16 September 2019 - By James Montgomery
With just a few weeks of the British Triathlon season left, there was much activity amongst Witham Running Club’s triathletes travelling far and wide, from the sunny beaches of East Sussex to the Grey forboding skies off the North Welsh Coast and the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon.
Brighton, East Sussex
Brighton Olympic Triathlon ETU Qualifier
Standard Distance: Swim 1.5km/Bike 40km/Run 10km)
To round up her triathlon season, Anita Grainger ventured down to the seaside at Brighton to experience a qualifying event for the European Championships. The race itself was on Sunday, but competitors had to register and rack their bikes on Saturday and the race started unusually late at 11.15am but this was ince it was to coincide with high tide since it was a sea swim.
Anita had an enjoyable sea swim although along with most others, found the current strong and her time was slower than expected, but in line with everyone else’s. Out of the swim and on to the bike. This leg consisted of a flat fast 8 laps along the sea front with 15 dead turns to negotiate which Anita had practiced and only had a few of hairy moments when a couple of other competitors got a bit too close for comfort. Anita was pleased with her bike time. Then in to T2 and the run to the finish. However, due to the later start, the temperature was far from ideal and had now risen to around 25 degrees with bright sunshine. The run course was 4 flat laps with Anita managing to hold it together to the finish line in only a little slower than planned.
Overall Anita finished with a big improvement since her first attempt at the distance last year. Finishing 9th in her age group and loving most of the experience, but maybe not the heat on the run!
1000m swim/60km bike/10km run
Travelling a bit further afield, Alex Stuckey and Tony Wallen ventured to North Wales for the Sandman Triathlon, one of a trio of events in an adventure triathlon series. Tony had already competed in two of the events in past years, The Snowman and The Slateman with Alex also having competed in the Snowman.
For this event, it was a relaxed start with start times of 1050 and 1055 respectively for Alex and Tony and following a glorious Saturday the weather had turned wet and grey for the Sunday morning. Thankfully it did stay dry for the duration of the race and there was no wind about making for a surprisingly pleasant sea swim, with calm conditions in the Irish Sea and even a comfortable 18 deg C water temperature.
Alex in the lead wave exited first, with a 23 min swim and after a slight faff in transition, found his bike and was soon out on the bike course. Tony had a good swim at a few minutes down on Alex and after a bit of a struggle with his wet suit, was in hot pursuit and out on to the bike course. This was a great bike rider’s course, fast and rolling making for a high average speed of 19.1 mph for Alex and over 20 mph for Tony.
After good T2 for both, the hard part of the race began. This was a 10km trail through the forest of Anglesey National Park, with loose sandy conditions making it heavy going under foot, sapping already tired legs and with a few short ugly climbs thrown in to make it more intersting. Tony powered on closing in on and passing Alex with 3 km to go with the last 2 km all on sand for a final sting in the tail.
So Alex crossed the line and there was the incredulous moment when the welsh announcer, after handling long Welsh place names with ease, for example Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, that the bike course had passed through, struggled with the club name “Witham“…. but he got there.
Blackwater Sprint Triathlon 400m Swim/23kms Bike/5Kms Run
And closer to home Carina Taylor, Lee Blake, Rachel Pearsons and Mat Pearsons, took part in the Blackwater Sprint Triathlon.
The Blackwater Triathlon is a local, popular end of season race which donates money to a local charity. This year being Essex Search and Rescue. The 400 meters pool swim, making a change from the open water swims throughout the summer months, saw the swimmers start in estimated time order. The slower starting first before the quicker ones – it was down to competitors to provide a predicted swim time when registering for the race. There were perfect race conditions with next to no wind and a lovely, sunny morning.
Rachel went off in my her own wave as this was also the Croker Cup competition for the triathlon within Essex Police. Unfortunately she got caught behind two slower swimmers so ended up having to breast stroke over half of one length. Otherwise not a bad swim. Mat also had a good swim and was pleased with how he got on showing the results of recent swim training.
Out of the pool and into T1. Pretty straight forward as there were no wetsuits to worry about and all pretty straight out onto the bike.
The bike route had been changed due to a bridge being replaced on the original course, forcing a road closure. So it was turned into a four lap out and back route with a very tight turn around at the end. However, it was like riding on a closed road (only locals having access) which made for a nice quiet ride. Both Mat and Rachel had good rides and came back into T2 feeling good and ready to get out onto the run. Unfortunately for Rachel, she took a wrong turning which added at least a minute or so onto her bike time.
T2 was nice and simple. Happy days!!
The run was two laps down the promenade, a bit of off road and then back up to the Leisure centre for the second lap. There were a few dog walkers and joggers to dodge but nothing too stressful. The route was very similar to that of the popular park run.
Rachel won the Croker Cup competition and came 2nd female Vet in the triathlon itself and was absolutely delighted with her result being a nice finish to the season, especially as she hadn’t trained at all for a sprint distance with all of her training being focused on long, endurance training. Mat was also very happy with his finish time and they are both looking forward to next year!!
It was equally a good event for Lee and Carina, with Carina posting the fastest swim of the quartet and Lee the fastest bike and run splits.