Deva Finish Photo - (C) Mick Hall Photography

Deva was my first race at middle distance. It’s been a long journey getting here - in preparation I’ve been steadily building up training and the distance. I’ve done this race previously at olympic distance and enjoyed it immensely. For my money, it may be the best organised race on the circuit. The atmosphere is superb, the marshalling is excellent, and you felt looked after, all the way from superb briefings before the event through to after crossing the finish line and being given a jaffa cakes and a towel. Based on last year’s experience, I decided to make this my first jump to middle distance.

Cat and I headed down on the Friday to give us a full day of prep. This gave us an easy-ish Saturday. I started the day with a quick pre-race spin, then we headed in to town to grab food, registration and pre-race goodies (the race goody-bags are superb). Back to the house, prep bike, and attempt to get some sleep before race day.

Start time was 0700, this meant setting up transition around 0600. A quite early start even staying over. Rode the bike down from the BnB, sorted myself out, squeezed in to a wetsuit, ready for the race briefing. Bolton Tri Club had rather a large delegation, at both middle and olympic distances, so met up with a few people at the start. Middle distance started on a rolling start - 2 people in the water at a time, fastest first. This contrasted to olympic, with mass wave starts. The rolling start worked well, and felt pretty organised, although we still ended up with a bit of a crowd in the water. The River Dee is pleasant to swim in and made a nice contrast to Southport, 200m downstream, followed by a turn, 1km upstream and then 700m downstream again to the exit point. There’s very little movement in the water, and it never feels like you’re “fighting” it once you get a rhythm going. Came out in a reasonable time, and happy with pacing.

Transition is nicely laid out - there’s matting taking you from the swim right in to a grassy transition, easy underfoot. Signs are everywhere and colour coded, it’s near on impossible to get lost. Relatively smooth transition and out on to the bike.

I now know this route very well, I’ve ridden it three times in the past few months in the run up to this race, twice on reccy and then the day before for activation. It’s flat, it’s fast, and there’s one hill, and it’s not particularly taxing. The hard part is maintaining constant power throughout and not laying out too much too soon. I don’t have power meters on the bike, but I’m pretty happy with my effort and consistency on the course.

T2 was ludicrously quick. I’m not sure where they were measuring from. The claim was sub 1-minute, but I’m pretty sure I spent time stretching before I left transition. But a time is a time. I was in no rush, I knew how much effort was coming for the last part.

I had done the olympic run last year, and I assumed that it would be “more of the same”. The olympic run course uses a chunk of the park (on grass/dirt paths), and then a chunk on tarmac pavements and roads. It’s around a 50/50 split. The middle distance route extends the section in the park so now the ratio is 75% park, 25% (possibly less) roads. This makes for a quite different run, and one that doesn’t quite suit me so well. I was ready for three sets of 7k with a water stop at the start of the lap, and a feed station at the turn-around point. I planned on taking a short break at the water point, drinking and rinsing the salt I was accumulating, run on and through the feed point (taking shot blocks and electrolyte) and then taking my next break back at the water stop. This worked fine for the first two laps, and then on the third lap (14k) I started to fade a bit and ended up switching to run/walk for the distance from the water stop to the feed station. Once we got down to the last 3k I pushed happily to the finish.

I was happy enough with the run, and strategy avoided a blow-up, but there’s room there for improvement. I’d like to get to the point where I can make the whole run strong.

Final time was 05:47:42

Leg Distance 05:47:42
Swim 1900m 00:39:16
T1   00:04:30
Bike 87k 02:47:44
T2   00:00:53
Run 21k 02:15:17