A great performance by the team at Chirk triathlon – the default season opener for all in the vicinity. Chris won again and extends his extensive 2014 winning record further. Hamish achieves the podium and only loses out on 2nd place by mere seconds and Dave takes second in his age group...
Chris: I first started racing at Chirk back in 2004. It was a popular race back then, but this year it filled in just over an hour back in October when entries went live, so you have to be on the ball about entering! It’s generally the first triathlon of the year locally, it’s very well organised by Wrecsam Tri Club and it attracts some strong athletes, so it’s always good for testing yourself early on in the season. This year, I was going for my 4th win in 5 years and looking forward to the usual head to heads over the 400m swim, 24k bike course and 5k run.
The problem with pool swims is that you don’t really know how anybody else is doing in the race, so it’s head down from the start and push as hard as you can to the finish line and then wait and see how your time compares. I had a few markers with TORQ team mates James going in the wave before, 3 mins in front, and Hamish in the same wave.
The swim I eased myself in to, allowing the others to take the lead over the first 150m or so, before starting to move up in the second half, gaining about 10-15 seconds by the end of the 400m, which just gave me enough time to be out of transition by the time the others had got to their bikes. Getting out in front and out of sight, means that they don’t have the carrot quite in the same way as being able to chase down with you being visible. So, as is common at Chirk, riding through the Ceiriog Valley, it’s a headwind on the way out, so I always push as hard as I can to make the turn and then allow the tailwind to take over on the way back. Unfortunately James had a puncture and was walking back. I put approx. 90 secs into Hamish on the first half of the bike, so was happy that I was in a strong position.
I continued the momentum into T2 and then went out on the tough 5k run. This is the area I have been working on over the winter, so really wanted to test myself against previous years’ efforts. Again it’s out and back, so you get a sight of your competitors, but for me now it was just about the time. I ended up running nearly 30 secs faster than I have done before, so was happy with the run. The overall time was slightly down on my best, but was due to the strong headwinds on the way out on the bike, but overall I was very happy with the win and a good start to the tri season. Well done Hamish for eventually taking 3rd place, only 3 secs behind Andy Campbell of Wresam Tri.
Hamish: I last raced Chirk back in 2012 and finished in 10th with a time of 1:03:04. Obviously this was going to be a natural target to destroy as well as aiming for that podium. My legs had recovered from the training camp and I was ready to go.
It’s always a late start for the fish at Chirk, which in a way was quite nice, as I got to have a bit of a lie in and watch some of the London Marathon coverage before I realised I’d better sort my race gear and head off to Chirk!
I was feeling pretty relaxed as I got set up in transition on the same row as James Emery and Chris Standidge, fellow TORQ athletes. Chatting to each other, commenting on training and the weather as per a usual pre race chat. The sun was shining, the temperature was pleasant and there was a stiff breeze, which would mean a headwind on the first half of the out and back bike with a tailwind to push us home.
The swim started and I was focussing on my form. I didn’t want to red line in the swim as I knew I would have my work cut out on the bike and the run to make that podium. Chris slowly began to put a few metres into me and by what I thought was 350m, he had about 10m and I lost sight of him as he was a couple of lanes over. There was no board put into the pool to indicate 2 to go. I assumed that I had miss counted somewhere along the line and felt re-assured that next time around I would be shown the board. No. It wasn’t there. I tumble turned and pushed off into my stroke feeling a little confused. About half way down the pool, one of the lane counters had run along side and was waving frantically me. I stopped and stood up and she said “you’ve finished”, slightly frustrated I turned and swam the half length back to the end and climbed out – an extra 25m swum. I had counted right, just didn’t have the board shoved in my face which I was expecting.
I tried to put it out of my head, but lost a little time in T1 thinking about it and not what I was supposed to be doing. I set off on the bike into the headwind. I recall from 2 years ago the rather juddery road surface and hoped that it had been repaired. It hadn’t. Well in places it had, but for the most part not. I tried to pick the best line I could and managed to avoid the worst sections. I was monitoring my power into the headwind to make sure I didn’t burn up my legs for the run and after the turn with the tailwind, I tried to keep the power on.
Dismounting, I knew I was in 2nd place in the wave, but I also knew I would have to run hard as there were fast athletes in other waves. It didn’t take long for my legs to arrive and they felt good. The run is a little undulating, out and back route with a couple of short sharp hills and downhills. Chris was a good couple of minutes up on me and I knew he had the win in the bag.
After the turn, I picked up the pace and pushed for home. I crossed the line in 1:00:36, pretty much bang on 2 minutes 30 quicker than two years ago, which I was pleased with. It was now a waiting game. I felt confident I was on the podium, but would it be 2nd or 3rd as Andy Campbell was in a wave after me.
It turned out that Andy had pipped me by only 3 seconds. I’d taken 3rd place at the first tri of the year. I was pleased, but also a bit annoyed,becausae if I hadn’t done that extra lengths swim, 2nd would have been mine.
Dave: And so to the start of the 2014 triathlon season. I have always enjoyed racing Chirk sprint triathlon in the middle of April as it seems to somehow wet the appetite for the races to come. Having a later swim time gave me plenty of transition preparation time, but soon after a reasonable swim I was back in to transition and back on the bike. Towards Glyn Ceiriog it was tough pushing on the rough road surface into the wind, but I tried to keep my heart rate around 90% and if felt good to turn around and head towards transition with the wind behind. After a quick transition and onto the run, I decided to push it more. Heading back up the hill after the turnaround was tough and I was relieved to cross the finish line in 1 hour 8 minutes after a tough run. Overall I finished in 18th position and 2nd in my age group, which I was really pleased with considering the age group range was from 50 to 59 years!
James: Slightly different this time, the first DNF ever!!
Good swim, great bike and really powering into the headwind, until I felt every bump in the road. I looked down to see a flat front tyre. I’m not sure how it happened, but the road surface is renowned for being poor with extensive pot holes. So with the race over, it was uncomfortable walk back in cycling shoes complete with cleats, until a true gentleman stopped. Thankfully the gentleman was a sheep farmer with plenty of space in the back of his pick-up. However his sheep dog did look a little put out as I stole his seat!
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