The TORQ triathletes have been targeting the World Age Group Championships all season; primarily as it was being held on home soil in Hyde Park. Just getting a place on the GB team was a challenge in itself, with plenty of previous GB racers missing out. However, our small high performing team rose to the challenge with Eleanor Haresign performing to the highest level, achieving second in her age group.
With the rest of us all getting high placings too, was it worth the hassle and the expense? Damn right it was; a brilliant race and truly rewarding being part of the World Championships on home soil. Here’s what the TORQ Athletes had to say:
Eleanor Haresign (Standard Distance World Champs): The rain had finally ceased on race morning, so I was then disappointed to hear the swim had been shortened. I decided to focus on the controllables and warmed up in the holding pen next to the pontoon, as planned. After a good clean start, I was pleasantly surprised to get round the first buoy without too many fisty-cuffs. All year, I have felt as though my swim does not quite reflect what I know I can do in training, but it seemed that I saved my best race for when it counted the most. I was smiling as I completed the rest of the swim, knowing that I could already be happy with my race.
Out on the bike, I passed a few super swimmers, before the eventual winner of my age group came past me like a train. I ended up back and forth with a few girls, where I got passed on the long straights, but I attacked on all the corners and technical sections. My Yorkshire training seemed to have paid off; the wind had picked up as the morning went on and we were the last wave to go. There were a few interesting side gusts from time to time.
After a nifty T2 (again, something I’ve not been doing brilliantly all year), I tried to keep a lid on it as the incredible noise from the sidelines made it easy to get overexcited. I soon shook off one girl before realizing that the next was not too far ahead. I slowly reeled her in, then got on her shoulder and considered my next move. At the start of lap two, with the tailwind, I made a dash for it. I had to make sure I got clear ground, much easier out of a headwind – Jonny Brownlee should have taken notes…! After the short climb with the sharp turn, I dared a look back to see how much gap I had, then focused on maintaining that intensity for the rest of the run – you never know who else is coming after you! My support crew had all amalgamated and I set off to start the last lap with a deafening roar in my ears. As I reached the grandstand, the announcers picked up the fact that I was coming in to finish and I heard them say I was approaching the line for the silver medal. I hadn’t been quite sure what position I was until then, so it felt fantastic to be able to savour the finish chute and appreciate the moment. I knew I’d put together the race I’d been after and that it had all come together. To be able to give my best with so many people willing me on, and whom I wanted to make proud after the support they provide in the background all year, is just the best feeling. Really, the result was the icing on the cake but it feels great to say I won silver at the World Championships!
Chris Standidge (Standard Distance World Champs): The London World Champs was to be the last race of the season. It had been a long season that had started back in April and this was to be the highlight of the year. We arrived a few days early to watch and support some of the racing and generally soak up the atmosphere. The weather had been pretty miserable and, on the technical bike course, I had seen a number of accidents, making me nervous about the race on Sunday. As it happened, we seemed to get the only break in the weather over the 5 days of racing, which meant dry and bright conditions, but unfortunately cold overnight. After the early 7am start and temperatures still in single digits, a decision had been made to shorten the swim to 750m. I was not happy, with the swim being my strongest event, but nothing could be done. The age group races got under way; in some of the bigger age groups the waves were split in 2, which meant you only knew how you were doing in your own wave. Even if you were winning your wave, you would have to keep pushing as you wouldn’t know what was happening in another.
The shortened swim was over in no time; one guy had gained a good lead but then there were 5 of us grouped together exiting the water. There was a long run up to transition before getting the bikes. The bad weather had made transition a bit of a mud bath and difficult to stay on your feet!
The 40k bike course was a 2 lapper, which was half around Hyde Park before heading into the City on closed roads. It was pretty flat and difficult to really pull away from people, so I found myself in a group of 4 for nearly all of the bike course. We kept ourselves legal but shared the lead. With lots of competitors on the course from all different age groups, it was difficult to keep track, but nobody came past, so we still had positions 2nd-5th. Into transition, I wanted to get away quickly and try and make some inroads into the guy who was leading our wave. I ran solidly throughout but wasn’t able to close the gap by much but I did end up beating the 3 others who I rode with, so had come 2nd in the wave. It was just a case of waiting but the 2nd wave had had some fast guys in it and so I ended up 8th in the age group.
Hamish Shaw (Standard Distance World Champs): Before I knew it, I was sat on the pontoon in the first of two 25-29 year old waves. I was close to the end of the pontoon in a reasonably good position. The water temperature was a pleasant 15.9 degrees and, with one minute to the start, we were instructed to lower ourselves into the water.
Less than 60 seconds to go to the biggest race of my life, I took a moment to wish the competitors next to me a good race and enjoy it, before looking out toward the first buoy, at around 250m.
It was go time! A strong push off the pontoon gave me some clear water initially; I had fairly clear water until about 25m before the first buoy, where it became a bit of a fight. Just before the buoy, I went to take a breath and realised my head had been pushed under water. The Serpentine water isn’t the nicest to drink and I don’t recommend it! I am sure it was unintentional, however, as there were about 20 swimmers all aiming for the same space.
After the turn, I sat on the feet of a swimmer ahead; it was quite tricky to sight on this stretch going straight into the sun. Thankfully, there were plenty of kayaks in a line between the buoys so I just kept them on my left hand side. I exited the swim with a few others and ran the 300m to the entrance to T1, taking caution in the transition area as it was muddy and slippery.
The bike course then went onto Embankment and all the way to Tower Hill, where the course turned back toward, and through, Trafalgar Square and up The Mall. Part way through the first lap, I nearly threw up the delightful water from the Serpentine; I just managed to hang onto it though and my stomach soon settled down. I got a gel down me on my second lap and began to think about the run. Toward the end of the second lap, a large pack came past me, which included three Aussies and the Maltese athlete who came 3rd at the Europeans. I didn’t need much more of a target than that and I kept them within sight coming into T2.
My run legs were definitely with me; I was passing athletes quickly and picking new targets ahead. After the Aussies had been dispatched, I was chasing two South African athletes in the distance. Part way through the second lap, the Maltese athlete, who must have had an issue in transition, came by and I tried to stay with him. He was just going a little too fast for me but I didn’t lose sight of him.
The third lap started and I knew I was having a great run; only 3 athletes had come by me and I soon dispatched the South African athletes, despite one of them trying to hang on to me. Next up was a Norwegian athlete, who looked like an uber biker! It didn’t take long to pass him and, moments later, an Irish athlete came past. He wasn’t moving much faster than me so I tucked in behind him on the slight uphill section. As soon as we made the turn and I heard the shouts of my family, I only had 800m to go. My brother told me to do a “Usain Bolt” so, of course, I had to oblige. I gave it everything in those last 800m; turning onto the finish straight, I caught and passed a French athlete in the closing metres. I had finished my first ever World Championships.
Nick Shasha (Sprint World Champs): Having qualified at the Llandudno Sea triathlon, I was looking forward to a World champs in my home town. I’m used to packing my bike up and flying to a World champs in some vaguely exotic place, so it felt rather strange getting on a tube train as if I was going to work. The “London sun” didn’t disappoint us Sprint boys and we had pretty much non-stop drizzle from start to finish. I think it’s called home advantage!
Out onto the swim and the A wave of my age group was led onto the pontoon. I had a great swim; starting off closest to the edge of the Serpentine lake and aiming to avoid the bun-fight at the first buoy. This went straight to plan and I emerged from the swim stress free and ready to face the long run to transition. I picked up a few stragglers on the way and then rode out onto the 3 lap bike course. I took this easy and risk-free as there were 5 dead turns and the roads were exceptionally slippery.
Coming back into T2, I felt positive that my run legs were still there and put in a strong first lap of two. My legs really started to fly on the second lap and I seemed to be passing more and more athletes, eventually completing the 5k in a storming time of 15.48; the fastest run split within my age group. Overall, I finished 32nd out of over 100 in the 35-39 age group. I have to be pleased with this result in what was undoubtedly the most competitive age group triathlon in history, especiallyconsidering I am someone with a duathlon background and that I only completed my first open water triathlon 4 months ago.
James Emery (Sprint World Champs): Hanging onto the pontoon and go… Oh no I’m stuck in the middle of a swim melee with nowhere to go! It wasn’t long before I was being hit and received a dead arm; which really wasn’t conducive to a fast swim time. With the fastest age groupers all racing flat out and all wanting to get the same bit of water, it wasn’t really surprising.
Onto the bike after staying on my feet, unlike lots of people in front of me in the transition (think slow motion falls with people trying to stop at their bike and simply sliding past it on the wet muddy grass). I was quickly winding the bike up to speed and, thankfully, I ride my bike in all conditions so slippery roads are not really of too much of a concern. In fact, I considered it an advantage, but people sliding out in front me were of concern and you definitely needed to keep your wits about you!
The run was a nice, simple, 2 lap affair where I worked as hard as I could; I even forgot about my ingrowing toenail, so I must have put a decent effort in! On completion, it felt pretty cool, as this race meant I had raced the World Championships in three different age groups and from sprint distance to 70.3 Ironman World Championships, something I’m quite proud off. To get a start at this race, you had to be on top of your gamel; every triathlete in the UK expressed a desire to compete. Anybody who went should be extremely proud and, as for the medallist like Eleanor, are simply outstanding.
Photos with thanks to marathon-photos.com, Kirsten Shaw and Lucy Scott (Hamish Shaw report) and all others pro snaps courtesy of Jolekha Shasha
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