Having done this race for the past few years, I knew that it would be one of the most enjoyable of the season and I wasn't wrong. Past races have been organised by various organisations from Wiggle to Portsmouth City Council, but this year the local triathlon club, Portsmouth Triathletes, took charge when the future of the race was in doubt. A huge undertaking for a club of amateur enthusiasts.
There was a sprint event and an Olympic distance on offer and both races started with a swim off the shore of Southsea. Transition was set-up in Castle field in-between the Pyramids centre and the D-Day museum, so was a great setting.
I was in the first wave of the Olympic distance and during the on-beach race briefing we were warned about the strong current! I had not been near the sea this year, so having my first and last sea swim during a tri swim was unusual, but I soon found a rhythm and headed for the first bouy. In fact, with the tide moving, we could still touch the bottom at the first bouy and some swimmers were still walking! With the usual mouth fulls of water, kicks to the head, getting used to the waves and the salty taste, I soon found myself headed to shore to exit the water. A run past the Pyramid centre, across Castle field and onto the bike. For me, the bike course is the highlight of this event as it has 100% closed roads. This has to be unique for a triathlon in the south. With empty roads, brilliant loud marshals and some technical turns, I loved the 7 lap course and found myself grinning much of the time. Does it get much better than whizzing along flat closed roads in the sunshine steadily passing athletes who swam faster than you?? I remembered to take a good gulp of energy drink on every lap as I wanted to do a decent run today - it's the run that was my worst discipline in the past.
Last bike lap done, into transition and quickly onto the run course which was a 4 lap affair along the sea front and round the castle. With sprint and Olympic athletes on the course now, it was impossible to tell who I was racing against, but I found a sustainable speed and tried to hold-on. Lots of strange looks from the Sunday morning strollers on the sea-front, but with the sun out, I was enjoying myself. Halfway and all was going well. Before I knew it I was on the final lap, so tried to pick the speed up as much as I could and took the turn to the finish which was up along the ramparts and down to the finish line. I crossed the line in 2:31:21 which was 11th overall. I was very pleased with the result especially the 41 minute 10k at the end. All the training with Hedge End running club has definitely paid off. The race was won by Peter Younghusband from Petersfield tri in 2:09:36 (7 minutes ahead of second place) and he is a SuperVet in the 50+ age group. There is hope for us yet!
I have to say a huge well done to Portsmouth Triathletes for organising such a superb race and still manage to keep the closed roads which must be a nightmare to organise. The safety was spot on including a register on the beach, numbered bands to hand in upon swim exit, RNLI jet skis & ribs and a close-to-shore loop. Chip timing and free photo downloads were the icing on the cake. I strongly recommend this race; local, reasonably priced, excellent organisation and closed roads. See you next year!