At least a late start meant the weather was better!!
For the second weekend on the trot the weather for the 2UP was spot on. The race was always gonna be interesting for me after a good solid weeks training for IMUK in July. I tend not to rest before these races even though this is a team event with my good pal and partner for the last few years Andy Turner (Mr Consistency). I know Andy will train normally and we both understand the requirements of each others goals and ambitions for the season, so, we simply accommodate each others aches and pains (if any) on the day. That said we certainly don't hold back in any way!!
The format was a little different this year with 2 waves and no dedicated wave for the firefighters racing. This threw a new dynamic at me and Andy as we were in wave two, so, lots of targets!! As always once we set off, Andy set the run pace. It always tickles me how so called teams kick chunks out of each other as the strongest runner or cyclist prove how much stronger they are than their partner at the given discipline, bravo!! that's the team wrecked due to a broken athlete. Think about it people we're not trying to launch the space shuttle, it's simple team work. This is something me and Andy don't have a problem with, teamwork is our job after all!!!! So steady away for the run. I love the uphill part of the 2UP and Andy always sets a pace that I'm OK with, however, when it comes to going downhill Andy is in a different league than me, I simply try and keep within 20m of him and not slow him down too much. Again, teamwork comes into play here as Andy knows I will not throw caution to the wind so early in the season. We came into T1 in a time of 24:15 and passed a lot of athletes.
The bike is where we start to really get into it. I love riding with Andy, we train together so know our strengths and weaknesses really well. The good thing about riding with a good friend and partner is simply the fact that you aren't scared to say slow down a little, or push on, knowing that he will understand and comply for the good of the team. This is exactly how we rode, passing teams all the while. As always the 2Up is anything but easy, a common trait of an Epic Event!!
I knew the bike was going well when we started to pass good athletes who had started a couple of minute before us in the first wave. This is great until you start the climb to Rivington, a horrible hill, very steep and very unforgiving. Add to this two or three teams all wanting their position back they have just lost and it becomes even more unforgiving. Again, as we reached the top of the climb we came across another lone rider whose so called team mate had totally disregarded the 20m rule and left him for dead. As always I wished him all the best etc. then as we were descending the old man tourettes hit me. Let me explain. As I have got older I find it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut if I see something that bugs me. Andy on the other hand is Mr calm. So as we descended we came across the lone riders awesome team mate. Rightly or wrongly I had to say something.
'Alright mate' (me)
'Yep mate' (him)
Good, your mate isn't he's blown on the climb!!!' (me)
'What you saying pal' (Andy)
With that we saw the ugliest man in triathlon Mr Rainford waving a flag, slowing everybody down before the worst hairpin in Lancashire, all you could smell was burning carbon!!
This is where I made a mistake by pushing a little too hard for both me and Andy. We knew there was one fire service team in front of us and we had Richard Bardon and Stephen Hilton on our tail, so I decided to really push to try and close the gap and open a gap at the same time. We came into T2 with a bike time of 1:11:06
How would the second run go after the push. The answer was steady but not brilliant. The dynamic of the second run is a little different to the first run as I take the lead and encourage Andy up the hill then try and hang onto Andy on the way down. We passed another team but still had the two Hubsters closing in on us. Additionally we had uber runners Jullian Goudge and Michael Hallas. We didn't want them passing us to early simply because they could erase two minutes in a heartbeat. On the downhill I hung on for the roughest terrain then told Andy to push on once it became a little more Joe friendly. Trouble was it still wasn't Joe Friendly and I did my comedy fall just to entertain Ste Hilton, so there I am straight back on my feet ripped trisuit cuts n bruises shouting at Andy to get going. Does funny things to you racing!!
We came in in a time of 2:02:58 for 4th overall and second in the Fire Service race. A massive well done to Craig Hamilton and Ian Sim on winning the event and the fire service event, thoroughly deserved and hopefully made the long trip from Scotland worthwhile. Additionally a massive well done to Steve Gregory and Jonathon Mann on coming second overall, a really strong performance which I expected to be honest. Well done to Jullian Goudge and Michael Halas for 5th overall. Thankfully they only caught me and Andy in the last mile.
Finally thanks to my partner in crime Andy Turner, who, as always gave it everything and then some. Anyone who saw him throw up at the end will confirm this!!
And that was it, a brilliant event as always. Thanks to the legend and one of my guru's Neil Mercer for all the planning and organization that he put in, Marc and his team at Epic Events for torturing us with another easy course NOT!! and for all the other competitors for supporting the event and making it the success that it is.
Next stop is the London Marathon. Will young Joe be able to achieve a sub 2:50!!! We shall see........
Take it easy