Although it's not strictly action from the weekend it's definitely a noteworthy item - Julian Crabtree became the third person to fully complete the Arch to Arc challenge in 87 hours 36 minutes. Sadly he didn't break Eddie Ette's original record but he did come pretty close. We are also waiting on news from the Walsh brothers after their massive swim challenge covering 50 miles in the nine major lakes: www.richard-walsh.co.uk/Sport_Lakes_Swim_Challenge.htm
Once upon a time it was the Mrs T's Triathlon in Chicago that held the title of 'world's biggest' but, with somewhere over 10,000 people taking part in the Michelob ULTRA London Triathlon over the weekend, that accolade has been in British hands for a couple of years now. For those that care about such trivia, Mrs T's is a brand of pierogy, an potato-filled pasta pocket of Eastern European origin -- something that never seems to have caught on over here where we seem to prefer beer as our carbo-load/sponsor of choice... Irrespective of the carbo source that fuelled/sponsored it, Sunday's elite race was definitely a cracker with some excellent racing at the front of the field in both mens and womens events.
The women's race was going to be a five-way with a couple of outside chances but at the end of the swim the question was whether Michelle Dillon could use the bike leg to bridge the 90 seconds gap that she had left herself to catch up to Luxford, Whitcombe and Swallow, not forgetting that last year her London race had been truncated by taking a wrong turn on the bike - that mistake was surely not going to be repeated! Dillon clearly used the bike leg to her advantage and although the first woman out of T2 onto the bike was Luxford with a 15 second buffer it was immediately obvious that Dillon was in very hot pursuit. By the time the motorbike escort had returned from the far run turn for the first time Dillon was in the lead and there was no way that she was going to let it go. Behind her was a scrap for the minor places on the podium with Whitcombe first catching and then pacing Luxford before kicking away to ensure second place.
Honourable mentions go to Jodie Swallow who put in a solid performance to confirm that she is steadily re-building her career, Leanda Cave who is still happy to mix it with the drafting, standard distance crowd despite making the move to predominantly middle and long distances, and to Hollie Avil who got stuck right in to her first full-distance event.
After ten years of Richard Stannard leading out the swim at London it was interesting to note the very fixed stare, and heavily swaddled body, of Benjamin Sanson on the dockside. If anyone was capable of besting Stan then this was the man the smart money said would do it. As a non-wetsuit swim always favours the better natural swimmers, the 'evening out' of the field was less likely and an early break could see several bike groups form rather than the massive train we had at Salford last week. Stu Hayes was obviously concerned that 20.2 degree water was something akin to an ice bath as he was clearly wearing a neoprene hood under his white cap!
Watching the swim at London is difficult unless you're in a boat so it wasn't until the lead swimmer was a couple of hundred metres away that it was clear that Stannard's record wasn't going to extend to an eleventh year - Sanson was 10 metres and change in front of a small group. In fact, Stannard was only ninth or tenth out of the water in the company of Don and Hayes.
The lead bike group of seven athletes; Don, Hayes, Wiltshire, Brook, Sanson and Reed, built a gap of around 1:40 after the first leg into central London and back with De Villiers, Curtayne, Stanley and Docherty in the chasing group unable to close it down. How much of that gap was due to Don's spangly new Trek Madone or how much bigger it could have been if all the members of the group had taken their turns on the front are, of course, topics for a Friday evening down the pub... By the time the leaders hit T2 the lead had extended to over 2:30 and it was all over bar the shouting.
When the lead motorbike came out of the Excel building onto the run course it was clearly down to just a two-man race with Don and Hayes running together with an unbridgeable gap back to Matt Reed and then a further gap back to Dann Brook and Harry Wiltshire. Lap two of the run saw Don turn up the burners and drop Hayes to run in for the win while Wiltshire dropped Brook who was then passed by De Villiers making up for time lost on the bike. Sanson refused to be passed and held on to seventh with Docherty making it up into eighth. Incidentally, we really weren't thinking straight when we said in the weekend preview that Docherty had an "uncharacteristically poor race at Salford" as he had actually placed sixth... ...what he did have at Salford was an uncharacteristically poor time getting his wetsuit off in T1!
Results for all the London races have beenuploaded to their dedicated results site: www.triathlonresults.co.uk and once they have all been checked and corrected we'll put local copies into the Tri247 database, probably for Friday. The results servers are being heavily loaded and you may need to try a few times to get the page to respond, the finish line video servers are expected to go live in around 48 hours. Overall, a very slick two days of racing and as far as we could tell from the people we spoke to, a very successful one as well. The charity business will have benefitted from a huge amount of cash, over 2 million pounds according to one report, and a load of new people will have experienced the sport for the first time. The London organisation takes a deep breath, catches up on some sleep and moves on to the next one, the world's biggest duathlon, in a few weeks time in Richmond Park.
||Michelle Dillon (GBR) 1:55:29
||Tim Don (GBR) 1:42:01
||Andrea Whitcombe (GBR) 1:56:05
||Stuart Hayes (GBR) 1:42:19
||Annabel Luxford (AUS) 1:56:20
||Matt Reed (USA) 1:44:29
At the Norseman, an iron-distance event that involves some hideous terrain, the winners were Lars Petto Stormo (Team Oslo Sportslager) in 11:25:18 and Emily Finager (Inside Triathlon) in 13:01:00. Best Brit results were John Hey (West Pennine RC) in 44th and Sharon Draw (Accelrace) in 8th. We have spent a bit of time trying to make sense of the published results - they have more holes in them than a piece of Jarlsberg - and our best efforts are here. Where the time out of or into a sector had been missed we have forced the corresponding transition time to 0:00:00, it was the only way we could get it to make sense!
The Marc Herremans Classic, now renamed the Antwerp Ironman 70.3, saw last years's winner, Andrew Johns, unable to repeat the victory against Marino Vanhoenacker. Frederik van Lierde, the current European long course champion, led out the swim (although he abandoned after the bike) but by T2 Vanhoenacker had built a five minute advantage over Johns and that stretched to seven by the finish. Third place was taken by Stijn Demeulemeester. Best GB male performance (excluding AJ, of course!) out of the huge contingent racing was from Martin Yelling in 14th with Holly James in 181st and taking third in her category.
In the women's race, Rebecca Preston continued her season of top results by beating last year's winner Yvonne Van Vlerken with Cora Vlot in third place. Full results are here.
||Rebecca Preston (AUS) 4:19:14
||Marino Vanhoenacker (BEL) 3:50:06
||Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 4:21:28
||Andrew Johns (GBR) 3:57:29
||Cora Vlot (NED) 4:29:34
||Stijn Demeulemeester (BEL) 4:00:29
The weekend's other 70.3 race, the Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3, has no race data at all at this time although there is a set of results on the timing company's site here. The pro field was almost non-existent, Wolfgang Guembel won in 4:04:42 with Andrea Fisher taking the women's race in 4:35:05. See the event's website for updates: www.steelheadtriathlon.com
At the Hayle Sprint Triathlon the winners were Quinton Lenegan (Navy Tri) in 1:05:28 and Rachel Hobbs in 1:12:09. A full set of results is here.
The Droitwich Triathlon was won by the in-form James Gilfillan (Primera Bournemouth) in 55:34 with the women's race being won by Debbie Cooper (Stratfors AC) in 1:09:07. Full results are on Stuart Steele's website here.
At the Oswestry Sprint Triathlon the honours went to Paul Hawkins in 1:09:55 and Sarah Greaves in 1:30:14. Full results are here.
The Cambridge Triathlon drew a field of over 200 despite the clash with London and the winners were Simon Richards (Birmingham Uni) in 2:03:08 and Kathryn Lester (Cambridge Tri Club) in 2:16:36. Full results are here