The Cotswolds 113 on Sunday was a great race. Organisation was fantastic, and the marshalling was some of the best I’ve experienced. Every single one of them (and there were around 150 marshals on the course) was cheering the athletes on, smiling and giving huge encouragement.

An early start meant 4am rise, but I was up like a lark. The usual porridge and banana breakfast in my hotel room, and a coffee with a mate, then it was time to suit up. I was in Wave 5, heading off at 6:40am, so I had time to watch the other waves swimming their way around the lake.

Water was a bit smelly, but not cold. The swim went well, no panics, no punch-ups, although I found the sighting difficult, especially with the zig-zagged route across the lake. I managed a 38 minute swim, though, so I’m pretty pleased with that. Swimming’s coming on well this year.

Onto the bike, which was a blast. Literally! There were a couple of small bumps on the two-lap route, but other than that it was almost pancake flat. I averaged 20mph over the course to hit a time of 2:36, and I completed lap 2 faster than lap 1. Nice one! It’s the only bike leg I’ve ever been on with a sign warning of killer badgers, but thankfully it must have been too early for them. I believe all athletes are accounted for.

Saw one runner who’d pooped himself. Not sure if he knew, but I didn’t want to be the one to tell him. Also saw a cyclist wearing a nappy. Maybe a ploy to prevent anyone drafting her. It worked.

To round off 1.2 miles swimming and 53 miles biking (a little shorter than the usual 56 miles, but organisers told the competitors beforehand, so all’s well), it was time for a nice 13 mile run. The sun decided to come out and warm us up, perhaps a little too much, but I felt good as I headed out from T2. Am I the only one to never suffers from jelly legs? I’d tried switching on my old Forerunner 110 so I could pace myself, but as usual it didn’t work. In fact, it failed to work 4 years ago when I bought it for my first marathon. How it hasn’t ended up in a hedge or a lake yet, I don’t know.

So I had to run by feel for the first 6 miles. I was aiming for 9-9:30 miles, but must have been running about 8:30. By the time the Garmin finally started I was into the swing of things. Great to see friends supporting and screaming me along. In fact, support on the run route was superb. Lap 3 felt tough and was very much mind over matter, but I finished the run in 1:51.

Along with transition times, my overall time was 5:12. I’m extremely chuffed with that. My previous half-ironman best was 5:38 at Outlaw last year, and even allowing for the slightly shorter bike leg, I smashed it. I was 239th out of over 600 racers. Top notch.

It’s given me a real confidence boost for the full Outlaw in 6 week’s time. I’ll definitely be at Cotswolds 113 again next year. And I’m already wondering where I can steal 12 minutes to go sub-5 hours!

 

‘The Hunt’ out 18th June, ebook; 16th July, paperback.

“A great thriller … breathless all the way.” – Lee Child

 

 

 

 

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