Winter Grit is another event from the “Saltman” stable. This Saltdean based outfit goes from strength to strength, now with an Australian franchise – see separate report.
The 2015 inaugural edition of Winter Grit was marred by poor sea conditions but this year the prospects looked good. In the event, a record 13 swimmers lined up at the start for two widths of the winter beach under a glorious sunny sky. The sand stretched for miles and a gentle cooling breeze quelled worries about overheating. The White Cliffs cafe turned up trumps , opening early and providing coffee and delicious cakes for all.
There were four teams, five individuals and several who turned up just to swim in these ideal conditions. A mass beach start was required and there were a few skirmishes as the steep beach face was negotiated. The swim was keenly contested with an interesting mix of the normally fast coming out neck and neck with the painfully slow. Winter Grit is a wonderful equaliser. Transition threw up more surprises for relay competitors with the “house” rule that all swimmers must wear socks and shoes before tagging their cyclist. Some fast swimmers were hampered by poor foot drying skills.
New boy Matt was first out and no-one saw him again until the end of the run. Further down the field, the 12km mountain bike leg saw fierce competition. Slow out of transition, Pete incrementally wound in first Jon, then Al and Vicki, finishing only just behind early starter Cat but failing to get close to Tom K who stormed away on the bike. Jon however made up for lost time on the run to claim third individual place.
Few runs can boast not just three cafes but also three sets of outdoor toilets too, in only 5km. During the run, allegiances were formed with some choosing to run together, until the last few metres of course. Cat and Clare fought it out as did Nick and Alison, resulting in a rare picture of Alison with both feet off the ground, seemingly flying along. An added hazard came in the form of four very excited canines who ran circles around each competitor and they came past.
Winter Grit is unique in that running across the finish line is not the end of the race. In order to finish, competitors must also complete the “intellectual challenge”. This year, the task of setting the challenge was taken up by Rachel and the smaller Mitchells and took the form of submitting a Christmas joke to be judged by Committee. The winning joke was given a time deduction of 8 minutes, the next, 7 minutes and so on. This made for a stressful few minutes as tired and sweaty runners wracked their brains and searched around for a pen.
In the event, the intellectual challenge, like the swim and transition was a real leveller but there was no disguising the winner – Matt by a mile.
However the rest, both teams and individuals were separated by a scant few minutes and all were winners as we celebrated “Saltdean’s Premier Shortest Day Triathlon”
For more pics – see slider on home page.