Although racing in the 30-34 AG on the Sunday at 8am I had previously committed to guiding T6 World Champion Iain Dawson on the Saturday night at 4pm. To summarise, while racing in 40 deg heat we pulled out a 5 minute lead before we managed to break the carbon away from the aluminium rim of his tri-spoke wheel. A disappointing DNF.
Despite knowledge of Iain carrying a foot injury, we had tactically decided to go for it in the swim and the bike and try and obtain a lead to give the option of taking it easy on the run (Iain had a suspected broken metatarsal).
The race itself was eventful even before the final fateful lap on the bike. We had a really good swim and Iains work in the pool had obviously been paying off. We came out of the water in second place and a lot closer to an alternatively classed Para athlete than we had been at Budapest the year before.
However, this is where the issues began to build. Upon exit from the water, with Ian's adrenaline pumping he started the barefoot run from exit to T1 which was a good 100m or so across pavement. This obviously didn't last long and he almost immediately ground to a halt; after some strong encouragement (not to run!) we walked into T1 only being overtaken by one (non T6) athlete in the process.
Once kitted up we gingerly headed out to the mount line and set of on the 1st of four 5k laps. The mount itself wasn't great, probably due to a combination of lack of training and the change in tempo from race to walk though T1.
The bike itself started well, although felt slightly sluggish and hard going. At the time I put it down to the good food at the hotel that Iain had been eating and the heat of the day but the wheel may well have been causing problems from the outset.
During the bike there was a continual squeak when breaking and turning/accelerating was becoming more and more difficult. We were getting up to speed 70k+ or so (speedo had also stopped!) and even stopped at the end of lap three because we thought we had a puncture (it turned out it was the valve sticking outside of the wheel (where the rim had moved) catching the frame as it went round.
It appeared to be ok, we loosened the breaks and started lap 4........2.5k into the last lap the rear wheel seized and that was that, the brakes were hotter than the hot bits of the sun and the wheel was a wonky a the owner of a certain chocolate factory (the tub was still in tact which was very surprising).
After a bit of a stomp and a walk to the next set of marshals we decided that it had made our decision about running easy and that it was probably for the best (it was about now that 2nd place went passed).
I must admit that I am gutted that we didn't get chance to defend Iain's title due to a mechanical especially when we were giving it a good go despite Iain's foot. However, I had a second race to put my mind to so while Ian consoled himself at the evening event I ate well and travelled back to the hotel to get a few hrs kip before my taxi was due at 6:30am
The Olympic distance race on Sunday was a 2nd event for me, and I had entered it as I was going to be there and fancied a solid training session. The swim started well (I was under no illusions that the race the day before normally takes about a minute out of each discipline) as I was still in touch with Nick Dunn who normally swims the same pace as me. I was a bit slower through to T1 and lost some time on Nick. My race plan had been to keep Nick in my sights for the race and try to hold on for the run, His speed work is pretty impressive and he was coming in off an 8min win at the Little Beaver event earlier in the year. He had also been in Mallorca for 3 months running a Tri Camp so was used to the heat and the time spent on the bike had shown in the way he attacked the course.
The Bike felt hard but I still managed a solid performance and was glad to get onto the run in 3rd place, I . I knew I could catch Dale Grassby on the run but also recognised that Nick was a very strong runner. As soon as I reached the looped section of the run I could see Roger Witz Barnes up ahead; I knew Roger was in an earlier heat and would be a lap up on me (I race with Roger in the superseries so was aware of his quality). I managed to catch him and then ran with him for 2 3/4 laps using him to pace which worked really well.
I managed to pass Dale early in the run (who did pull up with a hamstring issue a bit later) and ended up only 1:40 down on Nick by the end of the race taking silver in the process.
I am very happy to have finally got a European Medal and it came at a time when I wasn't really expecting to finish on the podium. I have been to two previous Euros and finished 5th both times. First race I crashed on the bike and the second I ran with a calf injury so have never quite made it to the end without incident.
This was a completely unexpected result as entry had only been as a hard training session - the Elite racing seeming to be paying off!
- 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.