Monday, 6 February 2012

Cole Classic 2012: is it worth the effort?

I wonder what would happen if he got a haircut? A finisher in the Cole Classic
Saturday, February 3, the day before the Cole Classic: 
Around midday I checked the official Cole Classic website to see if I could pick up my timing device and cap on the day of the swim. Nowhere on the website did it indicate that people like moi - late earlybirds who missed having their timers and caps mailed to them - could pick up their gear at the event.

So I made the 90-minute return trip to Manly to collect my stuff and discovered that I could've waited until Sunday. Apparently the organisers don't like to advertise that timers and caps can be picked up on Sunday because it can get "chaotic"*. 

Chaos: The walk from Shelly Beach to Manly Beach

I paid $52 to enter the Cole Classic so I reckon the least the organisers can do is inform people of their options on the website. 

I thought, 'Bugger you Fairfax Media** . I spit on you and your capitalist-pig owners who never spare a thought for the struggling masses who like to swim.'

Then I had a pleasant dip at Shelly Beach, communed with the fishies, drove home and downed two reasonable glasses of Merlot before 7pm.

Sunday, February 4, the day of the Cole Classic - magnificent sunshine after a week of solid rain: 
I organised my 'crew' - Mrs Snorkel, Ms Fivestar, Mrs Onyabike and Mme Zen - to be at the beach by 10.30am. This coincided with the start of the 2km swim - the inaugural 9km swim from Dee Why to Manly started at 8am and the 1km swim started at 8.30am. 

My crew walk towards Cabbage Tree Bay

The traditional course starts in the calm cove at Shelly Beach and finishes at the surf beach  Manly. But the surf at Manly was looking pretty rough and ready when we arrived. The organisers had already decided to move the finish line to Shelly. 

It's a small beach so the logistics of sending swimmers out and directing them back in is a challenge. I reckon the beach is less than 250 metres wide? My maths is bad so correct me if I'm wrong.  

I was in wave 15. Get it? There were 14 age groups and whatever else starting the swim before my group. There was a 10 minute wait between each wave, which meant that females in the 40+ age group didn't start until 12.40pm. That's more than two hours after the first wave.  For gawd's sake, the 2km race presentations were underway at Manly before my cohort started at Shelly!

They've got the right idea: Cabbage Tree Bay

That's dumb and not fair. By the time my wave entered the water the conditions offshore had significantly altered. The surf was up and there was more chop out the back than at a karate demonstration. I think the swim could still work with five-minutes between swimmers.

I'd had enough by the time I was herded into a holding pen with my mauve-capped cohort (why do they always give the old ducks mauve caps?). I was tired, hungry, thirsty, hot and sunburnt. I felt like a refugee in Speedos. 

The holding pen for each wave of swimmers
What about the swim? It was OK, I guess. I've had better. There was lots of chop, much water swallowed, I didn't see any fish and as I turned at the buoys my teeth were nearly kicked out by swimmers doing breaststroke.

After the swim I caught up with my 'crew' who had sensibly abandoned me early on. They left the hullabaloo at Shelly, preferring to snorkel at Cabbage Tree Bay. So much for support! 

Next year I'll think twice about the Cole Classic. It is a corporate event and not all the money made goes to charity or the local surf club. It's a profitable event for Fairfax. Otherwise, why run it?

On the other hand, it's fantastic for those swimmers who are starting out in ocean swimming. The course to and from Shelly is pretty much risk-free. Also, the buoys are clearly marked and there's heaps of support out on the water.

At least my peeps bonded.

Next week's swim of the week is at North Bondi. 

Speak soon.   

PS: At lunchtime yesterday Manly Beach was closed because of dangerous surf. Today 23 Sydney beaches were closed.
*the words of the nice girl employed by Fairfax Media
**ailing newspaper, radio and online organisation of which 13 per cent was recently procured by Australia's richest person, the adorable mining magnate Gina Rinehart

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