Challenge Salou & Race report

Fine effort Matt :mechanical_arm: I bet Keith was happy you passed him :joy:

Had a chat with keith after, I think he put so much effort trying to catch the guy on the bike who won that it destroyed his run… I was only 5 mins slower on the bike but 8 mins quicker on the run

Just staying within 5 mins of Keith on the bike gives me a load of confidence. Keith’s calendar is pretty much the same as mine this year, both doing Kona and Roth, so we will have more time to race. He’s a really nice guy, and certainly didn’t have any issue with me passing him


Yeah anywhere near Keith on the bike and you know you’re on form. He never really runs well off the bike, at least relative to his bike form. You’re a much better rounded athlete Matt, congrats mate. Solid day


Just checked and I was only 4 mins slower than Keith on the bike. I recon he needs to ease off a little on the bike and it would help his run. I did ride harder than I would in an IM, but kept something back for the run. I am betting that those 4 minutes are quite a big power difference

Wow, thats pretty strong praise, thanks.

Well done Matt. Shame about the swim but it sounds like you’ve had a great day.

Nice confidence booster moving forward

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Well done really food going there :muscle:t3::muscle:t3::muscle:t3:

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Top racing Matt. Lovely little confidence booster

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Well done Matt. Be interesting to see how you compare with Keith over the season. He’s always going to be rapid on the bike.

Great result @Matthew_Spooner

Well done @Matthew_Spooner, great race. You must be really happy with how your training is going. :blush:

Just echoing, congrats @Matthew_Spooner, good confidence build even if swim would have been nice for completeness.

My First race of the year was Challenge Salou on 3rd April. I have never done a triathlon this early in the season and have not raced a 70.3 since the World Championships in 2019, so it would be a little bit experimental.

I was really hoping to see how my much improved swim would translate in real race conditions, unfortunately storm Ciril had other ideas, with morning air temperature close to freezing and water temp at 13 degrees, it didn’t meet the ITU minimum temperature for the swim to take place, so a Duathlon was scheduled instead, with a 4km run 85km bike and 21km run

I’ve never been so relaxed before a race start, maybe because this was a “training race” or maybe because there was no swim, I just felt totally at ease

People aged under 45 started at 0900 and people 45 and over started at 0910. At 0905 I lined up for my 0910 start, 3 runners would start every 2s. I wanted to be close to the front to avoid any jostling, and to get onto the bike course with the Uber bikers. I found myself in the queue next to Keith Murray, one of the UK’s top Age Group Triathletes, and one of the best cyclists.

A nice clean start to the run, initially I ran alongside Keith, but then gradually pulled ahead. I didn’t want to destroy my legs, so didn’t try to keep up with the running whippets, I maintained a solid pace between 3:50 and 3:55/km and it felt pretty easy.

I got to T2 in 21st place, but the gaps were very small. To my massive frustration my T1 bag was no longer on its hook, after 30s of searching, I found it a couple of hooks further down: wind? Sabotage? Most likely another athlete knocked it off an put it back in a slightly different place.

Since we were allowed to leave our trainers in bike place, I had left my bike shoes on the bike and wore my trainers on the run to the bike, saving some valuable seconds, and despite my lost bag, I came out of T2 in 19th place.

Onto the bike I set about doing what I do best and smashing out a fast but measured performance. The course suited me perfectly: windy and rolling, in fact there were hardly any flat sections. The course itself was 3 laps of 28.3km, each lap had 6 dead turns, and each turn was at the bottom of a descent, which is frustrating giving away all of that free speed. This actually made the average speeds pretty low, but probably helped a lighter rider like me, and my bike handling skills also helped significantly.

Even though I had planned on coming onto the bike with the Uber riders, what I hadn’t planned for was that I would be one of the most uber riders, so it was actually a pretty lonely ride. I passed most of my main rivals in the first 10km, then spent the rest of the time passing riders from the earlier wave and lapping the women (who started later) and other slow riders from my wave. I was not passed by any other riders, and as far as I could tell, none of the riders I was racing were close to me

The people in the previous wave were allocated numbers based on estimated finish time, with the lower numbers starting earlier, so it when I was passing riders with numbers in the low 100’s, I knew I was passing fast guys who started 10mins ahead of me.

I finished in 2h14m, 4th fastest of all riders 45 and over, and just 3m50s slower than Keith. My average power was 250w, Normalized power 263w, a little lower than I was hoping for, but think that 24 dead turns really knock the power down. Average speed was 38.5kph, which feels slow (actually slower than my average at Roth) but the wind and nature of the course means that it isn’t a fast one.

I was now in 4th place as I got onto the run. I wanted to break the 1h30m half marathon time. I felt great as soon as got onto the run, no Jelly legs. First km was 4:20, and I then ran a series of 4:10-4:15 km’s. 7km (1/3 distance) was 29m30s, so I was under 1h30m pace. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep it up and for the rest of the race I was running in the low 4:20’s, just a few seconds too slow, I didn’t hit a wall or see pace gradually falling off, I was running comfortably and sustainably, I just couldn’t go faster without hurting myself. Eventually I ran in 1:31:14, I still felt pretty fresh at the end, I am pretty sure I could have run a Marathon in sub 3:05

Unfortunately on my second lap, I was passed by 2 of my main competitors, they were in a different league to me. On my third lap (out of 4) I passed Keith, this was a big deal for me as I know how good he is as a triathlete.

In terms of nutrition is was a case of taking up from where I left of last year. On the bike one bottle of Maurten 320 mix every hour (320 Cals), a gel in T1 and T2, and a Gel on the run every 4km, with a cup of Coke or Redbull at each aid station. It works for me. I have no GI issues and am probably at 100g Carbs per hour

The big downer for me on the event was the Age Group Cock Up. I should have been in AG50-54 in accordance with World Triathlon Rules. Unfortunately I was placed in AG45-49. I would have won AG50-54 rather than being placed 6th in the lower age group

Overall my feeling is that I have improved even more on the bike. My run is not quite where it was last year, due to injury, but it’s getting better on a daily basis, and with training I am pretty confident that my run will be even better.

So where does this put me on my Sub 9 Journey? I finished in 4h8m, which I think would be 4h23m if we had a swim (Assuming a 32min swim). This is very much in the ballpark for 9 hours at Roth, If I carry on improving on the swim and make sure I am properly running fit, 9 hours is very much on the table