Inter Regional Championship Triathlon, Glasgow 2016

The IRC is the Inter-Regional Championships and is in essence the British Championships for TriStar 2 and Tristar 3. It takes place at the British Triathlon Under 2o festival which this year was held in Strathclyde Park, Glasgow, on the Commonwealth Games course from 2014.
It’s not quite as simple as just entering…each region is only allowed to take 3 boys and 3 girls in each category,
2016 Glasgow Team 1so there are designated selection races held each year in the Eastern Region. This year there were two races at Cambridge and Waldon, where Antonia finished third in both (but less than a 10 seconds behind the winner in each) to secure her place. Selection can always be tricky for these races but with the IRC format being open-water swim with a mass start and draft legal biking on the road, the selectors will also look for strong swimming credentials to ensure that you can stand a chance of being in contention on the bike. It’s not just about the race itself, but selection also gives you the opportunity to attend training sessions throughout the summer holidays, focussed on the skills that will be required, especially the open-water swim and draft-legal biking. So through the summer Antonia attended nine sessions across a variety of venues including, Carver Barracks, Jesus Green and TriFarm.
The IRC race was held over the weekend of 3/4th September and as it was in Glasgow we travelled up on the Friday. Having been to senior championships with GB, the IRC really did provide a similar experience for the young athletes with the team staying together in a hotel and course familiarisation taking place on the Saturday before the race day on the Sunday. Many of the children had never dove in to open-water from a pontoon (Ants and I had done some sneaky practice at Denham) but Saturday also gave them the opportunity to do this, as well as riding the bike course and getting the gear-restrictions checked on the bikes to comply with new British Triathlon rules for young peoples draft-legal racing. Resplendent in their new Eastern region kit,
2016 Glasgow T2 Girls Team 2the team looked a professional outfit as they took a few laps of the bike course in with the regional coach and team manager.
IAs a parent it is a real hands-off experience with the regional team, manager and coach being the only ones allowed on the course so be prepared for plenty of sitting around drinking coffee. On race day – the kids had to rack at 7am…but weren’t racing til after 12, so at 645 they met up and rode over to the course (10 mins away) and I provided transport back in the car. Time for a hearty (and healthy…….no sausages on race day) breakfast in the hotel before some serious pre-race ‘Come Dine With Me’ in the room to chill out. We arrived at the course in time to watch the T2 boys start and before you knew it, the girls were getting into their wetsuits
2016 Glasgow AJ Start 2 and heading down to the pontoon. In true ‘elite race’ style the athletes went one-by-one down onto the pontoon to the sound of a local bagpiper, where they could then choose their start position. After they were all in place it seemed like forever before a horn blew and they all dived in together.
2016 Glasgow T2 Girls Start 1Ants and I had talked about this being a risky part of the race and had come up with a tactic of diving in and swimming 20 hard strokes before taking her first sighting, to hopefully get some clean water….and it worked! Right up until someone grabbed hold of her leg, pulled her back and dunked her under…..’welcome to competitive open-water racing’.
Finding herself now near the back of the 36-strong field she sensibly made her way through the out-and-back swim to exit up the ramp in 11th place. They’d been practicing their transitions and mounting the bike quickly and this came to the fore as she was able to be the last girl to make the back of a group of 10 who seemed to stay together pretty much all the way round the bike leg.
IThere were two laps on the bike course which included three dead turns each, so the pack were getting compacted and strung out a lot…. but heading out onto the run, she was in 12th, alongside her fellow Eastern Region competitor Poppy Branton who posted the second fastest bike split.
The run can be Antonia’s strong part of the race, but she has on occasion this year gone out to hard and paid a painful price, so she had a strategy of trying to build throughout the run leg….which she did…and picked off the girls in front, coming home in 6th place. Poppy finished in 16th and Innes Dunlop the third Eastern region girl was 23rd. Great results from all of them….but most importantly an amazing experience of competing at a top-class event.
For any children who are close to finishing in the top three in Eastern Region races, getting selected is definitely something work targeting. As Antonia is only in her first year in the age-group, she will hopefully be aiming to be selected for the 2017 team……but anything can happen and it will require a winter of consistent swim, bike and run training. I’m sure in the meantime you’ll be seeing plenty of Antonia’s Eastern Region kit (I’m not sure she’s taken it off yet!).

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