I would challenge you to come over to IMNZ. We take your drizzle and occasional potholes and we laugh at it. Come here and get 140kph winds, a lake that had people surfing on the waves and a road surface that shakes bikes to bits with it's gravel and rough surface.
Bonus of the UK though, you actually get to race......
That's it. 'Integrety of the race?'. Sorry, but by who's standards are you going to judge that? What about the 70 year old age group national rep? I personally would only see the cut offs as being needed for the safety of the competitors or of the crew (in terms of requiring the swim crew to be available on the run / in the finish area (safety of competitors) or being out on the course stood still, in possible inclement weather (safety of crew).
Hi, first off congratulations on signing up for what I think is probably one of the best first time tri's you can do. Not only is the venue and course perfect, but xtramile know how to put on a race and that course has been run for years now. Disclosure, before moving to NZ then I referreed that race 3 times I think, and either crewed, refereed or worked for them at another 20 or so of their events.
Your first one is all about getting to that finish. So do what you want to be comfortable. It's an earlyish season one, so it could well be nippy in teh morning, and unless you've come from a swim background then you're likely to be seeding yourself to get an earlyish swim time (hence even colder). So 30 seconds to towel off isn't a big issue.
But as a serious point, then have a shower at home then try to put your kit on. You'll find that your cycling jersey will stick and be really hard to put on. The trick is to put the jersey on before you start the race, then roll it up as you take it off, leaving it rollled in a hoop, so that when you put it on in the race then it sticks and just unrolls.
Turn up early, don't be flustered. Dont swim too fast, there's still the bike and run. When you've swum way too fast, then don't try to carry on pushing on the bike and hoping that the run wil be ok. When you get back from the bike totally knackered as you've swum too fast and then biked too fast, then bollox to it and just head out on the run and pray
The course is a hard one. It's not like Lanza, or some of the other 'killer' courses in that there's nothing really about it to pin it to, but the strong headwind on the return bike (normally), the long long false flat, and the rough road surface all make it hard. And that's before the run with no discernable flat on the entire thing.
Add in the mental issue from the delay / change of distance, worry over weather conditions (note to readers, we were warned it would be 5 degrees on the course, then turned out to be pretty warm) and what to eat / drink then you did good. The worry over Toucs would have seen most people call it a day in T1.
And you were smiling whenever I saw you. So to me, as it's a hobby, supposed to be enjoyable, shows you had a successful day.