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Planet X triathlete Karl Alexander wants Outlaw double

It’s been a few months since my last update so here’s how things have been going…

After my final race of 2015 (third in The Huntsman Triathlon) my swim kit, bike and running shoes were put into hibernation after a long and successful season. It’s important to take a break from disciplined training and spend time with friends and family and luckily my Birthday, Christmas, New Year and Wedding Anniversary we’re all great reasons to celebrate and unwind.

Come January it was time to put the party times behind me and get training. Like most athletes my early season training is relatively low intensity getting in the solid base miles to build upon later - my mantra has always been winter miles make for summer smiles. For this my weapon of choice is the Planet X XLS cyclocross bike as the larger tyres offer better grip and confidence for winter training. I continued to train on my XLS up until April, but this year there was the small matter of the Planet X Boggle Hole Weekend with Wayne Randle and Co.

The infamous Boggle Hole Ride

Going into this weekend, I was getting as nervous as I would before a race, I’d heard the stories from ‘Dirty’ Harry Wiltshire from the first ever weekend and it sounded utterly mental. Driving over from Manchester and the TriEXPO the day before, I didn’t imagine the hammer would be dropped instantly and within a mile my heart rate was maxing as I sprinted to catch up with Wayne and Mark Lovatt - that’ll teach me to think this was going to be anything but easy…

After 70 miles on day one the final selection was made, on the first of the big climbs Wayne went off the front, closely followed by Harry. I just set about tapping out a good tempo, before long I was back with them and shortly thereafter Mark Lovatt joined the party with the four of us riding as a strong group the gap to those behind soon opened up.

Unfortunately for Harry he punctured on a descent and in what felt like Top Gear mentality we left him behind and continued on our way. Once we arrived at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel Mark and Wayne went to the bar. I like a drink as much as the next man, but after 96 miles of hard through and off I settled for something a little softer. That evening, Harry, Dave Loughran, new Planet X CO Trevor and I, took a coastal walk to Robin Hood’s Bay to watch England in the Six Nations and enjoy a few social beverages. 

Sunday’s return leg (below) was more of the same - only 106 miles of through and off. The selection was made much earlier this time, with strong winds and steep climbs in the North Yorkshire Moors combined with tired legs from the previous day, it was down to Wayne, Mark, Harry and me. With about 20 miles to go I started to lose the wheel ahead but kept going and with seven miles to go I caught Wayne and we rolled in together. This was an amazing weekend and if you ever have the opportunity to do it - get on it! It’s hard, it’s fast and it’s a lot of fun!

 

Fast forward a few more months and I took third place in age group at the National Standard Distance Championships, an unexpected medal as my first major objective was still a few weeks away and I was still very much in heavy training load.

Then came the big one, my first major rendezvous for 2016, the Outlaw Half Middle Distance Triathlon in Nottingham. As defending champion, I had a lot of expectation and pressure coming into the event and was up against triathlon convert and former British Time Trial Champion Matt Bottrill. 

My race went more or less according to my pre-race plan, but local athlete Simon George of Lincoln Tri had other ideas. After an amazing swim and strong bike, I came into transition trailing by nearly 4 minutes, but my Planet X Exocet 2 had delivered me there feeling strong and ready to run. With the short matter of 21km (13.1 miles) to cover over a two lap course it's important that you leave something in the legs. By the end of the first lap I had only closed in on the leader by 30 seconds and with 10km to go it looked like it was all over. Never one to back down from a challenge, I knew I had no choice but to leave every last ounce of myself on the road and it came down to who could suffer the most.

"The adrenaline rush was immense"

Running onto the regatta lake with a little over 4km to go I had shut the gap down considerably but it was still a daunting task. I kept pushing as hard as I could, unworried about blowing up, and amazingly with every stride I was eating into the lead. With a little over 300 meters to go I overtook Simon and I was into the race lead. I didn't want to ease up and was sprinting as fast as I could but as I turned down the finishing chute I dared a glance back. I had opened a significant gap, the adrenaline rush was immense and I was running on air. I crossed the line just eight seconds ahead of Simon, setting a new course record and becoming the first person to ever be back-to-back champion. 



My focus was then firmly on attempting the double - winning the Nottingham Outlaw Half and the Full Outlaw (Iron Distance) events in the same season. As part of the build up I raced the Windsor Triathlon, an Olympic distance triathlon, which would be a good gauge of form and get some valuable racing miles in the legs. Whilst the result wasn't particularly great (11th in Elite Race), my performance was pleasing with a solid swim, fast bike and strong run. I was also nearly two minutes quicker than when I raced this event last year which shows great promise going into the rest of the year.

Not all goes to plan for Outlaws

Next race for me was the Outlaw Half at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, coming into the race I was feeling strong and confident with my preparation going well ahead of the Outlaw Full. Unfortunately, a back issue forced a withdrawal and a DNF. Whilst riding strongly in second place and gaining on the race leader, my lower back became very painful and I was unable to generate any power, slipping down to sixth place as I came into T2 I opted to withdraw from the race to recover and prepare for my next major target and achievement of winning both half and full titles at The Full Outlaw in Nottingham.

Having seen my Physio and identified an issue with my piriformis (a muscle behind the gluteus maximus) I'm back training hard and looking forward to what will be a great race at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham.

 

11 July 2016