Martyn celebrates his 100th column for 220 by reporting on yet another failed attempt for sporting glory
Brunty celebrates his 100th 220 column
Dear long-suffering reader, it is my solemn duty to tell you that together we have reached a major endurance milestone – because this is my 100th column in 220.
Achievement of this astonishing feat of durability by everyone who has read my witterings over the years, may not be quite up there with a finishing an Ironman or off-brand equivalent, but you probably still deserve some sort of medal – or in the proper tradition of tri, a plastic bag full of leaflets, a bottle of water and a banana.
Being in the public eye has obviously had a dramatic impact on my athletic performances because in the years since I started this column I’ve done one world championship, two European finals, six Ironmans, 28 half-Ironmans, 33 Olympicdistance races, two sprint tri’s and won the grand total of TWO whole medals – one for coming second in my age-group at a new middledistance race which hadn’t caught on yet, and one for a win at a standard-distance race when there was literally no one else born in the same decade as me.
So what have I learned? Well if my recent appearance on the world stage was anything to go by, absolutely nothing. Me and world stages have clashed before, and it’s never gone well. Readers may remember my memorable showing at the World Tri Championships in Nevada when the only people I finished ahead of were an Australian who was so heavy he could have smothered a buffalo and a Canadian who did the run wearing Speedos and ran the whole 30km right behind me.
But being horribly exposed as a gammon-faced chancer among proper athletes didn’t put me off having another crack at world dominance which is why, a few weeks ago, I was lined up on the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton, alongside 250 of the best openwater swimmers on the planet, for the World Masters Swimming Champs. I cut a singular figure in this lakeside crowd, looking like something that was hiding from the Ghostbusters, but imbued with natural triathlon confidence I just disregarded this drawback and thought ‘3,000m swim? Is that all? Let’s bung a bike and run on the end and see how you get on!’
Any pre-race nerves I had from being in a world final were initially quelled by spending an entertaining 20 minutes watching a fat Argentinian bloke trying to get into a very tight racesuit only to rip it straight up the arse. But the nerves returned with a vengeance when we stood on the start pontoon to dive in, because the water was pounding us like a right hook from Ben Stokes. High winds had turned the lake into a boiling mass of tsunamis and I was feeling suddenly underequipped with no wetsuit buoyancy to make up for my pathetic leg kick.
What followed was easily the hardest swim I have ever done in my life. Apart from being repeatedly smacked in the face by waves, I got lost twice due to not being able to see the buoys over the swell, and pushed off course by the current so often I almost reached Bulgaria.
If triathlon has given me one thing, though, it’s the persistence of a skidmark, and I flopped and lolloped my way through the maelstrom towards the finish, finally lurching under the boom in 67th place. Clearly I hadn’t been alone in finding it a taxing experience and as well as the swimmers still out there toiling or officially recorded as lost-at-sea, the change tent resembled a clown abattoir with broken swimmers lying about swearing in a rich variety of languages. For my part, I was too busy wondering where my bike was before I came to my senses.
So there we are, another race and another no-medal. But, as we all know, it isn’t the winning that counts, or even the taking part, it’s making sure you emerge from the race with photos that don’t make you look like a kneecap filled with beans. Thanks for staying with me over the past 100 columns, and next month for my 101st I’ll be putting all the things I dislike most into My Triathlon Room 101 – starting with swim races.
“If tri has given me one thing, it’s the persistence of a skidmark”
Martyn is tri’s foremost average athlete and is living proof that hours of training and endless new kit are no substitute for ability.