Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A beginner's triathlon event - Triathlon Pink UK

In July and August of this year the Australian breast cancer charity organisation Breakthrough launched its inaugural, women only Triathlon Pink events in the UK.
After holding events in Crystal Palace, Bath, Sunderland and Leeds, it made its final stop in Basildon on 3rd August, where over 100 women of all ages and sizes signed up to tackle the triathlon challenge.

As a women's only triathlon series, Triathlon Pink is tailored towards women of all fitness abilities and backgrounds, offering various distances from kids, short, medium to long triathlon distances, while focusing on fun rather than finishing time.

To fully embrace the fun part, every athlete received a pink goody bag, including a pink vest, pink visor, pink rubber bracelet to wear during and after the race for fun and to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

As a fun runner, hobby swimmer and non-competitive cyclist, I too joined the swarm of women in Basildon and signed up for the long triathlon distance, which encompassed a 300m swim, a 9K bike ride and a 3K run.
While the distances are relatively short, taking on a multidisciplinary challenge was new to me and not to be underestimated. I prepared myself by signing up to a tough super sprint triathlon training plan by Garmin, which I followed as a 'recommended' guidance.

Ready from head to toe
Before race start: Jane and I

When the day of the event finally arrived, we were lucky to find ourselves in the perfect conditions; blue sky, slight breeze and dry roads were ahead of us. The race was kicked-off at 5:50pm sharp.

First challenge: 300m swim
While I trained in a mere 20m gym pool, I found myself swimming in a Olympic length pool of 50m at the indoor swimming pool of the Basildon sporting village. I started with a strong front crawl and managed to overtake fellow competitors. However, halfway I gulped more than the odd chlorine water and had to slow down to a leisurely breaststroke, which had a tiring effect on my legs.

Second challenge: 9K bike ride

The second leg of the triathlon encompassed a six lap bike ride encircling the lake in Gloucester park. While I do enjoy cycling a lot, I found myself struggling to pick up speed with my rusty old mountain bike in comparison to others cycling on a road bike. I finished the bike ride in 20 mins, while nearly gaining penalty time for crossing the dismounting zone while still being on the bike. Oops.

Third and final challenge: 3K run

The third and final leg of the triathlon was a 3K run on a nearby grass pitch. While my legs felt tired, especially my calves, I quickly ditched the wobbly legs and fell into an easy but slow stride. It felt like running on quicksand and picking up pace was easier said than done. However, I ran the required the 3 laps in about 20mins time and even managed a sprint finish. All finishers received a finisher’s medal along with some fresh exotic fruit.

Proud finishers


All in all, after finishing my first Triathlon Pink I’m proud to call myself a triathlete. While I was petrified of the challenge and felt terribly under-trained, I managed to cross the finish line within my set target time of one hour and a winner’s smile. The Triathlon Pink team did an amazing job organising a friendly and fun event for women of all fitness abilities and even kids. I hope for Triathlon Pink to return to the UK for 2015, where I hope to be able to race again and improve my finishing time.

Here is an approximate finishing time for each leg of the triathlon:

Kick-off time: 5:30pm
Swim / 300 m
5:35 - 5:43 / 8 mins
Bike / 9k
5:45 - 6:08 / 23 mins
Run / 3k
6:11 - 6:31 / 20 mins
My finish time: 6:31pm / 56mins