Have you caught triathlon fever? Because my temperature has soared! We’re now in the run up to the big one, the WTS event in Leeds. The billboards are up, the superstars are training around the city, and the weather is predicted to be a suitably Yorkshire grey.
If you’re taking part in the event, Graeme has put together a thread on the Facebook page with advice for racing on the day. It’s a treasure trove of info and tips, for Leeds specifically and for triathlons in general, so it’s worth checking out regardless of your level of experience.
We had amazing competitors across Yorkshire, the country, and Europe — Driffield, Weatherby, Harrogate, Tonbridge and Pontevedra, Spain! So let’s get stared…
Driffield Triathlon Leigh Schelvis — Diversity Executive Officer and Foreign Affairs Secretary
The date…6 May 2019, the location…Driffield Leisure Centre, Driffield…God’s County. The Lord gave 300 plus competitors picture perfect conditions to complete a sprint distance triathlon, with HPH Tri Club’s very own Graeme Miles, Naomi Kellett, Beth Rendall, Chris Worfolk and Leigh Schelvis answering the call.
The race consisted of a 400m pool swim, 19km bike and a 5km run through Driffield’s most notorious streets. After the necessary inter-club trash talk proclaimed from the female athletes to male (quite properly), the HPHers took to the water.
Chris was the first HPH (although entering under the wrong club name) to enter and leave the pool. His pace through the water was so great, that he managed to give himself sufficient time to wipe his face and blow his nose on his lucky hanky in transition, before jumping on his beautiful blue two wheeled machine.
Beth (also entering under the wrong club name) and Leigh were next to hit the pool, with both athletes replicating the recent form shown in the previous race in Skipton. Beth also managed to overcome the shock of nearly forgetting her swimming goggles. Graeme displayed his trademark, consistent high quality performance and as did Naomi, once again reiterating why she is, quite rightly, nicknamed “the Mermaid”.
With all HPHers safely leaving the pool and aggressively propelling themselves onto their bikes to burn rubber, the race was very much on. Despite being caught off-guard by the long gradual climb a quarter of the way through the cycle leg, all put in impressive competitive rides.
Finally to the run. Chris and Beth both leapt off their bikes and powered through the 5km course to finish with very respectable times, whilst Leigh learnt a very valuable lesson about race preparation (running too hard in the parkrun the day before) and lost his legs.
Graeme (putting to good use the pre-race Haribo) and Naomi, both blazed through the three lap course, both so pleased with their efforts they finished with lovely smiles on their faces (well mainly Naomi).
Again, the club’s athletes proved to the triathlon world that HPH Tri Club is very much here and means business, with all club entrants finishing in the top 10 of their age categories! Again the female contingent, once again, showing the blokes how it is done, with Naomi devastating the field to WIN her group and finish 3rd female overall (amazing effort!) in great preparation for the European Championships (we all wish you the very best!).
Beth, put in another stellar performance finishing runner-up in her category. Graeme and Leigh finished a respectable 6th and 8th in their respective category, whilst Chris (hanky and all) snagged 7th in his. Comment of the day award goes to Chris who, when sampling the local cuisine after the race, stated, “…for £2.50 it’s a good quality burger!” Bring on Leeds ITU in June!
Wetherby Sprint Triathlon Paul Farmery
•a very high temperature, or feeling hot and shivery
•feeling and being sick
•aching muscles and joints
•loss of appetite
“I didn’t have to worry about this stuff when I was swimming in Tadcaster pool. I’ll never lose my appetite.” For some reason the medical notes from the pre-race safety briefing was going around my head as I slid down the muddy bank and into the 15C River Wharfe at 9am on a Bank Holiday Monday.
To be honest the prospect of my first river swim was inducing some of those symptoms before I’d even inhaled any of the dark green river water. “Just don’t drink any” the man with the megaphone cheerily advised. I made a mental note note to try doubly hard not to drown today.
My triathlon journey started back in April when I staggered round Skipton Tri. Fast forward a few weeks and in a delirious haze after Tadcaster Tri I had signed myself up to a first open water sprint. My reasoning? It’s better than going into work.
A quick visit to Blue Lagoon the week before had given me some confidence that I wasn’t going to fail completely and the sticky shoulder that had plagued me the last few months seemed to be moderately pain free. So there I was ready to be kicked in the face at the mass start.
The swim actually went well, I hung back while the fast ones fought for space and was soon in my stride of crawl a bit, doggy paddle a bit. Swimming upstream was noticeably harder and by the last turn buoy my arms were burning and ready for a rest. A nice 200 yard jog to transition gave me chance to get my breath back and soon the wetsuit was off and I was on the bike heading north up the old A1.
The bike leg was windy but flat and soon I was back to the sports association for T2. The run took us out up a hill and out and back along an old railway line before a final lung busting charge into the finishing area.
A great event, my first open water tri, a very strong field. I finished 4th last but loved every minute of it. It was the first year that Evensplits have organised the race but everything was spot on — nice to see some friendly HPH faces out as marshals (thanks Steve & Debbie).
A great small friendly event and the perfect confidence booster for the next step on my triathlon journey. Quote of the day: “How was the swim?” yelled a marshall, “Wet” came the reply.
Meghan Bentley also completed her first triathlon at Wetherby, smashing the Olympic distance event in 2:54:11. An amazing debut! Meghan will be competing at Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire in June to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK. She is part of #teamjenson —support a special little boy Jenson, aged 6, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy. You can find out more about the cause, and donate, here.
Harrogate Sprint Triathlon — An undulating course with an odd swim. Matthew Gray
Race day arrived and the weather was glorious… luckily I had packed my shades just in case as there was forecast of rain. We got there with plenty of time and registration and pre-race preparation was underway.
The swim! (where it all nearly went wrong) Arrived at poolside 9:15 and our briefing started around 9:20 then the horrors began.
Left my ring on. Darted out to the cafe where Becki was meant to be (she had gone to the little girls room). In a state of panic it felt as I was going to have to swim with it on (which I hate doing) but to my rescue she appeared and I rushed back to poolside through the Emergency exit door. Phew we’re good to go. Settled down… watch on… goggles that work. We’re good to go!
“So everyone has their timing chip on their left ankle?”
I look down, “SHIT!!” Realising this was in my back pocket of my jeans in my bag at the bike rack, the blades came out as I sprinted the 200–300m to retrieve my timing chip and legged it back (THIS IS WHY I DON’T GET THERE EARLY!!).
I’m a mess, we’re about to get in the pool and can’t remember which lane I’m meant to go in but we get there. The swim starts but the pool is like 30m so it’s a weird amount of lengths but think I got under 12:00. I was last out but I felt good.
The Bike So I’d been informed this was a horrible hilly route beforehand by a few people so made sure I was prepped with energy gels for the first time ever on a sprint and it worked like a charm. It’s a 2 lapper with 2 biggish climbs.
The first 3 miles are fast once you get out onto the country roads and managed to overtake people quite quickly. Then the first climb came and it felt like it just kept going used my gears and all I kept thinking was “push pull push pull”!
From the top it’s a big drop and if you’re not a confident cyclist could be quite scary with it being open roads. I hit top gear and flew down and never looked back (not realising another horrible hill was coming). Last mile of 7 was just a long climb with a roundabout in the middle and roadworks, which kinda didn’t help the situation.
I felt good and wanted to push on but got stuck behind a car that was stuck behind another cyclist. Came past the first lap and heard the first of many cheers and continued onto lap 2 flying with confidence.
The Run One of my slowest transitions from bike to road but picking up another gel again definitely helped in the latter stages of this race. Another 2 lapper and is a game of 2 halves.
You start by a mini climb of about 400m before you turn right and have a great descent down past the opposite side of the school, goes flat before returning back on the other side of the school where the last part of the cycle finish and there’s a long climb back to the top again.
All the training definitely paid off as I managed to do the 4.8km in 27:38 avg pace 9:38/m
Overview I had a really good race (the weather helped) and thought the marshalling and volunteers were awesome, they were helpful when I had issues a the start and even had a bit of banter with one of the guys in the bike area saying “It’s just a nice warm up to the race”.
The route itself had its challenges but it felt like a quick route overall. There refreshments afterwards were good and cake stall was there too (I know how much we all love cake!). Nice and local and one of the cheaper sprints I’ve seen. One to think about for 2020.
Tonbridge Sprint Triathlon Tom Pollard
A triathlon not in Yorkshire?! Heaven forbid…
Still, it’s just down the road from the in-laws, and was a perfectly good reason to escape them on a bank holiday! 400m pool swim. 25km spiky bike course. 5.5km around school playing fields. A classic small town sprint. And having raced the same event last year, I was keen to (hopefully!) see pick up in performance — particularly on the swim and bike legs.
Despite the best attempts of the innumerate swim length counter (“Honestly, I only have 50m to go!”), I powered walked along the poolside with the fastest swim of the day.
The bike route takes in some gorgeous scenery, and proved great scouting for local pubs — although it does feature three bloody great climbs and a bum-clenching descent. Having successfully navigated 90% of the course, I turned back onto the main route… and into gridlocked traffic. Turns out a nearby main road was closed and our route became the diversion!
But the key is to think quick in these situations. I was not going to let this ruin my race! So I enlisted the navigational support of two passing Hell’s Angels, who accidentally set a fabulous weaving course through the traffic (and provided some drafting assistance), returning me to an uneventful run.
After crossing the line — confusion. The cancellation of the bike leg half way through the event meant there’d now be a sprint triathlon and aquathlon. No-one knew who’d done what! As it turned out, I’d managed a fourth place finish, which in that glorious tradition of triathlon age-groups, meant I was technically the senior men’s triathlon winner (having been beaten by two V40s and a V50). Which makes me the proud owner of this…
Pontevedra World Aquathlon Championships Tom Pollard
Not gonna lie, pulling on that Team GB trisuit was a pretty incredible feeling. I mean, I physically couldn’t eat in the hours leading up to the event because of the nerves. But racing like that…wow.
Having qualified for the aquathlon, I joined 800 others from around the world (and a GB squad 200 strong) to race in the northern-Spanish town on Pontevedra — home of Olympic silver medallist Javier Gomez!
It sounds cliche to say there was a buzz about town, but there really was. Spotting other nations in their tracksuits. Chatting to randomers about water temperature. Counting the questionable Ironman tattoos. For a short time, it felt like the centre of the triathlon world.
The event itself was… tough.
The swim was 1000m open water, up and down the river. But winds and currents combined to make it brutal. You always expect to get your head kicked in on the first 100m of a mass start like that. But the first half was like trying to swim up the rapids in Center Parks. I was giving it my all, arms screaming, and when I looked to the river bank, I’d barely moved. Mentally, that was the toughest bit of racing I’ve ever done.
Coming into transition, I had no clue where I was in the pecking order. But I soon found myself putting my trainers on with two other British guys in my age group. This gave me a kick up the arse! Having come into transition behind them, I managed to get out ahead of them, leaving them to stare at my cute little tush as it disappeared on the 5km.
You only really know who you’re racing by the number on people’s calf. So during the run leg, every time I passed someone I glanced down — spotting another M25 only once! Coming into the final straight, I had a bit of competition from a youthful M20, pushing each other to the finish.
I ended up fourth place in my age-group, against some stiff Spanish competitors. And by finishing first amongst the Brits, I’ve earned a qualifying spot at next years championship in the Netherlands. And I might have started dreaming a podium finish…
Honestly, it is an incredible experience that I’d encourage every to look at. Not only at the event, but also the support from the club. Reading all the messages of encouragement helped calm me down before the race. And I’d like to thank Naomi in particular for really pushing my swimming over the winter — answering all my last minute pleas for an interesting swim session. You. Are. Awesome!
Thanks to Tom Pollard for pulling this all together.