Nobody was impressed with the early start, and it was even a little chilly as the team stood in the queue to get their numbers written on their hands ! The queue was too long so the organisers put the start for the first wave (and all subsequent waves) back by 15 mins – nobody complained about that.
The boys starting in the later waves turned up to give the rest of the team a good send off, but the sky looked grey and the thought of jumping in the water which had a reputation for not being top quality was keeping spritis down. After a linguistically challenging briefing we found out that in fact the water quality was good, but it was the sludge and slime and god knows what else on the bottom of the lake (some suggested dead bodies) which gave it its bad name – at some points your feet would sink almost up to the knee in the soft mud – but at least it was warm !
With less than 100 people per wave, it was a easy to manage a good clean start (clean except for the mud churning up) For fun Nick decided to go hard at the start and to his surprise by the first turn found himself amoungst the wave leaders ! so feeling relatively strong he decided to keep the pace and finished the swim near to the head of the wave.
Onto the bike, this was another part of the course which has a bad reputation, and this time it was totally justified. Straight out of Transition and you are onto 200 meters of ‘rough road’ where speed is not advisable, you can almost hear the sobs from anyone with expensive wheels, then just when you think its over, 5 meters of deep shingle, acting like a bloody speed trap !! Once onto the road, the trip through the local village was not much better, with speed bumps in the middle of a hill causing many to lose their water bottles which bounced fully out of the holder, finally out onto the main roads where the quality was good, but this was short lived as you were back into the village to do another lap before back over the speed trap on the return to transition – at least you only had to that twice.
During the ride howeer the sun decided to start making an appearance, although it was a little windy, it had the effect of blowing away the clouds, and so as the team came in one by one and set-off on the run – there were even moments when it was actually pleasant ! The run itself was 2 laps of 5km through the local woods – trail running, this is good for experienced runners, but bad news for those who have done uniquely road running training.
Sebastien was in the lead at this point having started in the first wave with Jamie, Nick starting from wave 2 was in second place having overtaken Jamie on the ride, and he chased Seb down overtaking him at Km 8. James was running scared having overtaken Charlotte on the bike, it was fear of her re-overtaking him on the run that kept him motivated, and he managed to hold, but only by 40 secs. As you came towards the end of the run, the course went around a pond then through an outer part of the castle before twisting round to the finish, amazingly it was here that the sun finally came out, and with the beautiful castle in front of you it actually makes for a pretty good finish, and everybody crossed the line smiling.