Settle in for what will be a bumper edition of the round-up — you may or may not have noticed that a little triathlon took place in Leeds last month. It’s great to hear from everyone who took part in the event — from new and experienced competitors, and from the volunteers who make events like that so warm and welcoming.
But that wasn’t the only show in town. The club also had Naomi making her GB debut in the Netherlands and our very first Ironman.
So put on some sun cream, sit out in the garden, make yourself an iced latte and settle in for a great read…
WTS Leeds — from the accidental triathlete – Grace Roberts
To those who don’t know me — I’m Grace and I’ve been a member of HPH for almost 3 years now. I’ve always considered myself a runner (and an average one at that!) so I’m as surprised as anyone that I completed the Leeds World Triathlon Sprint distance in June! Here’s a bit about how I accidentally fell into Triathlon and why I’m so glad I did!
It all started in March 2018 when the Triathlon group advertised a ride at the Brownlee centre — I’d had a pretty clumsy history with bikes but knowing that it was away from the road and I was in a “why not” kind of mood so signed up to go along. I hired a road bike (had no idea how to use the gears for about half an hour!) but everyone was so friendly and helpful that I got there in the end. I distinctly remember the lovely Sharron N saying “careful they’ll have you doing triathlons next” and I laughed at how ridiculous the prospect of that was!
Fast forward to Nov 2018 and I’d bought a wetsuit, been to many open water swims, got my own road bike, regularly commute to work on it and done a few big rides. I did the 2018 GoTri at the Leeds ITU which was both a huge achievement and one of the best days of my life.
And there I am, sat at my desk in November, pressing the “pay now” button to do the sprint distance at the 2019 Leeds ITU. The sprint at Leeds is a 750m swim, 19km bike and 7.5km run. To me these all felt achievable individually, but put them together and I was starting to realise how much of a challenge this race would be!
Nevertheless, I stuck my training programme up, building up my distances and doing more and more mixed-discipline sessions. I also managed to build my swimming a lot. I used to only be able to front crawl about 100 m before resting and by May I could breathe on both sides and swim for 1000m non-stop! I was still pretty nervous about the Tri but was constantly reminded of my progress each week which kept me positive.
The week before I was getting super nervous — not about the race itself but the logistics! I’ve always been fine with running races — stick your number on, turn up, run, done. With triathlon, the 4th discipline is often said to be transition, but for me, it’s faffing. You have to register in person and rack your bike in the transition area the day before the race. I had no idea was the etiquette was — do you set up your whole transition the day before? Do you take all your kit? How much time do you have to do such things?
Fortunately, the HPH triathlon club is full of knowledge and super happy to help so Graeme started a Facebook threat of general advice, for people to ask/answer specific questions and it was so helpful! From that advice, I made myself a list (one for sat — registration, and one for sun — race day) and timings list of what times I needed to be where. I get a bit anxious about these things so these plans of action were so useful.
I was volunteering for the Saturday races (GoTri and Juniors). I had an absolute blast volunteering on the swim pontoon with Leigh and some other Tri Makers we met on the day. It also really calmed my nerves to be in Roundhay — to see the course, what was where and made tonnes of friends with the volunteers. It’s a fab experience and I’d really recommend it!
On the Sunday I woke up mega excited — like it was Christmas! I remember reading somewhere that you shouldn’t be nervous about big races, after all you’ve done so much training, treat the race like your victory lap. My lovely partner (my regular race chauffer and caddy — thanks Darren!!!) and I got to Roundhay around 7, with my wave setting off at 9:05.
By the time we were on the start pontoon I was just giddy with excitement! After 80 h of dedicated training I couldn’t wait to get going. We were on the edge of the pontoon, I splashed myself silly with the water to try and acclimatise!
Although I’m now very happy in open water, I’m not a fan of being bashed, so I held back a few seconds to let the speedy folk go, then set off with a leisurely breaststroke until happy with my surroundings. I took it one buoy at a time and, approaching the exit, almost couldn’t contain my excitement. Had to remind myself to concentrate and breathe! On the exit ramp, I heard so many HPH’ers cheering me on! I then saw the clock — under 24 mins! I was absolutely elated!
That feeling didn’t last too long with the exceedingly long transition — the Leeds one is bloody long. I deliberately took my time in transition — things like making sure you’ve got your helmet on before touching your bike are super important!
The bike was tough in parts but, again I really enjoyed it. It was also lovely to see the HPH support both on the course and everyone from the club who overtook me gave me a cheer on despite me being a novice and not owning a tri suit, I really felt included — almost as if I was also a triathlete! Then started to spot the road signs for Roundhay and I was getting excited now — just the run then we’re done. As I consider myself a runner (rather than a triathlete!) this is the easy bit. So I thought.
It was genuinely the hardest run of my life. More so than any 10k or half marathon I’d done. Exhausted from the swim and jelly legs from the bike, I had to walk the first hill — it’s bloody steep out of Roundhay! I thought just keep moving, and mega cheers from Kay and Trevor certainly helped.
The road to town was long, straight and a little lonely in places. I was really struggling with my breathing, exhaustion, and the heat but just kept plodding. I had to want it. I had to keep going.
After a while, I saw the John Lewis building in the sky line and knew I was close. What I’d never realised however, is how not-flat Leeds centre is!
Then I saw my partner in the stands — he saw me, looked at the time and said “You’ve smashed it!!!.” I was aiming for 2:30 finish, I knew I’d done the swim in 24 mins, the cycle in 50 and I’d been running for about 49 mins but had no idea of transition times, so when I turned the corner onto that stunning blue carpet — all I cared about was finishing. I heard a huge “GO ON HYDE PARK” from the grandstand (thank you whoever that was!) and steamed (as much as I could by this point!) to the finish where they shouted my name out on the loudspeakers — what a feeling!
I crossed the line. I had nothing physically left. I bumped into Graeme, had a celebratory hug and then, out of no-where, I burst into tears. I think it’d just dawned on me that I’d completed something that a year ago I thought was completely unachievable. Something I never thought my body or brain could actually finish. Most of the rest of the club were finishing their standard distance around the same time so it was great to see everyone and find out how everyone did — I repeated said “no, they’re happy tears” to everyone!
All in all, the Leeds ITU was the best race and volunteer experiences of my life and I would highly recommend to anyone! You don’t have to jump right in with a sprint or standard distance either — we’re very lucky to have a very active GoTri team in Leeds who put on a fabulous range of events for all abilities.
I’d also like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone in the triathlon club who answered my many, many questions and for the support throughout my training and the race. Also, I’m very grateful to Darren who gives up many hours of his time to drive me everywhere, carry my stuff, and wait around at the finish for me!
Being a Tri-maker – John Pratt
Volunteering on the Sunday last year was the reason I began learning to Swim, such was the impact of being involved at such a fantastic event. This year, competing didn’t happen so the next best… Trimaking!!! Here’s a few words about some stuff I found significant about the weekend.
My allocated role and location was Volunteer Support at Roundhay for both days. From what I could work out this meant I was some kind of fluid volunteer ninja who could bounce around any of the bits and pieces which needed doing… I was right!
As I was finishing the very important task of handing out oversized foam hands I saw my mate Swim Tim. It was lovely as he had enrolled on the Adult swimming lessons at the same time as me and just awesome to hear how buzzing he was having just completed the GoTri. Well done, Swim Tim… I did also try and bring him into the HPH Tri fold… this is still ongoing…
I had to giggle, walking up past the Volvo tent later in the day for some breakfast and seeing our very own Amy Young had her name at the top of a leaderboard… some things don’t seem to change.
I drew the very non-scientific conclusion that Youth Girls go harder than Youth Boys, this was measured in fluid ounces of vomit produced at the finish! Girls won…
I also got to hold the “Finish tape” for one race which was in fact a significantly robust piece of composite material of unknown origin. (Basically, it was surprisingly heavy) This was followed by the impromptu storm which blew in just as we were in the process of striking the Roundhay finishing area. All involved were saturated pretty quickly! Fortunately the downpour ceased, just as we had finished taking everything down.
Then for me the best part of Saturday… Bag drop. No, not because the process of taking people’s bags and throwing them (ehem, placing them carefully) on to a lorry is particularly interesting. More the opportunity it gave me to say hello to almost everyone I knew taking part. It could have been my imagination but the steady bubbling of anticipation and nerves was plain and it was brilliant.
Sunday, T1, Bike Out. I couldn’t have asked for a role closer to the action! Soooooo many Harriers in full, glorious race mode!! A few things stood out whilst stood pointing the way to Bike out;
•Graeme high-fiving me on his way out of T1 and proudly exclaiming… “LOOK, I’VE GOT MY SHOES”!
•The good natured heckling of “Curtis from Instagram” from not only me but also a couple of members of British Triathlon joined in to cheer him through transition.
•A chap with a squeaking, rattling bike liveried with some dodgy Humbrol Celeste paint job and the monica “Bianchi” etched by hand with a sharp point on the down tube. He was followed out by some Cervelo P-something rocket ship. I don’t know if they came back into T2 together?
•The most bizarre? A lad approaching me with his race number and a handful of safety pins asking me to pin his number on… I looked at one of the Brit Tri folks hopefully and they shrugged and gave the go ahead. So, I’m pinning this guy’s number on whilst he gets a lecturing about external assistance by the official… It didn’t stop him asking me again when he came back in and needed it re-pinning on the front!
•Finally, a couple of folks I was working with commented on how tidy the HPH Tri suits looked. I reckoned it was the cool, efficient and confident athletes they were wrapping which made them stand out!
My final task was that of handing people’s bags back, once it was all over. I latterly was told no one taking part had been informed about any kind of medal ceremony but, I got to listen to a few familiar names being read out over the PA system whilst I proudly told all the folks I was working with that I knew these superstars and was in the same awesome club. Hyde Park Harriers Triathlon. Well done everyone it was really inspiring to see you all going about your races with such determination.
I loved my two days volunteering. However, I really hope I’m one of the many nervously fidgeting folks dropping my bag off on the Saturday evening in 2020!
Being a tri-maker — part deux – Leigh Schelvis
Whilst our club members love racing and training for triathlons, as a club, we also feel it is important to give back to a sport that we all love and enjoy. When the opportunity arose to volunteer at the Leeds ITU Triathlon and be a Tri-Maker, club members Amy Young, Charlotte Grace Roberts, Julie Robson, Naomi Kellett, John Pratt, Graeme Miles and myself, didn’t hesitate to apply for positions.
Whilst most club members were racing on the Sunday (either in the Sprint or Standard distance) and volunteered on just the Saturday superstar volunteers Julie and John volunteered on both days.
The week before the event, the volunteers were required to attend a training evening put on by British Triathlon and the Event Team. The purpose of the evening was to explain to the Tri-Makers the details of each volunteer role and we could do to assist the Event Team. The evening was put on very well and we were encouraged to get to know the other Tri-Makers and to ask any questions that we may have about the event. This training evening was a lot of fun and thanks to Charlotte, other Tri-Makers are now aware that I previously auditioned for “Take Me Out” (editors note — say what now?!).
Saturday’s racing consisted of the TriStar Juniors, GoTri races and the extremely competitive youth races. As GoTri Ambassadors, Julie, Naomi and Graeme, marching in their very impressive ‘White T-Shirts’, received specific roles to support the GoTri racing and promote triathlon in general.
The role, wasn’t quite important enough to receive the free breakfast, kindly provided by British Triathlon and the Event Team to the lessor known ‘Red T-Shirt’ Tri-Makers. However, our amazing Ambassadors did a great job of ‘jeering up’ and supporting the athletes ahead of, what was for most of them, their first triathlon. Well done guys you did GoTri and the club proud!!!
Amy was given the very responsible role of holding the finishing line tape and to support the athletes as they crossed the finish line. Amy was so dedicated to her role, that she even allowed an athlete to throw up on her, to protect the event branding. Great work Miss Young!
Charlotte and myself were positioned on the pontoon at the swim start. We were required to assist the athletes exiting the water, including assisting with the odd wetsuit zip. British Triathlon, seeing an alternative use for my 6ft7 height, used me as a focus point to indicate the swim exit in the pre-race briefing, which was being held on the other side of the lake.
We also tried to seize the opportunity to ‘photobomb’ and BBC segment hosted by Louise Minchin. John, who is a man of many talents, was given the role of Volunteer Support. Basically a jack of all trades! Amazing work JP and thanks for not losing my bag!
This was the first triathlon that I have volunteered at and loved every minute. Not only was it great fun and a great opportunity to meet the other Tri-Makers, but it was an opportunity to see the behind scenes of a large event and just how much work is put into putting on a triathlon of this size. In this respect it was truly an eye opening experience. I’m sure my fellow Tri-Makers and Ambassadors would join me in recommending volunteering at next year’s event.
HPH Tri take to the international stage again at the Weert European Triathlon Championships. Naomi Kellett — the mermaid
After qualifying last June at our home event WTS Leeds 2018, I was finally on my way to Holland to represent my country as an age group triathlete!
This was my first triathlon abroad, if there wasn’t already enough to worry about in preparation for a triathlon, I also had to figure out how I was going to get all of my kit to another country. There were lots of spreadsheets and to do list, thankfully my handsome (editor’s note: fact checkers rate this statement as false) chauffeur was on hand to escort me and all of my kit around. We opted for the ferry over flying and I am pleased we did! The bike was delicately placed into the car with everything else stuffed around it, we headed to Hull and set sail on the pride of Rotterdam!
We arrived into Weert a couple of days before the race to allow plenty of time to register, be briefed and familiarise myself with the course. We chose to stay in a lovely B&B just outside of Weert rather than the official accommodation, I get very anxious before racing so wanted to minimise this as much as possible!
On race day I met up with some of the other team GB women and we headed to the lake, arriving on the beach to find the starting mat set up about 5 meters from the waters edge. A fellow athlete informed us that we would be copying the pros and doing an Aussie start (running dive). We spent the next half an hour practicing running in and out of the water! I definitely did a few nose dives; my childhood swim coach would have been appalled!
We got the first glimpse of T1, the blue carpet was rolled out with the flags of each nation lined up either side. Unlike Leeds, transition was only 10 meters from the water and we had professional racking! (back wheel slots in rather than the apex frame).
After registration and a quick walk around the run route we headed to the main square for the Opening Ceremony Flag parade. Team GB certainly dominated! The city of Weert was very welcoming, they’d even arranged for Lorenzo and the fresh all stars to perform for us! (a young local break-dancing sensation and crew).
It was an early start Friday morning for the bike recce, our team captain Nick was waiting at the hotel steps at 7am to lead us round. There had been a lot of confusion around the bike route in the lead up to the event so I was keen to get a recce in. The route had been described a ‘one 14k lead in loop and two 12km loops’ but none of the loops started and finished in the same pace… We decided it was just easier to remember that you had to pass T2 twice. To add to the confusion for part of the route we rode out and back on one side of the road so had to swap from riding on the left (European) to riding on the right (continental) and then back onto the left.
Swim familiarisation, check. Bike recce, check. Run familiarisation, check. Time to rest and relax.
After a nervous few days building up, I was actually feeling quite relax on race day, familiarising myself with the course certainly helped to calm the nerves, I just kept in my mind that this is the victory lap!
As we lined up on the start line the theme tune to Hawaii 5–0 was playing. HONK! and we were off! A mass charged down the beach into the water. I set off hard, head down to try and get some space and found myself on the back of the front pack of 5. I got onto the feet of the athlete on front and settled into a pace. I was pleased to hold my place on the swim and before I knew it we were running up the blue carpet into T1.
I need to do some work on my transitions, the girls I left the water with were long gone by the time I got on the bike!
The bike route was like a time trial; a series of long, straight, flat roads either side of the canal. I was overly cautious on the first lap letting the athletes in full TT gear and aerobars fly past me. By the second lap I’d found my rhythm, started pushing and found I was over taking people.
I headed into T2, racked my back and was off on to the run, once again I tried I tried to leave T2 with my helmet on and was sent back!
As I set off on the run my legs felt great and I was feeling strong but it wasn’t long before the 27 degrees heat started to kick in, there wasn’t much shade on the route and the long straights started to drag. Thankfully my cheer squad were dotted along the run route to keep me motivated. I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be the fast 10k I hoped for but I was determined to get to the finish line! I made sure I took on water at every water station and throw the rest of it over my head to try to cool down. I was so relieved to cross the finish line to be greeted by a marshal with a bucket of cold water!
It was an amazing experience and such a privilege to wear the GB kit! I want to do it all again!
A huge thank you to Graeme for putting up with my insane training for 4 months, chauffeuring me around all week and being part of the best cheer squad in Weert- you guys were amazing! Thank you so much for being there to support me.
Our first Ironman! Chris Worfolk
Long format triathlon has arrived in Yorkshire. Set in the beautiful grounds of Newby Hall, I was one of nearly 600 triathletes that would be taking on the inaugural Yorkshireman and Yorkshireman Half.
The 3.8km swim started at 6 am. The first half was upstream and exhausting. By the turnaround buoy, I was aching, cold and fed up. By the time I got back to the jetty I was so tired and suffering so much I stopped to tread water and decide whether just to quit then and there. But I managed to convince myself I had come too far to give up now and struggled on to complete the last 400-metre loop downstream, finishing in just under two hours.
Being slow had its advantages: the half participants started two hours after us. So, as the final few of us hauled ourselves out of the water, hundreds of expectant middle distances clapped and cheered as we staggered up the lawn.
Onto the 180km bike ride. I tried to keep a steady pace on the surprisingly flat course, stopping regularly to eat and stretch my back out. Luckily, by this point, I had some strong motivation: giving up now would mean having to do that fucking swim again next time. T2 was a welcome sight seven and a half hours after leaving T1.
Finally, the marathon. By this point, I was feeling good. The run is my favourite discipline, and I was starting to suspect I could finish this thing. There were six feed stops on the 10.5km looped course. I used them all to get as much energy drink and jelly babies into my system as I could. By the third loop, I allowed myself to start caffeinating.
I met my family on the finish line (who had been cheering me on since 6 am!), and we ran across the line together. I finished with a 4:40 run split and a total time of 14:35:12. I would say it felt incredible, but you mostly feel empty and exhausted. A week on, now it feels amazing. Six months of training had paid off: I was an Ironman (technically a Yorkshireman).
The organisation by Freebird was first-class and surpassed my expectations. I would highly recommend this event.
In late breaking news, word has broken of an incredible performance by our very own Beth Rendall in the European Duathlon Championships. We’ll hopefully be hearing from her next month, along with all your other inspirational performances!