Box Hill Hell

I’ve been a triathlon addict since 2011, after being talked into trying the Windsor relay, progressing up through 1/2 IM and then IM. Possibly overdoing it with four IM races in 2015 but as a terrible swimmer, winter duathlons come as a welcome change.

Five times up box-hill? Why not. After having ‘fun’ at the Ballbuster last year - just turning up, winging it but still posting a decent time - the plan this year was to follow an autumn ultra-marathon with a solid block of
training and nailing a PB. The reality, as ever, wasn’t even close, consisting of a failed ultra-marathon attempt and recovering from dehydration and muscle damage. Then Flu. Then a throat infection. Not ideal.

The standard pre race-week weather checks hadn’t looked at all promising, but I was still hoping vainly that it wouldn’t be so bad in the morning. Driving over I optimistically pointed out it was dry, just as the heavens opened. Some races seem to be a tutorial in what not to do, this was to be one of those days.

I normally like to have a chat with a few people at the start, unfortunately the epic toilet queue (please, next year, some portaloos!) left me with mere seconds to dash to rack and line up so no chance for that before the rolling start.

Away on run 1, starting out at a 5k pace, remember that this is an 8mile race and so back off to a 10k pace. I’m thinking the weather isn’t too bad - I’ve experienced worse on some of the off-road series races.
Run 1
At one point I decide my nose is a bit chilly and pull my now soaked buff up over my face and manage to briefly water-board myself. The long downhill drag from Headley seems to go on forever, and feels a lot
less down than the profile looks, even on the final lap it still seems to drag on forever.
I’m feeling good as I get back to transition but soon realise that I can’t use my hands. At all.
T1 is a disaster, after ripping my soaked gloves off I find this is a mistake as now I can’t pull on my arm warmers or rain cape over my cold wet hands, but much clawing and flailing and 5 minutes later and I’m out onto the bike.

Wet wet wet
After just a few miles I can feel water slushing back and forth in my shoes. Did I mention the rain. And wind. And cold. On the second lap I’m physically shivering, but the weather marginally improves by the last lap. I struggle trying to hold my water bottle for energy drink. This would be my undoing later.

Before T2 I mentally run through my transition plan, conclude it’ll be mere seconds this time since I’m just peeling items off… unfortunately reality bites. I have no feeling in my fingers and can’t undo my helmet! I have to run to the side of transition for assistance.

Now out onto the final run, from the start it feels like I’m running on stumps, I have no feeling or sensation at all in my feet. Slowly I beat them into submission and press on. Half way around the second run I start to
experience flashing lights, ok this is very weird and a completely new experience for me. I’ve since discovered this is a sign of low blood sugar.
Not looking great

I’m still running OK  until the final run up Boxhill when the lights go out and I grind to a halt. Oh hell. 10 minutes lost in 1 mile. Not Textbook. Cross the finish to a surprisingly unsympathetic wife.

On the plus side, 95% of the race went to plan. As with all Human Race events, it’s brilliantly organised and a testament to them that even after those conditions, I’ll definitely be back next year with a proper nutrition plan to not muck it up and try for that PB again.


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