Report by Fiona Durbin
Whilst several of the club headed for the short course at Kimbolton, 4 of the Tri-Force family decided to travel further afield to Mallory Park in Leicestershire to enter their first ever draft legal triathlon. For those who don’t know this means in the bike stage you can race in a group like in the Tour de France peloton! Mallory Park is a car and motorbike race circuit with a lake, so it was an open water swim followed by bike and runs on the tarmac race circuit. No grass in sight.
First off in the morning was Paul Durbin (Race Director) – he left the rest of the hotel in bed having woken them up in the early hours. Paul had a reasonable swim in the calm waters but was lapped on the bike as soon as he got out of transition. He managed to keep count of his 10 laps better than he expected and wasn’t pulled off the course for being too slow as her feared but didn’t find anyone to draft. He was up against people who had been competing in the age group euro champs in Geneva, and was riding the equivalent of a camel v a Thorobred racehorses. On his penultimate run lap, Fiona made it to the track to cheer him on and see him through the finish. He was happy to finish in just under 1 hour 23 minutes and a few off last!
Next off was Frankie Durbin (coach) in the Junior Girls but she had been suffering from an upset tummy for a day and was feeling sick made worse by the sight of the murky waters so was in a real quandary of whether or not to start. The race only had 8 girls competing – so she decided to at least get in the water and see how she felt. On the bike the field quickly split up and only 2 of the girls worked as a team throughout the course and evidently were friends who trained together. One girl had a nasty fall off her bike and crazed her back. Another seemed to drop out somewhere on route and in the final lap Frankie at last had someone to work with on the bike but realised she still has a long way to go on improving her bike times. On the run she managed to reduce some of the gap and came in 5th overall. It was Frankie’s first draft legal race and despite not feeling that well, she managed to compete alongside the national talent squad members.
Next up was Sophie Mabbs and Christy Durbin in Tristar 2 with 36 starters from across the country. Sophie has been selected to represent the Eastern Region at the IRC Event which will be held this year at Mallory Park so this was planned as a good practice / familiarisation with drafting and the course and to vie up the competition she is likely to face! Christy prefers swimming in stinky lakes and isn’t so keen on grass as she gets hayfever in summer so she decided to give this race a go and was really looking forward to the cycling!
Christy not generally the most chilled person before a race seemed quite relaxed and was chatting and encouraging Innes Dunlop from Walden Tri to overcome her fears so didn’t seem to hear her sister’s advice of where to be at the swim start. Sophie heeded Frankie’s advice, but her Dad was heard muttering “what is she doing out there?” Luckily Sophie didn’t hear him and came out of the swim in a strong third place. Christy was caught in the chaos of the crowd and didn’t have a great swim. She then grappled with her wetsuit zip on the exit mat and was passed by a couple. Then the bike race began – or should we call it the arms race! There were some extremely expensive carbon bikes flying around the track. On the first lap Sophie looked to be holding in the top 10 but as each lap came she was overtaken by extremely able cyclists. She finished the bike in 16th place. Sophie found the run in the uneven tarmac hard work and finished 20th overall and headed straight to the first aid area for ice packs to put on her legs. Given the experienced level of the competitors and her ongoing growing pains in her legs this was a commendable performance. Christy struggled on the bike to get her feet in the cleats and was unsettled throughout the bike struggling with pain in her thigh. She held her place on the run and finished 30th but overall she didn’t feel she had a great race and was tired after back to back race weekends. It was a great learning experience for all three girls competing against the top in the country, seeing the strength of the competitors outside of our region and the need in draft legal races to get a great swim and then ideally work with a good partner on the bike.
Despite starting the day feeing unwell Frankie decided to sign herself up to do a relay. So we all hung around to watch this – Frankie was paired with two young men – including a budding elite junior triathlete Jimmy Kershaw.
Each person had to complete a mini Tri before handing over to the next team member. Frankie was on the middle leg and did the swim on autopilot holding their team position but by the bike she realised she hadn’t eaten since the day before and was pedalling and running on empty. She handed the baton over to Jimmy as she came in at the back with a couple of other teams. He then showed us all why he is the fastest Junior elite in GB and made a super human effort – to overtake 4 teams on the bike and a further 4 on the run, to bring the team in at 2nd place!