MIDDLE distance racing, or half-iron distance as it sometimes known, is fast becoming the ‘new’ distance to try and it is a great step between an Olympic-distance race and a full-iron distance, writes Victoria Jeffs.
With two races taking place on Sunday, Stratford Triathlon Club members were out in force giving it their all and competing against the some of the top professionals and amateurs in the world, including Javier Gomez and that little known chef Gordon Ramsay.
At Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, this inaugural 70.3 event was billed as fast and flat but the reality was that almost 3,000ft of climbing on the bike leg meant it was a hard day in the saddle, not to mention the transition area being over 500 metres from the swim exit, which made for some very long transition times.
First home for the club was Mark Bullock who had a stunning race throughout to earn a personal best at this distance, proving his training for the full Ironman in July is paying off nicely.
Second home for the club was old hand Andrew Speechly – no stranger to this distance – who had a fast swim and a great bike leg but his energy depleted him on the run and in his own words he struggled around what turned out to be a rather hilly run course.
Sam Nicholson – on his very first outing at this distance – had a fantastic race to come in just behind Speechly.
Not knowing quite what to expect, he exceeded his expectations and should be justifiably proud of those times. It is staggering that both he and Speechly posted exactly the same run times, despite starting in different waves ten minutes apart.
Brian Weetman was back to competing after a recent injury but knew his run legs were not in ideal shape for the race, however he successfully managed the best swim from all the STC members and a very creditable bike leg, but he managed a spirited jog around the half-marathon course to come in just over the six-hour mark.
The final two club members were Paul Nash, an old hand now at the 70.3 distance, and Lill Earley, on her very first outing at this distance.
Both soaked up the atmosphere on the day and enjoyed the support from the crowds and volunteers alike before heading down the iconic red carpet of the finish funnel set right in front of Shugborough Hall.
Results: (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run): Mark Bullock – swim 48:09, T1 7:40, bike 2:56:23, T2 3:12, run 1:40;31 – total 5:35:55; Andrew Speechly – swim 34:34, T1 5:54, bike 2:59:42, T2 3:01, run 1:53:53 – total 5:37:04; Sam Nicholson – swim 39:25, T1 9:19, bike 3:01:14, T2 3:44, run 1:53:53 – total 5:47:35; Brian Weetman – swim 30:02, T1 6:19, bike 3:04:03, T2 3:28, run 2:08:11 – total 6:01:03; Paul Nash – swim 39:44, T1 9:41, bike 3:18:27, T2 6:31, run 2:42:50 – total 6:57:13; Lill Earley – swim 57:24, T1 5:16, bike 3:55:09, T2 4:00, run 2:33:29 – total 7:35:38.
ALSO racing on Sunday in another middle distance race – albeit a little shorter and certainly a lot flatter – was Darren Hadley at the Cotswold 113.
The event is popular for the fact it is a fast and flat course and a great alternative to the Ironman event which had sold out in a record-breaking 14 minutes.
This was a return visit for Hadley who managed to knock 57 minutes off his previous time to achieve a fantastic new PB despite having his goggles knocked off in the swim, getting cramp on the bike and falling in a pot hole on the run leg.
Result: (1.2-mile swim, 54-mile bike, 13-mile run): Darren Hadley – swim 41:47, T1 2:56, bike 2:59:01, T2 3:54, run 2:29:00 – total 6:17:13.
DAVE Clarkson was racing for the club at Windsor Triathlon – a huge event with over 3,000 participants and celebrating its 25th year – indeed it is one of the longest-standing events in the UK triathlon calendar.
The swim start was in the Thames around Eton and travelled with the current for 1,000m before turning upstream for the final 500m which turned out to be nearer 650m.
Clarkson kept out of trouble near the back and quickly worked his way through and caught many from earlier waves. Turning into the current, he made up more ground and exited the water with the leaders.
A quick transition time was hampered by a long run out to the start line, but then Clarkson ate up more ground on the earlier starters as he powered around the course at over 20mph.
Entering T2 it was another quick transition to get the run shoes on and out on to the run course to the almost deafening cheers from the hundreds of spectators lining the route, which went up to the castle and back down towards the river.
With three circuits to cover he dug deep to save time as this is his weakest of the three disciplines and he crossed the finish line with a new personal best time of 2hrs, 48mins, 23secs, over 14 minutes quicker than he has ever achieved at this distance.
Results: (Olympic distance – 1,500m swim, 42km bike, 10km run): Dave Clarkson – swim 29:20, T1 5:45, bike 1:14:22, T2 3:09, run 55:45 – total 2:48:23.