We did it 😀😀😀. Thank you for supporting us, sponsoring us, coming on the journey with us. There have been ups and downs, a bit of sideways, laughter and tears, injuries, illness, recovery, a new bike, a resignation, a house renovation and an election.
It all started when the multi- tasker’s sister thought it would be fine for a couple of slow sprint triathletes to upgrade to double the swim length, more than triple the bike leg, nearly triple the run and add a bit of kayaking for good measure…… Safe to say, we had never been in a kayak before: although Meg was a rower at uni, she struggled with the concept of forward motion in the water! We knew we had to do 6 months of training and we started off well. We had a bit of injury and a horrible virus impeding progress, but we got back in the saddle (Meg literally did most of her training in the saddle – lesson number one, cross training is effective!)
We were doing marvellously but then Meg had to move out of her house for it to be renovated and an election was called. Other things were suddenly a priority. The training schedule was abandoned early on – from the other side I can now report lesson number 2: you can still race without the training but it takes significantly longer.
The last supper
We were both supposed to register and listen to the safety briefing on Friday 16th, but the hobbit was still saving lives in Beccles, so Meg had to freak herself out and have a panic attack on her own. Luckily there was a carb-loading supper for her, unluckily, we found out there was a cut off for starting the run of 16.30. Pressure! The upside of lifesaving was a very civilised “last supper” with as many carbs as possible – two bread rolls!! – for the hobbit when she finally rolled up.
Good morning sunshine
Saturday morning was beautiful. A sleepy Norfolk village, a lovely hotel, beaches nearby. And we were planning to swim a mile, kayak 3 miles, bike 45 miles and then run 8 miles. Breakfast ensued! What a dilemma. Facebook came to the rescue – More carbs and salt:
My bubble of calm evaporated when I got to the race site and saw ironmen and women setting up. This is it. The multitasker had her superhero t-shirt on, she’d picked us a kayak and some lifejackets and we had a spot on the bike rack.
The idea is you set out a coloured towel (to identify your spot) under your bike and lay out everything you need in an orderly fashion to swap between disciplines. There was a lot of gear (and food – second breakfast!). The multitasker was flirting outrageously with a young lad with “thighs like pony’s” (and I quote).
We got our tatts done:
Swimming – 1 mile
Next step was getting half in the wetsuit and being shipped out to a beach 1 mile up the creek from which we would swim back. Being in the boat stopped the nerves as it was a gorgeous day and you could pretend you were going on a cruise. 😂😉😂🤔. The other competitors had mostly done it before and were extremely helpful explaining how fast they could go😶. We had a quick acclimatise in the (surprisingly pleasant) water, were corralled through a headcount and then off went the hooter and we splashed in.
Of course, everyone worries about the vicious tactics of the open water swim. Certainly supergirl and ironwoman, our fellow Beccles superheroes, got kicked and pushed around. The solution is to breastroke calmly at the back having a nice chat. The multi-tasker needs calming and reassuring that there are no sharks or dead bodies coming to get her and the hobbit is incapable of doing freestyle. It’s true that the RNLI kayakers and paddle boarders going alongside for safety got totally bored with us but on the brightside, the multitasker got to flirt with some more muscle-bound teenagers…….
Hilariously, there was a point at which we hit a sandbank and everyone stood up and walked, there were two jellyfish, one stung me a bit, but otherwise it was a glorious swim and by the end even the multitasker had stopped panicking and enjoyed it.
Kayaking – 3 miles
33 minutes after the hooter we were dashing up the quay to our kayak ripping off the wetsuit and wheezing only very slightly. (Big improvement on last year – shorty wetsuit recommended). The kayak was heavy and we had to go barefoot over gravel to get it back in the water. Hope there’s no video 😱. We had our very own safety kayaker beside us as we were last, but we motored down the course due to the engine powerhouse that is the multitasker.
And then there was an unexpected snag – the creek ran out and we had to push the kayak 100 yards across a mudbank before getting back in to finish the course. Spoiler alert – this was not the only time I was nearly lost to the mud…..
By the time we finished (49 minutes) we were no longer last. More kayak manhandling, with the help of an elderly lady (respect!) and we were back in transition, squirting on sunscreen and ready to bike. We even saw supergirl and ironwoman dashing off just ahead of us, so we knew we were doing OK. The multitasker has decided kayaking is her next sport – I have to concur, it was a fabulous addition to triathlon.🚣
The bike leg – 45 miles
We started riding at 12.50, anticipated a time of 3.5 hours so it was going to be a close shave to get on the run before the 16.30 cut off. This didn’t really make us go any faster but we absorbed gels and flapjacks and rehydration drinks for good measure. The bike leg is extremely undulating. Great road surfaces compared to all the potholes in Suffolk, but it was all up, down, up, down. We never quite managed to draft each other very well as the hobbit could get up hills quickly and the multitasker could get down them quicker. However, we stayed together and did more chatting. There was a banana and water oasis at mile 20 by the Sandringham stud where we found other cyclists, saw various people with punctures and learned someone had already broken their collarbone falling off. Undeterred we pedalled on. At one point the multitasker got ahead and two nice “sweepers” picked me up and let me draft behind them to catch her up. I swear we were doing 60mph! 🚴😁. We made it to Holkham Hall where there is a little “out and back” round the obelisk. This was the only time we could see who was behind or ahead of us and I was grateful to be able to say “we’re not last!” As I realised the person 200 yards behind us was supergirl. This was extraordinary. Supergirl is a top cyclist averaging 18 mph. She had set out on the bike ride a minute or two before us. What had happened? Turns out, supergirl and ironwoman’s team name was the prescient “wrong direction”! There were moments on the bike ride when the multitasker was flagging. But like a true superhero she didn’t moan about her creaky knee or agonising sacroiliac joints, she just pedalled. I hadn’t taken on quite enough hobbit nutrition so by mile 43 there was a loss of momentum (understatement for grinding halt) but a gel soon sorted it and then suddenly we were back in transition, more sunscreen and off on the run. (3h32mins on the bike – just made the cut off!)
The “run” – 7 miles sand dunes 1 mile mud
The first bit of the run goes past the finish line where loads of finished superheroes were basking in their glory – so we had to run past them really fast to look as though we were trying! But then we got to a raised bank where the heat was radiating up off the ground and it felt like an oven and we just had to stop and walk. At this point, the small voice of supergirl was heard and she came running up behind us, with ironwoman trailing behind. They had got lost, had to stop at a bike shop and ask directions, then lost each other again after a pee stop. Ironwoman did not look well, but she was absolutely determined to carry on, so we agreed to stick together and walk. But then we reached the sand dunes and almost ground to a halt. Even just walking across the sand was hard in that heat so we struggled on slower and slower. There was a curious mirage in the sand of a tropical cocktail bar with grass skirts, Hawaiian Lei & pina colada. The multitasker had one (pina colada) & perked up considerably!
Eventually we got to the wooded area off Holkham beach and tried a bit of jogging but ironwoman suddenly felt faint and got goosebumps and looked really poorly. Luckily there was a Marshall station so we took on water and poured water over her and just walked on – no more running.
Finally, we got to the last bit which involved crossing all the creeks to get back to the start over the muddy marsh. Getting wet feet was initially lovely but soon we were meeting deep creeks which we had to jump down and crawl up trying not to lose our trainers in the mud. I failed. The multitasker hauled me out but the trainers were unable to come with me. Actually it was better barefoot. By this time I had lost the capacity to make any decisions and nearly got stuck on one side of a creek with sheer sides wondering if I would ever make it out of the mud. The multitasker was clearly enjoying herself – times like that you need an army Major sorting out the troops: luckily, the great thing about Norfolk Superhero is you have your superhero buddy to egg you on (or drag you through the mud!) whenever you are flagging. I think we even ran a bit towards the finish and then stumble-waded through the final creek to cross the finish line – all 4 of us hand in hand. (2h 34 min)
……and we beat number 77 & 78 who got the wooden spoon!
7h38min27seconds all done.
Massive thanks to everyone who has put up with us, massive thanks to the organisers and the amazing marshalls who were SO supportive and a massive rest. Before we started the multitasker said – “do it again next year?” the answer was NO! But now it’s – “can we do it every year?”
If we keep going, we could win the zimmer cup (combined age of superhero team > 100) in 2024 – so we’ll keep you all posted!