• Suzie

The Equalizer 70.3- Conquering the Devon Rollers & other challenges

The Freaky Events Equalizer 70.3 Triathlon took place on July 3rd 2016, based at Roadford lake in Devon. A two lap lake swim, a 2 lap 90km cycle on rolling Devon roads and finishing up with a 13.1mile (half marathon) off road run.

Sounds great I thought.

Roadford Lake, Devon, great setting for a triathlon, perfect place to cool the legs off afterwards.

4 things attracted me to The Equalizer

1) The male vs female 'equalizer' element, the women would set off 32.5 minutes ahead of the men and the fight was on. Could the women stay away? Prizes were for top 10 past the post, regardless of gender. A pretty cool, unique concept.

2) The prize money. £5000 split between the first 10 past the post, with £2000 for the winner. One of the biggest prize pots in domestic UK racing.

3) Location, Location, Location! The race was in the South West, I grew up in North Somerset and had family living in Devon, so have spent a fair amount of time in this part of the country, but had never done a triathlon down here.

4) "Rolling bike route and off road run" sounded good, I hate a dull flat course so this sounded far more interesting.

This was my second ever 70.3 race, my only other experience of this distance being Outlaw half last year. I was feeling good and the week before the race had gone swimmingly. My prep had consisted of...

1) Coast 2 Coast sportive (From Seascale on the West coast to Whitby on the east coast) was a cycle event i had been looking forward to. I then looked at the diary, one week between C2C and The Equalizer. Possibly not the best prep for a 70.3 race. So reluctantly I only rode the first 4 hours of the C2C, stopping at Hawes and getting the train back to Leeds, while fellow Alba Rosa cycle club mates and Leeds Bradford Tri club mates continued on to the finish (awesome event, well worth doing, top organisation by Open Cycling) I felt all wise and sensible sat on the train back to Leeds, knowing I had kept my legs fresh for The Equalizer.

Climbing up Hardknott Pass in the lake district at 6.30am, stunning views made the effort worth while, an early train ride home for me, turned my 90 minute wait on the platform into a great yoga and mobility session while the other Alba and LBT'ers peddled on to the finish. Big Kudos to those who reached Whitby,

2) Got my Raceskin T-shirt all printed up with this years sponsor logos at Wharfedale embroidery. Love showing some gratitude to all the companies who are giving me a huge helping hand. Revolver Wheels, OTE nutrition, Aquasphere, Raceskin, Computrainer, Always Aim High events, Mostmotion and TopFlaps.

3)Tent, camping stove, roll mat and sleeping bag all packed and ready for a weekend away in Devon.

Triathletes love their luxuries. This was my pre and post race dinner and accommodation. If only I had won the big bucks, could have had an upgrade!

It was great to see the race being previewed in Tri247.com, the prize money had attracted a top quality field.

"Rolling bike route and off road run" was what I anticipated. The reality was:

1) 1,381m of elevation over 90km. Up, Down, Up, Down, Up, Down again and again and again. So this is what they call Devon Rollers!

2) Bike mechanical failures. This is my 5th season competing in triathlon races, my run of bike mechanical luck unfortunately ran out in this race. Two prolonged stops during the bike leg, the first 3 minutes in, to sort out my rear wheel which wasn't spinning and just rubbing on the frame and brakes. I had come out the water 3rd, behind fellow Leeds triathletes Hannah Drewett and Linda Evans, I quickly witnessed riders pass me by as I stood on the side of the road trying to fix my rear wheel. After no joy I turned my bike upside down, which did the tick slightly as I removed my wheel completely and put it back on again, only to realise i had spilled all my OTE energy drink on the road. Not ideal on the hottest day of the year so far! My hands were sufficiently covered in oil and grease, I had done all i could and decided to get going again. Just before the second lap I had managed to catch back up to Linda and Paula who were 2nd and 3rd. And boom, my chain fell off on the u-turn as I switch gears too quick and it jammed between the chain rings and the frame, another rest while I got off and battle with it.

Coming back into transition after an eventful bike leg.

3) Mind over matter. It is truly frustrating being stood on the side of the road with a malfunctioning bike. I thought about throwing the towel in several times, my mind went from being totally bummed out to being determined to fix the problem and get back in the race. The most frustrating part was getting back in the race only to suffer another set back, at the 2nd lap turn around point. Looking back, I am pretty happy with how I decided to just forget about position and time. I saw it as a challenge, to get back out there, pedal hard and enjoy the hills, as I do love a hill or two!

4) "Leave a bit of energy for the run, it's a cheeky little run course" Nicky, part of the freaky events team had warned me the night before at the camp site. "Cheeky run course" is a tame description for it. The run was 4 laps, each lap being a figure of 8 shape so passed through transition twice per lap. 8 times my Dad and brother who had come down to support gave me encouragement, or in typical big brother style take videos such as this....

New legs needed indeed, the route had it all, cross country style, through grassy fields, over board walks, up and down woodland trails. Well I didn't want a dull course and it definitely wasn't. Lots of variety to keep you on your toes, or to keep the quads burning! Thanks Jo Carritt for the Hi Fives, top competitor!

5) Another mind of matter situation. A half marathon over this terrain was pretty brutal. I realised I was going to have to employ the mental skills I have been learning in Yoga and meditation in recent months.

"be curious, see where your limits are, how does your body respond"

I remembered from yoga class. And that was how I approached the run. I was curious to see how far i could push my body and mind.

I crossed the line 7th overall and 3rd female. A race full of challenges but I was happy to hang in there and tough it out.

Top 10 at The Equalizer. Big well done to Hannah for holding off the men to take the win. And well done everyone who finished this true test of a race

I had a great time in Devon, the Freaky events team did a fantastic job, top class organisation and Del's unique equalizer format attracted a really strong field.

Thanks guys, I will be back with that chain catcher!

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