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Sun 20th Oct 2019
Karl Alexander: Marlow Half Iron
Posted by: karlalexander
Posted on: Tuesday 16th July 2013

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We last heard from our regular contributor Karl Alexander after his great race at The Beaver Triathlon, finishing a close second to Scott Neyedli in the British Triathlon Middle Distance Championships.

This past weekend we sent him off to report back on the second edition of the Maxifuel Marlow Half Iron Triathlon organised by F3 Events ( 31°c made conditions challenging for all - and a mid-race puncture didn't help Karl either! He didn't let that stop him though - here is his report.

On one of the hottest days of the so far (a sweltering 31°c), the 2nd Maxifuel Marlow Half Iron Triathlon got underway with a 1.9km out-and-back swim in the River Thames.

After my result at The British National Championships a few weeks ago I was feeling confident in my build up to the event but with two weeks to go I found myself unable to train due to a persistent and painful lower back problem. After seeking advice from my Physio and some re-alignment I was able to resume some very light training, mostly on the bike as the impact from running was still causing issues.

At 06:40, Race Director Martyn Edwards of F3 Events called the athletes down to the water's edge for a briefing and to stress the importance of staying hydrated on a day forecast to be very hot.

As usual the swim for me was fairly uneventful; after a fast start I settled into my rhythm and was at the front of a small pack chasing the two early leaders, it was at this stage that I should have realised that perhaps my day wasn,t going to go well when I lost my timing chip off of my ankle.

I exited the water with a small group in about seventh position. Running up to T1 I shouted to Martyn that I had lost my chip and was quickly running my bike out on to the 86km. 2.5 lap out-and-back course.

By the top of the first climb a mile or so out of T1 I had caught up and passed eventual race winner Tom Berkinshaw, and then on the fast descent of Medmenham Hill I failed to notice a pot hole which I hit… hard! The result was a rear puncture. Pulling to the side of the road, I contemplated calling it a day and heading back to transition, but that was soon overridden by the anger and without realising I was taking the rear wheel off my bike and getting on with the fix.

Karl AlexanderAs I stood by the side of the road, the all too familiar sound of disc wheels on concrete whizzed past and I was hemorrhaging positions. Having replaced the tube and pumped up the tyre I was off. With the slowing down and procrastinating on top of the actual repair time I estimated I was about eight minutes behind Tom. In the next six miles, I caught and passed nearly all that overtook me and on the long drag to Nettlebed I continued to catch and was up to third on the road. I was looking at the position of Tom and the second placed rider on the road and estimated that I was pulling them back.

As the ride settled down the gap seemed to sit at about five minutes. As I came back on the final half lap I became stuck behind lapped riders that had a queue of cars behind them, unable to overtake due to riders oncoming in the opposite lane. After a half mile or so at about 17mph I saw an opportunity to get past the cars and was able to get back up to speed.

Coming into T2 I remained in third and as I readied myself for the run I was joined by a marshal who reapplied my timing chip so at least I had some split times for the run.

I struggled with the four lap, 20km run, the first lap I felt strong and was moving well, the second lap I could feel my back tightening up and my stride was visibly shorter. I tried to increase my leg turnover and keep some speed but it wasn,t going to happen. The two aid stations provided athletes with much needed water and Maxifuel ViperActive Gels.

Crossing the line in 4:25 into fourth position overall and first in my Age Group I was surprised at the result and bitterly disappointed with my catalogue of bad luck. But I've learned more about me and I know that quitting is never an option as you never know what can happen out on course.

The Marlow Maxifuel Half Iron Triathlon is a fantastic event and well worth entering. As always the volunteers standing by the side of the road in such incredible heat for hours deserve a massive thank you. The location of Higginson Park in Marlow means there are hundreds of spectators on hand to cheer all the athletes as they pass through the run course. In the meantime I,m looking at some more Middle Distance events before I take the start line at Challenge Henley in September.

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