My first major race after returning from the European Championships in Turkey was the Norwich Triathlon held on the 7th July.
Last year this Tri-Anglia organised event was a first for me in two ways. It was my first ever Olympic distamce event and it was also the first event with an open water swim I had taken part in unguided. It was certainly a challenge, but one I really enjoyed. My efforts were certainly helped by the great organisation of event director Mark Philo and his team and it was no suprise that the Norwich Triathlon was voted the Eastern Region event of the year for 2012.
For 2013 the organisation was just as impressive if not even better than last year, but for me it would be a little different. This time out I would be tackling the sprint course and be guided by Carl Shaw who I raced to 2nd place with in Turkey a few weeks earlier. It would be a good opportunty to practise a few things ahead of the National C hampionships in Liverpoor the following week and, more importantly, the World Championships in London during September.
One key thing to be mastered is athlete and guide swimming side-by-side as this new rule will be enforeced come September’s World Championships. It’s something I have been experimenting with for a while and especially over recent months, with fellow Tri-Anglia members Andy Atthowe and Matt Ellis amongst others providing some really useful input. There was time for some practise with Carl too at an open water swim session the day before the race providing more valuable information.
Race morning arrived and like last year it was a warm sunny day. We set off on the swim in a wave of about 100 from the 200 sprint entrants. It was a bit cramped at the start and being tethered – especially side-to-side – means maneouverability is a little limited. Interestingly it was a farily clean swim. By that I mean nobody got too close once things settled down and if they did they soon moved away again which was very freindly. We tried to settle into a rythem and seemed to be going OK. It felt a little effortful however and I was a bit sore from Saturday’s swim practise. This started to tell towards the end of the first leg but we came out of the water fairly high up with a respectable time (just over 11 minutes for 750m) given it was the first attempt at racing using this method.
Out on the undulating rural bike course and we were moving fairly well, except for the odd car slowing us down! We caught and passed early leader Iain Robertson (Another Tri-Anglia Member and last year’s winner of the Olympic distance title). Our lead didn’t last long as Iain came back past us almost straight away as we hit the bottom of what was a fairly long drag of a hill (at least on a tandem anyway). We matched him on the climb and as it flattened we were able to regain the lead before heading back to transition. We bagged the fastest bike split, but then there was two of us pushing the pedals around!
On the primarily off road 5km run – thankfully reduced from 6km last year – it was feeling hot hot hot. Due to an ankle injury Carl dropped out after about 2km as planned whilst I continued on what are rough but familiar tracks. Once on the lakeside path around Whittlingham Country Park where the event was held there was no breeze at all. I was going OK but not as well as I would’ve liked. Iain must have overtaken us in transition as I never saw him but knew he must be in front as he runs much faster than me and never came past. Piers Arnold, yet another home club member did come past and boy was he flying!
A Tri-Anglia 1-2-3 then with a well deserved win for Iain, Piers 2nd and us claiming 3rd…Think that is the highest I have ever finished in an open event.
Full Sprint results are here.
I normally don’t accept any awards in open events as I think I may gain an unfair advantage from riding on a tandem with a guide – it just seems fairer/easier all round this way. On this occassion I was given no choice in the matter, but I have to admit it’s always nice to be on the podium!
Not bad, so how would we fair in Liverpool?