ioMerino Outsider Sputnik talks us through is latest multi-sport race, and what he chose to wear and why.
Because I get to do a lot of promo stuff with the ioMerino team, I’m pretty familiar with their different ranges. Even so, I’m sometimes not sure what to wear. So when I entered the Masters Games Multisport event (kayak/run/ride), I had to put my thinking cap on. (Yes, my thinking cap is also made out of merino.)
First, there was the weather: The 7am start on the water was likely to be cool, and with a forecast top of around 30c, the ride scheduled for 4.5 hours later was probably going to be hot. Long sleeves were almost certainly out, which left T-shirt or Tank. I did consider adding the new arm warmers, but on the day, despite a heavy fog, the weather ended up mild enough to go without and I opted for a tank. (Mine is custom printed so if you have a club and want your own custom printed ioMerino gear, hit them up!)
I figured a tank – with the mandatory PFD (Personal Flotation Device), or ‘life jacket’ over it – would work fine for the paddle, as my arms would hopefully be generating enough warmth paddling. And then I’d be set for the run and ride without needing to change or layer down. Other than ditching the PFD, of course. (I use a Sea to Summit Question Hydration PFD).
The paddle itself went smoothly enough – literally – with almost zero wind out on the river. The short course of 5.5kms was just long enough to be challenging for a novice like myself, without being overly difficult. The biggest issue was the fog which made visibility minimal. Thankfully, there wasn’t much to hit out there so other than almost going straight past the finishing line, I did OK. Especially considering most competitors were using the racing ‘surfski’ style kayaks – and their athletic bodies – and I looked like a bit of a dill in my heavy, clunky, touring kayak. And body. Oh well, I may not have had the best kayak, but at least I had the best ioMerino layer on!
Speaking of layers, I also had to choose which specific tank or T-shirt to wear. There was the regular fit Keystone which I’m quite partial to as it’s a little more flattering on me, the sporty fit Ultra, or the contact fit Altitude range. I’m by no means lean – oh, who am I kidding, I’ve definitely got a bit of a gut on me – so wearing contact fit stuff is not my favourite thing to do. But in this instance I put function over fashion, and humiliation, and opted for the Altitude Tank. It’s soft, smooth, lightweight, thermo-regulating, and had no bunch under the PFD. Perfect. Oh, and it’s natural. I’m a big fan of natural.
On this particular day, the multipart race was a stage race, with no timed transition. When registering, I’d worked out that if I finished my 7am kayak fast enough, instead of running the 5km at 9am like everyone else, I could make it to the start line of the Trail Half Marathon at 8am. I’m not entirely sure why I thought this was a good idea, but shoes off, PFD still on, I managed to run to the start line just as they were getting ready to take off. I slipped on my ioMerino socks (of course!), and my shoes, and was still trying to put my Osprey Hydration Vest on as I started running at the back of the pack. Honourable mention to the socks too, as I was still pretty damp from the paddle and ended up running with wet feet but the socks were still super comfy.
The Altitude Tank worked beautifully for the run – the first half of which was through thick fog still, and then the back half in full sun as the temperatures rose. After finishing my run, I then had about an hour to pack up the yak, jump in the car, and drive 10kms down the road to the start of the bike leg. I’m not much of a cyclist, so yet again I found myself with equipment that looked a bit lame compared to most of the others – a hybrid bike instead of a road bike and looking a little out of place amongst all the very pro looking road cyclists. Thankfully I managed to hold my own, and got through the 17kms in reasonable time, (ie not every single person out there overtook me), and without the punctures that had plagued so many of the other competitors. Which is just as well, because it was only when I was half way through the ride that I realised I’d actually brought the wrong sized spare tube with me. And size aside, I’m actually totally rubbish at changing bike tyres – especially the back one! Surely there’s an easier system that all that fiddling with the chain?
It’s important to remember, that while race day ended up being cool and then warm, choosing this top allowed me to feel confident heading out had it been cold or wet, knowing it would perform well in those conditions as well. It’s that ‘ready for anything’ performance that comes in handy when you have to be active outside through multiple conditions for an extended period of time.
As for the race, results aren’t out yet, but considering I ran 15kms further than anyone else, I’m fairly certain I would have officially placed last in the multisport event. Although I managed a respectable 15th out of 26 in the trail half marathon. Plus I was awarded the gold medal for what they referred to as the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ race, having done a combination of both events.
So I learned two important lessons yesterday:
Firstly, I may not have the best kayak or bike, or body, but I definitely had the best, most comfortable, thermal tank that got me through everything from heavy fog to full sun in comfort.
And secondly, if you ever want to come first at something, just invent your own category and be the only one who does it.