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Sat 1st Oct 2022
From the girls’ side - Men’s Fitness Rough Track Advanced Triathlon
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Monday 28th September 2009

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We sent Colette O'Neill off to try out and report back on the Men's Fitness Rough Track Triathlon last weekend. Not only did she enjoy it, but she won it too...

Ladies - don’t let the title put you off!

Onto the bikeMaybe it’s in the name, maybe it’s the thought of an off-road race. When I told a club mate that I had entered the Men’s Fitness Rough Track Triathlon, organised by Human Race, his response was that he thought it was a race just for men. That both fired me up and momentarily touched my thoughts with doubt – just a moment mind, as having looked at the off-road course, I was confident it was rideable for both myself and most ladies. Very flat, with gravel and lumpy bumpy grass tracks and just one slightly technical berm, or dirt hump. I had crashed on one of these earlier in the year, landing and injuring my shoulder, whilst my cycling mate laughed her pants off. So I was determined to arrive early enough before the race to have a practise on it to overcome my crash-worry.

With the leisurely start often standard at Dorney races, I took my time a little too much, and arrived and registered by the time the duathlon had started. This prevented me from riding the hump, but I reassured myself that I could always dismount if it was that scary.

I was surprised at the lack of female entrants, since a well-known closed circuit like Dorney removes much of the worries of cycling. With just two age groupings (under / over 40), my lovely racking neighbour, Juliet, was the only lady in the 45-plus AG, illustrating the lack of field depth. Whilst the female contingent was sparse, this is by no means a race just for the boys. In fact, ladies, you could surprise not only yourself in this triathlon, which includes a sprint, relay and duathlon. There were a large number of novices of both sexes racing against the XTERRA athletes and a lot of fun had all round, buoyed by the lovely weather.

The BermThe ladies wave also included the 40+ men, but apart from a few jostles everyone swam the 2-lap course quite politely. Exiting the swim, I located my bike which I had prepared with SPD road shoes attached – which all went a bit pear-shaped on mounting. Then my chain fell off. But it was soon rectified and off I went onto the fun bit. Soft tracks can be more forgiving on the legs, but the relentless jarring of the Rough Track was a drain and liable to loosen anything that was loosen-able. As I approached the hump, I panicked and jumped off, running over it and remounting, despite scornful titters. Each following lap as I approached the hump, the marshall tried his best to convince me to ride over it, but in vain. When a novice lady sailed over past me with ease, I felt suitably embarrassed! Still, I was only overtaken by a few fast blokes on the bike leg.

Smiling Rough Track ladiesA good T2, then I was out onto the grassy run, which was a lovely change from the road course. As an out-and-back 2-lap route I passed other female competitors and was able to shout and receive encouragement along the way. I knew I was running quite well when a guy asked in a desperate voice if I was in the relay as I overtook him (then I had to ensure I held my lead on him, despite how I was feeling!). Coming into the finish in first place was a good feeling.

Chatting to athletes afterwards, their pride and pleasure at having competed was evident, especially amongst the novices and the ladies who expressed their new-found race confidence. A fabulous event polished by the Human Race touch and recommended to ladies everywhere!

For those girls with a bit more technical skill, how about the Men’s Fitness Dirty Weekend?

And to finish with a quote I just like: Behind every successful man, is a surprised woman.

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