Report by Barry Thorn
Leighton Buzzard Triathlon Club played host to its first ever Junior Triathlon and with the assistance of some fine sunshine albeit accompanied by a stiff breeze, the event went very well, with minor hitches.
Some criticism could be made to the befuddlement of the Marshalls as to whether competitors could ride the cycle route pre – race and the thin tape used to mark the course, continuously broke easily within the windy conditions, but these proved ultimately insignificant in a well run event with a nicely laid out and mostly flat grassy cycle and run course.
The transition area had a good spectator viewpoint and some vantage areas offered a great view of the transition, bike and run course , but the majority of spectators enjoyed viewpoints along the final 100 metres of the run-in, allowing them to whoop and hollow encouragement to the exhausted but gallant competitors as they puffed and wheezed towards the finishing line.
The large and modern pool facilities allowed spectators to comfortably view the swim section but confusingly competitors were restricted to standing starts within the pool and no tumble turns were allowed, but as this was the general rule, apart from the odd indiscretion, this did not affect the overall results.
After exiting the pool, athletes had a short 30 metre run on grass to the transition section and large sail signs clearly indicated the cycle and run out areas and with the assistance of the Marshalls this proved trouble free for all athletes.
A novel addition (certainly not experienced previously by my family) was the disposable timing chip elements in providing three separate attachments; one to the helmet, one to the vest race number and finally one fixed around the leg when entering the poolside, although this final chip was collected at the end of the race.
And so, with the race briefing over and the hot dogs and pizza’s simmering on their respective griddles, the racing begun, starting with the Tri Start section and ending (in the absence of a youth section on this occasion) with the Tristar 3 athletes.
Tri-Force’s competition began with our only Tristar 1 girl competitor at this event Antonia Jubb, and she certainly set the bar high in completing the swim in first place and both the run and cycle in 2nd place. Further assisted by a great transition from bike to run eventually provided Antonia with an early and commendable 1st place finish, earning her a deserved winning trophy to add to her ever growing collection.
Having a hard act to follow was Ben Whiting in the Tristar 1 Boys race which had an enormous field of 43 competitors. Ben has not competed in that many triathlons before and this did show as he lost some valuable time to competitors around him, however despite that he combined a 9th place swim with 16th place on the bike and 28th= place on the run to come home in a very credible 18th place.
Our Tri Star 2 athletes set out in determined fashion, and with the 4 boys and 2 girls maintaining Tri Force’s high standards and all completed excellently with 4 achieving top 5 positions and the remaining 2 in the top 11.
Jessica Thorn was again at her consistent best coming 2nd in her swim and finishing 1st in both of her transitions and also her final run, only for her final finishing time to be hampered by a dislodged chain that cost her many vital seconds of the cycle section, and ultimately Jess claimed the 3rd spot overall.
Just a few seconds behind Jess, and again proving that our Tri Star 2 Girls are both evenly matched and reliable high performers came Christy Durbin finishing within 4th place in all but one section of the race, providing her trademark blistering sprint finish to eventually claim 5th spot.
The Tri Star 2 boys had similar success, starting with William Hughes who spectacularly reeled in a 13th place after the swim, to finish 3rd, 6th, 3rd and 2nd in the respective transition bike and run sections to finish a very impressive 4th overall. William got a suitable reward at the end!!!!
Sam Newman had similar experiences with a slower swim but stronger finishes in the other disciplines and a great 5th place finish overall. Sam’s performance was a superb effort, and it is great to get Sam’s families own reflections on his experience of the day:
“The latest episode in this summer’s series of “Calamity Sam” involved Sam somehow managing to get his duffle bag straps jammed firmly into his gears and rear brakes just 5 minutes before transition closed. Anyway, thanks to a pair of scissors and Sam’s dads attempt on the world swearing record, Sam somehow managed to make it to the start line.
Sam’s swimming has been improving steadily during the summer and he put in another solid effort, despite it being his weakest discipline, coming in 12th. He was soon on his bike and enjoying the long down-wind straight as it enabled him to make up quite a few places pretty quickly. The return into-the-wind part of the course was a struggle for everyone, but by using his drops and lower gears Sam managed to hold his position. It was a long bike leg and Sam used it well to come in 5th. The run was always going to be a toughie after the intense bike leg and again was a long downwind leg and a horrible toil back into the gale to complete the lap. Sam persevered and came in 4th, but was reeled in by a few good runs, so came in 5th out of 32 overall. Still, it allowed him to junk his horrendous open water swim at Grafham out of his Eastern League standings!”.
A brand new member of the club, Aidan Mclean – sadly he was not spotted by our photographers – and Tom Jarman were our other 2 members taking part and what a close battle they had. Aidan was in 10th place, one place ahead of Tom after the swim, however Tom with a far quicker transition was in the lead as they started on their bikes. Aidan was yet again one place ahead of Tom on the bike and by the time they came out of the second transition onto the run they were dead level. Aidan had a very good 6th place on the run to come 8th overall with Tom finishing in 11th place.
Tri-Force relied on the girls to complete the final Tri Star 3 event of the day with great performances from all three entries.
Hannah Newman completed her race with great stamina finishing a creditable 5th out of the 14 competitors. Hannah’s family have offered their own thoughts as to her performance and are noted below:
“Thanks to a bit of a pep-talk and some last minute advice on gears from Antonia’s dad, Hannah was raring to go in her Tri3 race and keen to try out a few new ideas on the bike – like changing gear from time-to-time!
Swimming is Hannah’s strongest leg, but she was frustrated by recent showings, perhaps distracted by the impending terrors of the bike leg. Anyway, Hannah put that behind her and put in a great 7th position as she came out of the pool. After an ok transition she was on the bike and immediately put into practice a more thoughtful approach to gearing and getting up on the pedals when she needed to build up speed. Hannah shot round the first lap and her “look at me!” expression of complete surprise, as she overtook a few rivals at the end of the first lap was a real picture. Six laps later she had managed to come in 5th on the bike leg, turning the table on a few rivals. She was clearly buzzing and kept it up with a dogged 5th place run to come in 5th out of 14 for a season’s best finish!”
Hannah Trottman who has been a rare but no less proficient addition to the Tri Force team recently, finished 9th after the swim and competed in excellent fashion to attain 3rd and 2nd in bike and run respectively to gain an impressive 3rd place overall.
Meanwhile, Naomi Holt continued to impress, finishing her first two disciplines in 4th and 2nd place respectively and despite a third place in the run her efforts allowed her a podium finish to finally come a commendable 3rd.
Incidentally, this breathless achievement being surely surpassed after the event by her agreeing to join her dad Andy on a cycle home back to Harpenden from Leighton Buzzard. That’s an astonishing 17 miles of cycling having just completed a triathlon event. Hats off to you Naomi!
Dad, you should be ashamed of yourself!
Sadly for Hannah and Naomi their efforts were not rewarded with a trophy as the organizers decided to only award them to the age group winners.
Seriously though, a hugely impressive performance from all of the Tri Force competitors on this occasion should be applauded and I am sure that this effort is testament to all the assistance offered by the talented Tri Force coaching team and of course to the diligence and perseverance of the athletes themselves.
We wish you all well for the future.