home.

And scream I did. Years of Quo concerts had prepared my voice very well for hollering at people. There may also have been dancing, fist pumping and the flapping away of emotions after every high five or competitor crossing the finish line with a child. One chap was corralling four youngsters down the red carpet, undoubtedly the hardest 200m of the whole race for him. The announcers were wonderful, making sure everyone got a name check and including those who were passing the finish line with another lap still to go. Heroes, each and every one of them.

I am so proud of each and every one of my Team Mates who competed; Rob who took part in incredibly short notice, Rach who blasted the swim, Tracey and Catherine who I understand stayed together the whole way round and Cathy who was our first lady. You were all full of smiles and a total inspiration. So much so that I may have struck a deal with my coach to take part next year... Erm, yeah.
Credit: One Step Beyond
But frankly I can't think of another triathlon of that distance I'd rather do. The organisation was phenomenal, support throughout was excellent and the crews worked damned hard to make sure everyone went the right way, stayed fuelled and hydrated and completed the right number of laps. Particular recognition, I think, for those out on the bike course. That's a lonely place to be.

The full distance event take place on the 26th July and will feature team mate Sid on a BMX. I'd say look out for him, but I don't think you'll miss him. Crazy fool. He's raising money for charity though so please consider supporting him in his endeavours here.

What would you consider the best half distance triathlon in the UK? Have you ever been swayed to enter a race you've supported?

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