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Karl Alexander: The Outlaw Half
Posted by: karlalexander
Posted on: Monday 2nd June 2014


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With his third race in three weekends, Karl Alexander reports on an eventful, but ultimately positive result at the Outlaw Half.


On Sunday I raced my third race in two weeks, which started with the tough Slateman Triathlon, The Belvoir Castle Triathlon last week and finally the Outlaw Half.

There was almost a sense of deja vu as we drove up on Saturday morning to Holme Pierrepont, as the route there is identical to the one to Belvoir Castle; this week though we were bathed in glorious sunshine without a single rain cloud in sight. We were in for a hot race.

Having arrived at the venue, we took some time to spectate the events that were being held on the Saturday, with my eldest daughter especially engaged in watching the women's race, a future triathlete perhaps?

The Outlaw Half 2014

The registration procedure was as you would expect from the One Step Beyond team, very slick and efficient, and with a bit of time to kill before the race briefing, I caught up with the ERDINGER Alkoholfrei Team that were there to provide a refreshing isotonic recovery pint to all the finishers.

With the first wave of the race starting at 06:30 on Sunday morning, it was then off to the hotel for some food and sleep, I set the alarm for 04:30 and actually got a good nights sleep. Having racked my bike and set up my kit in transition, I waited for the third wave to start and get my race underway.

The Outlaw Half 2014

With the waves being separated by 10 minutes I was off at 06:50. With the claxon setting us off it was the usual 200m of carnage before everything settled down. The swim, held in the rowing lake was a simple out, across and back affair and with buoys placed every 150m or so it is very easy to sight. By the second buoy, at about 300m, I could only see one other red capped swimmer ahead denoting he was in my wave.

Karl in transitionMy swim form has been solid of late and I was eager to set a good time. Reaching the top turn I started to hit the traffic of the previous waves, and on the return leg I tried to keep as over to the right as possible as I passed. As I exited the water I was told I was the second red cap, I had lost sight of the wave leader in the maelstrom and later learned it was Graham Brookhouse in the 50-54 age group. I swear that bloke has gills!

It was to be a weekend of firsts, first time racing this event and my first race on my Boardman AiR/TT/9.2 and a special thanks to Simon Oxenham from www.dynamicbikefit.co.uk for dialling in my position and Will Garner www.baisikeli.co.uk for getting the bike race ready.

Out onto the bike and I was flying. The first few miles take athletes around the lake and I was averaging over 27mph. Leaving the venue and onto the A52 I kept the speed high, but at about seven miles in to the bike, disaster, I suffered a rear puncture. The Sunday morning air was blue with my annoyance, and pulling to the side of the road I replaced the inner tube as quickly as I could. After five minutes (4:59 to be exact), I was back on my way. Having been in a similar scenario last year, I knew that I had to get back into the race resisting the adrenaline filled temptation to ride like a mad man.

I think I achieved that quite well and began re-taking the athletes that had passed me. It took a few miles for me to get back into my rhythm and before long I was heading back into transition having completed the 56 miles.

Karl on the runThis week, my transitions felt much better and I was quickly out on to the 13.1 mile run, which started with an out-and-back section. This was perfect to gauge distance on other athletes or would be if I knew what wave people were in. That was probably the only downside to the race as there was no way to identify who you were racing. As I ran along the towpath I saw last years winner, Rich Wilder, coming toward me with the men's leader outrider. I was on a part of the course that was easy to identify and looked at my watch, I was four minutes into the run. That meant if I got back to here within 24 minutes (Rich was in wave one) I was ahead. I got back in with 16 minutes on the clock.

With the first out-and-back completed the race now went around the rowing lake. Running around rowing lakes is horrible, its like the dream where you’re running as hard as you can but not getting any closer to your goal, but along this section I was still picking off runners and moving pretty well. Lap one ends by passing the finish line and I noted that the race clock was 3:57 meaning I had been going 3:37.

On the towpath, the lead outrider was now with Paul Hawkins who was looking strong. The towpath was now getting very busy with more and more athletes flooding on to the run course and on more than one occasion I had to take to the bushes to make a pass. There was one particular ‘bottleneck’ with an overhanging tree forcing everyone onto the same side of the narrow path, but once through it was back onto the lake perimeter and the finish.

The crowds and support on the run were simply fantastic. The aid station by the scoreboard was like a ‘tunnel of noise’ with the spectators cheering on every single athlete; it was a fantastic atmosphere.

I crossed the line after 4:19 and third place (well, fourth as I was chicked by Cat Faux by nine seconds). Coming into the race I was unsure of how my legs and body would cope, the last two weeks have been hard on my body and there is definitely a build up of fatigue. It has been a case of race, recover, race and recover. I now have a month before I tackle the full Outlaw but before that I have a week of rest.

A big thanks to ERDINGER Alkoholfrei and XTERRA Wetsuits UK for their continuing support.

Men's podium


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