Apologies, I have been a little distracted by the natural beauty of the Bay of Islands since leaving the ITU Triathlon World Championships and Auckland behind on Tuesday.
If you have not yet checked out the highlights of the men’s and women’s elite races they are worth a look. Obviously sharing an airport shuttle with us did Anne Haug the world of good. When she put the hammer down in the latter stages of the run no one could go with her. She is an incredible runner, strong but relaxed and technically very impressive. What’s more she was able to run away from the lead group having chased them down on the bike on a very tough bike course.
The men’s race was a real battle against the elements. The conditions were pretty awful to say the least. The rain was torrential at times. I thought the race was won when Johnny Brownlee and Richard Varga got away on the bike following a strong swim which saw them exit the water with a small lead. The chase group, with Javier Gomez, Kris Gemmell and Bevan Docherty, clawed their way back before Gemmell made a break and started the run with a lead of about a minute. Gomez and Brownlee soon closed in and it became a two man race. In the end it was Gomez who had the legs to out sprint Brownlee in a fantastic finish.
The age groupers had somewhat better conditions than the elite men. The water was pretty cool at 14.5°C but it was the combination of the tide and a strong NW wind which made conditions very challenging. Amanda and Sarah will both tell you it was the toughest swim they have ever encountered. The waves made it impossible to see the turning buoys, the rescue kayakers had to form a line to indicate to the swimmers the direction to swim (even they were difficult to see) and the tide meant it was a constant battle to stay on course.
Neither Sarah nor Amanda enjoyed the swim. The bike route had a few decent climbs and with the strong wind it was also a real challenge. Both put in solid rides on the tough bike course. Sarah then ran the second fastest run split of her age group with a scorching 38m 54sec. Her first 10km since March and her first sub 40min 10km ever! She finished 32nd in the 35-39 age group. Amanda was disappointed with her run but finished a credible 72nd in the world and 13th of the GB women in the 35-39 age group. My twin brother Nathan had the fourth fastest bike split in his age group. He crossed the finish line 13th in the world in the 35-39 age group. While he was disappointed with both his swim and run, I am sure you will agree (and he will eventually), 13th in the world is a very impressive result.
Ailanore Harper raced in both the ITU Aquathlon and Sprint Triathlon World Championships. Conditions for the aqualthlon weren’t much better than those facing the triathletes on Monday. I heard a number of athletes say how rough the swim was. Ailanore finished 22nd and 32nd in the 25-29 age group in the aquathlon and triathlon respectively. I would be interested to hear if she thought racing in the aquathlon was advantageous in terms of helping her prepare for the triathlon.
While the conditions in Auckland didn’t suit everyone, we don’t participate in endurance racing because it’s easy, it’s pushing the limits of what we can do that keeps us coming back for more.
All the best to those competing this weekend in the Jekyll and Hyde Park Duathlon. Give it heaps. Let’s get on the podium for the London League! See you soon. Tim (LFTC Coach)