Race Report: Sam Holloway

Event – Dorney Sprint Triathlon ATW / DorneyLakeEvents
Date – 4th May 2024

A bit apprehensive coming into this one, with a few firsts and experiments.

This would be my first open water swim of the year and first wetsuit swim of the year. Not really recommended, but not a lot I could do about it, unless you enjoy being cold. Also, this would be my first ride in anger on my new (to me) TT bike, I was fairly happy with my position but still had a fair bit of uncertainty.
Oh well, we’ll be fine!

Races at Dorney are always a pleasure, a combination of a closed course with a slick operation makes for a great venue. The marshalls were extra supportive and attentive. There were plenty of first-timers too and I was more than happy to share some tips and answer any questions in transition for the newbies.

Swim – 750m 11:21
As expected, fricking freezing! Entering the water before the start it took a few moments before I could get my face in the water and do a few strokes. I then spent the next few minutes doing what I could to get acclimatized and ‘warm’ whilst the rest of the wave entered the water. So a few swimming strokes, some sculling with kicks, just to get the blood going and comfortable in the wetsuit. Maybe a quick wee. 3,2,1… we were off!

I tend to like a strong start, as swimming is my strength, and try to get out in front. One swimmer to my left was off like a rocket and I tried catching his feet but he was too quick and soon out of reach. He ended up being 2 mins quicker. I then swam solo following the rowing buoys and the rope under the water to the far turn buoy. Here I was starting to feel the strong start bite me a bit and was keen to settle the heart rate plus give my shoulders a bit of break. I eased up a tad and another swimmer started touching my feet, I decided to ease up more to allow the other swimmer past and then sit on their feet for some of the return leg down the lake. I started feeling stronger again once I settled the heart rate and shoulders started coming back to me (inspiring confidence for other races this year.)
Not my quickest time but for a first outing, pretty solid. Exited the water in 3rd.

T1 – 1:53
Out of the water and run across to the bikes, stripping the top half of the wetsuit on the go. Arms were quite fatigued so a little trickier than normal.

It was quite painful running on the tarmac with frozen feet, thankfully I was quickly onto the grass area where the sprint transition was set up. As it was cold, I opted to put socks on but because I couldn’t feel my hands or feet this was an absolute nightmare, ended up on my arse putting them and my bike shoes on.

Helmet and sunglasses on, unrack the bike, and out of transition. No flying mount today as I hadn’t practiced that on this bike, also whoever decided to put the mount line on a slight hill is a bit crazy.
Exited transition P4.

Bike – 19k 30:48
Ok, anyone who has done a race at Dorney knows it’s a quick course and with little to no wind, it was ideal conditions. I spent the first ‘out’ settling my heart rate and trying to get comfortable. I could see 3rd place not far ahead and 2nd quite a way ahead.

Everything was going fairly smoothly up until the second lap. I’m not sure what happened but I think my saddle tilted down slightly over a small bump, this had the effect of putting a lot of pressure on my arms, back and neck holding the TT position and I felt I couldn’t push the power as easily. Also, I struggled a bit with reaching for my water bottle (maybe an upfront hydration pack needed).

I was keeping general pace with 3rd but he was slowly getting ahead.

Reaching the end of the 4th lap I reached down to take my feet out of my shoes ready for the dismount, again a little trickier on the new bike, it was at this point I realised I still couldn’t feel my toes. This would be fun.

T2 – 1:02
Safely dismounted before the line and a short jog to my racking position, trainers on, again slightly tricky when you can’t feel your toes. And out.

Run – 5k 18:43
Off we go, I could see 3rd place maybe 400m ahead. So that was my target. Dorney can be a bit mentally tough as it’s flat out 2.5k and back 2.5k but I had a target to chase so it wasn’t too bad.

I still couldn’t feel my feet so running was a little more awkward, but I caught 3rd just after 2k. On the return I could just make out 2nd but he was easily 1k ahead so it was just about securing 3rd and posting a good time.

I was feeling pretty great, so continued to push all the way to the line.
Over the line comfortably in 3rd. Woo!

Finish time 1:03:49
Overall 3rd/208
Age Category 2nd/53

A bit rusty around the edges and big gains to be made on the bike, but very happy with how it all went.