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Michael Barnett: late notice Blenheim
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Monday 9th June 2014


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A week ago Age Group athlete Michael Barnett (@smoker2ironman) had no plans for the weekend, and then he got a phone call - he would be racing the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Blenheim Palace Triathlon.

Here is his report on how that happened, and feedback on "a fantastically well organised event that I am pleased I got to compete in."


You know when you enter competitions and never think you're going to win? Well, Tri247.com ran a competition with a relay entry to the Blenheim Palace Triathlon donated by Zone3 recently.

I entered but didn't think I would win, however last Monday I received a phone call from Zone3 saying I had won. After scratching my head for a minute, I remembered entering the competition.

Cue massive panic to find a relay team. After trying Facebook, my friends and my triathlon club, I was unable to find two people to relay with. After a quick phone call to Zone3 they allowed me to enter the triathlon as a solo competitor. Phew!

Blenheim is a race I have always wanted to participate in since I took up triathlon in 2012. In 2012 I had to turn down a priority place at Blenheim with a Q&A with the Brownlees and Helen Jenkins as the date clashed with a prior engagement. I was so pleased to get to race this triathlon this year. In the footage I had seen it looked so picturesque.

Now for the next problem. After I fell off my turbo last week (yeah I know, how did I manage that?), my rib has been really hurting. So much so that I am considering the fact that I may have broken it during my fall. I haven't exercised for a week as a result. I thought it was muscular so could do with the rest. However there has been no improvement so I think it may be more serious than first imagined.

Fast forward six days from the day I won the competition and I woke up at 04:30 to travel to Blenheim. My Dad kindly offered to drive and keep me company, which was really nice of him and made the day a lot less strenuous with my commute from Doncaster now a chauffeur driven experience.

After last week where I raced in Cologne for the GBR Age Group Team, I was thankful to have a race with no pressure. It felt good just to race for me. After arriving at Blenheim, I was expecting there to be a problem (given I was a late entry), but the registration process was seamless, thanks Challenger World. I felt really relaxed before the race when I was setting up my transition area. The space we were allowed at Blenheim for transition was amazing. Why can't every triathlon have this much space?

After transition was set up I made my way to the swim start where I put my wetsuit on. Even though I had a mild pain in my rib I decided to put myself at the front of the swim. I made sure I was in plenty of space though just to be on the safe side. I didn't fancy a kick to the ribs. The hooter went and I sprinted away from the line. I wanted to set a good swim time today to restore some of my confidence after I had a wobble after last weekend in Cologne.

I managed to make the lead group in my wave and stuck with them for the duration of the swim. There were two really quick swimmers who were about a minute up on us but I exited with a pack of four or five other swimmers to exit the water in the top ten from my wave in a time of 12:24.

I have watched the television coverage of Blenheim and knew all about the run to transition and the fact you run up a hill in your wetsuit. The 500m run was a lot more undulating than I envisaged and certainly got my heart rate up. I stripped my wetsuit to my hips as soon as I could and slogged up the hill in question. After getting to transition I stripped my wetsuit off, threw on my number belt and helmet and exited transition practicing my newly acquired skill of leaving my shoes on the bike.

I hopped onto my bike and set about completing the 20km route. Given I was in an early wave, the roads were clear. My heart rate was high for the first half of the first of three laps after my run to transition, but I tried to keep my cadence high. Whoa... where did all these hills come from? They were a little unexpected.

The loops at Blenheim can definitely not be described as flat. In the first half of the course (about two miles), you are mostly climbing apart from one short downhill, which means the second half, is mostly downhill and this is where I used my lack of fear to my advantage. I took the first lap quite conservatively to gauge where I could put the hammer down and where I could corner at speed. In the second and third laps I let rip. Given the technical nature of the course I had decided to race on my road bike so I had easy access to my brakes. I was pleased I made this decision, as by the third lap the course was a lot busier. I was flying past people constantly screaming “ON YOUR RIGHT!” and was glad I had the brakes at hand, not that I needed them.

I completed three laps of the bike course in 39:16 and was pleased with this considering I climbed over 250 vertical metres.

After running into T2 I threw on my trainers and made my way to the transition exit. What, there's a bridge to climb as a welcome to the run? AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

After traversing the bridge, I set about the 5.5km run. My rib was feeling okay so rather than take it easy (like I planned to), I ran to my tempo heart rate. The run route at Blenheim is undulating as well but so picturesque. I just wanted to stop to have a look around. There were so many things to look at. The run route consists of two laps and I made sure my HR was in the right zone. Given I haven't run in over a week (#ribgate), I was pleased to complete the 5.5km in 30 minutes. It was by no means my quickest run but it got the job done. I crossed the finish line in 1:28. This finish time put me as the 700th quickest finisher from the weekend. I'll take that for a race that wasn't on my radar until six days ago.

Thanks to Zone3 and Tri247.com for the opportunity to compete in a race that has been on my radar for over two years.

To sum up Blenheim, it is a fantastically well organised event that I am pleased I got to compete in. I had an absolutely amazing day and it felt good to blow away the cobwebs with another race so soon after Cologne. The course is enjoyably tough and you're definitely made to work for the finisher's medal. One day I'll be back. That is the pull of Blenheim, it is just so awe inspiring and there is so much to see.

Oh and the bling is amazing.

Blenheim Palace Triathlon medal 2014


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