National Sprint Champs

This was a great reward for two of the TORQ team after all their hard work. Alex Lawton won the event outright and Iain came 3rd overall (plus won his age group). Nick Shasha didn’t fair too badly either in his first Tri season, achieving 6th in his age group.

Alex Lawton: With no glamourous international age group racing on the calendar this year, the English and British Championships events are probably the most significant for me this year. While the national titles are awarded to each respective age group winner, my ambitions had always been more focused on trying to win the race outright, and with the overall win at the Duathlon champs and 2nd overall at the Olympic Champs, I was hoping to continue this form into National Spnint Champs.

The swim was as explosive as ever and I got a proper hand-on-the-head-pushed-underwater dunking at the 1st buoy, which was a new experience and not ideal when you’re already short of breath. It was the first race in the new Huub Archimedes suit though. I’d been racing in the mid-range Huub suit last year and loved the thing and the Archimedes is another step up, which feels even better. However you can only rely on this so much and I had some catching up to do on the bike.

It was another first time racing on the TORQ Wilier trestina. Now, I’d fallen in love with my first TT bike I’d been riding last season, so there was an element of trepidation about changing to a different bike. That being said, I’d only ever ridden this single TT bike, so had nothing to benchmark it against. I’m not big on bike tech, but the Wilier has 3 main advantages:

i) It just feels a hell of a lot quicker, efficient and powerful.
ii) Its black and orange, so I’ll never run past it in transition.
iii) It’s has an 11 speed setup. My last bike was 10 speed, therefore I’m +1 faster as per that Spinal Tap film!

Fellow TORQ team member Iain was racing too and he seemed to be loving the new bike even more judging by the way he came past me and kept on going. However, I was making up ground and picking people off and came off the bike in 3rd place, but 30 seconds or so down on Iain in 2nd. Inter-team bragging rights were now on the cards as well as a national title! Now, Iain is no slouch on the run and had recently won a gold at the European AG’s by smashing it on the final leg, so I had a lot of work to do make this up over just 5k. But things were going well and slowly but surely the gap was narrowing and I caught Iain before the end of the 1st 2.5k lap. I’d been concentrating on catching Iain and I hadn’t thought about having to catch up with the 1st placed athlete, but we’d both been reeling him in, so I jumped from 3rd to 1st in what seemed like an instant and continued to build a gap up until the finish.

I’d done enough to win by just under 30 seconds to take the overall National Sprint distance title, whilst Iain had done enough to take 3rd overall and another AG gold to add to a growing collection for him.

Iain Roberston: Emberton Park is a great venue for Triathlon and a place that I enjoy racing (probably because it’s one of the events closer to where I live in Norfolk). After the Europeans, my confidence was high and I was looking for a fast race over the sprint distance.

I knew there were some good athletes racing. The senior mens wave was off first and there were a lot of athletes in it. The first buoy was tucked into the corner of the lake and it looked like it was going to be a physical swim.  The swim went well and I was out of the water with a pb of 10.30, which would put me in a good position coming into T1.

A good transition occurred and I was out heading into the village of Onley. Coming out of the village up a slight drag I came past fellow TORQ athlete Alex. I knew that I would need to have a good gap over him to have any chance on the run. I really enjoyed the undulating course, which had some really fast sections particularly coming into T2.

I had made up several places on the bike leg and I came into T2 in 2nd place. I felt good at the beginning of the run and was not too far off the lead. I could feel that I was being closed down from behind, but I was also catching the leader. I caught the leader at about half way, but was immediately passed by Alex, I had been in the lead for maybe 2 strides!!

Alex was really flying, but I thought I would just tag onto the back of him and see if I could hold on. That only lasted for about 20 seconds and I knew at that point I was racing for 2nd place. I maintained a decent pace for the second lap and held onto 2nd place overall. I was really pleased to be on the podium and first in my AG.

It turned out that Andy Tarry from the second wave had completed the course a couple of seconds quicker which had pushed me down to 3rd overall. 1st and 3rd overall for TORQ was a great result though and I was over 2 minutes quicker than the last time I had raced at the venue 2 years ago on exactly the same course.

Nick Shasha: I have raced at this venue many times previously, so I was looking forward to the familiar course around the Milton Keynes countryside. A so-so swim was followed by transition issues before a reasonable bike leg. I caught many on the run, but it was only good enough for 6th in age group on the day. I was going for a podium, but I suppose I have to be realistic – I have only been racing triathlons for a little over 1 year. Nevertheless, a fantastic finish by my fellow TORQ athletes who kept the black and orange flag flying that day!

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