Grendon Sprint 2013 – What was it like? – Alex Heron

Grendon Sprint is set in a lovely location with large camping fields next to the lakes.

I’d arrived in the camper on the Saturday and rode the bike course on a motorbike in the evening – it looked like a fast pretty ride.

Although we were enjoying the second day of summer this year there were rumours of water temperature at 12.1C so decided to wear a wetsuit hood to stop my brain being fried.

This was my first open water competition so, while being completely happy to be in open water, I was pretty worried about the melee to come. Met up with Mick Fishwick in transition and discussed everything that might go wrong. We decided that “good luck” was not what was needed but no “bad luck” was a better wish.

The swim turned out to be fine – probably should have gone faster – the “little man” in my head was asking why I was doing this instead of sitting in front of the telly but he shut up at about 400 metres. The melee wasn’t too bad – mostly old geysers like me and some younger women. Possibly the most difficult bit was passing the “sprinters” who had reverted to breaststroke and  took up more than their share of room.

Its a long run, maybe 250 metres, to the very well organised transition area which gives plenty of time to sort out the wetsuit.

The first k of the bike ride is difficult – narrow, twisty and loads of big speed bumps – You couldn’t really race until you hit the main road. The course opens with a short sharpish climb in Grendon village and then out over nice rolling lanes. The first incident appeared on this section – someone was lying on the road but seemed to be in good humour. It wasn’t too long before the “speedsters” in the Oxford vs Cambridge race which had started 6 minutes after us started to steam though making me feel as if I was pedalling a turbo trainer. I did give in to the temptation to draft them just a weeny bit! There was a more serious crash at 10k, just two bikes dicing I think, but they both looked out of the race. My old touring bike (going to have to do something about that) maxed at 50.4kph on one of the long downhill stretches. The same problem applied in the last k – all those speed bumps again made getting out of the shoes interesting. I’d done a fast bike time, I’d been disappointed in Stratford and so decided to push harder here.

The run was therefore a matter of survival – the course was flat but very uneven underfoot – it looped along the lake which was good in that you could keep an eye on other competitors. In the end the run time wasn’t too bad so it probably paid to push the bike hard.

Alex Heron