Report by Barry Thorn
I remembered, that this time last year, the Clacton coastline was cloaked in a thin grey mist that restricted any views out to sea to just a couple of hundred yards, and mixed within the excited chants of the spectators, came a constant boom of heavy boulders being dropped into the sea as part of the new beach building project.
However, this year, upon arriving into the car park for the afternoon Duathlon, Sunglasses and shorts were commonplace as the distinctive radar tower glinted at us from a blue cloudless sky and the views from the promenade were of a long welcoming sandy beach, and the silent twirling army of wind turbines as they glinted along the calming horizon.
A warm welcome for most that was for sure, although, regrettably, for those taking part in the early morning Traithlon, the weather was far less favourable as Katherine, mother of TriForce’s Hannah Rayden was keen to point out.
“A 5am start for us to travel to Clacton for the super sprint tri with the girl’s captain. This was Hannah’s first open water tri in the sea. The swim was with the tide which made the middle section easier but the swim out and in were tricky. Hannah came out 4th. She held her position in the cycle where the grass was slippery for the bike but the run was just about long enough for Hannah to overtake 2 people in the last 400m and come 2nd. A Well organised event (shame they couldn’t organise sunshine!) Definitely worth the early morning start for us”
As Katherine reports, the elements had failed to hold back a strong and determined Hannah who performed superbly as Tri-Force’s only Youth contender in the Off Road Super Sprint Triathlon.
The course started with a 325 metre swim in the tumbling waves of the English Channel, followed by a 8 Kilometre off road cycle and ending with a 2,500 metre run. Considering her first open water swim in the sea, this was a fine performance and attaining a 2nd place finish to boot, this was impressive stuff. Well done Hannah!
From this dull start to the day, the sun began to burn away the clouds and early rain, and as the afternoon arrived, the air was warm and calm, welcoming the rest of the Tri Force athletes, who no doubt were eager to continue Hannah’s early success a they competed in the afternoon’s Duathlon.
Frances Holt remembers her arrival also:
“We arrived in the rain but within half an hour were peeling off layers and wishing we’d packed sunscreen as it changed into a wonderful warm sunny day with a stiff seaside breeze. As we approached the registration tent Bucks Fizz was playing on the PA system and that set the mood of the event – very family friendly and well-organised considering the venue was open to the public throughout”
Without the requirement of the swim, the course was well and easily defined, with athletes starting the run on the lower promenade, before climbing a short hill to the top, returning back to the central hub and into transition area via the upper promenade.
The bike route was a tiring test along some bobbling lumps and bumps whilst avoiding a few rabbit holes en route, negotiating a corner via a harder tarmac surface, before returning back along the same grass route to complete the circuit. The 2nd run, took the athletes in the opposite direction to the first, but once again the route started along the bottom promenade, reaching the aforementioned radar tower, before heading back along the top promenade, towards an enthusiastic crown waiting at the finish line.
The first age group off in the early afternoon was the Tristarts, and in this category we had just the one athlete, Mackenzie Holt, competing against 27 other athletes.. The circuits consisted of a 800 metre run, a 1k cycle, finishing with a 200 metre run. All competitors finishing across the line to well deserved cheers, before being adorned with a finishing medal, glugging down a bottle of water and chomping on a nice fresh banana!
Mackenzie was 11th out of the girls after the first run and improved this to 7th after the first transition and cycle, whilst she slipped to 9th in the final run, Mackenzie finished an impressive 6th out of the girls category and 17th in the race overall.
Reece Dickson was our next challenger in the Tristar 1 boys event.
Competing against 33 other boys, Reece completed a 1200 metre run, a 2k cycle and finally a 400 metre run in fine style.Reece finished his first run in 18th place, but improved his position superbly coming out of the cycle in 8th, and despite a 6th fastest transition going into the final run, he finished 15th out of the boys in the final section, and this excellent effort awarded him a 9th place in the boys section, just missing a top ten finish overall by one place , finishing 11th with a time of 15 minutes 30 seconds.
In the girls Tristar 1 race, representing Tri-Force was Amelia Weare, looking to build on her 18th place finish in the female category this time last year. Amelia had a great consistent race, finishing 11th out of the girls after the first run and improving this by 1 place after the cycle. She had an 11th place transition before completing her final run in which she came 12th overall. As a result of her great determination, Amelia finished 30th overall out of the 56 competitors but also bettered her previous finish in the girls race by 8 places, finally coming home in 10th place.
Sam Newman was next to compete in the Tristar 2 Boys race, which had 48 competitors hoping to complete a 1600 metre run, a 4k cycle, finishing with a 600 metre run.
Here’s how his dad Tim assessed the performance:
“Sam really enjoyed this race last year and was eager to do well against his usual arch rivals in the Eastern League. Against a strong field he ran really well coming in 3rd out of 26. His bike leg started well too but Sam started to run out of puff after the first lap and dropped to 10th on the bike and 9th overall. Perhaps Sam’s early morning school rugby practice and being spear tackled in it by the school “big lad” wasn’t ideal preparation…. Still a pretty good showing given he is in the younger age group.”
A great effort from Sam as he continues to show a great determination to get better and better, just make sure Dad stands in the way in Rugby practice in future Sam!
The Tristar 2 race for girls followed over the same courses with Tri Force having 3 athletes competing, namely Grace Dommett, Christie Durbin and Jessica Thorn all competing against 45 other athletes in this category.
Grace ran very well and came into her first Transition in 13th place amongst the girls. She followed this with a 5th place for her first transition. After a superb 8th place when completing the first circuit of the bike course, the conditions eventually took their toll, and Grace eventually recorded a 13th place after the cycle. However, a strong run kept her position, finishing 13th overall in the female category.
Christy’s season has always kept her consistently battling for a podium finish, and on this occasion her efforts proved how hard she works. Christy was 4th after the her first run, and despite her dropping to 10th after the first cycle circuit, her determination improved her position to 3rd after the third circuit, finally finishing the cycle in 5th out of the girls. Christy stormed her second transition as the fastest overall, and eventually finished sixth in her final run, to complete the race 4th overall out of the girls section.
Jessica has enjoyed many battles with her Tri Force teammate Christie in this event, and this day did not disappoint in the effort both offered. However, Jessica proved a consistent force, finishing 2nd in the first run, followed by a consistent 3rd throughout the cycle course, and by finishing the fastest for all competitors overall for the final run, Jessica deserved her final place of 2nd in the female category and 5th in the race overall.
The final event had two Tri-Force girls eager to do well in the Tristar3 race. Naomi Holt and Hannah Newman both had to complete a 2km run, followed by a 6km cycle, finishing the discipline with a 800m final run.
Hannah’s dad Tim offers his thoughts on her performance:
“Duathlon’s don’t really suit Hannah, given that swimming is her strongest discipline. It was a credit to her that she put in a big effort on the run, to come in 9th (probably her best run of the season). Hannah found the bike course rather challenging and she struggled to get in the right gears over the bumps and into the strong wind. As a result, she dropped back to finish 12th overall and muttering about the need, finally (hurrah!), to join Welwyn Wheelers to work on her bike skills.
Records appear to indicate that Hannah has equalled her best 12th place finish since entering the Tristar3 category, so it must be onwards and upwards from here Hannah.
Naomi is another contender who has maintained high standards in her performances to date, and she was obviously hoping for a good finish this time round. Noami finished her first run in 11th place, but her superb efforts in the cycle proved to be her best performance, finishing in first place for both sexes, throughout the whole 6km circuit. No doubt exhausted by her efforts, she still managed a 9th place in her final run, earning her a well deserved 3rd place on the podium at the finish.
With 8 of the Tri Force team delivering top 10 performances in their category, and others proving they are constantly improving , things are on the up for all of the team members, and I am sure that future reports will confirm this.
A big thank you to DE photos who have supplied a number of the images.