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Timberman 70.3 race review
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Cadence Minge




Joined: 22 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Timberman 70.3 race review Reply with quote

(Although this report does include a bit about my (and Steph's) results, it is primarily a review of the event to act as a record for anyone interested in doing a 70.3 in the US.)

Steph and I wanted to do something a bit different this year so we signed up for the Timberman 70.3, which is based at Lake Winnipesaukee, about 2hrs drive north of Boston in New Hampshire. Primarily we picked it because it has an Aquabike (swim and bike only) category for Steph's knackered knees, but lots of US races do so we asked on Slowtwitch which race offered the most scenic location and the best organisation, and the Timberman was highly recommended.

It is by far the best organised race I have ever done. Keith Jordan and his team at Endorfun put on an awesome show. Seriously, the attention to detail leaves even Windsor (which is exceptional in the UK in my experience) in its wake. Some of many many examples:

- Expo and registration not in a bunch of tents in a field, but at a permanent skiing/hiking resort a few miles from the actual race start/finish. I wasn't sure how this would work but it did so very well indeed
- Kids triathlon that sold out its 221 participant quota months ago, that looked exactly like an adult version only scaled down (6 canoeists to patrol the 40m lake traverse, inflatable orange buoys, aid station on the run, PA at the finish, etc etc)
- police stopping traffic at every single junction
- 9 aid stations on the 2-lap run course, stocking a mind-boggling array of goodies; at least 5 aid stations on the out-and-back bike
- little things like a dedicated 10-man water bottle refilling station next to transition
- etc etc etc

I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Very popular, excellent atmosphere, fair course, nice location.

On to the race....

Bike racking on Saturday after registration. I had a mild anxiety attack in that we had only brought 2 sets of wheels: a pair of PlanetX 50mm wheels and a PlanetX 101mm/82mm combo. The plan was for Steph to use the deeper wheels to give her every chance of winning the Aquabike, which was her goal. As it turned out the wind picked up quite alot in the preceding days and there were enough looooong downhill stretches with occasional gaps in the trees to make the 82mm front too twitchy for Steph and even a bit too much for comfort for me. TBH I was losing more time on the downhill stretches through wimping out than I was gaining on the flats. So I strolled over to the mavic tent and asked whether they had a spare front wheel they could let me have. To my amazement the guy said "Sure, here you go buddy, bring it back after the race" and handed me a Ksyrium ES with Michelin pro race on and pumped up. No name, no deposit, nothing. Promising start, I thought ...

Sunday morning we were out of the hotel by 4.30am in order to get a parking spot right next to transition. The highway police were already out in force to direct traffic.

Historically the Timberman has had either baking 90 degree weather or has p1ssed it down. Luckily Sunday dawned clear, if a little chilly. The lake was flat though, whereas on Saturday it had big whitecaps!

I was in wave 4 (35-39yrs), after the pros, the elites and then the 50-54yrs. That was certainly the closest I would come to Simon Lessing, Spencer Smith et al!!! Lake W is crystal clear: which is a good job because I ended drinking my usual stomach-full of water over the 1.9km. I managed to draft a fair bit more than usual and actually felt strong for once coming round the final buoy. Unfortunately that was when the current was against you and the waves started to pick up a bit, so it was a bit of a battle coming in to the beach. Finally made it though, in 38 minutes. Sounds slow but I was 80th/200 in the AG, so maybe the conditions were a bit harder than I thought, and it was probably only my tenth swim of the year, all told

They had wetsuit strippers but I couldn't (and still can't) see the point: just looked like wasted time to me. So through T1 in a leisurely 2:48, a minute on average slower than the pros

Straight out of T1 you are met by a mile or so of incline. Not steep but not too nice on cold legs. Still, after the Vit last year were I blew my legs on significantly shorter hills I was determined to keep a steady pace on this and the several other hills on the first 10 miles of the bike. They were proper hills too, albeit relatively shallow gradient and on flawless road surface, so they were a pleasure really. After about 10 miles of hills you headed out on to route 106, which is a wide 3/4 lane freeway through rural New Hampshire, where you spend the next 18 miles or so (there and back, so 36 altogether). There is a very wide breakdown lane all along this stretch which was swept twice in the week before the race (see... attention to detail) so its was ideal racing conditions. I felt like Lance Armstrong on the outward stretch, and I now know enough about racing to understand that this meant I was either going a) slightly downhill b) too hard or c) with the wind. It turns out it was all three Rolling Eyes The ride back along the 106 to the hilly section was a bit hard TBH. I was overtaken by a fair few people on this stretch and generally spent much of it feeling a bit sorry for myself. Once we got back in to the hills I was determined to ride my own race, which I did.

Back in to the bike-in chute and there was a wall of sound: hundreds of people lining the last 200m or so, all cheering their heads off. I have never experienced anything remotely like it, so promptly forgot to take my feet out of my shoes until it was almost too late. tw@t. Bike split was 2:50:11 (19.7mph) for a touch over 56 miles by my and Steph's bike computers. With hindsight this is not too bad considering it was my longest ride of the year (I only had a handful over 35 miles under my belt) and it was hillier than I am used to in Essex.

Out of T2 in a slightly brisker 1:34 (unbelievably, faster than alot of elites and even some pros).

The run route runs parallel to the bike route for a mile or two alongside the lake, so it was uphill for a mile or so. My legs felt like lead and my stomach was seriously bloated for the first 6 miles - my breathing and probably my HR were fine, just a lack of training again (and brick/nutrition training in particular). Eventually I pulled myself together though and got in to some sort of rhythm. The aid stations were unbelievable: packed with people young and old and every fuel you could think of: clif bars, clif gels, pringles, cola, water, gatorade, electrolyte tablets, etc etc etc. At the turnaround there was a mardi gras theme, which was pretty uplifting. They had the local high school cheerleading team on the course as well who didnt stop screaming all day (I lost 20 minutes at that point alone with ... errr ... cramp). It was only flat for about 400m at the turnaround, otherwise it was all hilly. Very pretty run course on a quiet lakeside road. Final run split was 1:51:02, which is pretty pants versus my (flat) standalone HM PB of 1:32 but I would have ran the second half at 1:38 pace for sure, which is more like it.

Overall 5:23:32. My only other HM distance result is 4:58 at the Vitruvian, where the bike course is a) easier and b) 5 miles shorter and the run is pan-flat, so given my highly disrupted (practically non-existent for the last 3 months) training I have to be happy with that. Simon Lessing won it in 4:00:02, whereas the Vit was won by a very good - but not Simon Lessing good - athlete in 3:58, which shows the difference.

Didn't feel like speaking much when I got over the line until I was sat in one of the many ice-baths. But I cheered up no end when Steph told me she had WON the female aquabike in 3:35:14 (35:02 swim Mad and 2:57:35 bike Razz), beating all 25 women and over half of the 26 men. I was so chuffed for her, seeing her on the podium. I am considering retiring so that the inevitable time where she overhauls my bike split in a race never comes

We had 3 days both before and after the race to relax in a hotel on the lake. Its a beautiful region and I could go on forever about the race and the region but I'll sign off with one last comment: for the weeks before the race the organisers had paid to put mobile electronic traffic signs on the sides of the main roads warning motorists that there would be disruption on race day. Two days after the race we rode part of the course again and they were still there, but this time they had been re-programmed to say "Timberman thanks [the town where it was sited]". Now that is just pure quality ...
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wiganer




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done mate and CONGRATULATIONS to Steph.

Fantastic report and that sounds like a great trip out as well.......you did return the wheel right ?
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doug




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice Job ! Very Happy
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Legs of Jelly




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done mark and steph. Cool
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Rooster




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great race report. Sounds like a really quality event - wish I had done it the last year I was over in New Hampshire instead of drinking beer every night:)

And congrats to Steph on her win - thats a great effort. It must be great for the two of you to go out riding together and be a simlar standard.(although it must be tough on you Mark to have her getting closer and closer to you!!)

Next step has to be IM with Steph doing the swim and bike portions of a relay!
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SheilaP




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds lovely. Well done mate and you must be sooooooo proud of Steph. Trophy
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p00key




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

brillaint race report and well done Mark and fantastic result Steph well done Very Happy Very Happy
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Rofster




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one Strides!

Mark, you've put a really god picture in my hed about this race. Which is by far better than the pictures your usual posts leave in my head Wink

Well done Steph, you Champ you and great time Mark, especially with no training Very Happy

Just one question that you missed out. Was it good value? expensive entry or average? (besides the obvious travel costs)
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Cadence Minge




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Rofster wrote:
Just one question that you missed out. Was it good value? expensive entry or average? (besides the obvious travel costs)


Oh yeah, entry was $190, or 95 at today's exchange rate. The :$ meant that we could pick up some really nice gear at the expo with a clear conscience as well. What else did the cost cover:

- goody bag with a proper running cap (branded Timberman bt made by the same well known manufacturer of the tritalk cap/visor), a 'technical' long-sleeve top plus loads of other stuff
- food tent at finish offering free hot pizza, local ice cream, cookies, etc, etc
- Yellow TdF Mavic cars and motorbikes patrolling the bike course, offering technical support (they also had spare wheels and even bikes, but I am not sure how that works with outside assistance rules???)
- Free bike tune-up
- Gatorade, bananas, clif bars, carb boom gels, sweets, pretzels, etc on the bike course

Plus loads of other stuff. As you can tell, I was impressed. 95 is alot of money for a race but this one offers real VFM, IMO. Chuck in travel etc and of course its expensive but we treated it as a holiday anyway so it was actually cheaper than usual because when we weren't on our bikes we were relaxing on sun loungers by the lake!!

Oh, and Wiganer, I returned the wheel. I got their names so i could write to the CEO and Head of Marketing at Mavic singing their praises. It worked - I liked the wheel.
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Rofster




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds awesome, deffo one for the "holiday race" section.

If you think it's 80 for The vit for a T-Shirt and 70odd for London with a bottle of beer and horrid sponsors cap (Mazda, so they must have millions made a year) then that works out extremely good value
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rebbo




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well done both - esp Steph!

Sounds like great value - the only HIM I've done was Hayle, which was a nice event, but no aid stations (& certainy no mobile mechanic!) at all on the bike and the only ones on the run were at the two turnaround points, serving horrible energy drink.

Maybe I should think about international competition....
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice report, Mark. That sounds like no expense spared true luxury. No wonder ST slavered over it.

Pass along a peck on the cheek to Steph for a fantastic result. And for you, for a time that would beat mine on the back of none of that training, a manly man-hug from Paul L. Wink

I would love to get back Stateside - I'm very envious!

B Cool
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stephstride




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was a truly awesome weekend. The atmosphere was amazing and everyone was so bloody friendly. I was, as per usual, very nervous before the race but I've never felt such calm as I lined up for my start with all the other aquabikers. The wind had picked up a bit by the time I got to swim (last wave) and there was a surprising current coming back into shore. But after losing my timing chip twice (note to self, stuff it in your wetsuit next time that happens), goggles steaming up and swimming massively off course (must learn to sight better), I was glad to reach the sand, having caught up with people 2 waves ahead of me.

Like Mark, I bypassed the wetsuit strippers (our new wetsuits are sooooo easy to remove) and got out on the bike. For the first time in a race, I loved every single second. The first 10 miles suited me down to the ground, it being hilly, and I overtook a lot of people. The relatively flat of the 106 was not so good for me but my new bike is so massively comfortable that the time just seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, I was back climbing the hills and heading for home.

The support in all the communities we passed was fantastic - people just sat outside all day ringing cowbells - it really gave you a boost. The police did an amazing job and we effectively had closed roads. I cannot recommend this race enough to anyone considering entering a HIM and wanting a holiday at the same time. I want to do it again! I feel a little sad actually that it is over.
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scottg




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats on your races esp Steph with ANOTHER aqua bike win

The race and location sounds top draw and makes me want to race out there even more.

Hmmm time to visit the family in the US I think Very Happy
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pip




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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2007 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great race report and Winner Winner Winner Worship Airborne to Steph for winning. Sounds like an awesome race.
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