The Maldon Triathlon (Dengie Events) – 31 July 2016 by Jen

This is a great little mid-summer triathlon that takes place each year in the beautiful Essex town of Maldon. I have done it once before (in 2014). The experience taught me a lot and so I was keen to have another go.

The organisation:

It is a small triathlon (catering for about 400) run by a local outfit called Dengie Events It’s all very low key and relaxed – but with great attention to detail. The marshals are super friendly and helpful. You register on the day – and this year you could even enter on the day as well. The transition is roomy and there is a really nice atmosphere among the athletes.

The swim:

The swim takes place in the Maldon Estuary. I arrived a bit early and was quite alarmed to see this! I took this photo about an hour before the event.


But the tide whooshes up the Estuary so fast – by the time the hooter went off at 10.40 am the water had reappeared and things looked more like this!


I struggled a lot with the swim last time but this time it was just fine. I started very far back and took it very slowly at first but caught up with the middle of the group again quite quickly and came out about just below half way down the pack (and five minutes quicker than last time!!!)

The bike:

This triathlon was a watershed for me for two reasons. First, it was my first tri ever sans sox. And second, it was the first time I have ever actually tried to race the bike instead of just pootling about. My shiny new bike deserved no less. It was a novel experience for me to be passing people on the bike (instead of being passed the whole time). I really enjoyed that. There was just one drawback. I couldn’t help comparing to last time, when the event kicked off at 7am and the roads were pretty much deserted for the bike leg. This time there was way too much traffic for my liking and it was sad to see very good cyclists up ahead having to repeatedly put the brakes on to avoid cars. It would be so much better to close the roads of course but a big challenge for this race is that the timing is hostage to the tide timetables (see further below). That said, I still like this bike course because it is a pretty ride through the marshes and some lovely villages (if you are not too busy to look) and there and NO HILLS to mess with my legs or my mind! I get around the 28 km bike course in 1:04:59 (more than 13 mins faster than last time!).

The run:

Ugh. This is where I come to grief. I would really like to understand how it is possible to bike and then run straight after. Maybe I will figure that out some day. My running was never very good and my confidence is still shot after a back injury last year. Still, I don’t walk. I am not sure that you can actually call what I was doing during this leg actual “running” but I don’t walk AT ALL and of that I am proud. The run course is a pleasant and interesting one. There are a couple of annoying bits where it crosses the bike course which isn’t ideal. However, by and large it’s pretty good and marshalled well. You travel first along the water front past some “oldy worldy sea-sidey” type buildings (where you get great support from the crowds by the way) and then you cut back into the park – this year, rather bizarrely, through a funfair or a circus (I’m not sure what it was) – and then over a bridge and round the back of transition to complete a 2.5km loop. I get around the 5km running course in 34:37.

All in all:

I had so much fun! I would definitely do this one again now that I have finally overcome the open water swimming terrors. I felt a little lonely at the start – would anyone else from MTC consider this for next year? Now that I have had a chance to compare results with last time I see that I finished this year just under 25 mins quicker than last time. Thanks to much better skills and confidence in the water (thank you Josh!), a shiny new bike (thanks to my wonderful and extremely generous husband, Phil!) and more confidence on the bike (thank you Sam and Rachel!) and a better and more positive attitude generally (thank you EVERYBODY) I am starting to remember why I used to love this sport so much in my youth and this means so much to me.

Next time:

I am considering going large next year and attempting the Olympic distance.   There is just one thing that is bugging me though. If you look at the entry figures for this event you will see that it attracts far more Sprinters than Standard distance people and I think the reason for that is possibly because of issues with the tidal currents. I said earlier that the tide whooshes in. But it also whooshes out at quite a rate. For this reason, the event is always held at high tide because that is the only time that there is water in the right place that is reasonably stationary. But this also means that swimmers have a fairly narrow window in which to work. Competent sprinters are fine – they have time to get in and out before the tide turns. Good Olympic distance athletes are OK too – provided that they can get around reasonably quickly. According to one of the swimming marshals who I spoke to afterwards, you are OK provided you can get around the 1500m in about 30-35 mins. After that you find out what it is to be a hamster on a hamster wheel – whatever the swimming equivalent of that might be – and getting back to base can take a Herculean effort. Hmmm – food for thought. What do you reckon Josh???

My verdict

Organisation 10/10

Swim 8/10

Bike 7/10 (marked down because of the number of cars this time!)

Run 8/10

Crowd support 10/10!

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