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Going Solo

Updated: May 10, 2020

The Inaugural Covid-19 Solo Byron Bay Triathlon 9th May 2020 - by Huw Jones

(WARNING: I have used some rarely-used words in this report so all non-native-English speakers may need to ask Dr Google what they mean)

It was a beautifully warm and clear day but Poseidon, the sea-God, decided to throw us bit of a challenge. Almost everyone struggled in the water today. Conditions were described variously as “choppy”, “washing-machine” and “bloody horrible”. The upsides - the water was warm and the fish plentiful. And talking of fish, whilst the rest of us were just glad to get onto dry land, Eva thought she would swim 5 laps of the swim leg completing a total of 4km. Plainly she gets her swimming capability from me, and her mental instability from her mother Becks.

Robyn and I were first off, with Becks doing Jess’s run lap at the same time, followed 15 minutes later by Claire, then Joe, Jess and Dani, Deb and Mark, and Nerida and Pete closing off the event.

Both Robyn and I had generally uneventful races (although I had to do the Surf Club loop at the end of my run, as my Alzheimer’s kicked in during the bike/run transition). We were pleased to warm the water, bitumen and track up for everyone else following us.

Claire seemed to breeze through the whole event as shown by the very big smile on her face at the finish and the fact that she did not collapse at the end like the rest of us. Joe also seemed to find the going relatively easy with a strong run leg, and his decision to complete the event in disguise (a beard) was masterful and fooled almost everyone but his Mum (who kindly offered to guard his personal transition area during the event).

For some there were fun and games along the way.

Jess and Dani started off together. And Simone (Dani’s flatmate) kindly decided to keep them company for the swim – or at least for the first 20m, and then they were left in his wake. Jess swam strongly, started her bike and was somewhat perplexed to see Dani ahead of her a km from the turnaround. “Geez, Dani really has improved her swimming” thought Jess….Actually more like “WTF”. Unbeknownst to Jess, Dani had seen Jess ahead of her in the swim and decided the only way she could catch her on the bike, was to strategically slip out of the water early. The plan worked a dream. However, Jess didn’t seemed phased by this blatant “short-cut” and didn’t say anything about it during the race. Ohhhh, but she did go on and on about it afterwards!

Deb and Mark also seemed to find the going easy. Understandably for “Long-Course Mark”, a piddly sprint triathlon was what he normally does as a warm-up before a race and consequently he seemed to barely break a sweat. Amazingly, Deb had not run for 7 weeks and still managed to complete the run leg in a solid time and with no ill effects.

Nerida and Pete were the last to start. All seemed to be going swimmingly well…. until Nerida hit a few f****** snags. Firstly, she couldn’t find her phone to record the bike/run legs (it was of course under the f****** car seat together with everything else everyone has ever lost for the past year) and then, having finished the bike leg, she realised she had forgotten to pack her f****** running shoes and had to ride back home to get them. By then, Nerida appeared to be over the whole f****** thing…. but as is the Clarke way, she continued to the run leg and admirably completed the course. After this huge effort, she came first in her category, f****** again. Pete, of course, supported Nerida in her time need – I have never seen a septuagenarian sprint so fast away from the transition area as I saw Pete today, just as Nerida arrived. And that obviously took it out of Pete as he had to crawl across the finish line in heroic (and good social-distancing) fashion.

And meanwhile in nearby Lennox and Kingscliff, simultaneous triathlon events were underway.

Sandra and Benz had to equally contend with horrendous conditions with tidal ripples on Ainsworth Lake (caused by a dog jumping in at the far end). Unlucky for them, the BBTC budget could not stretch to 2 new road surfaces in a weekend, so they had to be satisfied with the normal smooth road surface of Ballina Shire. The results from the Lennox Head Chapter of the BBTC are not in yet and it will be interesting to see whether Benz’s new running-shoes-with-wings were enough to beat Super-Fast Sandra.

Paivi and Joni were unable to attend the Byron event this year due to the arrival of their new baby, Luna. They therefore did their own triathlon of leisurely breakfast with copious amounts of coffee, followed by playing with Luna and friend, and ending with thinking about doing some exercise later. From all accounts it was a tough event in Kingscliff and we should all be thankful we did not have to do the same.

In summary, it was a lovely day for a triathlon with challenging swim conditions. But we did it - or at least most of us did most of it. And some of us did more than most!

Lastly, a very big thanks to Deb for organising the event and especially for getting Byron Bay council to lay a new road surface specifically for the race. It is going to be ripped up this week as Byron Shire residents hate smooth roads, so please avoid Bangalow Road again.

I’m now very much looking forward to the Covid-21 Byron Bay Triathlon next year.

Huw with his wife Becky and super fish daughter Eva and the talented Robyn Darke

Peter crawling to the finish line!


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