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The newbie's racing debut...
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 9th July 2013


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Earlier this year we introduced our 'newbie', Rodger Bowen, who we would be following on his first steps in the triathlon world - and providing some helping hands, training and equipment to help him along his way. Having sent him on the Virgin Active London Triathlon Training Day and then got his running skills tuned on the Skechers Run... it was time to race.

The Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon was to be his debut event - here's how it went. "As it goes; Blenheim's not too bad a place to start" he said!


I've seen 23 Christmases come and go. Gone are the days when I'd lie awake in bed staring at the ceiling until 1am unable to contain the excitement and anticipation. Nowadays I surface around 11 to make a cup of tea just before I get back into bed for an extended nap. Blenheim is another matter apparently. So there I was, Blenheim eve, lying awake in the dark trying to think myself to sleep. Tiredness overcame adrenaline at about 2 in the morning which was fortunate given I had to be up for 5.30.

Rodger BowenWith my bike broken down in amongst trainers, rubber bands, energy gels, water bottles and various other gear we set off for Oxford down a near-empty M40. We arrived at the palace around 7am; apparently I've been to Blenheim before but I have no recollection whatsoever. It's hard to believe I would have forgotten since the view from the entrance is pretty breathtaking to say the least. Even the snottiest Georgian dignitaries couldn't turn their noses up at the sight of the lake on arrival; it practically makes Downton Abbey look like a garden shed.

We got parked up and I had a look around the village. TRIUK had some cool bikes on display some of which were so aero you couldn't see them from the front. I've been trying to stave off a recent (lifetime) spending problem so I resisted the urge to delve deeper into the store and moved swiftly onwards. I bumped into Brett from Skechers who'd sorted me out with new GOrun 2 trainers a couple of weeks ago. Finally I stopped in at the breakfast stand to fuel up.

Rodger Bowen

With my bike built and race number in hand I headed over to the Palace courtyard to set myself up for transition. Spirits were high all around; not a whole lot of chatting but I expect a lot of people were preoccupied with pre-race nerves and transition set-up. The marshalls were doing a great job maintaining order and we were out and ready on time. We all assembled by the water at 9 to have a quick safety talk and a run-through of the race details. I was doing the Super Sprint so it was 400m in the lake, 2 laps of the bike course (13k) and 1 lap of the running course (3k).

Rodger BowenWasting no time at all we all jumped into the lake (not too cold after all) and lined up along the start line. Cue the horn and about 200 pairs of flailing arms set about hammering towards the first buoy. As is common; I fell victim to the initial surge of adrenaline that comes with open water racing and I probably overdid the first 100m. I settled down and maintained my stroke nicely until the end; emerging from the water in at least the top 20. Opting to run instead of walk to the bike transition I must have passed another 10 racers or so.

The bike section was challenging but it had some straight sections, good for gathering speed. I'm happy to say I was only overtaken once or twice and I managed to keep the other racers in sight. The footbridge that crosses the bike lane had been put out of use the day before, so this years' bike section featured a stop, dismount, 20m run and remount which made for quite interesting racing and spectating!

Never having done a brick session before, the run was tough at first. It felt like my legs had been replaced with two cast-iron tree trunks with rubber bands for muscles. The feeling passed a couple of hundred metres from the transition footbridge and I was hot on the heels of two racers. I was delighted to see maxifuel reps handing out gels in my time of great need and I practically inhaled mine. The course got hilly in the middle section but I was making good progress. I was given a cup of water just as I started the final kilometer but drinking and running is another skill I lack so most of that ended up on my tri-suit. I pushed it some more just at the end and managed to overtake one last person before steadily jogging it out to the finish.

Rodger Bowen

I had done it. Crossing the finish line adrenalised and elated I had endured my baptism of aches and pains and could now call myself a full-blown bonafide triathlete extraordinaire (aka race completer's medal holder). It had been a great day and I can wholeheartedly declare that everybody everywhere should do a triathlon at least once and I defy said ‘everybody everywhere' to not be addicted to the sport by the end.

As it goes; Blenheim's not too bad a place to start.


You can see all of Rodger's 'newbie' series, charting his progress from zero via Blenheim to the London Triathlon on these links:


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