20 May 2016
The Immortal Half 70.3 Distance Triathlon
Race report for my first half iron distance tri.
On the 15th of May 2016 I took part in the Immortal Half, my first half iron distance triathlon, which is comprised of a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km bike ride and a half-marathon.
I was nervous about the event because last September I injured my knee whilst running the Cheltenham half-marathon. I underwent intense physiotherapy, but because of the injury I had only managed to do 35 km of run training. That’s 10% of the 350 km of running that I had done in the same period of time prior to the Cheltenham half, when realistically I should have done more than 350 km of training to compensate for the fact that this run would take place after a 90 km ride, not to mention the swim. For this reason, I wasn’t even sure that my knee would hold out.
The day before I laid out all of my kit and checked off a list, to make sure that I had everything that I needed before taking the obligatory photo for social media. Unbeknownst to me, Miss Womble had snuck a packet of Always sanitary towels in with the gear. I did spot them and took another photo without the lady products, but after I packed everything away I found that that photo was out of focus, so I posted it to Facebook anyway as I thought it was quite amusing.
The photo got 389 likes and 74 comment, most of which related to the presence of the sanitary products. Some people were shocked, others showed a genuine interest in how they were used in triathlon, presuming that perhaps they were an essential piece of kit that they had previously been aware of. One man wrote “Always?!…Never trust a fart after 10miles!!!”
The Immortal Half Swim
I awoke buzzing at 4am, hopped out of bed and started getting ready. We were on the road at just before 5am. Once there I racked my bike and donned my wetsuit. Once that was done I was able to relax and take in the morning air before the 6:45am race briefing down by the beautiful lake.
The swim was a mass start. I’m not sure how many people were in the water exactly, but the event website says 518.
The water was pleasantly warm and I didn’t even get the initial cold shock, which is common when entering open water.
We set off at 7am and the front of the pack was the usual mosh pit of flailing arms and untrimmed fingernails until the group thinned a little and people found their own space. Aware of the long day ahead of me, I applied about 85% effort to my swim, which took 30 minutes and placed me 37th out of the water.
The Immortal Half Bike
There was a 700m run to the first transition to grab our bike before setting off. The weather was lovely and sunny, but not too hot and the route was very scenic and not too hilly.
It was on open roads but there was only one right turn, so the only time I had to clip out from my pedals was when I had to save a ham wrap which had become unattached from my bike and was about to fall off. I took a couple of bites from the wrap before shoving the rest down my tri-suit, which made my heart rate monitor stop working.
I’m a strong swimmer, but not a very strong cyclist so I knew that I would be one of the first cyclists to set off, but that I would be over taken by many of the athletes over the course of 90 km. For this reason, I had decided to play a game of triathlete bingo. Before the race I wrote on my hand all of the racer numbers of the triathletes from clubs that I had attended (Worcester, Cheltenham and Reading). The plan was to try and spot as many as possible whilst out on the course and say hello, although on the day I only spotted two and spoke to just one!
During the ride I got used to using my tri bars confidently for the first time. They really make a huge difference.
The Immortal Half Run
I knew that I was overtaken a lot on the bike, but I was disheartened to see so many bikes already in transition when I returned, so when I began my run I began to get a terrible lunging feeling in the stomach as I began to convince myself that I was in last place.
Because of my dodgy knee and lack of training I kept my run speed to 6:30mins per kilometre. The run was comprised of three laps trough the picturesque Stourhead estate, on a variety of surfaces.
I adopted the strategy of Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno, stopping for about 10 seconds at the two water stations on each lap. Other than that, I kept running the whole time, my mood perking up greatly when I realised that there were at least a couple of people behind me.
I was elated when I crossed the Immortal Half finish line in 6 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds. I was then presented with my finishers t-shirt and a rather cool medal in the shape of a centurion helmet, which also tripled as a fridge magnet and bottle opener! I later found that I had placed 154rd out of the 204 people who had finished.
That evening I treated myself to a well-deserved gin and tonic in the bath!
Immortal Half Race Summary
- Absolutely stunning course
- Well organised
- Plenty of enthusiastic marshals
- Cool medal
- Fair entry price
- You have to register in person the previous day
- The start time could be prohibitively early for some
- The quality of the event photography was disappointing
- A portaloo on the run course would have been nice.
I know I didn’t break any records but I was just so happy that I was able to finish and reach this half way point on my journey to Ironman and I can wholeheartedly recommend the Immortal Half to anyone looking to do a 70.3 triathlon. After my injury I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run again, but having completed this, I’m cautiously optimistic about new running opportunities.