Having recently competed at the ITU Long Distance World Championships I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to race at the national championships or not.
On the one hand I wanted to support the event, especially since Arctic One were organising it and they have helped me a lot over the last few years. I also wanted to put out a better performance than May’s event on the same course.
On the other hand would I be able to recover from a 7 hour race that finished less than two weeks earlier?
Additionally, I had the complication of finding a Guide. Matt Ellis, who did the honours in Denmark, said he would do it if needed but wasn’t overly convinced that his recovery would be good enough – I totally understand given what we did together and how tired I’ve felt myself!. I tried lots of other options from past and perhaps future Guides, but none were available.
I didn’t like to ask someone who had Guided for another VI athlete, but in the end I pinged Duncan Shea-Simmonds a message. Duncan initially said he couldn’t make it due to other commitments but just a few minutes later another message popped up on my phone to say he could after all!
I was relieved to not only find someone who had vast Guiding experience having raced with Haseeb Ahmad (Ironman Guiness World record holder) and long time GB team member but also someone of Duncan’s calibre.
So to race day (28th July) and we basically pitched up, said hi, threw the bike together, briefly discussed how we would swim together and then it was time for the off. No practice, minimal faffing about, no plan apart from just seeing how it worked out…no marginal gains there!
As it happened it went fairly well considering.
I didn’t have a great swim personally and was feeling a bit lacking. Duncan was going well, but we got caught up on a couple of buoys in the lake that cost us some time and disrupted our rhythm. We exited the water in just over 13 minutes and in last place from the 5 VI teams.
T1 was pretty good passing one team as we made our way to the bike. We got into our stride quickly once onto the bike and caught Oscar Kelly and his Guide (who had beaten me and Jack Peasgood in May) early on the first of 4 laps around the lake. We were motoring, so much so that when cornering we clipped the rear pedal on the ground a couple of times on the first lap – got the adrenaline going!!
As the laps went by we were eating into the lead of the other two teams ahead. By the time T2 came we had caught Frazier Kane/Jack Peasgood and cut Dave Ellis lead from 3.5 minutes to about 60 seconds or so. Dave was racing with one of the female Guides as his normal Guide wasn’t available and he would complete the run un-guided. This meant he wasn’t eligible for national honours.
Effectively leading the run was a good place to be, but meant we had a tough 5k coming up. Oscar Kelly wasn’t far behind and was running well. Encouraged by Dunc I was pushing it but really didn’t have any zip in the legs. I was yo-yoing pace wise, trying to up the pace only to drop off again after 10 or 20 metres. Denmark was clearly having an effect.
Thankfully we had enough of a lead from the bike leg and I was running faster than May’s event. We were able to hold off Oscar to take the win and national title by over a minute – hooray!
It was great to win the title – only my second national tri title believe it or not (it’s not an event I’ve had a lot of luck at). Duncan did a great job and we went well together given our total lack of preparation.
However, as would have been obvious to anyone watching on the day, Dave Ellis was head and shoulders above the rest of us and would have likely won with ease had he raced with his usual Guide. I’m not being negative, just realistic – Dave is a talented full time athlete and people like me and Dunc work full time:-)
Thanks again to Duncan for stepping in at the last minute and, as his wife Claire would say, ‘not being shit’!
Time for a little rest now before gearing up for the Great North Run in September.