Support Xterra Cross Tri 8/9/13
2 injured, 1 virtually hospitalised, 1 in therapy (and that was just the support crew)
By Charlie Mortleman
We had a few out for this – myself and Sally (against coach Neil’s wishes, given that she had the World Champ’s coming up 5 days later – proof it’s not just me she ignores!); Alan Lewis, Mike Turner, Steve Walker, and new member David Skrobanek …………….. Mrs Mike (Katrina) foolishly volunteered (?) to act as support crew / creche look after Xinny Mort and young Tom Lewis.
I discussed pre-match prep with Alan – he was taking this more seriously than me, clearly. I’d been to a hog roast 50th the night before, and constrained myself to about 4 pints of Doom Bar and 1am bed. Alan, ever the pro, was also at a 50th, and had had 6 pints, a few glasses of wine, and 2 am bed.
Myself, Sally, Mike and Alan all started the swim together, in the codgers wave. “Is this the silverback group?” quipped one guy’s girlfriend – not sure what Sally and the other women in the wave thought of that.
Nothing much to report from the swim apart from a couple of tangles with water lilies.
The bike course was 2 laps, with – broadly – a semi technical first half with some roots, off camber, drops and slippery bridges to keep the pure roadies in check, past transition, then onto a faster second half mainly across fields, but with some twisty woods stuff chucked in. No real climbing but knackering trying to ride it fast.
Those of you who know Alan will know he is quietly spoken. That accusation can’t be made of his son Tom, who I could hear about 3km from transition. This gave me time to have a tactical breather, then stage a quick sprint, darting up the inside of a couple of riders, and pulling a massive hip jump over a handily placed bump in front of the loudly applauding spectators (then I woke up…………………)
All was going quite nicely (in a-near-heart-attack-sort-of-way) until the camera crew came past on a quad bike , following a blur which I assumed to be the race leader, in a pointy hat and on clip-ons. Is nothing sacred?
Off on the run and Katrina told me I was well ahead of my fellow 7oaks silverbackers –“ you’re 2 minutes ahead of Alan”. 2 minutes? I’ll need at least 10……………… I think a subsequent re-evaluation saw the gap at this point amended to 6 minutes.
Into the woods of doom I plodded. In the distance I heard a screaming crowd, sounding like the sort of thing you’d witness at a witch burning. I emerged at the much discussed stream jump – about 4 feet wide and the same deep - and screeched to a halt (can you screech to a halt from really rather slow?), and the crowd witnessed the first ever triathlon equivalent of a refusal.
“Jump!” howled the crowd.
“I think not” I said.
“Jump” they howled, louder.
“Look – you don’t seem to understand, I’m 48 ¾ and 15 stone, there’s no way……………………..”
Then – from nowhere – someone with manic staring eyes produced a branding iron with the word “wussy”on it, and over I went like a (sort of) jack rabbit, slightly amazed not to fall back in backwards. (Apparently when told to jump, both Alan and Sally just jumped in………………..)
(Note from Alan: I think that ditch was at least 15 ft wide and 15 foot deep and was filled with some rather large crocs which myself and Sal had wrestle before climbing out. ). I still think it should be next years club championship race. I will have a chat with the chairman. He has just purchased a mountain bike after all).
Into the bog, from which I emerged with one trainer, and what seemed an eternity later, the 1km marker appeared. WTF!!
There are times (although I can’t think of many) when having calves the size of a medium-sized parma ham is useful. Cross Country running isn’t one of them. At 3 km one of them duly pinged, and for a while I thought it was game over, but I managed to hobble through.
It was a 2 lapper again, and at halfway I needed a boost. It came in 2 forms – 1. a hefty South African thump on the shoulder (is it just me or was every other person there a Saffa?) – “my friend, welcome to the bull buffalo category!” 2. Seeing Sally about 1 km behind………
Alan, meanwhile, duly caught me at about 7km – it never fails to amaze me how he shifts his 95kgs so fast. “Dunno about a technical bike course – it’s a bloody technical run course”. Never one to over-emphasise.
So in we came, escorted by Tom and Xinny. “Iron” Mike had had an absolute nightmare – swim had gone fine, but he had started hyper-ventilating as soon as he got on the bike (40lb Halfords specials do that to you). He hoped to recover on the run, but didn’t, feeling he was going to have a heart attack on the stream jump, but dragged himself round, to be shepherded to the line by Tom and Xinny - “Here comes Mike Turner, supported by his children” (how many parents have these children got?) – and collapsed in a heap to be wrapped in a silver blanket and oxygen mask.
I still haven’t ascertained if this was due to exhaustion or the shock of discovering at 53 years old that he had 8 and 9 year old kids.
(Mike has been feeling cr@p all week and has undergone tests – diagnosis all clear but general advice was “you’ve got a virus and should have stopped, you plonker”).
Sally had a good race, winning her age group, (thereby qualifying for Hawaii – along with 16 others of the 29 women entered, some of whom seemed a bit unsure what they had qualified for! (note to ladies: get yourselves a mountain bike!) but also pinged a calf in the process (coach Neil turning in his grave bed). Steve Walker looked pretty fresh at the end, and was first 7oaks member home. We didn’t see David, but I spoke to him on the phone, and he struggled with cramp and a sore back, not to mention some good old English weather, but seemed to have good time.
Big thanks to Katrina for looking after the kids. I hear the therapy is going well.