James returns to Reading where he did his first triathlon

Reading Triathlon – Olympic Distance – 2nd September 2018 

Race Reporters: James

Pros: Near my house, quite cheap, well-organised, oldest UK race.

Cons: Far from Paris, repetitive run course, lack of cheering supporters.

It was back to the start of my triathlon journey for me last weekend, when I competed again in the first triathlon race I ever did. This was my local event when living in the UK and 2014 was the year I first decided to ‘give tri a try’; that time as a complete beginner, I did the sprint (S) distance. This year, realising I would be in Reading on the day of the race, I decided to add the Olympic (M) race to my calendar. So this report is dedicated as a thank you to all the fantastic Expatriés team, managers, coaches and training sessions, and should demonstrate the progress they can help you make in a few short years of training.

Let’s first have a look at my (really quite slow) results from back in the 2014 Sprint:

Swim (750m): 19min, Bike (22km): 51min (25.8 km/h, on a steel commuting bike WITH panniers – see embarrassing photo to the right), Run (5.3km): 27min

Total time (including a 4min T1 for a full change of clothes!): 1h41m (52 / 68 in age category)

Now for the 2018 Olympic:

Swim (1500m): 35min, Bike (44km): 1h17m (34km/h average, with clipless shoes pre-mounted in pedals), Run (10.6km): 46min

Total time (wearing a tri-suit to save at least 2mins in T1): 2h41m (11 / 60 in age category)

So I can probably conclude what I already knew before the race – my swimming didn’t improve too much (je suis desolé Sylvain, Aytug, Bertrand and all… I really must try harder), the running continues to progress steadily and cycling went from my weakest to my strongest discipline. With 3 years competing regularly as an Expatriés, I also felt much more used to the habits of racing – comfortable with how I’d prepare my transition, warm up in the water before the start, feed/hydrate during the race etc. – all those little things that can (and do) confuse and worry a novice competitor. So dear team members, practice those rituals and make them seem natural, you’ll be less stressed and more able to enjoy the race.

The race itself is quite a small one – only around 350 competitors over both S and M distances. Although it was also quite evident that there were a large proportion of first-timers, which is I think is indicative of the fact that the sport is still growing in the UK and seems to have a less well-established local race circuit than here in France. This did however give me some confidence in feeling among the more experienced. It’s also worth a mention that Reading does lay claim to being the oldest triathlon race in the UK – the first race here was back in 1983 and do you feel some of that heritage, with many veterans returning year-on-year.

Concerning the race course itself, the swim is in a filled quarry, so nothing special about that but not the worst either. The bike route passes some nice Berkshire countryside and is mostly flat except for one gradual climb of about 80m. The run route was fine, but not particularly enjoyable to me – 6 laps of a 1.75km circuit around the lakes became a bit repetitive; it was also on slow terrain – uneven and through long grass which should really have been cut. Finally, what struck me was the lack of vocal supporters – I’ve got used to hearing “allez, courage!!” whilst running, and found I missed it when absent; perhaps I’m just now realising us British are often too reserved for our own damn good!