Wrecsam triathlon has hosted this established race since 2003. The British Triathlon Federation designated this race as the ‘UK Middle Distance Championships’. With the kudos of a ‘championship race’, it attracted a number of extremely talented athletes. Lake Bala plays host to this event with a 2000m swim, followed by a out-and-back undulating 80k bike past Trawsfnydd and finishing with 20k run along the Lakeside.
The last time I raced this event was 2004, so I was eager to do well. I was doing the race as part of my Ironman preparations. So while I didn’t particularly ‘taper’ for this race I was intending on racing it hard. The swim started in three waves, mine accounted for more than a third of all the competitors going for the same race line, resulting in the usual melee. I started on the front line and kept my line, obtaining a good position in the process. The sun was dazzling, being relatively early in the morning, so my sighting of the buoys was a bit hit and miss, so I found some feet to follow and got stuck in. With a swim distance of 2k it nicely stretches the field, with the weaker swimmers struggling with the extended distance. I exited the swim with the 17th fastest swim split and got going on the bike.
James exiting the swim
I use a Powertap so I controlled my efforts on the bike and found that a number of people passed me early on, especially on the climbs. However I found that I soon caught them again on the flats and descents and then generally put some distance into them. I returned to the transition area with the 12th fastest bike split overall, so I was very pleased with that.
Onto the run – my weakest discipline.
At the start I found myself running too hard so forced myself to slow down, I knew I could not maintain that speed for the entire duration of the 20k run leg (after being on the bike averaging 40k/h your speed perception on the run is usually off). After 3k I found my rhythm and maintained my goal pace. A few talented runners came past but I let them go, running my own race. At the 8.5k mark instead of running along the small undulations of the lakeside road, the course is taken up hill towards Lake Vyrnwy. This is a particularly nasty climb to the 10k point. Everybody hurts on this climb and it is just a case of getting on with it as fast as possible. At the 15k mark my goal was to pick up the pace and finish well, unfortunately this was not achievable. I was putting everything in and starting to fall off my goal pace.
Coming into the finishing chute, thankfully!
I finally finished the event in 4.21.04, 25th overall and 5th place in the 30-34 age group. Whilst I may not be in the top 10, like fellow Torq user Paul Hawkins, for me this was a well executed race. I think that if I had this fitness again with some additional run speed training I could go faster (maybe next year)! Bala middle will always be a special race to me as it is where I really began my triathlon racing, jumping from pool based sprints to open water mass starts. It is well run event and I would certainly recommend it as a race to do but be prepared to hurt afterwards.
A special thank you must go to Stuart Steele for providing the excellent photographs shown in this race report. Stuart also provided the timing chip system for the triathlon and posted all the results on his web site shortly after the race had finished. Please take a look at his web site covering all things triathlon and running. http://www.stuweb.co.uk/swp/default.asp
When we were looking for sponsors for the triathlon team, late last year, we were very careful with who we wanted to be affiliated with. We chose our sponsors based on giving our athletes the best possible kit available. I can confirm that our choices were correct and everything is performing better than our original expectations.
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