It was the day that summer returned to the scene after a total wash out of an August. Whether that was a good thing or not depended what you were doing on the day. For Tom Ralph and 373 others, it was competing in the New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon. That entailed completing a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle and a 21km run.
The swim took place in the beautiful Ellingham Waterski Lake, where the participants had to complete two laps of the lake before a 1km transition run to where the bikes were placed. The bike ride was through the New Forest, avoiding the wild ponies and horses as you go. Then it was a run through the forest on a mixture of road and trail.
Completing the swim in 41 minutes 21 seconds, Tom was 8th fastest and 2nd in the 30 to 39 age category. Unfortunately Tom was a fair bit slower than the other athletes around him in the transition between the run and the cycle as it took him 2 minutes 50 seconds. Nevertheless, he jumped on his bike and was away for his long ride.
Getting through the cycle in 2 hours 50 minutes and 34 seconds, Tom was 10th fastest in the field for that and 3rd in his category. It was close to 55 miles and the course incorporated 4,283ft of elevation.
For his second transition he did ship a bit more time to the athletes who were ahead of him, taking 2 minutes and 11 seconds before heading out on his run. The run was 12.62 miles and had its fair share of ups and downs, with 2,327 ft of elevation.
Completing the run in 1:46:26, Tom was 12th fastest overall and 3rd in the 30 to 39 category. It turned into a bit of a suffer-fest as it was just so hot but he battled through it well.
That culminated in a total combined time of 5 hours 23 minutes and 32 seconds and that was good enough to see Tom take 5th place. It was a fine performance from Tom and he was not expecting to finish that high. In fact, it had come as a huge surprise to him. It was also enough to see him top the standings in the 30 to 39 division.
It was actually the highest placing Tom had ever achieved in 14 years of racing so he was over the moon with that. What was even more impressive was that he’d done on a tiny fraction of his usual training load. That just goes to show the strength of a varied training program. Often the best runners are those who cross train and incorporate some cycling and swimming into their schedule.
Richard Higgins won the Middle Distance Triathlon in a time of 4:40:27 which put him over eight minutes ahead of Dan Mellor who was runner up in 4:48:43. Bill Smith took 3rd in 5:16:16 and Hannah Land finished 4th and took the top female spot in 5:19:41.
It was a very well organised event with lots of support for the athletes out on the course. At the end of the race Tom received a very nice race t-shirt and medal making it excellent value for money. It was an event that Tom would highly recommend.
Next on the hit list for Tom was the Swim Serpentine Two Mile race and upon completion of the one, he would be receiving his London Classics medal which you get for doing the Swim Serpentine Two Mile distance along with the London Marathon and the RideLondon 100.
After that it would be back to the tarmac and trail for Tom as he prepares for the Maverick Jurassic Coast 56km race and with 1,466 metres of elevation to overcome, that will certainly be a real test of his metal.