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Karl Alexander: Belvoir Castle 2014
Posted by: karlalexander
Posted on: Monday 26th May 2014


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It is a busy period of racing right now for Tri247 regular Karl Alexander, a member of the ERDINGER Alkoholfrei UK team. After a tough race at the Slateman in Wales last week, this past weekend Karl was returning to one of his favourite race for the fifth time - the Just Racing UK organised Belvoir Castle Triathlon.

Second last year, could Karl finally make it to the top step of the podium? Here is his report.


Less than one week ago I was wading into the brisk waters of Lyn Padern at the start of the tough Slateman Triathlon and now here I am in the positively mediterranean waters of Belvoir Lower Lake for The Belvoir Castle Triathlon.

Having raced this event several times previously, I.ve been working my way up through the positions until last year, when the event served as The British Middle Distance Championships. I was second to Scott Neyedli and this year I had my eyes firmly fixed on the top step of the podium.

For the first time, Helen and I would be taking our two young daughters with us. This weekend would be their first camping trip and most likely last…

Arriving on Friday evening we immediately set about constructing our quite ridiculously massive tent, which was then immediately followed by arguments and bickering as to what pole went where, as my suggestions just seemed to antagonise further.

At 06:30 on Saturday morning, I headed up to registration to collect my race numbers and rack my bike. With the race starting at 08:00 I wanted to make sure that I was relaxed and wasn't rushing in anyway and as I rehearsed the route from ‘swim in' to my bike I was aware that the wind was definitely picking up. The wind has always been a factor on this course and tends to be a strong tailwind out with a block headwind on the way back into the castle.

The race brief was delivered by Alan Rose and was his usual mix of stand-up comedy and sound safety advice and with that it was time to walk to the lake and a second briefing which detailed the swim course. A few minutes after 8am the claxon sounded unleashing the first wave of athletes on to the course.

I was keen to get a good start and went pretty hard for the first 200 meters or so, and as I settled down into my own tempo I took stock of my surroundings. I was just behind two guys with the lead kayak and the lone leader a few meters further ahead. A felt relaxed and comfortable and was happy to draft off of my companions. At one of the turn buoys, one of them decided to add a few more meters to his route and swam off course. Top tip - don't assume the people you're drafting off of know where they're going, make sure you continue to sight.

Karl Alexander

I continued behind and to my amazement at the next turn buoy the same thing happened and the feet I was following were gone. I was second in the water and swimming well in my Xterra Vendetta which is how it stayed until I exited the water and began the 600m run up to T1. Into transition it was back to my familiar amount of faffing and in addition to a kettle I know have a little easy-bake oven to make cakes!

Leaving T1, the race commentator announced that the leader was 2:30 up the road. I had a game plan in mind and was determined to stick to it. The drag out of the castle is always tough on the legs but you are then into a super-fast downhill before turning left onto a long false-flat. This is where course knowledge pays off, this section is usually a tailwind and on the first lap I rode conservatively and well within myself. As I turned onto the climb to Eastwell I could see the race leader ahead, and with each pedal stroke of the climb I was eating into his advantage and pulling away from the chasers behind. A mile off the top and I made the pass. I was now, for the first time in five attempts leading ‘The Beaver'.

As I started my third and final lap, Alan Rose pulled up alongside me and informed me I had a ‘good gap' on the chasers behind. I had stuck to my game plan and was riding faster with each lap, I was charging past riders from the the second wave and felt great. With less than three miles to go, I heard something, something I really didn't expect, the sound of a disc wheel, the noise got louder until Chris Nicholls cruised past me. A quick glance at his calf and I could see an ‘E' which meant he was from my wave. I was a tad confused, Alan had told me I had a massive gap and I was riding as fast on the third lap as I had on the first.

As we approached T2 Chris pulled up slightly early and I went past and into transition ahead, with the combination of confusion and frustration I shouted at Chris ‘where the hell did you come from?' He replied ‘same place as you!!' Fair enough.

‘I really need to sort my transitions' was all I could think as Chris stormed past an out onto the run course with me following 30 seconds or so after. Chris' early pace was very high and I hoped that this was a bit of youthful exuberance and he would slow later in the race. I kept to my game plan and my target pace and set off in pursuit. As we rounded the turn point at the top of USN Hill, he had opened the gap further and was looking good (apart from his visor being upside down??) and as I began the descent the I passed the chasers in third and fourth. I was pleased to see my friend Andy Sloan (Mud, Sweat and Gears) running strongly shoulder to shoulder with Joe Beech.

I was being given time checks every lap and I was falling further behind Chris who was quite simply crushing it. I crossed the finish line around three minutes down into second place overall and first in my 35-39 age group. On the third of four laps, Joe Beech had pulled away from Sloan and was in third place taking the final step of the podium. But at least I can say that I beat Batman!

Batman

In the women's race it was Catherine Faux who took the top spot ahead of Kate McNeill with Emilie Verroken in third.

Having raced the tough Slateman less than a week previously I'm pleased with the result. The top step may have eluded me for another year, but I feel that I put together a very good race. I'll certainly return next year for another assault.

Chris Nicholls (winner), with Karl Alexander

In the meantime I'll be stood on the start line of the Outlaw Half in a weeks time ready and raring to race!

Pos Men Women
1st Chris Nicholls (Team Freespeed Skechers Performance) 3:54:06 Catherine Faux (Bridgetown Cycles) 4:11:35
2nd Karl Alexander (ERDINGER Alkoholfrei) 3:57:50 Kate McNeill (Berkshire Tri Squad) 4:28:38
3rd Joseph Beech (Pencoed Triathlon) 4:02:52 Emillie Verroken (Langsett Cycles RT) 4:34:25

FULL RESULS


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