On Sunday 17th July 2016, Discovery Triathlon Club based in Chelmsford, hosted their annual triathlon at Writtle College just on the outskirts of the city. The event attracted dozens of competitors from across the Eastern Region all with a view of winning in their age category. The triathlon formed part of the children’s East Region triathlon league where competitors aim to gain as many points as they can in order to be crowned regional champion at the end of the season in September. There are many other events like this across the entire region but what marks this one out from the others is that it was a replica course of a real triathlon. The stunning backdrop of Writtle College provided an open water swim
and a closed road tarmac cycle route which is uncommon for children’s events.
Tri-Force Juniors sadly only had 5 competitors which was a real shame given the amount of hard work the club has put in to encourage more kids to get confident with open water swimming and the number of club members who had taken part in the race at Stanborough Lake the previous month. The course had 2 transition areas meaning that bikes and helmets were left in one area
and shoes were left about a 300 metre run away next to the lake.
First off for the club was Antonia Jubb in the Tristar 2 Girls race and she was really keen to get into the water first and get a good position at the start line.
After a strong start Antonia pulled well clear of the rest of the field in the lake
and had a 21 second lead after the swim. Having got out of her wetsuit and put on her shoes she then started the hard uphill climb to find her bike in the second transition area before setting off on the very fast tarmac cycle route. Like so many Tri-Force Juniors cycling is her weakest discipline and she had been overtaken by 2 strong competitors by the time she returned to transition. The run then took them on a out and back loop around the lake and Antonia very quickly had the 2 girls who were 7 and 33 seconds in front of her in her sights. Very quickly she had overtaken one of them and try as she might with the fastest run of all unfortunately the finish line came too soon and she came a very impressive 2nd only 10 seconds behind the winner.
The one race where the club had more than one competitor was in the Tristar 3 Girls category with Emily Rayden and Christy Durbin taking part.
Emily was really impressive in the swim having a healthy lead as she came out of the water into transition but immediately lost some time extricating herself from the wetsuit and putting on her shoes compared to her 2 closest rivals who had both been selected to represent East Region in the IRC event later in the year. As a result she left the first transition area only 1 second ahead of the second placed competitor.
By the time she had run up the hill into the second transition area she had been overtaken by the 2 other girls. Onto the bike and a good 4th place on that discipline meant she was still in 3rd place at the start of the run but with an Ipswich competitor now only 2 seconds behind her. Unbelievably Emily maintained the few metres lead the whole way through the long run and with a sprint finish
came home in a brilliant 3rd place overall recording an identical run time to her closest challenger for the podium finish.
Christy found herself in no mans land on the swim being a long way behind the group in front, having gone quite a way off course when making her way to one of the first buoys, yet she was still quite a way ahead of the slowest swimmers. On exiting the swim transition she was in 6th place and had a lot of catching up to do. Interestingly whereas loads of kids changed into their cleats before running to the bike transition, Christy employed a different tactic of running barefoot having already secured her cleats tot he bike.
A 6th place on the bike did move her up one place but she had lost more ground on Emily and the Ipswich competitor. Christy then had probably one of her best runs of the season with a 3rd place making up 45 seconds on Emily but the finish line came too soon for her to mount any challenge on the girls in front. Christy finished in an excellent 5th place overall and had a 2 minute lead on her nearest challenger which must give her a lot of confidence for next season when she will still be in the same age category.
The club’s only male competitor, Tom Jarman, was next to go in the Tristar 3 age category which was stacked with nearly all the best East Region triathletes. Like Christy, Tom found himself quite a way behind the front group on the swim but with a number of swimmers also a fair distance behind him.
Tom was in 13th place on leaving the swim transition to then commence the long run to get his bike. A 15th place on the bike then meant he had lost a couple of places but Tom then really made up ground on one of his best runs where he was 10th to come 12th overall. Again with another year in this age category and most in front of him being the older age band the experience of competing in this type of race should put ihim in a good position for next year.
The club’s final competitor was Alannah Mabbs in the Youth age category. By this time the sun was fully out and she started to get very warm while waiting in her wetsuit. It was a very long swim
and all seemed to be going fine until the group of swimmers went out of sight behind loads of reeds. When they finally re-appeared Alannah was tailed off near the back with one swimmer close to her just in front and only one very weak swimmer a long way behind. Alannah came out of the first transition in 10th place and immediately set off after the girl 7 seconds in front of her. By the time she had got to the bike transition she was now almost level with her nearest rival and then a quicker transition meant she came out in front only to lose the advantage with the worst display of mounting a bike I have ever seen her perform (as she was told afterwards her Nana could have done it quicker!!!!!).
Alannah was 9th on the bike despite another poor bike dismount and had her nearest competitor now 3 seconds in front. Off they set on the run and Alannah looked to be running well and coming down to complete the first lap had just gone in front of the East Essex triathlete. As she passed her dad and sister who were spectating she started to grumble (yet again this season) about her legs hurting but carried on for another couple of hundred metres before stopping and stretching her legs. She continued up the hill before stopping for good next to the drinks station to seek medical help. Conveniently where she stopped was also next to a road which meant she was able to get a car ride back to the car park rather than walking. Due to the number of leg injuries Alannah had suffered throughout the season, this meant that sadly this would be the last time she competed on the East Region circuit.
Once all the racing was over the spectators waited for the results and trophy presentation
and some, one who shouldn’t have done, decided they deserved a treat!!!!!
The event was a real landmark in children’s triathlon as it is the only one on the East Region calendar to emulate the national’s course with an open water swim and an all tarmac cycle route.