It’s been a ‘Johnny Brownlee’ kind of triathlon season for me. Plenty of hard training, combining both quantity and quality. And yet … and yet, race performances have been variable and on the whole, a little disappointing. April brought a cyst underneath my left knee, for which I cancelled the Storm the Castle Duathlon. June began with a badly sprained right ankle and 10 days before this year’s Ludlow Sprint triathlon I contracted a bad throat infection that I carried with me into the race. Truthfully, I should have canned the race, knowing that a sub-par performance was almost inevitable. But as the oldest member of a great new Teme Leisure Tri Club I don’t want to be the man who always has excuses. So I dosed myself up with pain killers, leaded up with caffeine, swigged my energy drink and hoped it would turn out better than I feared. It didn’t. The weather at least was kind, a mild early autumn day with a little, weak sunshine and light breezes. Typical weather in fact for this event. The first warning signal came half way around the swim. 4:31 after 200m, not dire but pretty slow. I was fighting with the water but calmed down and gained pace to exit the water in around 8:44 (8:54 official). A reasonable transition took me out onto the bike course with which I am so familiar. I was quite fast over the undulating outbound section but my legs told me that they were working too hard, suffering no doubt from reduced oxygen intake due to the sore throat. Normally this route lends itself to strongly negative splits, gaining around 250 feet height northwards on the way out and losing the same amount southwards on return. But for me, not this time. Well within PB pace at the 10 mile mark, I eventually completed the 16.9 mile cycle leg in 54:14, around 23 seconds slower than last year, despite a massive recent improvement in my cycling. The run was unpleasant to say the least. All triathletes experience ‘jelly legs’, the feeling of wading through treacle as your mind and body transition from cycle to run but this was the worst I have experienced in any recent triathlon. In sprint and standard distance triathlons this year I have managed 8 minute mile pace or better but I was floundering at more than 9 minutes per mile on the outbound run along the A49 footpath to the Ludlow Food Centre. Knowing my overall performance was disintegrating and the end of the race was nigh, I found a few last dregs of determination to pick up the pace back towards the finish but 33:57 for just under 4 miles was pedestrian and 3.5 minutes slower than ever before. I appreciated the encouraging shouts of the marshalls but could not reward them with anything more than a grimace and a weakly raised hand. I could not respond when a fellow vintage vet sprinted past me in the last 100m towards the finishing line. This terrific local race, sold out as usual with 350 starters on the day, was once again a huge success but I can’t say I enjoyed it this time. 1:40:17 was a personal worst for the event. A hard triathlon season is now over and my focus will be primarily on running until February. Bryan Markham completed the triathlon yet again, his time of 2:08:53 being just 30 seconds slower than last year. Sue Powell finished in 1:48:52, probably off the back of fairly limited training; well done, Sue. I hope I’m not missing out any other Crofters.