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Everybody loves a Tri-er

The Southwater Relays

There were many teams that turned up at the Southwater Relays on September 4th prepared to fight for victory. They stretched their muscles, ate their energy bars, made sure their bike was well oiled and prepared themselves mentally for the 400 metre swim around the Country Park pond, the 18.5 kilometre bike ride and the 3.8 kilometre run to the finish.

But the reason behind the event’s success - 129 teams of three entered - is not the race at the front. Instead, it is the large number of entrants who care not for winning, but for testing their own ability with other like-minded athletes of all ages.

The winners came in at two hours and 42 minutes, but when the final finishers - KSM Snails, Never Again, The Three Bettys and last but not least The Horsham Rhinos - finished an hour and a half later, there was still a crowd there to cheer them on!

The Southwater Relays is one of the most popular triathlon events in the South East, and is run by Horsham Amphibians Triathlon (previously known as Amphibians 2 Triathlon Club) The club i is based at Bluecoat Sports
Centre at Christ's and has about 60 members aged from 15 to 70.

To the delight of many people watching, it was a team from Horsham Amphibians that won the relay event. It had seemed an unlikely victory, but Jason Bewley clawed back a five minute deficit to take the lead during the running leg, beating a team from Seven Oaks. Nick Finch went out first for the team and set a blistering time around the pond - easily the day’s fastest - and stayed in contention before passing on to Jon Meadows.

Jon put in a consistent performance and it meant that Jason was able to chase down the leader in all three disciplines to take the honours. Winners in the Veterans class - and an impressive third overall - were Even With Two Oldies, who came from South London Harriers. MTT, another team from the Horsham Amphibians, came 18th through Mike Porteus, Tony Harris and finally a great last leg from Tony Donnelly. The Horsham Rhinos came in 129th place, but Will Brett, John Collins and Chris Powell completed every aspect of the race.

The race itself started bright and early at 7am on a Sunday, and if anyone was still half asleep, they would have soon woken up when they dived into Southwater Country Park Pond. 400 metres may not sound too far to swim - up to the far end and back - but it’s a gruelling, heavy swim, and many of the competitors spent over 20 minutes in the water. Which makes Nick Finch’s 6 minutes 34 seconds all the more impressive.

The competitors then run from the jetty, helped from the water by a number of volunteers, and start taking off their wetsuit even as they run up the path towards the bike transition. They then ride out of the car park and up Cripplegate Lane, heading through the village, up Bonfire Hill before heading on to Coolham. They must then ignore the lure of stopping at McDonalds at Buck Barn, before heading back along the A24 to Southwater.

The final leg is a run of about 4 kilometres, consisting of two laps around the Country Park. After all that, you either top up on energy bars, or  grab a bacon butty, depending on whether you think you’ll ever do anything quite so exhausting again! The Horsham Amphibians, who organised the event, have many coached training sessions a week ranging from time trials, biking, studio cycling, track and interval sessions and of course swimming both pool based and open water.

They run a full programme of training sessions including coached swim sessions, fortnightly track running session and a Sunday cycle ride to cater for all abilities. In the summer months the group swims in Southwater Lake, and there’s even the occasional weekend to the French Alps.

For more information about the club visit www.a2tri.com

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