With most of the season’s triathlons behind us, Clinton and I decided to do a local triathlon in Kent (after some peer pressure from the Tritons). The Midnight Man is an unusual race: starting at six in the evening with a full Ironman distance option running right through the night, a half Ironman distance option finishing around midnight, and a quarter distance which works out to be roughly the same as a standard distance triathlon.
The whole race is set in a small industrial estate in Dartford. The swim is a lap of a small lake, the bike is five laps of an “H” shaped loop with several kilometres on one side of a dual carriageway which is closed to traffic. The run is two laps of a flat (but twisty) course.
It should have only been a 30-minute drive but as I had a hair appointment earlier in the day we were actually quite rushed and we arrived at 4.30pm – half an hour before registration was due to close! Traffic was quite bad around Dartford Bridge as usual.
The swim course was a series of sharp turns around numerous buoys. It was quite a busy start as there were about 300 of us. Not all of us were doing the quarter distance (1 lap), some were doing the half distance (2 laps) and some doing the full distance (4 laps). There were also people doing the aquabike (swim followed by bike) (2 laps) and each option had a different coloured swim hat. Mine was yellow.
It was a deep water swim start which made me a bit nervous. I’ve never learned to tread water properly so even though I can swim front crawl I can’t actually stay in one place for a long time. Thankfully I had Clinton to hold on to before we started as it was quite a long wait for everyone to get in. Next time if I do the race again I will definitely get in the water last…
The first bit of the lap was frantic as everyone set off fast and the turn at the first buoy was a bit hectic! I actually had the right side of my goggles knocked off a bit but I decided to keep swimming rather than stop and re-adjust – I didn’t want people to knock me again while swimming past me.
Halfway through the lap things got much calmer, the faster swimmers off the front, the slower behind me and I was tucked in the middle. The sighting was not too difficult as the sun was pretty much setting at this point and the buoys were all visible.
One thing that wasn’t made clear was that after turning at the last red/yellow buoy, people doing the quarter are supposed to stay left to the side of the lake and go straight to the finish rather than head back to the buoy where we started. I saw a couple of yellow hats go the wrong way but thankfully fellow Triton T mentioned this before we started the swim so I knew not to make that mistake!
The bike route was flat and consist of five laps, so it was head down and attack as much as I can. There were no potholes and the road was smooth and flat – which meant I could go quite fast on the straight stretches. I had people I knew on the course who I know are much stronger cyclists than me but wanted to show what I could do.
Passing the start and finish point every lap was amazing because I got so much motivation from all the shouts from the Tritons that had come to support (thank you Jodie, Julie, Stephen and Mark!) I soon realised this was the fastest I had ridden a bike leg of a race and wondered if this would affect my run. I decided not to worry. I have never bonked on a run and I wanted to know how far I can push on the bike.
The frustrating thing was the layout of the course – there were multiple U-turns and 90-degree turns that meant I had to come to a complete stop multiple times in a lap. I had no doubt that I could go faster if there were no-turns.
Given the course layout I was really pleased with my total bike split of 1h34 (for 45km) giving me an average pace of 28.5km/hr – which was significantly faster than my time at Leeds Castle only a month ago.
My legs felt heavy from the cycling but this soon numbed as they got used to the run. I was so energised with shouts from the Tritons and looked forward to picking off some runners.
I soon settled into a nice stride of about 4.20/km and overtook a good number of people on the course. I saw Duncan doing his second lap as I started my run lap and I also ran with Clinton for a bit while he was finishing his second lap! I was surprised to have been able to stay with Clinton for much of the lap and I yelled at him to go faster! He picked up the pace and I cheered for him at the finish as I started my second lap. My second lap was a bit slower (averaging 4.30/km) and it was really a case of “hanging on” until the finish.
My total run time was 44 minutes! Given that the course was actually 10.5k and that was “off the bike” I was pretty chuffed with that. I later found out that I was the first female on the run!
My total finishing time was 2h42 – placing me as 5th overall female – just behind Neinke (who came 3rd!) and Jenni (who came 4th). Sophie was the first female to finish on the aqua-bike race (and 2nd overall) and T was the 2nd female on the half Ironman race! For the men – Duncan came 3rd overall and Clinton came 6th overall (4th in age group). It was also James’ first ever standard distance race. So… Superb results all around for the Tritons!
Overall a really great race – with bike PB, and if the swim was longer it would have no doubt been a standard distance PB for me too. I’m so happy with how I did and I can’t thank the Tritons enough for the support. I’m sure there’s more I can do on the bike – I can definitely do better on the turns and I think once I learn to use aerobars I will go faster yet again!
Until next time!