With rather inclement weather, Eleanor Haresign braved the conditions, fights with buses and the local residents (sheep) to win the Aberfeldy middle distance triathlon, which also doubled as the Scottish Championships! She crafted a brilliant race and once in the lead, never looked back…
Eleanor Hairsign: I was really looking forward to this race for several reasons – a catch up with all my Scottish-based tri buddies, the fantastic scenery, and the opportunity to defend my title at this race, which this year was also designated as the Scottish Middle Distance Championships. It’s a fantastic event, with a great atmosphere that has evolved over the years with lots of people also coming to do it in relays, and lots of family and friends, who give superb support out on the course. The course suited my strengths, with a lumpy ride over the Schehallion road, then a lap of Loch Rannoch, and back over Schehallion into Aberfeldy. The run took you on an out-and-back course with plenty of opportunity for runners to cheer each other on in either direction as they passed each other.
The forecast materialised accurately, with quite a chop on the loch as we headed out into the middle of the water. I had a bit of a shocker of a swim, getting boxed in and seemingly unable to get out of the fray which meant that, rather than ending up in my usual no-man’s land, I had company and elbows right back to the slipway. As a result, I came out a bit further back than I would have liked, and set off in pursuit of the two leading girls.
I caught the first one at the bottom of the climb and decided to make my move and try to get away. Then I was surprised to catch the leader half way up and figured I’d ‘make hay while the sun shines’ (or maintain my effort up the hill before the rain started in earnest). I have raced my friend Jen Stewart many times in Scotland and we both know she rules on the flat whilst I am better on the hills! So I dug in, with the aim of getting a gap, then holding it. This seemed to pay off, although I lost a bit of speed on the descent the other side, as I was forced to a near halt by six sheep undertaking a leisurely road crossing. I decided not to risk bunny-hopping them (need to get some tips from the TORQ MTB boys – JE)!
Further round the loch, I encountered a bit more drama; an altercation between a large bus, a narrow bridge on a single track road and me. Despite working out who was most likely to come out worst, I figured I could somehow squeeze through that gap and ended up having to stop and dab my foot along the ground as the gap had become so tight. I didn’t want to stop, I’d a race on! After that, I decided to be more sensible and not tempt fate on the descent back to Aberfeldy. The weather was wild, with gusty wind that changed its mind on direction every other minute. The roads were running with the heavy rain and I reminded myself that any chance of winning depended on making it to T2 safely for starters.
In similar Scottish weather, I have previously been know to spend a good three minutes in T2 with claw hands, unable to get my socks and shoes on, whilst my pals clutched theirs sides with laughter at how ridiculous I looked and unable to assist me. So, I was thankful to make better progress this time and get out on the run. I saw the other two girls coming in as I ran out. I would need a solid run to make sure they didn’t catch me – both were certainly capable of reeling me in, I thought. After the turn, I made sure to look composed when I passed them coming the other way. Maybe the mind games worked, but I nonetheless managed to increase my lead through the run, new territory for someone used to running scared! It was a great feeling coming to the finish to finally take a Scottish Championship title. Not only had I defended a race title, but made some significant improvements to my bike and run splits from last year, despite the weather conditions. So now it’s back to the short and sharp, and finalise my race preparations for London AG World Champs, with National Club Relays with the team next weekend.
With special thanks to Iain Macintosh of ImacImages Photography www.imacimages.photoshelter.com the for the excellent swim exit photograph.
As ever, thanks to the help of all our fantastic sponsors:
www.huubdesign.com – Wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication