Brigg Bomber Quadrathlon – 27th May 2018

After getting on for thirty years of doing triathlon I fancied a change! I’d thought about Quadrathlon for a long time but never got round to it. As I sat shivering with hypothermia in the medical room at the Clitheroe Tri last year I got chatting to a lady that had suffered the same fate…we were both underdressed to cope with the 7C air temperature! She was the current World Quadrathlon Champion in her age-group and inspired me to take another look at this even more wacky sport.

For those that have never heard of this sport and don’t know what it is there is a clue in the name. Just think triathlon plus kayak, simple as that, well almost. They have various distances mostly based on ITU triathlon distances plus a kayak leg. For example the OD triathlon has a 7Km kayak leg added in for fun. The order can vary but the kayak often follows the swim.

Now you know what a Quad (for short) is I’ll tell you my wee story. Having researched the ins-and-outs and race options on the internet I decided I’d have a crack at the Brigg Bomber in Lincolnshire. I contacted the organisers initially to see if I could borrow a boat. I was greeted by the most helpful response you could possibly hope for. I was offered a range of boats (more about this later) and advised we could camp on site at the race venue. My entry went in the same day. For the record, I do actually own a slalom kayak but as you might know, they don’t really like going in a straight line but it did enable me to pop down to the Rochdale Canal and have a few practice paddles before the race.

So, onto the race: The swim was upstream for 750m then downstream for 750m in the river Ancholme. All was going well…so far! Competitors exit the water and run to the transition as in triathlon where you strip off the wetsuit but in Quad you pick up your paddle and run back to the river where your boat in waiting on the bank. This is where my lack of experience cost me time and credibility, but was a source of great amusement to all observers present, none more than my number one (in this case only) supporter, Rhonda! I put the boat into the water facing down stream and carefully got in the boat carefully trying not to go for another non-intended swim, to be advised by the competitor behind me I was in the boat the wrong way round! This therefore meant my boat was facing the wrong way! So I climbed out again and got back in the correct way round being careful again not to go for another swim. Now I‘m the right way round in the boat but facing the wrong way on the river. Unlike my slalom kayak this borrowed one preferred to go in a straight line so was slow to turn, but now we’re off upstream for 3.5Km. I’d chosen a stable but not so fast boat for my Quad kayaking debut. A good decision but having had a respectable swim (for me) the faster, much more tippy, kayaks came flying past me one after the other. Having survived the kayak leg it was onto my favourite leg. The bike was pancake flat and fast and consisted of two out and back laps so the aerobars came in very useful on my TT bike scooping up many of the faster kayakers before the run! The run was also flat and a two lap out and back afair that passed through the pretty little town of Brigg both ways and followed the river for much of the route. The weather was warm and sunny so competitors could observe the public enjoying ‘play-time’ on the river as a distraction from the pain.

All in all this was a fabulous event and reminded me what triathlon used to be like c.30 years ago; low key, friendly, supportive, relaxed and a lot of fun! The event was also a World Quadrathlon Points race and I was surprised to receive an email after the race to advise me I now had World Quadrathlon points! The Brigg Bomber was my first Quad, but won’t be my last!

If anyone reading this fancies having a go let me know and we can have a chat about it.