4 brave juniors took on the poor conditions at Hillingdon this May bank holiday (unlike last year where the weather was glorious) with 3 (Aiden McLean, Jordan Walters and Katie McAree) of the 4 in the older of the age groups which are combined 11-14 years race leaving Joy Walters in the younger age group.
Even getting to the transition area was a feat as its down a steep bank and the weather made this difficult with it being very slippy before you even started racing.
Unlike last year, the marshalling was not great with a number of them not knowing how many laps the juniors should be doing and with the car park being opened late so making the time between registering and racing short and quite frantic. This time the run to transition was better marshalled with no one lost in front gardens like last time!
There are a lot of athletes from the bigger London region clubs so the standard is mixed with the better athletes being very experienced and good with a number of very new juniors to the sport so an ideal first race.
Joy Walters was off first in her Under 11 race. The swim is quite novel in all races with the swimmers being grouped by ability then around 4-5 swim in the same lane passing at the end of the lengths by tapping on the swimmers toes in front. Joy was in 3rd place after the swim.
The run from the swim to the pool is very long (about half a mile) and the bike route is thick grass (hence the name) and the run is therefore a real test. But, as an early season test it is great, a challenge. Joy was 7th on the bike section which had pushed her down 3 places before a 12th place on the run meant she finished in a very good 8th place overall.
In the 11-14 year old race Jordan Walters and Katie McAree were in the same swim lane with Jordan coming out in 5th place and Katie 8th. On to the bike section and for Jordan it was another really good bike ride and a 5th place which moved her up to 4th= place. Unfortunately the same could not be said for Katie who because she believed the quite poor but very friendly marshalling rather than trusting her own instincts ended up doing 4 laps on the bike rather than 3. Despite that she still managed to beat one girl and one boy on that discipline who had done the correct distance. Finally on to the run and Jordan was in 7th place which did drop her 3 places to a final 7th place overall, but continued her really good start to her competitive season. Katie was really tired after the extra distance on the bike and a 13th place on the run meant she came home 13th overall.
Aidan McLean was in 6th place after the swim before jumping on his brand new bike and was having to learn all about its handling and the gearing during the race. Given all that he did really well to be 7th in that discipline before an 8th place on the run meant he came home in 7th place overall and a really good start to his triathlon career.
After the racing Joy and Jordan then used the excellent facilities to good effect to warm up.
The Head Coach, Sean McAree, then competed in the 15 & Over race against may younger competitors and reported that after sorting out the kids he was so short of time to set up his own transition he was marking his own arm less than 30 seconds before getting in to the pool which the organisers had set much deeper than the previous year which created more drag so the swim was far harder than expected. According to Sean his swim was rubbish (15th place. This year the competitors sorted an order and then when the whistle went they all converged so he sat back and drafted a bit as though they said they were not the strongest swimmers in his lane they were far better than they let on.
The bike course was very wet and by the later laps it was getting very slippy Sean had slick tyres on and around the uphill sections hardly had any traction at all. The bike leg was physically demanding sapping a massive amount of energy from all. The grass on the route was fairly short but clumps were being picked up on the rims and clogging the brakes and the gears (it took him 2 hours afterwards to clear it from the gear components and free back up the wheels).
His bike section was good (6th fastest) even considering the conditions he was over a minute quicker than last year in part as he swapped shoes from trainers to bike shoes in transition but trying a flying mount with soaking wet cycling shoes is not a good idea as you can slip very easily. At the end of the cycle he had managed to climb to 9th overall.
The run felt like a relief on the outward part slightly downhill to the turn point then along there same route back. The ground was still quite hard so it was a fast surface albeit over grass. Sean only got passed by one other runner but went passed 2 to be placed 8th on the run (a minute quicker again than last year) and 9th overall.