We laughed, we cried, some were a bit sick, but we did it!
Saturday 22nd September, a day that will go down in R2R history. A heroic team battled wind, rain, waves and hills to take on, conquer and complete the first ever Solent triathlon. This is the story of our momentous fundraising venture with our charity partners, Aspire.
Part One – The Cycle
Spirits were high as we gathered at Southampton Harbour Hotel to kick this extraordinary event off. Fingers and toes had been crossed all week as Storm Ali threatened to derail the challenge before it had begun. Miraculously, a window of just about decent enough weather covered just about enough of Saturday afternoon. Even more miraculously, this window stayed in place as trees fell and chaos reigned all week.
Nobody chickened out at the last minute and, once bags and equipment were all checked, there was just time for a quick picture before feet were in pedals, bums were on saddles and we were off!
Part Two – The Swim
We arrived at the swim start point at Stokes Bay with plenty of time to spare, giving us all a chance to recover and ponder what was ahead. Though the sky was grey and rain was falling, the Solent itself was as still and calm as it gets. Excitement began building for the second, and major, leg of the triathlon.
After the all-important safety briefing and meeting our kayakers, it was time to get in the water! And that’s where things started to go a bit wrong…
After a serene first 30-40 minutes, the mist closed in, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. In the blink of an eye, conditions changed from pond-like placidity to crashing waves and swirling currents.
We found out afterwards that they were probably the toughest conditions the Solent swim has been done in. It certainly felt like it!
Pre-swim flapjacks made unwanted reappearances, wave after wave smashed us in the face and Simon’s name was cursed for coming up with the stupid idea of a Solent triathlon in the first place. However, we were determined to see it through. More than one of the support kayakers were rotated out because of the conditions and the safety boats were in near-constant discussions about pulling us out. Jonathan and his team did an unbelievable job in keeping the challenge alive and allowing us to persevere.
Eventually, we staggered onto the beach at Ryde. Battered, bruised but not yet beaten. Onto the final leg!
Part Three – The Run
After staggering up the beach to the welcome warmth of the changing rooms of the Waterside Pool, it was time to get ready for the run. The swim had taken nearly an hour longer than anticipated because of the conditions, the weather was miserable and numerous hills lay ahead of us. However, such was the determination to get going, Katy nearly fell victim to a stampede trying to get a picture on the start line!
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Isle of Wight is, by some margin, the hilliest place on earth. Up and down and up and down we went. Cheered on by our amazingly dedicated supporters, we dragged ourselves through the 7.5 mile course in small groups. It was an unbelievable team effort and, as darkness fell, the final group crossed the line. We had no chance of making the 7.30 ferry as originally planned, and the next one back to the mainland was over an hour away. There was only one thing for it – to the pub!
Home at Last!
Eventually, we made it back to where it had all began a mere 12 hours earlier. We arrived at Southampton Harbour Hotel to be greeted by other participants, friends, family and (most importantly) pizza and beer!
As we collected our trophies, swapped stories and stuffed our faces, news came in that our fundraising total had passed £35,000, the perfect way to round off an unforgettable day!
The R2R/Aspire Solent Triathlon was made possible thanks to the donations, efforts and support of a number of people. In particular, Room to Reward would like to thank the following:
Steve Lewis, Joe Langtree, Gerhard Steyn, Carey-Ann Norman, Mike Kean, Chris Seton, Chris Mutch, Lee Kavanagh, Simon Maguire, Nic Roach, Shona Adcock, Lee Jackson, Simon Smith, Tim Winney, Eldon James,