Race Recap // Tri For Life - Woburn Abbey Sprint Triathlon


For full disclosure purposes, I received a free entry to the Woburn Abbey Sprint Triathlon in return for writing about my experience. I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.

Original Image Photo Credit: Human Race | Human Race FB Page
This past Sunday, I got to put the months of swims, bikes, runs and brick sessions to practice as I headed to Woburn for the Tri For Life Woburn Abbey Triathlon thanks to a place from Human Race! I'm super stoked to say I survived the race and I am now officially a triathlete! woop woop!

The triathlon was organised to raise vital funds for Tri For Life's partner charities Great Ormond Street Hospital and Melanoma Focus Cancer Research. Tri For Life are the charity organisation behind the triathlon and Human Race are in partnership with them to organise the race.

It is set in the stunning location of Woburn Abbey with views of The Abbey, Deer Park & lakes. It's a closed road bike course on the sunday so there are no worries about stopping for cars and the route takes you through pituresque roads surrounding Woburn.

Woburn Abbey Triathlon takes place over two days, with the Woburner and Olympic distance on the Saturday(Open Roads) and Super Sprint through to Olympic Distance on the Sunday. There was also a kids Scootathon and Junior Triathlon for the kids too, so it would be a fantastic day to get all the family involved!

If you want to know how I got on for my first sprint distance triathlon, keep on reading as I recap the whole day :)

The Morning Of..
We actually didn't have to be up majorly early in the morning like I have been for some races in the past. We were only 1hr 20mins away from Woburn Abbey. I woke at 7:30AM, I had some breakfast and we were out of the house mounting Phillips bike to the car by 9AM. I had agreed with Phillips Mum's partner that they would take my bike in their car as our bike rack only fits one bike.

Phillips race start was at 11:45AM as he was doing the Olympic distance. We arrived with about 1hr 15mins before his wave. We both went to the registration tent which was very straightforward. I collected my swim cap, bib and stickers for bike and helmet. Further up was a table to collect my chip - I then headed out to find Phillip before we headed on down to the transition area.
I went for a walk to scout out the area whilst Phillip was setting up his transition area - I didn't have my bike so didn't go into transition until I had everything. I was able to see some of the earlier waves set off for the swim and figure out where the transitions came in and out.

Before long, Phillip was in his wave and off for the swim and Jane and Fred had arrived with my bike in tow.

Jane and I headed into the transition area where I setup my kit. I wish I'd taken a picture of my setup but honestly.. I was so nervous in there that I totally forgot! After setting up, I took some very good advice to walk the transitions so I knew exactly where I was coming in and out and the route I would need to take.

After, I stood in the queue for the loo which took quite a while, I had to quickly rush back into transition and get on my wetsuit. We kinda lost track of time somehow and when I looked at my watch again, I realised I was missing the swim race briefing and got to the swim area as my wave was getting into the water.. oops! Thankfully, we were still in the water a couple of minutes before the actual start!
The Swim..
The swim section for Sprint distance was 1 loop of the lake for 800m total.

Having got in the water later than I wanted.. I ended up being at the back of the group which wasn't the best of ideas! Our wave started dead on time at 1:45PM and straight away I wished I'd either been somewhere in the middle or at the side of the pack.

Everyone was thrashing about and I was swimming a little faster than some but had no route through them, so I had to hold back at the start to avoid being kicked. We finally separated a little and I settled into a nice rhythm. I couldn't see anything in the water and for the most part, it was almost pitch black which was a little scary!
Photo Credit: Tri For Life | Tri For Life FB Page
Unfortunately, the lake on the day wasn't quite as pretty as the weather didn't hold up!
The course wasn't too hard to navigate, a couple of turns here and there but before I knew it.. the swim was over, it had gone by so fast! There was a little step up to get out of the water with two people assisting those that needed help getting out.

I hadn't known this at the time.. until I saw my race photos, but the lake was definitely very dirty as I was fashioning a dirty lake beard for the whole race... doh!

Total Swim Time: 15:30

It was a short run back to the transition area from the big lake along some grass and a tiny bit of stony path to cross(which hurt and could have done with a bit of carpet, ouch!). I put my goggles on my head whilst I unzipped my wetsuit on the run back and stripped it down to the waist. All the while, chanting the number 3 for my rack number in my head along the order in which I needed to put my kit on.. oh the nerves!

I arrived at my bike rack with no problems, everything was well marked, I didn't get lost which was a main fear of mine.. I put my helmet on first before anything else to make sure I didn't forget before touching my bike. I felt a little dizzy from the swim and struggled to find the balance to put my bike shoes on. Eventually managing to get them on, I put my race belt on and sunglasses, unracked my bike and headed out for the bike portion!

Total Transition Time: 2:42

The Bike..
The bike section for the Sprint distance was 2 loops of the course for a total of 20km.

I was SO nervous about the bike part of the triathlon as I'd heard about the hills on the route, it didn't help that there was a hill right out of transition to go up. Mounting my bike was fine, I had no issues with clipping in thankfully and managed to power up the hill with some ease(probably adrenaline fueled).
Photo Credit: Human Race | Human Race FB Page
It was fairly busy out on the bike course, I was very mindful of not drafting and staying to the recommended distance - I must say there were some people out on the course that literally didn't seem to have a clue and it was a little frustrating. There were people cycling on the right hand side who weren't overtaking.. meaning I either had to stay behind or go down the left hand side.

The bike course itself is pretty undulating as I had expected. There were two downhill sections on the route that were pretty darn steep. The first loop, I thought I'd take advantage of the downhill as I'm quite the adrenaline junkie and love the downhill.. but I didn't anticipate just HOW steep it was and freaked out when I started breaking and wasn't slowing fast enough, haha! Safe to say, I took it a little easier on the second loop.

There was a disgustingly steep hill that I knew about from Lucy's recap where she'd mentioned people were getting off their bikes and walking up the hill. I was determined not to get off my bike.. I hadn't anticipated the hill in advance(I dont remember seeing any signs, I just remember turning a corner and seeing the ugly thing!), so I didn't switch down to my granny gear in time and had to just power my legs up.

On the second loop, I was more aware of what was coming up and could use my gears more efficiently, I did end up getting stuck behind an ambulance on the course for a few minutes(I hope whoever they were attending to is OK!), after before long it was time to tackle the dreadful hill again.

I had a little mechanical issue that bummed me out and I couldn't actually change into my smaller gear at the front, so had to power up for a second time in the wrong gear. I did see some people getting out of the saddle but I'm really not comfortable with that, esp on a hill.. I need to practice more.

Finally, I was on the way back to transition with a sigh of relief.

Total Bike Time: 49:19

Dismounting just before the line, I took my jelly legs back to my bike rack which was easy to navigate as my rack number was straight opposite in the bike in. I had alittle trouble with lifting my bike back onto the rack once I got there, it took a few attempts, my arms felt so weak!

Again, I seemed to faff around a lot with balancing to get my running shoes on.. it took me multiple attempts to place my feet inside the shoes. I swapped my sunnies for my running cap, took a few sips of water and then headed off for the run section..

Total Transition Time: 1:35

The Run..
The run section for the Sprint distance was 2 out and back loops of the course for a total of 5km.

The run route was actually short and wasn't the full 5k distance, my watch read 2.77 miles. My legs were feeling so heavy after the ride, the hills zapped them completely, plus I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast so I might have been a little under fueled by this point. Pace was a little slower than I had ran in my brick training sessions and it was SO windy at points,  I had to hold onto my cap for fear of it blowing off!

The run route headed past the smaller lake that was used last year for the swim and headed along an access road. The path actually got really narrow at one point with runners in both directions and no room to overtake if there was runner traffic in the other direction - so I had to hold back a bit here until there was enough space.

There was a water station near the start of the running loop, they were also giving out jelly babies but I didn't bother taking anything.
I noticed a lot of deer out in the fields whilst we were running which was incredible(Phillip and Jane didn't even see them!)

After the two out and back loops, the run course had a turning to the left for finishers and if the effort you had put in wasn't enough, there was a steep uphill grass finish! It was SO tough but I was determined to keep pushing, I started heaving towards the end and was just glad I didn't throw up for my race photos! xD

Total Run Time: 26:36

I was handed my medal at the end, someone took my timing chip and then I headed out to Phillip and Fred feeling completely overwhelmed at what I'd achieved and bawled my eyes out.. so predictable for me ;)
Total Time:1:35:45

I'm actually totally stoked with my time, I had predicted a time for myself of about 1:45 so I was 10 minutes quicker than I thought. There are several things I'd do differently and there are several things that could go differently on a race that could improve my times the next time round(yep.. I just said it)

Overall Thoughts..
I'm really happy about how the race went for my first triathlon, I probably couldn't have asked for a better race to start with.. apart from better weather, but that couldnt be helped! Thank you again to Human Race for my entry!

There are some things I would recommend as improvements for the event. I personally think it would be nice to have different coloured bibs/tags/stickers for the different race disciplines. As there are participants from different disciplines out on the course at the same time, I think it would be great to be able to identify the people that you're actually racing against.

Whilst it's not a major issue for me.. the distance for the run was a off and the race is advertised as 5k distance and other race disciplines were also short, I heard some people weren't too happy about it not being full distance.

Overall, Human Race and Tri For Life did an amazing job with the organisation of the event and everything ran really smoothly on the day. The marshalls were also fantastic with all their direction, so thank you to them too! I've got a brand spanking new medal for my rack and I can't wait to take part in more triathlons next year.
I will definitely be back to tackle Woburn again next year too! :D You can already register your interest for the event HERE.

If you're interested in finding out more about the event, I've left links to both Tri For Life and Human Race down below for you to browse :)


Question: Have you ever done a triathlon before? If not, would you ever consider doing one?
If yes, What has been your favourite Triathlon Event?

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