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Karl Alexander The Outlaw Triathlon Race Report

Two weeks ago I raced the Bastion, an Iron distance event set to the impressive backdrop of Hever Castle in Kent on a course that I described as “tough, very tough” and there I was treading water in the Rowing Course at Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre in Nottingham for The Outlaw ready for my second Iron distance in as many weeks.


I had been asked a few times how I felt my body would hold up, and the truth was I didn’t know, this was completely uncharted territory, the closest I’ve come was racing the London Triathlon a week after the Outlaw last year. I spent the first week recovering, by the Wednesday I felt I was feeling good and itching to resume light training, but I resisted the urge despite the temptation of receiving two prototype bikes for me to test from Planet X.


By the Saturday, one week out I finally succumbed to the temptation and went out for a ride, then again on Sunday. I then spent the week before in light training reminding my body that it had a job to do very soon.


One thing that always amazes me at OSB events is how smooth everything runs, nothing is left to chance and every little detail is carefully considered, little wonder that it has been voted 220 Triathlon ‘Race of the Year’ four years straight. I registered, sorted my kit bags out, racked my bike and gave a quick interview to DreamTeam television before the race brief.


As winner of the Outlaw Half, I was invited to give a Q&A session at one of the pre-race briefings on Saturday afternoon, which I found really enjoyable and if you happened to catch it I hope you did too.


With nothing left to do, it was time to get to the hotel and rest up. Having missed the final stage on Alpe d’Huez I caught up with the the Tour de France highlights and tried to sleep. I say tried, if the pre-race nerves weren’t enough then the loud chanting, songs and general high spirits from Nottingham's LGBT Pride event made it even more difficult, they sounded like they were having a far better time than was in store for me!


Before long, I was clad in neoprene and joining in… no wait… getting in the water for the start of the 2.4 mile swim. Usually for me the swim follows a similar format, swim hard for the first couple of hundred meters and settle in to my rhythm and this was no different until I made the turn back to the swim exit, as I swam past one of the yellow 25m marker buoys I came to a complete stop. My timing chip had snagged on the cable and stopped me in my tracks (can you leave tracks in a lake?) I wrestled myself free and tried to put the chip back on my ankle, as I began to swim away it fell off again, I turned to see it floating on the surface grabbed it and shoved it down the front of my wetsuit, then the rest of the swim went fine.


I climbed out the swim after 57:59 annoyed at losing time but pleased to still be up towards the front of the field. After a quick transition where I discovered I hadn’t been the only one to fall foul of the marker buoys I was heading out into the Nottinghamshire countryside for the 112 mile bike. I passed a number of athletes quite quickly and I could see the familiar style of ERDINGER Alkoholfrei team mate Tom Vickery, luckily for me, not so for Tom I caught him at the bottom of the first climb, I overtook at pace and used the hill to open the gap.


Over the next few miles I caught and passed athletes including another Lucy Gossage - competing as a relay entrant on the bike just a week after winning Ironman UK!


As the ride passed by I began to find myself alone, I had a good tempo and was actually feeling really good, as the course left the northern loop I could see another rider ahead, over the course of the next 6 miles or so I never lost sight and he really was the proverbial carrot for me to chase. I was locked on and closing as I drew closer I could see it was Tom McGlashon (Tricamp TFN) and again made the pass at speed to open the gap.


With 40 miles to go it was still dry, but the wind had picked up considerably making it a lot tougher, at 20 miles to go I saw another rider ahead and recognised him immediately, it was Paul Hawkins as I made the pass I offered some encouragement but he was clearly suffering he upped his pace and kept with me for a mile or so before he began to drop off.


Before very long and after 4:52:32 (23mph avg.) I was in T2 and preparing to run, I was joined by Tom and we had a very civil chat as we prepared to run, I wished him luck and headed out onto the course and very nearly into fellow Planet X team mate Harry Wiltshire who had already completed the first lap of the lake, we ran together for a little bit and chatted briefly before he turned off and I continued around the lake. Harry would eventually drop out due to a recent broken toe.


I had come off the bike in 3rd place, my legs were feeling good and I felt reasonably comfortable. Before long Tom had caught up to me and made the pass, he was running really well. All I wanted to do was stick to a steady pace, I had made a plan that I would run at minimum the first lap and evaluate whether I would employ a strategy to walk the aid stations.


As it turned out I was well into the 2nd lap and about 18 miles in before I walked a station, shortly after Mark Livesey made his pass oddly offered me a free place to race The Rubicon Middle - I declined but to be fair I would have declined most things at that point, my legs were shutting down. With 10km left, just two laps of the lake I was in my own personal hell and ‘digging deep into my suitcase of courage’ I was using athletes ahead as incentive, locking on catching up before selecting a new target.

With less than 1km to go I was overtaken by Dominic Sanderson who looked like he was running on fresh legs, he would post an astonishing 3:08 marathon! I dropped from 4th to 5th as I crossed the line I was a mixed bag of emotion, I was happy I had finished but also really disappointed that I had let a podium finish slip through my fingers. I had to remind myself that I had raced a very tough Iron distance two weeks ago which only got me thinking what if I had been fresh? But you know what they say about what if’s…

This has been an excellent learning experience for me, I've discovered that I can really race Iron distance events and that I recover very well and whilst I'd never recommend two Iron races in two weeks I enjoyed both the races. My Exocet 2 was fantastic, the addition of the HED disc rear and tri-spoke front allowed me to really play to my bike strength and move up through the field into a great position and you know there is always next year!


3 August 2015

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