25 September 2019 - By James Montgomery
Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire
With only 4 weeks since competing at the Vichy 70.3, Sandy Karl challenged herself to another middle distance triathlon. This time picking a slightly more local event, the first running of the Outlaw X. As had beset the full Outlaw Triathlon in July, the weather was the main concern and there were rumours about the swim being cancelled due to a potential thunder storm but in the event they were lucky and it was actually pretty calm.
Sandy’s swim wave started at 7:48am, with a single lap 1.9 kms technical course, with 7 turns to negotiate. The water was a chilly 16 degrees but they were given 5 minutes to acclimatise as it was a deep-water mass start. Sandy managed find herself a good spot, with no kicks or tugs from the other swimmers and was able to cruise through the water at a steady pace. She started overtaking the back-markers of the men’s wave that had had a 10 minute head start and knew that a good swim was on. Exiting the water in an excellent 35:22 and over a minute faster than her previous best at Vichy. There then followed a 0.5km uphill run to the transition area and then it was out on to the bike course. At this point there was still no rain and all was good to go.
1 mile out on to the course, Sandy dropped the chain, but a quick fix and off on her way again. At 5.5 miles into the course was Walesby Hill, a climb of nearly 7% gradient over 1.3 kms. With that climb out of the way she was able to get back to pace, averaging 27-30 km/h. Then, shortly after the first feed station at roughly 32kms, the rain came down heavily and suddenly and on a section made worse by an uneven road surface the bike slipped away from under her. Hitting the ground heavily, her helmet took some of the impact, the force of which breaking it.
The Outlaw volunteers were amazing and seeing straight away what had happened they carried her to a safe area and provided first aid. Given the possibility of impact to head and neck she was straight away immobilised and taken to Doncaster Trauma unit. After extensive scans she was cleared as not suffering any severe injury and was good to collect her gear and return home with thankfully nothing more than a few bruises and abrasions.
Cycling in the rain isn’t inherently dangerous but accidents can happen and the outcome can be mitigated by taking suitable precautions such as wearing a helmet and ensuring that you’re visible to other road users. With a bit of rest, Sandy will be good to go again and she considers herself very lucky and that this is all part of learning process. Sandy plans on returning to Thoresby Park one day and the Outlaw X and finishing what she started, but for now it’s all about recovering.