Fun, fun, fun? Pain, pain, pain? Yes, yes, yes! How I sniggered when first told the distances in total - 200m swim, 4.6km bike, 1km run (times three - each mini-race in a different order). I have now been put firmly in my place! The Cardiff Triples is a tough event that requires a lot of power, teamwork and concentration. An ability to laugh at yourself when you realise your neighbouring competitor is keeping up whilst doing backstroke is essential.
I arrived at 8am for my 3.30pm race (a bit keen I know), and so got the chance to watch the fabulously named Cheltenham Tri Ladies Who Love Cake (Karen, Lucinda, Sally and Sarah). The team worked particularly well together on the swim and run, and Karen looked especially fetching whilst wearing a swim cap under her bike helmet! The team did well to finish as third ladies and an impressive fourteenth overall.
In the next wave a civil war of the triathlon world started as both Variants of Speed (Gail, Mary, James and Cathy) and Not the Velodrome Victors (Torie, Graham, Navah and Mark) fought it out. By this time the heat was rising and both teams did superbly - Variants of Speed claimed the bragging rights by two places.
A blessed break in racing enabled some tactics to be discussed as Col and the Gang (the gang members being Guy, Dan and Phil) readied themselves. In fact I'm sure Col could be heard in the group huddle to whisper: "We were born ready!" A mightily impressive final mini-race saw the team climb above the aptly named Norfolk 'n' Chance.
The final Cheltenham side to grace Geraint Thomas' hallowed tarmac were Ride It Like You Stole It (Simon, Gareth, Jez and Josh). The team drafted well on the bike (this was the key to a faster bike leg) and managed to latch on to a few teams. Simon abruptly ended my keenness to jump on the back wheel of the Tewkesbury Ringers with a sensible shout of: "NO!" We managed tactical run legs that meant we played to all our strengths - that was until the Preston-Jones/Hand master plan of leaving a final sprint until the last minute in order to fool the orange team. It transpired that the author had nothing left to give!
The Cardiff Triples are a truly fun event: riding in groups on the track is hilarious and you really do feel like a Chris Hoy or Torie Pendleton, spectating is great as you can see all the racing within about 100 metres of where you stand and the marshals were very adept at supporting, informing and generally picking up flying goggles and bibs. Well done to all teams!