I saved the route as a course to upload to my Garmin 200 so I'd not get lost on the way to each one - I know the way really well to Bushy but no idea about the other two. Thing is... the Riddlesdown Parkrun course is nowhere near where we rode to on our recce ride the other day. We checked the additional bit using Google Maps and Streetview and figured out what to change for that bit. As it turned out, I didn't remember the extra bit so well.
Having had a hearty porridge brekkie (50g oats, 20g raisins, 15g maple syrup), we toddled off just after 8am. We arrived at Bushy Park nice and early for the first Parkrun and started pretty much on the dot of 9am. I needed to not thrash it completely during the runs to stand a chance of finishing the whole thing. 26:35 was the result and thankfully as it's a very slick operation at Bushy, barcode scanning had no queueing and I skipped through, changed shoes, put helmet and gloves on, took a swig of carb drink and headed off to Nonsuch.
Pretty much no traffic meant the cycle sections were much faster than during the recce, but I still didn't make it to Nonsuch by 10am, saw the runners head to the corner where the course meets the path and had to carry on to where I was going to leave my bike, change shoes, lock bike, forget to take off helmet, run back to bike to drop off helmet and then join the run course. Ohboy it was muddy. But I reeled in a few runners and made it 'round in officially 32:29, but I started 7ish minutes late, so probably a similar time to Bushy in the end. As I neared the finish line, I saw a few people trotting back to the car park so asked one of them if they were doing the triple and whether they could tell Riddlesdown I was coming 15 minutes late. I was worried I'd not find the start as they'd've packed it up by the time I got there (hah, little did I know...). Finished up, another speedy scan of the bar codes and then I forgot how to get back to my bike, cursed parking it so far from the finish as it added about another km to the run at the end to get back to it. Changed shoes, unlocked bike, helmet back on and looked at the time... 10:41. Not Good. 19 minutes to the start of Riddlesdown. I wasn't realistically going to make it to the start on time but would have been fine to start up to 20 minutes late, in my mind. 39 minutes to Riddlesdown, should be do-able, right?
My legs were quite weak by this point and I was a bit worried that the hill at Riddlesdown might be too much for me, so didn't push it too hard. I did take as much advantage as I could of the downhill sections to gain some speed, but it just wasn't enough. I got the junction where the route diverged form the tested route, let the Garmin make the nasty noise it makes when you're off course and carried on down the road, heading to my left hand turn for the park. It was now 11:10. I thought there was about 5 minutes cycling to go, so I'd be OK to get to the start a bit late but not too late. Counted the little stubby left I was due to pass, saw the second left but the road name was wrong. Cue confusion. I carried on down the road further losing confidence quite rapidly. After another 500m or so I decided I'd missed my turn, did a 360 and headed back to that turning with the wrong name, turned up it and it was a horrible gradient that I just couldn't manage so I got off and walked. As I turned at the top of the road, it became apparent that it really was the wrong turn and I'd joined up with the route we took on the test ride.
So, I decided to carry on that way, got back on my bike and rode up through Riddlesdown Park. Through the car park, on down the gravel track. I had to freewheel as it was so rough and I was worried about skidding and my wheels and tyres. The track went on and on and came to a gate. On the other side of the gate the track got rougher, muddier and steeper so I got off, changed my shoes and trotted along, wheeling my bike down the track. It went on and on some more and popped out at a timber merchant. Argh! I had to work out where the hell I was as it was Just Wrong. A quick Google Maps check on my iPhone told me I was still not far enough down the original road and had another few km to go to the left hand turn I needed At The Roundabout! Dammit! The roundabout that I'd forgotten we talked about when we checked Streetview. If I'd only remembered there was a roundabout I wouldn't have messed up, turned around and turned up the left that was waaay too early!
Carrying on to the roundabout, turning left, I was faced with That Damned Hill AGAIN. I just couldn't. I had to get off and walk again. There was no way on earth I was going to be running Riddlesdown now. It was all about just finding the damned thing now. I was tired, demoralised, angry I'd forgotten the one bit of the route the Garmin didn't know about and really quite hungry. At the top of the hill, the road kept going and I saw a sign opposite a school "run start this way" and I knew I was there. 6km further cycling than on the recce run, to the start of the race. I turned in and found a load of people crowding around a gazebo in a field. They were Parkrunners, picking up their gear after the run. It was about 11:50 and faaar too late. So I admitted defeat, changed my shoes, laid down my bike and stuffed a Soreen bar into my mouth.
(not including getting home)
(We went to the pub, drank tea, ate chips and cake and cycled home slowly in the pouring rain. Sports gear straight into the washing machine. Us straight into the bath.)