Vachery festival race report, 21st July…(better late than never)

Well this was gonna be my first standard distance race along with my first open water race, we arrived on the Friday night at a nearly empty field in the beautiful Surrey countryside to park up the van, greeted by a big smile of the organiser Mark, just park where you like he said.

Sat morning we had a walk around to look at the transition area and very clean Vachery Pond which is acually a spring fed lake, looked at the marquee where the pasta party would be later that evening, took the kids to play on the makeshift play area and headed back for lunch, by this time the field was starting to fill up and there where lots of friendly competitors to talk to and other kids the little ones could play with, all in all a great atmosphere.
Then it was time to test the water and jump in the pond, lovely and warm…….as I got out I got talking to one of the BTC officials who told me it will probably be a non wetsuit swim, oh really, damn I thought I have never swam open water without one, ah well what will be will be!!
Next morning up early to prepare my transition gear only to find that my googles have been lost in transit off the top of the push chair, oh s??? i thought, ok all eyes down, retrace steps, sure enough there they where in the grass not to far from camp, phew…

Said goodbye to the family and headed of to the briefing, this done goggles and hat on, here goes, water was lovely, lined up and honk, off we go! Well I held back a few seconds then went, slow and steady, a few minor knocks later I was about 400m in when, WEEDS lots of WEEDS (Top barn x 4) it put me right off, looking around i noticed every one struggling so ploughed through, so at the 1000m point im thinking, this is a long swim? Well finally at the end and about 5th from the back of my wave and a split of 39 mins, 10 mins slower than usual!! Done it yay!
Then its a 200m run to T1 where everthing went smoothly, ran out and jumped on the ol bike, first 10k was fairly flat and I was going well but in the back of my mind was the dread of the Surrey hills ahead. Suddenly, there they are, narrow lanes with a small climb to start followed by a short plateau, then the next, this time steeper followed by another plateau, so far so good, passed about 3 people and a guy on a bike you dream about, which was a small pick me up as he passed me earlier like I was riding a bloody snail! Keep going, up up up but then weeeee down down down wow this is great I thought, it was down hill all the way bar a few short sharp climbs, before i knew it T2. Smooth transition again and off, the run was nice with the first 2k off road then 6k on closed roads and 2k off road to finish, the run was good and I didnt stop ( i wanted to).
I was aiming for 2.45 but was happy with 3hr2m, now I know I can go harder next year. Overall it was well organised with sprint and long distance courses also, they are even looking at junior races on the Sat next year, cant wait…