Iconic Racing at Elite Level

Chris Panayiotou races at elite level for Torq and has kindly prepared a couple of reports on his most competitive races to date; Windsor and London which are without doubt the biggest races in the domestic calendar and also the most competitive, attracting an international field. Chris has also been racing some lower key events that he has won, including the first ever Lakeside triathlon (only person to go sub hour) and the opening event of the 220 evening series at Dorney lake. So whilst Chris unfortunately started the season with an injury, he has now turned the corner and is getting back to full fitness.

 Lakeside Triathlon Swim exit

Race Reports

Windsor – June 13th 2010

“I always enjoy racing at Windsor. It’s a really nice course with lots of spectators on the run and the weather always seems to turn out nice. This year wasn’t any different apart from a brief shower just as I was getting out of the car, fortunately this quickly cleared.

With just over an hour until race time I made my way to the transition area. I racked my bike and set up everything I would need for the race. After a quick double check I left transition and ate a tasty Torq Bars to prevent an energy lull during the race, a mistake I made at London last year. A couple of sips of Torq Energy drink to wash down the bars and I started my pre race jog, focusing on what I would need to do during the race.

Only 30 minutes to go so I donned my Trisuit followed by my wetsuit and made my way towards the swim start, just enough time for a quick swim warm up and a bit of sighting before we were pulled back to the start line. We were held there for a good few minutes before the horn sounded and the sprint begins. It’s always a battle at the start of Elite races as you fight for position and this wasn’t any different, especially when you get pushed back for being an honest athlete.

After about 200m the front pack was already breaking away and I had resigned myself to just minimising the time gap by continuing to swim hard. After a final right hand turn I made my way to the swim out focused on running hard into T1, accompanied by a decent sized group. Wetsuit off, helmet on and out to the road we headed, where the work started almost immediately. With my Tri shoes barely on a pace line had already formed and it was intense, especially trying to pull through on Rich Allen.

About 25k had passed and the work rate had not lessened, the front pack was now in sight. A couple more turns by everyone and we were had merged just before the dead turn. Cautiously round the cones we had to sprint to try and catch a break up the road, nothing to worry about though and with the break caught the pace settled again. About 2k from the Town centre there was another injection of pace and a group of about 10 of us got a very small gap coming into T2. After dismounting it was a small run to our racking positions where bikes were hung and running shoes were slipped on, it was at this point I knew this was going to be a long run.

After 1k the leaders had already established a sizeable gap and my legs were feeling very worse for wear. I have been fighting chronic issues with my running and this was evident in the poor cadence and heavy running style I had acquired. I latched on to a runner who was slowly creeping by and we ran together for the next 8.5k, shoulder to shoulder. The winners had already crossed the line when my short term running buddy kicked and left me for dead. Across the line I came in 16th position, not totally disappointed but definitely tired.

I didn’t really have any expectations for this race due to my ongoing shin issues and just took out all the positives that I could. My run split was the same as the previous year despite it feeling significantly worse, time to get some treatment and get a few good weeks in before the London Triathlon.

Excel London Triathlon – August 8th 2010

The London Triathlon has always been a race I have wanted to perform well at, but just never been able to put everything together. The field featured a number of world class athletes this year so I knew it was going to be tough.

London triathlon

London Triathlon

After making my way to transition and ensuring I had all the essentials ready to roll we were informed by the race referee that there would be a swim warm up around 10am. It was already 9.50 so I was running short of time; I did a quick jog warm up and got my wetsuit on rather quick smart before heading down to the swim start. I was greeted by all the male athletes standing around in their wetsuits waiting for the swim start, which was now delayed until after the Women’s field had started, nothing quite like rushing for no reason.

The women’s field was announced and they bundled into the water, with very little delay the horn sounded and they were off. Alright, time for our warm up. I jumped into a surprisingly cold Thames and took a few seconds to catch my breath, I thought it might actually be non-wetsuit swim but it was nowhere near that warm. A bit of this and a bit of that, then it was time to get out. The top 15 athletes were called and the rest of us grouped up behind keen to get a good position for the start. In we all went and over to the line, I somehow ended up stuck behind two people again due to the 70 or so field being squeezed behind such a tight start gantry. With next to no delay again the horn sounded and we were off.

I would say it was the roughest swim I have ever been in with numerous punches and kicks in the first 200 metres, nothing to worry about though as I could see the front swimmers and they were still in contact. Another 100 metes flew by and for unknown reasons the swimmer in front of me slowed and kicked me hard in the face. My left goggle was jammed into my eye and I could taste blood in my throat, definitely a nosebleed. Swiftly I brought my focus back to the swim and just fought to try and get as far up as I could. We hit the far turn buoy and the pace kicked again, it was still along way to the swim out and I was already working hard.

With about 300 metres to go the pack was starting to split as the pace was raised again, I had nothing more to give though. Around the final turn buoy with less than 200 metres to go I just swam as hard as I could and emerged out of the water about 15 seconds off the front pack. Breathing hard and struggling to get my wetsuit off it was still a 600 metre run into transition. I ran as hard as I could, but with the amount of lactic acid I had produced in the swim this just wasn’t fast enough.

Helmet clipped and out of T1 it was time to see if I could catch up. A couple of guys flew by and managed to bridge to the front groups but I couldn’t catch them, there was nothing in the legs. Four of us joined together and worked hard until we were caught at about 30k, the front group had already put 3 minutes into us so it was a case of seeing how the run went. I decided to sit at the back to try and recover something and consumed my Banoffee Torq Gel with Guarana; go-go properties, tasty. Up the ramp and into transition it was time to see what a couple of weeks of consistent running had done for the legs.

I knew not to go out too hard as this was a 4 lap run and going hard from the start was not going to work. After about 1.5k my breathing had settled and I hit a good cadence and pace, time to stick with it. Into the 3rd lap it was time to start increasing the pace. It was starting to hurt but there was still some something to give.

Into the final lap another athlete decided to try and kick by there was no way I was letting him go. I was running ok and decided to stick with him, always nice to run with someone. Around the far turn point it was time to leave him behind, he was breathing harder than me so I gave a little kick and gapped him, another 200 metres and I kicked again just to ensure he would not fly by across the line, job done.

Definitely a better race than Windsor but still lots of work to be done, I had finished 29th overall. A little bit of fine tuning to be done on the swim but progress on the run in only 2 weeks, this bodes well for the upcoming months and winter. If I can keep the progression on my run of the last 2 weeks it’s going to be a good year.”


With thanks to our sponsors:

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Cycle shoes: Lake www.lakecycling.co.uk
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