Rising to the daunting challenge of the Brownlee Tri as a first time triathlete

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People try to work out the Olympic legacy in figures. Others will wait to see international exploits in generations to come.

At Fountains Abbey on Saturday, the Games’ legacy was there for all to see.

Yorkshire’s finest sporting brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee embraced thousands as they held their inaugural Triathlon.

Unfortunately, I was one of over 300 beginners to take part.

I’d offered to sign up for it months ago as part of an office dare. But only three weeks ago it dawned on me, crying for help in a large lake wasn’t something I wanted to write about in this feature.

Training had its problems and heading there, I was a bag of nerves. It’s fair to say, number 987 wasn’t best prepared, especially crowded around experienced competitors , hoping for personal bests and not just surviving.

Having registered, applied six tattoos around my body and collected my size-too-small wetsuit, I at least felt like an athlete. I was almost good to go.

Albeit, there was still five hours till my race at 2pm.

Wave by wave, hundreds of competitors strolled around the 400m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run.

None more impressive than Jonny Brownlee who showed he wasn’t a complete “tactical numpty” to win the altered midday challenge.

It was soon time for the green hats of wave R, my wave, to enter the murky and excessively cold water.

I decided to stick at my trusty breaststroke, knowing it would put me at an instant disadvantage. Still, the swim was my strong discipline.

Having said goodbye to the freestylers before the first turn of two, I exited the water in nine minutes 16 seconds and ahead of my fellow breaststrokers.

However, I soon found the flaw of not testing my wetsuit.

I climbed the 100m hill to transition struggling with the zip, and thanks only to a willing crowd member, my triathlon bid continued.

The cycle started well. I enjoyed free-wheeling downhill.

But the uphill stretch cost me valuable time as I fiddled around finding the right gear. Dropping my juice drink in front of a passing car added insult to the considerable pain my legs were in.

My misery was compounded as I entered transition to unexpected pointing and laughing from two helpers.

“He’s forgotten to take his swim hat and goggles off!” came the cry. ...I had.

Thus, I have put my slow 28.11 two-lap stint down to a lack of streamline.

Onto the run towards the abbey and my calves were screaming. This was a super sprint distance, but for 2,400m small steps, there was no sprinting.

At times I was hanging on, but at 600m to go I found renewed energy heading inside the glorious Abbey ruins. One last, ‘powerful’ dash to the line saw me cross the line in 55.09, 478th out of 850.

I had aimed to finish in under an hour so sliding under that by almost five minutes was a great surprise.

And more so, the legacy seems to have worked. There’s a feeling inside saying, “same again next year?”

Well, we shall see.