The Big Optometry Blog does the Big East eyewear Triathlon…again
Author: Chris Bennett
There’s a certain irony in this race report given that its main intention was to comment on the performance of the eyewear used.
The last few years as Optician’s editor I have taken part in various sporting events in aid of charity. Blind Veterans UK was the chosen charity at the recent Optician Awards so its seemed a little too soon to start rattling the tin again for the Big East Triathlon which took place on Sunday 13th of May.
This is the second time the Big Optometry Blog has visited the Dengie peninsular for this race.
The start was a little later this year but with the weather unable to make up its mind I popped in a pair of Alcon Dailies Total1 Multifocal contact lenses as the start of the day so I could try out some sports and sunwear product.
So a quick flit around the M25, over the river and into the Essex countryside to Bradwell on Sea for the start. It’s a nice little event with a village fair feel but some serious looking competitors. The middle distance tri ( Half Ironman) has been accredited by Triathlon England so there are some serious athletes on the start list. I had opted for the challenge distance of 800m swim, 43km cycle and a 10km run which was half the distance of the middle.
The gold rule of triathlon is not to try anything new on race day. It’s with some shame that I have to report breaking the golden rule. During recent swims I have used Pro Gear’s Anti-Fog Cleaning Gel on a some prescription Aqua Sphere swimming goggles. It has worked very well to keep the product mist-free.
I recently invested in pair of plano Aqua Sphere Eagle goggles so stupidly decided to try the same trick. This didn’t go well. Far from making the lenses clean and mist free they scratched up and developed a milky effect. No disrespect to either product, this was my error.
Race briefing over the question was: clear goggle that might leak, or, messed up lenses in watertight goggle? I went for option 2. The open water swim is in the river Blackwell and it was clear on entering the water that, once again, the tide was going to play a big part. As the start siren went off I was essentially swimming blind. I felt I knew the direction I wanted to take but with swimmers cutting across my path I and the water splashing I opted for following legs rather than sighting the buoys. As we turned into the tide for the home leg it was a question of digging in as the flow of the water cancelled out the effort of swimming forward.
I was glad to climb out of the water, 25.30 later, a huge time for such a short swim and a full four minutes longer than I had taken on the swim a year ago. As I entered transition the sun came out literally and figuratively. This gave me the chance to catch my breathe and dry off but also to don a very smart pair of Bolle B-Rock cycling specs. This was the white and blue violet variant with a cat 3 blue mirror lens. Very striking and very efficient. It’s a large but light cycling shield which shed the wind, and dirt, but was vented sufficiently to avoid any hint of fogging. My transition area neighbour took the time to comment on the strength of the tide but she also clocked the B-Rock asking if it was in pro cycling team colours.
Once out on the road the B-Rock performed, hugging the face and stopping sunlight from spilling in at the top and offering a good level of sun protection while not impeding vision. The odd rain drop that did fall beaded off nicely. I was out on the bike for 1:27:43.
The bike leg over it was back to Bradwell and the transition area. Alongsdie the change of footwear and losing the gilet, on which the zip embarrassingly stuck, it was time for an eyewear change. For the 10K trail run I was to wear the Cebe S’Track. I rather self consciously took it out of its case and put the B-Rock in its place (to protect it) as the athlete changing next to me was clearly on a mission.
Although B-Rock is light at 32g, it is a big shield so the lightness and grip of the S’Track was noticeable. At 28g it’s only marginally lighter but feels much more airy and its temple-gripping Symbiotech Technology works well to hold it n place. The model worn was a neon yellow and blue variant which drew a few glances. Form a wearer’s point of view the lenses suited the changeable light conditions and makes sighting effortless.The Variochrom Perfo lens protects from cat 1 to cat 3 so was ideal for what was turning out to be a very variable day weather wise.
A slightly tangential optical link was also on trial. Greeper Laces are a quick fastening and release mechanism for shoes and were developed by optometrist Peter Greedy. His story, and an explanation of Greepers, will be told in Optician shortly but he kindly donated a pair of Greepers for me to try out. The short answer is they work, very simply by pulling on two loops. They help reduce transition time so are tailor made for people like me.
The terrain on the run was pretty challenging. It spanned countryside moving out to a sea wall run along the estuary. This meant kicking through gravel and sand but also picking through some narrow paths overgrow with tufts of grass. With the sea breeze, glare from the sea and the shade of undergrowth the visual consideration was important. All in all a 57 min 10 second run with a few scalps taken on the last 2kms.
At last the finish line beckoned brining my total time to 2hrs 55 mins and 33 seconds. This was faster than my time last year but my son had beaten me by close on a quarter of an hour. He also teed up the commentator with a pithy comment about my fitness and me complaining of late-onset hayfever. As we mooched around the race finish I donned a Rock Optika Allez Allez sunglass so as not to look quite so conspicuous and exuded a little older gent style. We thanked the organisers, collected our medals and headed for home.
All in all a good day out with some lesson learned. In sport getting the eyewear right can make a big difference, so match the frame to the sport. Don’t try anything new on race day and read the instructions, especially on swimming goggles.