Anyone who has ever been to a corporate triathlon will be aware that they don't quite follow the same sonsgsheet as the regular kind. Trying to ban mobile phones in a transition area full of people who have been surgically attached to a Blackberry or who are conducting deals in between races is about as pointless an exercise as it's possible to imagine! This is an environment where beer is more likely to be consumed than energy drink and a post-race cigarette is as normal as signing a multi-million pound deal. Indeed, I bumped into a regular triathlete in the transition area and asked him which part of the property business he was in. Not him, it transpired but his son-in-law, he was just taking an advantage of a race on a Friday! Looks like the POETS philosophy is alive and well, although in this person's case I suspect that he doesn't need to work either.
The King Sturge Property Triathlon was, by all standards other than the weather, a great success with over £100,000 being raised for the two charities plus over £150,000 for the Willow Foundation through Paul White of Frogmore Estates personal efforts. The racing, as at all these things, varied from fast and furious to the more pedestrian but, even with the regular sprinkling of blustery showers, more people stayed for the closing presentation than I've seen at many a race. Of course, the fact that there was a bar may well have helped. Corporate Triathlon; alive, well, prospering and doing its bit in great style - grab one if you can. (Full results here.)
After the slightly surreal surroundings of Friday's corporate bash the racing on Saturday stepped up a notch with the European Triathlon Championships in Copenhagen. Holly Avil clearly showed that with her swimming and running background she is rapidly turning into a triathlete with big potential. Her races this year already include scalping the elites to win at Strathclyde and it was clear from the gun that she was going to be the one to catch in the Junior women's race. She established an early lead on the bike to set herself up for the run with a 20 second advantage, despite the efforts of the chase group to catch her. Once on the run she held them off with ease and ran in for the Gold medal 21 seconds ahead of Rebecca Robisch (GER) in 1:01:07. Team mate Kirsty McWilliam ran through the pack and finished in third place, 48 seconds behind making it a great start to the day.
The Junior men's game plan was also to try to get away off the front but, in this case, it was Molinari (ITA) who went clear on lap three with Vasiliev (RUS) bridging up to join him. At T2 they had a 36 second advantage on the chase group which included all four of the GB men. It nearly didn't, however, as Alistair Brownlee had hit a barrier early on and dropped his chain as a result, a problem which lost him several seconds and saw him having to chase hard to get back in touch. However, as is often the case, those who bide their time make the strongest move and by the 2.7k timing split on the run Brownlee had moved up into the lead with a seven second advantage on Raphael (FRA), the defending champion. By the finish Brownlee had 19 seconds and took the Gold medal with Raphael second and Silva (POR) in third. Jonathan Brownlee was 5th, Aaron Harris 8th and Mark Threlfall 21st.
In the Elite women's race we pretty much knew what the tactics were going to be: take the battle to Vanessa Fernandes (POR) so that our stronger runners would be in a position to challenge her on the run. And, according to plan, we saw Julie Dibens sit up and wait for Michelle Dillon who was a minute back in the swim and then tow her through the pack. Unfortunately there is always a danger with this tactic and that is that you'll pick up other people who you don't necessarily want to have along for the ride and that seems to have been the case here! The problem with Fernandes is that she really can run and, despite the best efforts of Dibens (and Abbie Thorrington and Rosie Clarke working with Whitcombe), it was the Portugese girl who dominated on the run, opening up a 46 second lead on the chase group to take the Gold in 2:02:36. In the ensuing bunch sprint Kate Allen (AUT) took Silver and Nicola Spirig (SUI) Bronze. Andrea Whitcome just missed with 4th, Michelle Dillon was 6th. Dibens, Thorrington and Clarke all DNFd.
The rain, which had held off for most of the day, then started to tip it down and the fear for the Elite men's race was that, as Will Clarke found in practice session, the deluge would litter the course with road debris making for punctures or, worse, crashes. And that's exactly what happened - somewhere between 20k and 25k (at the furthest point of the loop to the wheel stop) Tim Don punctured. Andrew Johns sat up and waited for him and the pair then set about trying to make back the thick end of a two minute deficit. By T2 they had reduced it to a minute but by then the big guns were out on the run and already firing with Javier Gomez (ESP) and Jan Frodeno (GER) holding the front until about 2k to go when Gomez started to make his move. Gomez held the lead to the line winning his first European title in 1:52:58 with Jan Frodeno in second and Danier Unger (GER) in third. Perhaps the German's decision to not race Des Moines wasn't such a bad one...
The GB squad ended up with Will Clarke in 12th which guarantees him a slot for the Worlds in Hamburg, Oliver Freeman in 14th, Tim Don in 18th, Stuart Hayes in 19th and Andrew Johns was 46th. Gavin Noble (IRL) was 27th. Overall a disappointing result for the elites with Don being especially annoyed at his bad luck. The racing even got a mention in the Daily Mail!
Sunday's age group racing at the Europeans didn't seem to be getting any live coverage at all and an unexpected dash across London meant that by the time we got back to somewhere with a working net connection it was all over... Scott Murray, the GB Team Captain and Jasmine Flatters plus a number of other athletes out there all kindly texted and emailed details of a bumper medal harvest. A total of 6 Golds, 4 Silvers and 3 Bronze medals plus a whole handful of top 5 and top 10 placings make this one of the most successful Championships in a long time. Scott summarised by saying that, despite the drafting problems caused by having over 350 athletes on a 10k loop bike course, the GB team raced honestly and with integrity, they did themselves and their Country proud.
||Gold: Anthony Gritton
||Gold: Abbey Norman
||Gold: Chris Rhodes, Silver: Chris Standidge
||Gold: Chris Stuart
||Gold: Andrew Fisher
||Gold: Sophie Whitworth, Bronze: Jill Cliff
||Silver: Gary Gerrard
||Bronze: Sue Hudson
||Bronze: Bill Shackcloth
||Silver: Carol Killick
||Silver: Peter Howard
The big international race of the day was the European Ironman Championships, also known as Ironman Germany, where the results didn't entirely turn out the way we might have predicted. To start with, Normann Stadler pulled up on the bike, apparently with back trouble, and then Timo Bracht set off down the bike course after Frank Vytrisal who he closed down to just over two minutes at T2. By 8k into the run Bracht had the lead and that was the way that it stayed to the finish in a new course record of 8:09:15. None of the big guns really fired up, Faris Al-Sultan ended up in 6th.
In the womens race it was all about two people, or at least that's the way it was once the run got going. Early leader Wenke Kujala was passed after a couple of kilometres and then it turned into a duel between Andrea Brede and Nicole Leder. And, finally, after running together for pretty much the entire marathon it all came down to a sprint in the last 50 metres which saw Leder grab the win in 9:04:11, just five seconds clear of Brede. They don't come much closer than that - even if the smart money had been on a showdown between Stadler and Al-Sultan... Full results should be on the Ironman Germany website by Monday morning: www.ironman.de
||Timo Bracht (8:09:15)
||Nicole Leder (9:04:11)
||Michael Göhner (8:11:50)
||Andrea Brede (9:04:16)
||Frank Vytrisal (8:13:34)
||Nina Eggert (9:12:18)
Back in the UK, with showers still rattling across the venue, Dorney Lake was building up to the second day of racing - this time with the Timex WomenOnly event. The growth of women only events is an interesting phenomenon, and we'll be covering this in more detail later in the week, but there are some remarkable differences to the racing when it's just the female of the species. Apart from one collision in transition caused by pure carelessness there was an overwhelming sense that everyone was there to enjoy, not just their own race but those of the others too. Briefings get listened to, latecomers (there were massive hold-ups on the M4 due to an accident) apologise for having to go in the wrong wave and the sight of daughter beating mother makes it all very entertaining.
Among the promised highlights was the friendly battle between two Olympic downhill skiers, Britain's Chemmy Alcott and Canadian Champion Emily Brydon which saw Allcott emerge victorious with 51st place in the Challenge distance over Brydon's 59th. Beverley Turner, wife of James Cracknell and a TV presenter in her own right, also returned to race again in the Sprint distance. (Results here for Challenge, Challenge relay, Sprint and Novice events)
Sunday's racing results began with the standard distance Norwich Triathlon where Mike Auger and Rachel Barnes took the wins. (Full results here.)
Unofficial results for the standard distance Plymouth Triathlon give the win to Steve Hocking-Thomson (Tri-UK Gatorade) and Kerry Smith. (Full results here.)
At the Pembrokeshire Triathlon it was more than just a win that was up for grabs as the race also carried qualification slots for the World Championships in Hamburg later this Summer. Despite the severe weather forecast the event was showery with a brisk southerly breeze but no worse. The swim was calm in the sheltered harbour and the road surfaces excellent. Colin Dixon pulled out an enormous lead from Richard Jones and Peter Younghusband. The winning time of 2:18 is more a reflection on the course than the weather. The swim was 2 laps of 750m with a 150m run between laps and a 200m run to transition. The bike course is long - 47.5k for the two laps and continuously rolls with no chance to power through on the tribars. Despite the mass start and many motorcycle marshals there were no drafting penalties applied.
The two-lap run is slightly short at 9.4k and the time includes T2 but 36min is still the quickest time. The first leg of the run took the runners down the inner breakwater for 800m and then turns to head back down directly into the breeze! After a 500m crossing of the beach head the athletes then hit the hill for another 1k on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the 1k descent on the coast road then gives a brief respite before crossing the beach head again and heading onto the second lap. Overall wins in the standard distance race went to Colin Dixon and Rhian Roxburgh (Carneddau Tri Club) while the sprint event saw wins for Gregory Prout (Pencoed Tri) and Elinor Kirk. (Results here for Standard and Sprint events)
The Crewkerne Short Triathlon produced wins for Tony Waller and Lauren House and the organisers were so pleased with the whole event that they even sent us a write-up. (Full results here.) In addition to the main event they also put on a Tristar Mini Triathlon, results for that are here.
At Bosworth Water in the Midlands, Biddie Ford once again put on the Terrapin Triathlon with the sprint distance event being won by Andy Tarry (TFN 2XU) and Danielle Stewart (Warwick University Tri). The Novice race was won by David Nash (Black Country Tri) and Sam Winters (Leicester Tri). (Full results for the Sprint are here, the Womens wave are here and the Novice is here.)
At the last of the Bedford Sprint Series honours were taken by Steve Harrison (FVS Tri) and Rachel Hobbs as both of them not only won the event but also took the series wins as well. Full split times will be available shortly, or so the event website tells us, for the moment you can get just the finish times here.
Sunday saw yet another day of racing at Dorney Lake with the SiS Steelman Standard and Challenge distance events. The Standard was won by Peter Slijkhuis and Emma Dews with the Challenge being won by Joseph Francis (Maidenhead and District CC) and Libby Cameron. (Full results for the Standard are here, the Standard Relay are here and the Challenge is here.)
The Eastnor Castle events included a middle distance, won by Joel Jameson and Katy Moore, a standard distance, won by Clark Schofield and Shirley Yarde plus an AquaBike which was won by Penny Bullimore. (Full results for the middle distance are here, the standard distance are here and the AquaBike is here.)
At the East Leake Triathlon wins were recorded by Tom Curtis and Susy Cootes (both LB Students). (Full results here.)