I participated in the first Owler Middle Distance Triathlon in Kent back in 2013 and was really looking forward to taking part again this year. 5 years on, the race takes place at a new venue and features a new route but it's the same great race.
The 23rd July dawned a beautiful, warm, sunny day. So sunny that at 6.30am, the lake temperature was 24 degrees – eek, compulsory non-wetsuit swim. I was nervous as I had not swum that distance before without a wetsuit but hey, if I wasn’t up for a challenge I wouldn’t be a triathlete, right?
My swim was definitely a little slower than if I had been wearing a wet suit, but I enjoyed it – if I had worn a wetsuit I would have boiled. It was quite freeing to swim without a wetsuit. I recommend it.
The bike route is fantastically flat as it winds around the marshland of Kent and is a very pretty route if you ignore the brief detour to the Dungeness power station and for the 70.3 you complete the lap twice. No doubt a PB is possible in this race but with a beautiful flat route near the coast you get strong headwinds, which always adds to the fun and makes up for the lack of hills for those who a like a few lumps in the road. I was thrilled as I completed the fastest 90k of my triathlon life in 3 hours 6 minutes.
I can’t speak for other competitors, but I hit the run just as the heat was reaching its peak. I think the run is my favourite element of triathlon, but this was one of the tougher ones I have experienced due to the heat. It was 4 laps of farmland which was tough as it was uneven in places.
I want to commend the organisers, Trispirit Events, for the way they looked after all of us triathletes in the heat. I believe extra feed stations were put on around the run route, with water available at all of them and it lasted until everyone had finished. In addition, there were lots of cold, wet sponges to keep us from overheating. Having read/heard the tales of marathons and other triathlons where water has run out by the time the later competitors get there, I was hugely impressed – and grateful!
Although tough because of the heat, I thoroughly enjoyed this race. I beat my PB by 38 minutes and was so glad I could go back for another crack. Ultimately a crowning glory of any race is the bling and you do get a fabulous medal with an owl in the centre.
This was a really well organised event with an option of 3 different tri distances. I would recommend the Owler event to anyone and I will be back again in the future to try to beat my time again.