With the advance party in Nottingham on the Friday night, getting the gazebos ready for the next days fun & festivities, the rest of us were drawing up our travelling plans for the next day.
Little did we know that, thanks to secret video surveillance footage captured by our very own Dave Knight, that after construction of the Hilly MegaBase ™ the entire crew were getting ready for the following days races by indulging in Karaoke & Alcohol!
Wish we were there? You bet we do!
Some people were racing in the morning, so made the very sensible decision to arrive on the Friday, ready for the next day.
Some ignored all that & made their way up that morning, leaving at stupid o’clock.
Those of us that were racing in the afternoon had a leisurely mooch up the M1 with a relaxed stop at Watford Gap services for a cheeky Costa.
Upon arriving at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, the first hurdle for most was navigating the parking app!
Once that was successfully completed (Thanks Chris), all kit was removed & stowed upon each team member for the long drag to base camp!
What is the collective noun for many Hillies – answers on a postcard, best answer wins a prize*
(*it doesn’t – the reporting budget doesn’t stretch to that!)
Finding somewhere to park your bike, rest your kit bag, identify your kit bag amongst all the other exact same looking kit bags, and mingling before remembering there was racing happening – a lot to get on with!
And it didn’t take long before the Hilly MegaBase ™ was awash with talk of precious metals as our Championship teams started coming in.
Its been said that Californian prospectors follow our teams around in the hope they may get a sniff of all the gold they manage to accumulate? I don’t know about that, but we did get 4 (COUNT ‘EM- 4!) podiums!
The first time ever that we have scored 4 podiums in one Championship – Club of the Year? You Betcha!
With the Championship teams providing inspiration, it was up to the afternoon captains to get the teams registered.
Resplendent in our new grey Relays hoodies (Thanks John & Lesley), we handed out the coloured swim caps, timing chips, bike stickers & race numbers – and a rather fetching new Relays T-Shirt!
The Open teams briefed & tactics shared, the first racers off made their way down to T1 to rack their bikes, set up their transition zones & don their wetsuits. It was sweltering, so this was left to the very last minute.
One by one, the rest of the team members made their way to the swim start to hear the race briefing. The swim kicked off with a deep water start. I say a deep water start, it was chest height for me, so normal sized people were bobbing along up to their waist!
The gun went off & WWE in wetsuits started in earnest, trying to find the path of least resistance.
This was a futile quest, the threshing, white water turmoil continued to the first turn buoy, whereby the dunking, grabbing, pulling & general sh*t-housery only got worse!
Hold your ground, increase your stroke rate, spit out the mouthful of blue-green algae you just inhaled whilst trying to breath & muscle on!
Around the second turn buoy & as fast as you can to the finish arch. The arrowhead was getting worse & the melee intensified as we all wanted a good handover to sooth the nerves of the rest of our teams.
Finally, under the arch, keep your swim cap on, pass the band to your number 2 (no, not that, they were still floating around 350m out) and breathe a sigh of relief that you had around 30 mins until you had to get on the bike!
Handover after handover & comedy dive after comedy dive, the swimmers finished, the look of accomplishment (or was that a thousand yard stare?) as they passed the metaphorical baton.
Wrist band on & the number 1’s (no, not that, that was still in your wetsuit) raced to their bike stations & legged it to the mount line.
Up the Grandstand straight & into a headwind – pah! At least the cheers of encouragement from all teams was magnificent as you powered your way into your ride.
There were all sorts of bikes on display, £20k superbikes to £50 mountain bikes & all riders great & small – everyone was loving it!
Hit the turn at the end of the lake & try & take some advantage of the tailwind as you make your way down the home straight
Repeat 2 more times before trying to dismount elegantly & with as much grace as you can muster.
Or lock up & go head over heels resulting in possible fractures to both arms. Get well soon, Natalie! (Is the bike ok?)
Pass the band to your team mate & sigh another sigh of relief as you have around an hour to refuel & change, ready for the run.
The hay-bales take a battering as one by one the baton is exchanged. PB’s are earned on this day!
It’s now that you realise you have to stop chatting & get to transition as your number 4 rider is coming in!
Fortunately, you make it in time, grab the band & start your run. And being the first runner, you smile inwardly as you take off, safe in the knowledge that your run is shorter. Because you are indeed special.
That hill. That other hill that you forgot about. The downhill that leads to the most…boring….straight….ever. Will it ever end? Can you make it to the end before you run up the curtain & join the choir invisible?
The longest 2km I have ever known.
But of course you do make it to the end of the most…boring…straight….ever, and that gives you extra impetus to give it your all until the end.
You put on a little burst of speed towards the handover transition, because, well, you do. There are people watching & you have the best kit in the UK -nay the world!- on.
Injuries result in some substitutions (Big thanks to Dave & Jason!) and some double stints (Thanks Magic!) & in the teams come, one by one, across the grandstand to be called in by none other than our very own John!
To the victors the spoils, the laughing at some of the other team names (my fave was ‘Pullbouy Error’) & on to the obligatory club photo! (Don’t worry Kenny, we’ll photoshop you in!)
Camp is broken down & put away, bags are packed & property is lost. If you have misplaced something or have collected something that isn’t yours, please contact Jacqui as she collected all the lost property up.
And so the long journey back down south begins with thoughts turning to the dwindling number of events left this year & promises of extra training over the winter to beat your Relays times next year. There is, after all….. always next year.
Thanks to John & Lesley for organising, the advance construction team for creating Hilly MegaBase ™ & to everyone who raced with a smile on their face & proudly wore the Club of the Year kit with such panache.
We came, we saw, we conquered.