Having dabbled in one or two triathlons each year for three years and been somewhat injured prior to each one I decided I needed a plan this year. So focusing on running injury prevention I hired the lovely Jill Eccleston to help me. Strength, conditioning and engaging brain before enthusiasm was my given goal. Mmmm, the brain bit was tough but think we are nearly there!

‘A’ race set and many months later I’m focussed and injury free (apart from the Morton Neuroma in my right foot which I refuse to have operated on, for now). The inaugural World Triathlon Series in Leeds 12 June on closed roads – how cool is that! My plan was to do what I do on the swim, go hard on the bike and see what happens on the run.

Trying my best to keep the nerves under control in the morning so had a warm up and ignored everyone around me flapping. Onto the swim pontoon feeling ready, when I overheard someone say there was a different exit out of T2 (should I be panicking!!), we briefly spoke about it and I decided not to worry I’d work it out when I get there. I entered Waterloo Lake, deep breaths, here goes (bit of a giggle as I briefly lose control of my excitement!). I was alone for quite abit of the swim which I don’t like as I prefer to have others around me, even if they do hit and dunk you! The back straight was choppy but I felt confident as I was used to that having spent a few trips up in Windermere. Out of the Lake and a 400m run uphill into transition. Another 600m run downhill pushing the bike, carrying cycle shoes and the bag filled with wetsuit, not easy (some very unhappy Triathletes!). Over the timing beam, shoes on, head on, Game On!

First bit was hilly but you could still push on, fast section towards the downhill bit for more fastness (is that even a word?!). I had a quick look at the second turning point whilst going downhill, seemed tight. Powering on into the City and another giggle bursts out as I saw and heard Ian & Jessica which gave me a boost. Tight turning point to go back up the hill out of the City again, a mile on and now I start to feel as if I was tiring and just had to keep those pedals turning so lots of talking to myself and looking at my ‘special’ words written on my bike helped me to concentrate. I wasn’t expecting so many people on the bike course which was a little dangerous at times especially when they wandered to the right as you were overtaking! Heading towards transition and people were slowing and marshals calling to slow down and my reaction – there’s no way this girl is slowing down until she sees the timing beam. Into T2 and I misjudged my racking point costing me a good 10s, bit annoying but never mind. Run shoes on, piece of kendal mintcake in hand I set off to find this allusive run exit!

Pain, pain and more pain. I really didn’t know what was happening but my entire chest was getting tighter with each step. Saw Ian & Jessica which gave me a nudge to keep going. Second lap and the pain was worse so I closed my eyes whilst running to have a think; legs ok, glutes ok, core ok, arms still driving ok – opened eyes and decided to ignore the pain and get on with it. And on with it I did – a personal best on the run, whoop whoop – suck that pain!!

Turns out I had a PB on swim, bike & run. Finishing 7th overall in my Age Group and 56th lady out of 397.

Jules and I have just completed the Lakeland Lanequest summer league. The concept of a Lanequest will be familiar to those who know about Mountain Bike Orienteering (MBO). These are bicycle-based orienteering-style challenges, in which competitors are given a pre-printed map with a number of controls marked on, which they try to visit. Unlike true orienteering where all controls must be visited in the designated order, the standard format in the UK is to visit as many controls as possible in any order, with the event having a specified time limit. We were doing MBO events way back in the mists of time when they were actually known as trailquests, winning the tandem title in 2000 thanks mostly to being pretty much the only team in that category. But we’ve been abroad for most of the time since then and have only re-started recently so are feeling a bit rusty.

In contrast to the off-road nature of MBO, lanequests take place entirely on roads, though these can be a bit rough in parts. The high density of controls and short 2h time limit make it a rather frenetic rush of map-reading and pedalling madly interspersed with jumping on and off the bike to punch the control on the scorecard, with the occasional gate and slow tractor added to the mix. While the fastest riders just have to work out the quickest way round all the controls, most of us have the more complicated decisions of working out how many and which controls to miss out, and having to make route adjustments on the fly when we find out how testing the course is.

Now in their 21st year, the Lakeland lanequests took place on 6 consecutive Tuesday evenings over June and July, each one being based in a different village with a cheap pub dinner and pint to follow, and with the best 4 results contributing to the overall league result. Each event used a different region of picturesque country lanes to ride, though we didn’t have a lot of time for enjoying the views! By the time the final event came around last Tuesday, we were sitting in 2nd place overall in the team competition, with the top three teams all sitting within a single 10 point control of each other. So with everything to play for, we had our eyes set on a fast ride and a good score. The final event was based around Staveley (Wheelbase being the main sponsors), and here is the map:-

The map was slightly unusual due to the large number of bridges still under repair from last winter’s floods. As a result, the route choice was fairly straightforward – we quickly realised we had to go via Garnett Bridge (twice) to cross the River Sprint in order to reach the 9 controls beyond the A6, with the obvious bit to miss out being the three widely spaced controls in the SW corner across the A591. We were blessed with fine weather and no navigational or mechanical mishaps and cleared up the remaining 27 controls with just over 2 minutes to spare. Despite winning this event with the highest score of any team all season, we failed to overhaul the eventual league winners by a mere 3 points. Maybe next year…

The 22nd Lakeland Lanequest League will no doubt start up again next summer, but for those who can’t wait that long, Kent Valley RC run a similar winter lanequest league on the first Sunday of every month from Oct through to March.

The best way to keep up to date with the events seems to be the Facebook Lakeland Lanequest page for both the summer and winter leagues. There are categories for senior and junior solos, teams of 2 or 3, and family (generation) groups. And unlike fell running you don’t come back covered in mud!