Surfmuppet gets a podium finish!
One of the first through the gates of the domain carpark at 5am and beats the best of them getting back out through the gates at 1125.
Stick at this game long enough and a body will win…something… eventually.
That’s right, 4,000 of the Sydney high end of town best and brightest do battle in the Nissan BRW Corporate Triathlon in the Botanical Garden around Lady Macquarie’s Chair.
The wind and the rain were having a fist fight outside the window at 4am this morning, howling and lashing one another with venom and spite.
World War 2 vintage mountain bike packed into the silver bullet last night after repairing a puncture in the back tyre which cuts short the third outing on the bike and thus bringing the bike leg training program to an abrupt conclusion.
The guy who sold SM the contraption swore blind Rommel used it on the retreat from El Alamein and only for the speediness of the thing, he would have been captured by Monty and wouldn’t have killed himself after the botched plot on Adolf, instead retiring to Australia to open a bicycle shop.
Who pulls up at 505 just as our boy is unpacking the car but il capo del tutti capi, Iron Tyre. He pulls out his bike from the bike of the 4WD and comparing the bikes is like contrasting a greyhound with a pug. Carbon fibred to the max. One of those fancy pumps also for blowing tires up to a pressure of 100 million psi. SM is dead impressed but says nothing, acting casual like instead of drooling and looking uncool.
The pair makes their way in the darkness up to the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW. Rain has let up and the throngs gather silently in the darkness, like medieval pilgrims off to see some vaunted relic of a saint’s toenail in a wooden box in a grotto down by Lady Mac’s chair.
Joined by the Kinsale Gazelle who is on a new Avanti bike, cleats and all. This boyo is 6ft 20 something and looks like one stride would cover the same ground as five from an ordinary chap.
Kate from BF turns up for the Triathlon Australia team as all around team captains dish out timing chips, swim caps, mark up bib numbers of arms, stick stickers to helmets and arms, sort out racing schedule.
SM looks at his two phantom team members as their shades dissolve into the mist – one succumbing to the flu, the other to family pressures. The muppet will be racing alone.
The Corporation has securing first wave starts for most of the gang and so it’s off we go down to the bike corral, get the transition stuff sorted, then to the hospitality tent and all ready for the off.
First wave scheduled to leave at 730 with the SM and all the other green hornets from the Corporation mingling out in the water with the rest of the wave. Grey clouds roiling and boiling around over the Opera House, the Bridge, North Sydney and City CBDs.
Big crowd to send off the trailblazers and also to check if any of the beasties in the water will be flushed out by this first portion of humans into the harbour. Lots of swimming around, group waves to the crowd, the commentator whipping the crowd into a early Sunday morning frenzy and then the hooter.
And they’re off.
SM takes a steady to fast pace up the 300 metre course, saving a bit for a sprint at the end. Water temperature is just short of a hot bath and visibility is surprisingly good after all the rain of the last few weeks. Another green hornet surges past on the left but the muppet doesn’t react. Let him have his head of steam but keep watching. Last 100 metres the fellow hornet starts to struggle and the muppet accelerates past. Gotcha!
Then the swim leg is over just as the muppet is getting his second wind. Should make the swim a couple of Ks and the bike and run leg two and one km respectively – but for now, the torture is about to commence!
Up the wooden stairs and then running barefoot up the pathway, over a little hill, over rocks and grass, through the timing gate (the swim end thus in amongst the trees on dry land!), then back through more park land until eventually Rommel’s Romp is sighted.
On with the socks and shoes, get a bit of water in and hoof it with the bike up to the exit of the compound where mounting (of the bikes) is allowed.
Whatever little advantage the muppet has gained in the swim is now blasted away ruthlessly by the rest of the wave. An avalanche of Avantis, Giants, Treks, Cannondales, BMCs etc hurtle by as SM plugs along the circuit, past Boy Charlton pool, the Art Gallery, turn at the top of the hill, back down again to LMC and then around for another circuit. Riverman, the Gazelle, Iron Tyre and the Punjabi all scream past in the glorious green egging SM on.
By this time the ladies from the second wave had joined the hurtling and the first of the runners are pounding anticlockwise up the same circuit, except on the pavement.
SM is drilling away down the hill at this stage thinking…perhaps train a little harder next year for the terrestrial legs. Even the Karate Kid, who SM beat last year, slides past and dishes out a saucy quip but that doesn’t get the muppet riled as the game was up for this year a month ago.
Hop off the bike and another squirt of water, strap on the run bib and off through the forest of bikes to where the timer chirps for the start of the next dance. Team up with another Clydesdale for the first K and between laboured breathes exchange pleasantries. Then a bit of energy sweeps over the muppet and he breaks away and around the turn for the run down the hill past the gallery and the pool.
Best bit is the couple of hundred metres across from the Navy base at Woolloomooloo, with the destroyers, frigates and supply ships all lined up against a backdrop of Kings Cross up the hill. The finish is just over a rise and the marathon photo people are blasting away ten to a dozen. Bit of clowning around for the cameras just for the craic.
Gang of the green hornets at the finish line give a big cheer for the muppet, the backmarker of the first wave, as he trundles over the line.
Thank God for that – over for another year.
Lots of backslapping, Gatorade, catering in the corporate tent, swapping war stories. A few of the lads make soothing comments about Rommel’s Romp and how they’ll have to get SM onto a decent bike for next year’s show.
Now comes the round of the stands for the freebies (lots of free sports socks this year for some reason) and cheering on the remnants of the green hornet army in later waves – Rach from HR, Fast Sam and Big Andy from Field Services, Hoonie from IT, Carol from Services etc.
Best of all is the Prince of Persia who, although a good cyclist and runner, is not much chop at the swim leg. The hornets cheer him on through the transition from freestyle to breaststroke, then back stroke, then lying on his back just flapping the feet. Refuses all offers of assistance from the water safety (great job done by the North Narrabeen SLC) and eventually wobbles up out of the water onto the finishing platform.
SM times (plus change) over the last four years:
2010 – 44 minutes, 2010 – 48 minutes, 2011 – 43 minutes, 2013 – 46 minutes.
Wonder what Lady Macquarie would make of all this carry on?
“Lachlan. Come here! What are all these peasants doing running and swimming around my picnic spot. And riding those strange mechanical ponies. It won’t do, Lachlan, I tell you, it won’t do! Have them all flogged like a good fellow, will you? Now, how about a spot of tea and a nice cucumber sandwich?”
The main race of the day as far is SM is concerned is when they open up the bike corral and it’s a gallop down the hill for the parking station.
Podium finish for the muppet, easy!