A very early registration time of between 7 and 8 am, meant a sleepy wake up call for most of the 13 Tri Force challengers making the hour long journey northwards to Impington School for Cambridge’s East Region Rob McLean junior triathlon which for the Tristar 2 and 3 competitors was also the second and final IRC qualifier.
Further to this, in view of the 4 hour plus wait that many of these excited young athletes had to endure before they could be unleashed into the race arena, you could be forgiven for thinking that their enthusiasm would have waned, and their strength slowly sapped from them as they huddled together cooped beneath the rain battered Tri-Force tent, throughout the morning. But if anything, despite the increasing rainfall, the Tri-Force juniors became a solid wall of grit and determination with some great successes as each age group took their turn to offer strong challenges within the popular 300 strong event.
The day was well organised with a faultlessly marked out course, good registration information (including an option to pre-register the day before the event) numerous marshalls on hand and even a consistent provision of cooked breakfast baps for the early arrivals throughout the event, accompanied by a decent P.A announcer helping to keep all attendees informed, even offering some competitors the opportunity of a brief breathless comment as they crossed the finishing line.
The course itself consisted of a 25 metre pool, and grass courses for both the bike and run sections.
The pool (that did offer spectator views from within the reception area), offered swimmers depending on age to swim in single lane waves or to ‘snake’ through the pool to complete their respective distance. In respect of a lengthy and in places gravelly run from the pool to the bike transition area, trainers were allowed to be placed outside the pool exit to help with this phase of the event. Both the bike and run course ran were alongside each other, with a reasonably flat run course, although the bike course, always a challenge on grass, offered a testing gradient in one section to challenge all participants.
Once the preliminaries were sorted, it was down to the action.
The first Tri-Force triathlete out of the traps representing Tristar 1 was Antonia Jubb, setting an excellent 1st place swim for both genders (3.22), but unfortunately having lost some vital seconds in the transition stages and bike section (8.03) had to rely on a great final run, only missing the fastest run for the girls by just 1 second (5.46) finally achieving a great podium place of 3rd with a finishing time of (18.13).
Our second competitor Sara Laitner, also had a great swim, finishing 2nd behind Antonia going into the first transition (3.34). although a slightly slower bike (8.19) and run (6.08) eventually had Sara finishing a superb 7th out of 29 competitors with a final time of (19.08).
Because of Tristar 2 and 3 being an IRC qualifier, the organizers then decided that the oldest age category, the Youths, were next to compete and a field of 31 male youths enjoyed the best weather of the day as the rain, whilst a constant threat, held off.
One of those taking part was our oldest Tri-Force competitor Matthew Honeyman who was keen to maintain his very high standards and certainly did not disappoint as he finished a very creditable 9th overall (34.09).
There then followed a break which allowed all the competitors who had competed time to remove their kit from transition and attend their trophy presentation.
The Tristar 3 girls endured the same tough conditions throughout and despite this, it was pleasing to note the constant smiles visible beneath their rain splattered noses. It was also very pleasing to witness the determination behind those smiles that kept the Tri Force quartet of Alannah Mabbs, Naomi Holt, Tori Weston and Jessica Laitner pushing the 29 other ladies throughout the race.
Jessica had the fastest swim of all the girls competing (4.57) and had the fastest transition from the bike to the run (18 secs). Unfortunately her cycling has always been her achilles heel and despite having cyclo cross tyres on for the first time she still lost ground to all her main rivals including Tori and Naomi who flew straight past her. Her running is always strong and she immediately started clawing back the lost ground and although she managed to get passed nearly everyone who had gone past her on the bike she was unable to get close enough to make a podium challenge and eventually completed in a great time of (36.00) to come 4th overall.
Tori was second fastest in the pool (5.00) but appeared to eat up a lot of time in her first transition (40 secs) and that proved a constant challenge from then on. However, despite this, Tori battled on through the torrid elements to finish the event in 5th position.
Naomi came out of the swim behind Tori, but then proved how good her cycling is by overtaking Tori and a number of other girls with a 5th place on the bike. Yet again her running was more of a struggle which meant that she ended up dropping 4 places to 9th overall but still an excellent result given the calibre of the field.
Alannah Mabbs proved a constant battler, and by now, soaked throughout, she remained determined to the end and her willpower provided a very respectable 14th place out of the 29 girls competing.
The next age group to follow was the Tristar 3 boys, and with Tri Force only having the one representative, it was down to James Mabbs to grimace and grind his way through a now persistent downpour, and to be fair to him, the conditions proved to be the harshest of the whole day. But if nothing else, character and sheer persistence eventually helped James to finish a very creditable 25th overall. His result was probably not helped by the fact with such a long wait to compete, he had made the fatal mistake of eating far too much at the wrong time which resulted in his normally very strong run being compromised by feeling very sick!!!!!!!!!!
After a long wait, a large field of 87 competitors for the Tristar 2 section battled the elements of wind and heavy rain throughout the early afternoon and with 3 girls and 2 boys competing for Tri Force we were unsure of what performances would prevail.
The Tristar 2 girls also had to battle the intermittent heavy rainfall and blustery weather but despite this all three returned with great finishes.
A highlight of the afternoon was the closing stages of the run for the first wave of Tristar 2 athletes, with 3 top finishers including Tri Force’s Sophie Mabbs battling it out through the final laps of the run against two other potential top place contenders, Katie Tasker and Angharad Evans. Despite these athletes leading by 25 seconds at the start of final run stage, Sophie was determined to eat up those lost seconds and continued to make up ground which culminated in a breathless race through the final few meters with all three giving their all to cross the finish line.
Despite Sophie’s efforts and winning both the swim (3.35} and run (7.57) she came a very close second ultimately beaten into second place by just 2 seconds, having been hampered just as she took the lead on the final turn by a slow runner immediately in front of her blocking her path.
The chasing section had two familiar Tri Force performers in Jessica Thorn and Christie Durbin and they both made great efforts in all three disciplines with Jessica attaining her third 4th place finish in consecutive events and Christie continuing to keep close attendance finishing in 6th place overall and ensuring that Tri Force had three contestants within the top 7 for yet another event.
Within the boys race we had both Sam Newman and Jarman Thomas both fighting to impress.
Despite a faster swim (4.33) and a first transition (31) by Thomas, a slightly slower bike and run section had Thomas eventually finishing a highly creditable 15th out of 47 boys.
Sam however, proved a more formidable force throughout the latter stages and managed an excellent 5th place overall with a final finishing time of (26.46). It is a great addition to these reports when we receive race feedback from the athletes themselves and I encourage you to read Sam Newman’s personal account of his experiences noted at the end of this report.
It is extremely worthwhile in providing a positive vibe to finish the report exclaiming that due to the diligence of our excellent coaches and ultimately the quality of the athletes themselves that Tri-Force Triathlon Club had 10 Top 10 finishers within this large event and 3 other athletes in close contention.
The Tri-Force Juniors should feel proud of their achievements so far in this stage of the season.
Sam’s personal account is as follows:
“I remember this event from last year – I really enjoyed it and I was looking forward to competing again. What I didn’t enjoy was having to get up at 5.30 am, to register at 7am and then twiddle my thumbs until 12.30pm to actually start! Anyway, the swim was OK, but its’ not my strongest event so I did my best (coming 25th)and pushed hard to get through transition quickly afterwards. I really went for it on the bike and made up a lot of ground on the field. All was going brilliantly until I came off the bike on tricky corner on my very last lap. I got back on quickly enough, but had lost valuable time – but still managed 7th place. I was pretty frustrated, so took it out on the run and again made up a bit of time – I even managed a sprint finish to come in 4th. In the end I came 5th overall out of 49. I was really pleased with the result, especially as I only moved into Tri 2 this year. I think this might have been my best race ever and I can’t wait for the next one!”