A brilliant day out for both Chris Standidge and Ele Haresign, in the first-ever Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire Triathlon. The race attracted huge interest, both domestically and internationally (to include the super talented Olympic silver medalist Javier Gomez), whom initially lost the lead on the bike and had to put in a big effort on the run to secure the Overall win. Meanwhile TORQ’s Elite Age Grouper, Chris Standidge, lead from the front for the entire race – winning the Overall Age Group race rather convincingly. Whilst Ele Haresign, our 1st year Pro, had a solid day and finished in 5th.
Full credits to tri247 for this photograph
“When Ironman Staffordshire 70.3 was announced last year, I was pretty excited about having an Ironman branded race just an hour away. It proved massively popular, with nearly 10k pre registrations, so I knew that when the race opened, I would need to be on the ball and get my entry in quickly. 15 minutes later the race was full with over 2700!
This race was mainly about qualifying for the World 70.3 Champs in Zell am See, Austria later in the year. It meant getting Top 5 in my Age Group, but deep down I wanted to get on the podium. The race became my big focus for the 1st half of the season and I had been looking forward to it for months. 4 weeks before the race, I even got a group of us together to go and ride the course, so we knew what to expect come race day.
Race day arrived and the usual 4.30am get up. The Pros were off first at 7, followed by the Age Group waves 30-34 at 7.10 and the 35-39 (which I was in) at 7.20. I started well and got some clean water from the off, which allowed me to get into a good rhythm. However, as per usual, the first 800m or so were fine, until I hit the back of the previous race’s wave of swimmers and had to start carving my way through. I therefore had to keep changing course and sighting more often, to avoid bumping into people, which disrupted my rhythm, but I pushed on to get to T1. I didn’t know my lead, but I didn’t look back and concentrated on getting to my bike as quickly as possible.
In the first few miles of a Half Ironman, I always do a couple of things.
1. Watch my power, I know what I can ride for this distance and it’s easy to go off way too quickly because of the excitement of leading and it being such a big race.
2. Get some nutrition in early. It’s been nearly 30 mins since the start of the race and you haven’t been able to take anything whilst swimming.
3. Start to get a feel for how the legs are feeling. Is the power coming easily? Or are you having to push a bit too hard to get to target power?
I realised early on that it was a good day, as I was having to hold back a bit and the power came easily. The single bit of road that worried me (as there may have been a lot of traffic), went without issue and the rest of the bike was just a case of pushing on and using the people from the previous wave as targets.
At around 45 miles, I rode up to team mate Ele Haresign and we both gave a few words of encouragement to each other, which I think gave both of us a bit of a boost. It had been pretty lonely over the last 2 hours.
Into transition and it was great to see only a handful of bikes. Maybe 8 Pro Men’s Bikes, a couple of Pro Women’s and 1 Age Grouper’s from the wave in front.
The run was a 3 lap course, to cover the 13 miles. I wasn’t sure of my lead, so started at a solid pace and hoped I’d get some information from supporters after Lap 1. The lead was comfortable, so I settled into my pace and just concentrated on topping up at the feed stations. The last 4 or 5 miles of the run in a Half Ironman are always hard, but I ticked off the miles and enjoyed the support, as I went through the finish chute.
Winning the Age Group was great, then finding out I had won the Age Group Race Overall made it an even better day. Overall I finished in 10th Place (which included the Pros) and was only 6 minutes off the Top 6 Pros – who won prize money.
Staffordshire’s Ironman 70.3 race was a highly anticipated one for UK racing, with the promise of a rare opportunity for us all to race Javier Gomez (Olympic silver medalist). Both the Men’s and Women’s Pro fields were pretty stacked out, with most of the UK’s long distance women making a show. Despite my confidence taking a dip (after Challenge Rimini), I was excited about racing these girls and on home soil.
After an average, but acceptable swim (with no getting lost this time), I found myself a few minutes back from the leaders and just behind Lucy Gossage. The bike course had been billed as flat and fast, but there were plenty of more ‘interesting’ sections, on lumpy and narrow country lanes and I enjoyed the varied terrain. The thing about being in the Women’s Pro start, is that you end up all alone on the bike for much of the time and it’s quite difficult to maintain focus and not fret about whether or not you are gaining or losing time on your competitors.
Things got a little more exciting on the climb (towards the end), as we rode up onto Cannock Chase. Chris came flying past me and I knew he was on for a great race. On the climb, I overtook Jacqui Slack and then saw Samantha Warriner and Alice Hector, as they came out of the aid station triangle, so only a couple of minutes ahead. I pushed on to T2 and got my head ready for the battle on the run.
Early on the run (after running around Shugborough Hall), I saw the fast-running Vicky Gill coming the other way, so I was running scared from both her and Jacqui. However, onto the last lap, my parents yelled that Nikki Bartlett was right behind me – eek!. She caught me and I dug in to stay with her for as long as I could, thinking this might be the only way to hold off Vicky and Jacqui. However, on the off road section, just a few k away from the finish, I managed to pull away again and found a final burst of energy, to open up the gap by 45 seconds to secure my 5th pro placing.
I really enjoyed the setting and atmosphere at this event – the spectators and aid stations were a fantastic support, especially on the run and it was brilliant to have been a part of this inaugural Staffordshire event.
Tri247 produced a youtube video – www.youtube.com
A big thank you to our Sponsors for making it happen:
FFWD Wheels – Race Wheels
Huub – Wetsuits
Schwalbe – Cycle Tyres
ISM – Saddles
Lezyne – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
Altura – Triathlon and Cycle Apparel
Fenwicks – Lubrication
Camelbak – Bottles
Tifosi – Sunglasses
Limar – Helmets
Lake – Cycling Footwear
Jagwire – Cables & Housing
Swans – goggles
Shimano – Groupsets
Amphibia – Transition Bags
Stages – Power Meters
Race Ware Direct – Custom Garmin Mounts
Zero Point Compression – Compression wear