Race Report: Outlaw Half Nottingham, 15th May 2022
Richard Kay highly recommends the Outlaw Half held annually in Nottinghham, a race so popular it generally sells out in a day or so!
"Pre-race build up..
Over the last couple of weeks it had suddenly dawned on me that I had a race coming up fast. I thought I had better get my wetsuit out and check it still fitted. I had a quick trip to the Lido in Cambridge and yes - it still fitted, which was a relief! For those who don’t know about the Jesus Green Lido, it’s a lovely 90m outdoor pool, at the edge of Jesus Green. If anyone has any questions about it – feel free to ask and I will help if possible.
Apart from the wetsuit panic, my training has been ramping up for the Outlaw Full in July, so I was feeling like I could complete the event without any worries.
The brick sessions from my house and the Saturday rides and brick sessions had been sufficient in my mind, and I was sticking with that thought!
For those who aren’t aware, half distance events with large numbers of participants like the Outlaw or Ironman races require you to register and rack your bike up the day before the race.
So I needed accommodation for the Saturday night... Luckily, Sam’s uncle lives just over the river from transition (0.3 miles as the crow flies to be exact) so I was sorted for bed and taxi to the venue the next day.
Whilst leaving the transition area on the Saturday, I spotted someone in a blue ETC hoody, and went to introduce myself – it was Andy Murfitt, who is an ETC member, but hasn’t come to any sessions yet. Nice to meet you finally Andy!
I went through my normal race day routine – eat 3 hours before swim start, which meant woofing down two bananas and a couple of hot cross buns at 03:00….Triple checked I had everything I needed and we headed out to the venue at 04:20. We got to transition nice and early…04:40. Set up the bike and then the sun rose over the horizon.. (see picture) This answered my usual “what the hell am I doing this for” question….
My swim time was set to start at 06:05, so I put all my gear on, and immediately felt like I needed the toilet…. Again…. I had already been three times that morning! The swim start was from three jetties, where they were setting people going every 5 seconds or so. I decided to run and jump feet first – I really had to resist the urge to do a bomb.. I always lose my goggles when diving, so definitely wasn’t going to risk that!
The last time I did this race (2019) the water was really cold, luckily it was a perfect temperature this time around. I set off and got into a good pace. I managed to not blow up this time, and kept my heart rate down. I finished in 36:46, which was considerably faster than last time (39:03). Chuffed with that considering my swim prep has been really poor this year.
The transition area was half way down the rowing lake, and was very long, so our transition times were going to be much longer this time around. I dawdled a bit as I was taking this as a training session…which always blows my mind that you do half distance triathlons as training events for full distance training! I managed to remember to get everything I needed… cycling jersey on top, cycling shorts on, helmet on first, number round the back, cycling gloves and nutrition all in place… and I was off..
Having mounted and set off, I had to dodge someone who was heading to the side of the path (only 10m from mount line). He inspected his tyre… FLAT… this was going to be an omen for the bike route..
The roads around Nottingham were relatively poor in 2019… they had deteriorated significantly since then. The organisers are great – and had sprayed orange spray on all the dangerous pot holes… they must have gone through many tins of spray paint! There were holes everywhere, shortly followed by High 5 bottles and escaped gels, inner tubes and even a pump! There were also lots of mechanicals – I passed quite a few people with punctures on route. My trusty gatorskins didn’t let me down again!
Those who cycle with me know I am not particularly fast, but I seemed to be captain slow today, as everybody was passing me! I didn’t let it get me down, and just carried on plodding round. I managed to finish the route 10 seconds faster than in 2019 (and I was on my TT bike this time around). I averaged 18.5 mph, so was pretty chuffed with that. Heavens knows how fast all the others were going!
This was even more of a dawdle! I was in no rush to get everything sorted, and managed to remember to take my cycling shorts off before exiting transition this time – which was a definite win!
I set off from transition feeling fine, which was a great feeling. I passed the first feed station after about 500m, and Pat (Sam’s uncle) was handing out the water on the station. It is sooo good to see a friendly face on the course – he brightened up my race every time I went past (which was four times!!). For those who aren’t aware, Nottingham run route is three laps round a very long rowing lake. It is one of the most boring runs I have ever done, and we had to do three and a half laps.. YAWN..
The sun also decided to came out to play just as I started the run, so I was well aware I was getting sunburnt - I hadn’t thought to put sun cream on (weather report had said cloudy all day). Lesson re-learnt now..
The organisers had changed the run route from 2019, and this way you didn’t get to pass people coming the other way. I was on the lookout for my fellow ETC competitors, but never got a chance to high five anyone this time around. A real shame.
As I was treating this as a training session, I decided to just plod along in zone 2, and walk the feed stations. The miles slowly ticked down, however I finished feeling I could go on and on still, which is a good omen for the full later in the year… The run was finished in 2:06 – around 5 mins slower than 2019, but was still happy with that given my pacing strategy. Now just have to get through the next 6 weeks of increased distances and the taper…
Overall time: 05:59:27.
I really like to cut things fine on my races!!
Chuffed with that time, although it was 10 mins slower than 2019, a lot of that was the significantly longer transition areas, and me dawdling in T1 and T2!
You might have thought that all my moaning meant I didn’t enjoy this race, however I actually thoroughly enjoyed it. The swim was great, the bike route is a lovely route (but poor surfaces spoils it a bit) and the run is uninspiring to say the least. However, it is run by OSB, who care about their athletes, and put on great events. The organisation is always good, the volunteers on course are all chirpy and helpful, and the medal, t-shirt and after race food is top notch.