The BRAT Sprint and super sprint triathlons were held at the West Midlands water Ski centre, which is approximately 30-40 minutes’ drive from Burton. It’s located on the A51 between Dosthill and Kingsbury about 1.5 miles south east of Tamworth.
The Water Ski Centre has excellent facilities, ample parking and is an outstanding location to host a triathlon event. As it was local I registered on the Friday evening, but was disappointed to discover that I would have to queue again on the Saturday morning to collect the timing chip. It defeated the object of early registration for a relaxed transition set up. However Saturday queuing wasn’t too bad.
A 7.30 race briefing took place before the first of 4 waves got underway at 7.40. The swim was in relatively clear water at a balmy 16 degree. With an “out and back” course and competitors treading water for the start, the swim was almost pleasurable. 750 meters later stewards helped swimmer’s out of the water onto a steep bank which was the beginning of the run to transition. A mere 80-100 meters away, up the bank, across a tarmac road and along a carpeted stretch.
Transition was well spaced out and properly marshalled by experienced BRAT staff. With bike in hand a short trot to exit and the mounting line soon found athletes speeding through Kingsbury, Nether Whitacre, Shustoke, Furnace and back into Kingsbury, heading for the Water Ski Centre. The 21k route is mainly flat and fast with only a couple of testing inclines to get the quads pumped up.
Speeding through T2, and onto the 5k run which is along the side of the lake. 2 laps of uneven hardened track that had a 100 meter steep incline hill at the outmost turn-around point. This nasty hill was much tougher on the second lap. Down the ridge and back into the Complex where the run ended in a unique “run past” the finishing line on the far side of the road reach a turn-around point after 100 meters and head back on the near side into the finishing straight. The whole set-up was well marshalled and very spectator friendly, allowing loved ones to cheer you along the approach road, then once again after the U-turn back to the finish.
Interestingly the race commentator announced many finishing times as competitors crossed the line and a nearby big screen quickly provided official finish and split timings.
The only down side was the inclusion of the event T-shirt which is so luminous it could be tracked by a NASA satellite. Not so good for playing top trump t-shirts. Otherwise this really was a first class event, well planned and organised, and blessed with good weather.
Mick Fishwick (enjoying 1st season of Triathlon competition…)