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The Outlaw Half

The Outlaw Half was to be the second race of 2015 and coming off the back of a solid win at the Hillingdon Triathlon I was confident and raring to test myself over the middle distance. Having raced this event last year finishing 3rd I was looking to climb a step or two up the podium, I knew it would be a difficult task as both the athletes that beat me last year were taking the start line, namely Paul Hawkins and Ian Turner.

 

In addition there was other threats from the likes of Tom Vickery (ERDINGER), VCUK’s Alex Foster and the machine that is Hywel Davies, a Planet X team mate.

 

Setting the alarm for 04:30 I went to bed and slept well, waking with the alarm to howling wind and pouring rain. Far from being deterred, my confidence grew even more as I go very well in the wet and cold and can tolerate the conditions well.

 

In a pre-race interview with the guys at Dreamtime TV I made a statement about bike handling that would leave me eating my words and some tarmac later on in the race!

 

At 6:30 the claxon sounded and we were off, the water temperature was a balmy 14 degrees and having positioned myself over to the left side of the ‘fast’ pen I got off to good start. About 300 meters into the swim I was being distanced by the lead group, but something seemed to click, I found myself swimming smoothly and within a few minutes was moving back up through the leading group where I stayed exiting the water in the top 10.

 

Running into transition I started to take off my wetsuit and could see Tom Vickery ahead doing the same, this came as a shock as Tom is a stronger swimmer than me and usually goes out on to the bike with a few minutes lead.

 

And after a few seconds I was following him out on to the bike, the first mile or so loops the lake and with a strong tailwind I was quickly up to over 30mph, but at the top of the lake it's a U-turn back down meaning that you were now into a block headwind, my Planet X Exocet 2 is ideal in these conditions and with every pedal revolution I was drawing closer and closer to Tom and within three miles I made the pass.

 

Glancing back, Tom has upped his pace to stay with me and whilst he is a friend I wasn’t prepared to let him do that easily. Knowing that the short climb of Shelford Road wasn’t far away I accelerated hard. Once over the top the gap had gone put and I was chasing the leaders.

 

It wasn’t until the climb of Oxton Bank around 20 miles in that I caught sight of the next rider, Simon George of Lincoln Tri in his first middle distance event. On the climb I reeled him in and just over the top I made the pass. With the next section a long downhill I never made much of a gap but on the undulating roads back into Lowdham and a head/cross wind the gap began to open.

 

It was here that I saw two more riders ahead and the lead motorcycle. Over the next few miles I slowly but surely rode across to them and as we started the southern loop I was ready to make the pass. With the road turning back into a headwind I upped the pace and passed Raphael Deinhart (Team High5) and Mark Redwood (TFN) in quick succession, noting they both had black backed numbers identifying them as relay riders.

 

I was now leading the Outlaw.

As I came into transition I had a comfortable lead and was feeling great, on the short downhill about 100 meters from the bike dismount I negotiated a small speed hump and by negotiate I mean hit a greasy patch, lost my front wheel and unceremoniously smash into the floor. The bike slid! I slid! I lost skin my beautiful bike lost bar tape! Before I had come to stop I was back on my feet and running to pick up my bike. A volunteer had kindly picked it up and thanking them I ran into T2 with the fastest bike split of the day including the relay teams.

 

Pumping with adrenaline I headed out on to the run, with the first few miles along the banks of the River Trent and a U-turn it gave me opportunity to see what lead I did or didn’t have.

 

I made the turn and saw the lead relay runner and then 2nd placed Ian Turner (Greenlight PT), I estimated I had about a 2 minute advantage, either way I was concerned and picked up my pace promising myself I would stay ahead of the relay runner until we got back to the lake.

 

It was on the return section that my body was sending ominous signals, I needed a ‘comfort’ stop. Looking across the lake at the feed station by the scoreboard I spotted what I was looking for and made that the focus. As I approached I asked the camera bike to let the lead bike know I was stopping and they duly did. It’s quite unusual to leave a toilet and have a lead bike and a motorcycle camera crew waiting for you, but since they were still there meant that Ian hadn’t caught up yet.

 

With renewed vigour and a spring in my step I set off. At the turn the gap was similar to that of the first lap and I was growing in confidence. I had 4 miles left to run and was still feeling strong. I gave it my all, and as I ran the final 500 meters I started feeling light headed but I knew the finish line was fast approaching, with my second surge of adrenaline I ran harder and faster crossing the line in 4:15:19 a great time given the weather and the 2nd fastest time ever.

 

After a nervous wait to see if anyone in the later waves had gone faster I had it confirmed I had won! It’s an absolute honour to have won one of the most iconic events in the UK and this ranks as one of my best results so far. My Planet X teammate Hywel came in in 6th overall and won the 40-44 age group so a good day for the team.

 

In terrible conditions and the greasy surface approaching transition the Exocet 2 performed magnificently, this isn’t a bike it’s a weapon!

 

Here is the link to the bike course on my Strava:

https://www.strava.com/activities/315455365

 

 

3 June 2015

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