Race report by Paul Suett.
With the season coming to an end I decided to race one last time in Kent which is only a 15 minute drive for me so nice and local for once. The Midnight Man Triathlon quarter distance is comprised of a 950m swim, 45km cycle and a 10.5km run. My body was a bit battered from the season and I had been dealing with a torn rotator cuff and foot problems all season so this wasn’t the best of ideas, but as it was paid for I decided to give it a go.
The race starts in deep water which is always a nerve-wracking but fun way to start a race. Suddenly, the horn went to start the race and the water turned into a washing machine as all the nervous energy got expelled as we all swam off. The swim course is a series of sharp turns around numerous buoys as the sun sets, so visibility isn’t great. I made a decision just to follow people until the sun was behind me and then I could sight myself. I felt great in the water; swimming strong and my shoulder was holding out, I could see the splashing of people in front but the glare of the sun made looking for a buoy impossible. After 3 turns around the buoys, the sun was finally behind me and I could make a burst and control my own race.
In my head I had it planned out: get past the group in front and turn the next buoy in front. I would then only have one more buoy to get around and then to the swim exit. I got around the group and buoy and I powered down the final stretch in relatively clear water. I made a huge mistake and swam to the wrong buoy going off course a bit but recovered pretty well coming out of the water in 9th place. I ran straight into transition with a clear head and found my bike easily.
The bike route is pretty flat and consists of 5 laps, so it's head down and attack as much as you can. I had people I knew on the course who I know are stronger cyclists than me but wanted to show what I could do. The plan was to pick them off one by one and see how many places I could make up. I felt strong on the bike passing a good friend Mark who is a great swimmer and we exchanged motivational shouts and I then put my head back down and started going for it; I could see various people in front and I used them as targets to get pass. Passing the start and finish point every lap was amazing because I got so much motivation from all the shouts from people that had come to support, I soon realised this was the fastest I had ridden a bike leg of a race and wondered if this would affect my run. I decided not to worry because this was the last race of the season and worth seeing what I was capable of.
For the final two laps I was in a battle with someone who I know is a better cyclist than me but I wasn’t letting him go. We continuously passed each other until the final half a lap where I decided to let him stay in front and waste his energy trying to stay in front; I used this time to fuel up for the run and make sure I had drunk enough as the weather was really warm. Hurtling into T2 I still had eyes on the person in front and raced through transition picking him off easily at the start of the run leg.
My legs felt heavy from the cycling but this soon numbed as they got used to the run and my foot really hurt a lot but I put that to the back of my head. I was supercharged with shouts from my girlfriend Cassie and friends and looked forward to picking off some runners. The run leg seemed lonely and after overtaking a teammate, Deborah, I didn’t see anyone else for the first lap as it twisted and turned around the course. The second lap was better because now more people were on the course and I used them to target and settled into my stride and breathing.
Coming into the final straight I could hear people shouting and saw the lights on the finishing tunnel. I slapped a few hands and passed over the finish line exhausted totally glad it was over, it was only then I was told I finished 3rd! I was totally shocked by this because I had no Idea where I was on the course and expected maybe 5th or 6th. A podium finish to end the season made me the happiest and I can’t thank Cassie and friends enough for the support as it was them that drove me to race my hardest through the pain. The season is now over and I can get my rotator cuff and foot fixed in time to start next season's preparation.