Dorney Lake Triathlon - Age Group Clean Sweep
Updated: Jun 13
It took almost three years to finish this event and last weekend both Mark & Judy won the Open and Ladies 55 - 59 Age Group category on what turned out to be a hot day.
Originally booked for September 2020, but as this was Covid year the event was moved to 2021. The week of the revised event the organisers announced that due to sickness in the water safety crew that the triathlon would be turned into a duathlon, but also offered a credit. We decided to take the credit and use it in 2022 as a warm up event for the Castle to Coast Triathlon.
Later in 2021 the organisers with into administration and we thought we'd lost our entry fee. However, the great RunThrough Events came to the rescue and honoured the credit against one of their many events and we entered to Dorney Lakes Olympic distance Triathlon on 9th June 2023.
Saturday morning dawned still, hot and humid reaching temperatures of 29c by midday. Thankfully the 8.45am start time would mean we'd be finished before then.
The water was a refreshing 17c - 19c depending on who you spoke too, but either way it was great to get into the water for the start.
The single 1500m out and back lap meant that by the time the first turn buoy was reached the field had already spread out and prevented the common bunching at the turns. It was great to catch the feet of others and conditions provided an opportunity to practice sighting and drafting.
It was a short run into T1 (Transition 1), off with the wetsuit and on with the helmet before a 200m run with the bike to the mount line. All went well in transition and despite an elastic band snapping (holding a shoe in position) both feet were soon in the shoes and the bike leg had begun.
The bike course was a fast and simple one. Starting with a long straight between the two rowing lakes, before a sharpish left at the far end. The return was a fast and weaving route back to the start point and another sharp left. Eight laps made up the 38km distance.
The course was busy with previous sprint waves and an earlier Olympic distance wave, but all worked well with riders keeping to the left unless overtaking. We used our bike computers and watches (as a backup) to keep track of laps completed. Tip: if you don't have a device to measure distance use some tape or elastic bands to count your laps, one lady I spoke too did 10 laps as she'd lost count!
The bike leg was soon over and time to prepare for the dismount. With both shoe straps released I went to remove my right foot and place it on top of the shoe. As I did my calf cramped and my foot locked. Distance was running out and the dismount line was fast approaching. A look behind, before slowing quickly, I then managed to get my left foot out. I relaxed my right leg and start to slowly move my foot which started to release the calf. However it was now time to dismount and see what happens.
As the right foot took my weight I was expecting to have to stop, but thankfully although stiff and feeling sore, the calf released and I was able to slowly run to my rack position. A couple of calf stetches were completed whilst my helmet was removed and with shoes on it was time to see if I could run.
With the wind chill from the bike speed gone, the heat of the day suddenly hit as transition was left behind and the 10km run started. Like with the bike course, the run course was a simple up and back down the length of the rowing lake for two laps. There was no shade and the tarmac was radiating the heat from the almost mid-summer sun. A white running hat helped a little, as did a wet wrist band, but it was a welcome sight to see that an additional drinks station had been added at the half way point of each lap. Drink some, wet the wrist band and pour the remainder over my neck. It helped and heat was managed. As we had done on the bike course, Judy and I passed each other a couple of times and we exchanged our usual motivational support for one another.
The end of the run could not come soon enough for us both and crossing the line was a welcome relief. With hard earnt medals around our necks and water in our hands we stared to recover before packing up and recounting our time to each other.
The results then came in and to our surprise we both won the 55 - 59 age group and both achieved distance personal bests.
After closer inspection of the results it showed that the fourth discipline (Transition) won the day for me. I had a slightly faster swim than the second place male, but he had a stronger bike and run. However, the time I lost in these two legs was made up in transition. It just goes to show that although triathlon is seen as three sports, it's acutally made up of four!
If you are considering entering your first triathlon, Dorney Lakes provides a great venue for sprint and Olympic distances. The water is clean, safe and quiet shallow. the bike course is on closed roads, flat and the surface is smooth. The same goes for the run course. For more experienced triathletes it's not the most exciting of courses, but it is a fast one if you're looking for a personal best.