Eastbourne Triathlon

Eastbourne Triathlon

Yesterday I raced an early season aquathon as a preparation for later triathlon races this season. I chose Eastbourne as the race to do because it is not far from London, has a sea swim and flat run.

I registered for the standard distance aquathon, with 1500 m swim (against the tide to the pier and with the tide back), and a 10 km run along the promenade. I didn’t want to do the bike leg because it was too hilly with a climb to Beachy Head each lap. However, it turned out that I had to make two additional expenses in my preparation which I didn’t normally budget for a triathlon race:

  • a wetsuit – unfortunately this year’s weather was a bit grim and it didn’t feel like summer even in June, with temperature hovering about 11-15 for weeks leading to the race. As a result, the sea was unlikely to get warm and there was a high chance that the race would be wetsuit compulsory. I hired a wetsuit for 2 weeks at the price of £40, with the possibility to use it for Brighton Pier2Pier in the next weekend as well.
  • a hotel room – initially I hope to travel there in the morning, thinking that Eastbourne, like Brighton, is somewhere with reasonable Sunday morning train services, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case. The race would start at 08:30 with call-up at 08:15, but the first direct train on the line via Cooksbridge wouldn’t arrive Eastbourne until 10:11, and despite the possibility of travelling via Brighton, Lewes was shut and bustituted due to engineering works early morning, meaning that it would take me 4 hours to get from my home to Eastbourne by a night bus to Victoria, train to Brighton, and the number 12 bus all the way from Brighton to Eastbourne. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to wake up at 3 and travel down that day, and I eventually booked a hotel room next to the event centre for £34.

Pre-race

Initially I hoped to play some board games with my friends on Saturday, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough players at the end so the games didn’t happen. The weather on Saturday was so poor, with wind at Force 7 to 8, that it was an absolute no to go to sea, however the wind would drop on Sunday so a final decision would only be made on the race day. I went to the swimming pool in the morning and travelled down to Eastbourne in the afternoon to make the registration. Afterwards I had dinner near the train station. As there are no large supermarkets in Eastbourne, I went to Hampden Park to buy food for the next day.

The race

The organiser announced that the swim would cut short in the morning. The swim course would be adjusted to 750 m from the pier to the transition for both standard and sprint, and cancelled for shorter distances. However, at 07:25, the organiser made an annoucement to cancel the whole swim leg altogether, making the triathlons run-bike-run and aquathons run-only. The wind was blowing Force 5 to 6 in the opposite direction of the tide with the red flag still hoisted at the beach. That means the standard distance aquathon that I was doing became a 10 km run-only race.

The adjusted race started at 09:30. It was two laps of a 5 km out-and-back run on the promenade. As the wind was strong, there was significant speed difference between the “out” legs with headwind and the “back” legs with tailwind, with my average speed about 10.2 km/h on the “out” legs and 12.8 km/h on the “back” legs. I completed my first lap in 24 minutes and 52 seconds, and the whole race in 50 minutes and 43 seconds, with 9.64 km recorded by my GPS watch. During the race, I repeatedly got passed by another competitor during the headwind “out” legs and pass her back during the tailwind “back” legs.

I got the 3rd place overall however there were only 6 competitors started the race (and 2 DNS). The race was totally meaningless for me once the swim leg got cancelled.

What’s next

I hope to get a good result in Brighton Triathlon later this year on 1 September. However, I would also like to do another race as soon as possible to fill in the missing gap. I only do races which have an open water swm, a flat bike course (in case of a triathlon) and a flat run course, and I prefer sea swims as well, which means Brighton is the best race close to London for me.

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