Eton Sprints Sunday 22nd May – Race Report by Steve McCann

Steve McCann, Eton Sprints Race Report

First open water sprint race of the season for me and Judy, a day of sunshine, optimism, a new Tri suit and an unexpected death.

It was me or the pigeon. I was in a car driving at 60mph and the pigeon wasn’t. It took off from beside the road and aimed to fly over my car, not appreciating the bikes on top. I don’t know what was the last thing to go through it’s mind, but the last thing to go though it’s body I later discovered was more poo than you think might fit in one medium sized bird. But it was all OK really – neither bike was damaged. Priorities right?

A pretty large group of older gents climbed into the Lake, a nice 17.5 degrees, lots of grey hair on show and a cheery bonhomie to disguise the competitive urges within. Last time out in a wetsuit in competition I had a bit of a drama with a tightness around my chest, so I opened the wettie to flood it through as taught, and it felt better..but ominously tight still. Too late to wonder if I should have left my new Tri Suit zip undone, we were off. And once again, tight chest, not getting my breath, stayed calm, pulled open the wettie again…slight improvement but still ‘not right’. I settled to a slower than usual stroke to match my puff and got on with it. Towards the end, whilst pulling the front of my wettie I also grabbed my Tri Suit and the water flooded that too – instantly creating relief, proper breathing and an increase in the pace. Lesson learned. NEVER race in new kit without testing it first. Either my suit is a bit too small or I’m a bit too large. Either way, the swim was harder than it should have been at the end of a week in which I had swum my fastest ever in the pool, and completed 4 turns around Shepperton in an hour – 16:26, a couple of minutes slower than I was expecting.

Nothing like a race to learn fast, and have fun.’

Onto the bike, not an exciting course at Dorney but safe. Judy told me about he lovely flower meadows we rode through. Can’t say I noticed them to be honest. My first ride of the season hadn’t been as fast as I wanted so it was time to work hard. The Garmin tells me each lap was quicker than the last, and I certainly felt I had given my best, and recorded a time of 40:25 for the 21.4 km, a fraction under 32kmh, something to build from. My new power Tap peddles tell me it was an average of 250 Watts.

Having a nagging calf strain I was not certain I would complete the race, but with JB’s words in my ears – ‘just float’ I set off knowing that actually a DNF is not something I could deal with. It was steady, on the grass quite a lot, the hardest bit was a couple of guys going past me on the last km when I knew I had the breath, but really the calf was complaining quite a lot and most of all I want to get back to training properly without a lay off. I crossed the line a few seconds behind Judy, who was on the previous wave, and enjoyed that completion feeling. 26 minutes for 5.17 km, so on a 5 mins per km pace….good enough on the day, and it needed some WPP work in my head,(thank you JB). Glad to finish.


  • Never race in new kit without testing it first
  • Don’t wear a Tri suit that constricts your breathing, especially in the water
  • Ignore your legs if they moan a bit on the bike; there’s always a bit more (But know your target pace/power and pace the whole race)
  • A light floating running style will get you through even if you calf is sore
  • When a pigeon flies onto your bike at a collision speed of over 60mph, check the underside of your saddle for poo


  • Swim 750 metres – 16.26
  • T1 2.21
  • Bike 21.4 km  – 40.25
  • T2 1.38
  • Run 5.17 km  – 26.05
  • Total 1.26.57


26th out of 42 in Male, 50-55 

Room for improvement. There always is, and nothing like a race to learn fast, and have fun.