Marlow half ironman gave us an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. We partner with a large number of triathlon companies and bodies, so I thought I’d enter the F3 Events Marlow half ironman on the Thames.
Marlow half ironman usually attracts in excess of 500 competitors with another 500 spectators. The swim is an out and back in the Thames, engineered for fast times. The bike section has three laps encompassing a challenging hill, with a long grind steepening to an intense gradient at the top, and followed by a sweeping high speed decent. Finally, a four lap 5km running route including a section on the towpath, completes on of the most picturesque races I’ve ever competed in.
If the title of this blog causes any doubt, I didn’t win the race. Nor however did I let the YJ office down, finishing with an impressive fifth fastest overall time on the bike (02:28:38), although fifth was still 9 minutes slower than the race winner, Thomas Burkinshaw.
We were lucky to catch up with the race winner and he offered to share his experience.
Thomas Burkinshaw, The Marlow Half Ironman Race Winners Report
The water was calm, with only a mild current. Being a veteran of the Marlow half ironman, I’ve experienced a much stronger current, and was glad to be able to start wide of the crowd to get a bit more space.
Straight off the gun, several swimmers were off the front before I could get near them, but I managed to find some fast feet who were straight on the chase. The gap was about 10m and he was holding the next two steady; at the 900m turnaround, the four of us came together. By this point, I was working too hard, and the guy I was following went straight past the other two. I stuck with these two until about 400m to go, but decided to go alone for a better line to the final turn – this worked out to be slightly the wrong move, and I was about 10s down on 4th/5th by the swim exit.
With a quick T1, I overtook two just out of transition, and then moved into 3rd place. 1st and 2nd were slightly ahead, and we came together at the road works. Once we got going again, I waited until a faster section and then took the lead firmly, satisfied to see that I couldn’t be followed I was soon out of sight.
The remainder of the bike was just enjoying the course, working the hills and then making up the speed on the way back down towards Henley, hitting speeds in excess of 70kph.
I’d enjoyed the bike a little bit too much however, and by the end my quads were feeling a bit crampy. Within the first kilometre, they were twinging quite badly, so I slowed to a more manageable pace, hoping that my gap was big enough. At the end of my first 5k lap, I was told the gap (at the start of the run) was 8 mins. I was feeling worse, so slowed down further knowing I had some time buffer, and at the end of the 1st and 2nd lap, the gap was just 5 minutes! Coming into the final lap, I knew I had it under control, and so kept the final lap steady with enough energy in reserve, just in case.
I came into the finish with a 2:10 lead – enough, but it was a nerve racking run and I wasn’t sure until I’d crossed the line and heard them announce – Marlow half ironman winner, Tom Burkinshaw