August Bank Holiday weekend is always a seismic hub of activity around the country. Some choose to visit Creamfields, others make a trip across the channel to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix, and triathletes from around the UK descend on Holme Pierrepont at the National Watersports Centre for the triathlon club relays hosted by One Step Beyond Events. St Helens Tri enjoyed a fine outing at the “organised chaos” in 2017 and this year they formed no fewer than nine team to race, one in the morning, the other eight in the afternoon. Conditions were a lot cooler than in 2017 but there was a noticeable breeze blowing from the west, which had the effect of making things more bearable on the bike and run course but made for a choppier swim than 12 months ago, a situation not helped by the need to treat the water recently to remove traces of algae which plagued other recent races at the East midlands venue. With more categories on offer than ever before, 3/1 gender splits were now permitted as well as the traditional 2/2, and one of these teams led the way in the morning. Team Damp Squib were in the midfield for the first portion of the race and for much of the cycle leg, but a blisteringly quick final 15km on the bike lifted them into a good position to begin the run with renewed impetus and a sub-18:30 run from Michael Forber lifted them to 37th in the non-BTF Open category and top 90 overall. Splash Flash and Dash was founded by Rachael Fairclough for the 2017 edition but with only Robert Chesters as a holdover from last year’s heat wave special three new teammates were required to spearhead the club’s afternoon challenge. Mark Turner, Maxine Rochelle and Che Heard all put their names forward and as such the crowd were treated to a diverse range of talent from all four, with Maxine enjoying her best swim to date completing the 500 metres in under eight minutes, Robert pulling off a sub-22 minute time on the bike course despite the best efforts of his bike’s cockpit to throw him off back into the lake, and Che and Marko recording sub-19 minute run splits as the team recorded a final time of 3:31:12, good enough for 11th overall and 5th in their age group. Also coming in well under four hours were Team Relay Tri-Ing Hard who were led by Richard Seville; he mentioned after the race that he had “no speed” after his Ironman Austria training but it is quite a thought as to what his definition of speed must be as he recorded the third-fastest “cycle 2” time and a sub-19:30 run as his team finished in 3:54:55, good enough for a top-30 in the non-BTF open race. Chafing the Dream were somewhat behind their club mates in the water but some very strong cycling and some tough running led them into the top 50 in the 3/1 mixed open race finishing in just over four hours, while it was an extremely close run thing for next club team home; “3 Fast 1 Furious” eventually edged a titanic scrap to come out ahead of Team Watts UP who were just nine seconds in arrears having enjoyed some particularly quick times on the second and fourth legs of the swim, and the opening stage of the run; their reward was fourth in their age category. The award for the best entertainers had to go to “Don’t Tri This at Home” comprising Emma Austin, Sarah Taktak, George Houghton and Bethany Forber. Emma’s blisteringly quick pace in the water and her recent major step forward on the bike proved pivotal in their push for a high placing and their reward for their energy, enthusiasm and months of hard training was a time of 4:24:52 and a 128th placed finish. Drown, Crash and Stumble did anything but live up to their team name (thankfully) as they made up multiple places towards the end of each segment and make it home in under 4 hours 45 minutes. Rounding out the club’s entrants were Team Two Cobbled Twogether, who were formed with two separate duos to make a quartet as a late entry. They certainly put in a dogged effort and crossed the line to the cheers of all their club mates; with a bit more luck they easily would have broken the 4:45 mark as the clock struck 6:30pm. After that the club made their way to the campsite, and while Jennifer Miller was 200 miles away completing the Blackpool Illuminations 10k in a creditable 55:38, the East Midlands crew enjoyed a hearty barbeque and some well-earned celebration drinks around an “endless campfire“ as provided by Dave Gaskell. That is, as long as they had the rest of the weekend free. As will be discussed in part two, some opted to make it a double header with the West Lancs Triathlon in Ormskirk, which will be covered in the next instalment as well as the Wirral Triathlon in West Kirby, the Blackpool Junior Go Tri and the Fowey Polkerris 3km sea swim.