Friday, 22 July 2011

Canary Wharf

Gaining selection to race in the UK Superseries is a simple process but can become very long and drawn out. It is relatively simple, you have to meet certain criteria, submit results and sit back and wait. Depending on who else may wish to race (I.E if the whole of the British squad decide to turn out and some international stars) the number of places left to mere mortals reduces. Junior applications also effect the capacity available for Agers to race.

But all in all it comes down to previous results, swim splits, run splits and age (it looks as though it becomes harder as you go past 25 years old). However, all in all I would encourage you to attempt the step up if you can get to the magical sub 2hr mark (for men).

For the girls the times are adjusted accordingly (having said that if Chrissie Wellington keeps going the way she has we will all be using the same qualification times) and there is a drive to get more of the top level girls into the Superseries races, so go on give it a go - it's quite an experience lining up against the likes of Tim Don or in the girls case Helen Jenkins, Hollie Avil and Jodie Stimpson to name only a few.

Its a great experience, great for development and if nothing else one hell of a training session!

The only problem I have encountered with the selection process for the Superseries is that in it's very nature it is a selection process. What I mean by this is that (depending upon your standard) you are not guaranteed a start spot so up until 3 weeks before the event you are still not going to be sure if you are racing.

I am sure it's not a problem for the likes of the British Squad as they will have these races built into their training programs for utilization of tapers, Nat selection etc but for borderline Elites like myself it puts you in a difficult position when considering a races season - do I assume I am in and not book races before/after each event or presume I am out and book races only to cancel two weeks before and lose my entry. Obviously there is a middle ground but you get my point - I just went with my heart and hoped that I would be fit enough to get through my big 2 month block.

Fortunately I did and what an experience Canary Wharf was. I may have been tired, raced like a Wally and possibly looked like an extra from 28days later by the time I got on the run but it was all worth it.

Great setting, great atmosphere (cheer leaders, TV crews, a pre race interview and may name read out on way to pontoon) and some great athletes including Brendon Sexton and the impressive Erin Denshaw..... I believe this is how Elite racing should feel.

We lined up on the pontoon near the back and when the time came were called forward to one square short of the edge. We waited in expectation on the 'on your marks' but it never came, it was a straight claxton and off we went (well off a few went followed by a few who were still setting themselves expecting a pre-cursor to the claxton.

I was one of the last into the water but managed to settle into the pack for the first 150m but gradually slipped back round the first and second buoy. I settled for my position and followed some feet into T1 up the steep plastic steps which at this stage were very slippery with the athlete in front having real difficulties getting up the steps and falling a couple of times.

T1 was fast and I caught and overtook a number of racers, I would have caught more but had issues with my helmet as my glasses had fallen off and got caught between the helmet and my head causing me to struggle with the strap. I hadn't realised what had happened until I was on my first lap of the bike but managed to manipulate them down, out of my helmet and onto my face where they belonged. I was only then able to settle down to catch the 3 riders in front of me (inc Howard, Shaw and Peasgood).

The bike consisted of 9 laps of a 1.1k course including a total of 36 R Angle turns. The weather had been threatening but fortunately held off for the race otherwise this race may have been even more eventful. We worked well as a group and eventually caught Steve Worthington and another rider just before T2 and we all headed in together. The acceleration and deceleration was something that I had not experienced before and combined with such a short race was a bit of an eye opener for me.

My T2 was quick and I headed onto the run with Steve Worthington (who I know is a quick runner). I tried to keep with him on the run but that lasted about 10 yards and a combination of abdominal pain an pure fatigue kicked in meaning I had to come right off the pace almost stopping at the first bend to gather some composure. I continued in the race starting slowly and then just running with Carl Shaw as he caught me (Carl had two crashes in the race both in Transition so as races go it wasnt a good one for him and his final position certainly didint justify his swim bike run speed). It was only towards the end of the two laps that I started to feel as though I could open up a bit and left Carl on down the finish shute. I ended up 14th from 19 starters dropping 35seconds to the fastest swimmer and 1:12 to the fastest runner and 2 minutes overall. With the two heats this meant that I finished 31st from 39 finishers (not including those who dropped out or were DQ'd - the most eventful being Adam Bowden who completed the run barefoot only to find it was an infraction of the rules - he had come 3rd in his heat i think!)

Again, I cant begin to describe how good it was to be racing here (combined with trying to explain how painful it was) I have never been so knackered straight after a race, I would probably say I felt worse after this than an Ironman (although I felt fine about 1 hr later - it took me about 3 weeks after IMUK).

I do hope this becomes a regular event and is copied in many major cities/towns as maybe a series. Cambridge would be a good home, Manchester, Durham, Bristol a bit like the Crit racing/rr series.

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About Me

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As an ex-National League Basketball player I took up triathlon as a development from cross training. I won my first Sprint distance race and placed second in my first Olympic distance. Since then I have raced the UK Elite Superseries coming 24th in the National Elite Champs, raced Vegas 70.3 WChamps and helped Paratriathlete Iain Dawson to World, European and National Titles. In 2011 I obtained Pro authorisation from the BTF and am pushing my development by stepping up to top level competition in 2012. Aside from this I am a L1 Swim and Tri coach and Professional Lloyds Broker.