What do Naomi Holt and Olympian Johnny Brownlee have in common? Read this report to find out the answer.
Walden Juniors had never held a regional triathlon before, despite being a huge club in the region, and they did a thoroughly professional job, although they did make the bike course technically challenging with numerous really tight hairpin bends. They did allow registration the day before the event, which allowed the kids to practice on the bike course beforehand in lovely dry and sunny conditions. As part of the registration process the kids obviously had to be numbered on the arm and leg, but unlike most events where a permanent ink marker pen is used, they had tattoos which the kids did not want to take off before school the next day. Also adding the number of laps for each discipline meant they were covered in numbers!!!!
They also had 2 transition areas which meant the later starting Tristar 2 and 3 competitors, who were competing in an Inter-Regional Qualifier, did not have to be there at the crack of dawn to get there kit into transition.
The day of the race itself unfortunately was not dry which made the cycling even more difficult and unfortunately the nemesis of Tri-Force struck again on the bike with at least 3 falls, a puncture, issues with a chain coming out of transition and a strangulation on barrier tape marking the course.
Our first competitor of the day was Lucy Crooks in the Tristar Start girl’s race who was competing in her first East Region triathlon and what a great job she did. Lucy was 4th coming out of the pool but managed to pick up 2 places by having the fastest T1 transition of all the girls. The racing was very close with only a few seconds separating the leading competitors. A 3rd place in the cycle and T2 transition meant Lucy came out onto the run in 3rd place and managed to maintain that position until the end with a 3rd place run. Unfortunately she was sheltering in the car from the inclement weather and so missed the official prize presentation.
On to the Tristar 1 category and we had Sara Laitner in the girl’s event and Reece Dickson representing the boys.
Sara had 29 competitors in her event and was the fastest swimmer and increased her lead in the T1 transition being fastest as well. On to the bike, and just like her sister later on, slick tyres were not the order of the day and as a result she struggled for grip. A 9th place on the bike meant she was now down to 4th place coming into T2 transition but again was the fastest racking her bike and removing her helmet that she had moved back into 2nd place coming on to the run. A 6th place on the run with conditions worsening, unfortunately dropped her to 4th place overall and she missed out on a podium position by a mere 6 seconds.
Reece had an even larger field of 33 competitors and by the time he came out of the swim in 9th place the weather was getting worse. Again a good 6th place in T1 transition moved him up a place coming on the bike course which was becoming more and more slippery. After an 11th place on the bike and a 9th= place through the T2 transition Reece was still handily placed in 9th place at the start of the run. A 13th= place on the run just maintained his 9th place overall in no small part to a huge sprint finish at the end.
After a pause for prize giving and the rain to just about stop competition started again with the Tristar 3 age group.
The club had big hopes in the girls event with Tori Weston, Jessica Laitner, Alannah Mabbs, Sarah Crooks, Hannah Newman and Naomi Holt taking part in a strong field of 33 competitors. Unfortunately the Tri-Force cycling gods were not smiling on most of the girls!!!!
Tori and Jess were in the first wave as they are extremely strong on the swim. Jess came out of the pool in 1st place and had an 11 second lead over her nearest competitor with Tori only a further 3 seconds back in 3rd place. Almost immediately Jess started to be caught, not helped by the fact that she was on slick rather than cyclo cross tyres. Coming to the first bend there was absolute carnage with both Jess and Tori having a tumble which cost them more time. Tori was back on her bike first and then put in a concerted effort to catch up on the girls in front of her only to have another fall at the next hairpin. Jess in the meantime just could not get any purchase on the wet grass with her tyres and ended up losing over 4 and a half minutes on the quickest cyclist for an 18th place on the bike. Tori recovered very well after the 2 falls to post a 5th place on the bike and was still in 3rd place coming on to her least favourite run phase. Tori was 9th= on the run to come home in 5th place overall less than a minute off the podium and was consoled by her Dad.
Jess in the meantime came on to the run in 10th place and used her anger in a positive way to record the 4th quickest run to come home in 7th place.
Naomi and Alannah were in the second wave and came out 12 seconds apart in 9th and 11th place. Alannah then closed the gap by 5 seconds with a faster T1 transition and set off to try and chase Naomi down on the bike which was always going to be a tough ask given that Naomi is by far the more experienced cyclist. Little did Alannah know how quick she would overtake poor Naomi who just like Johnny Brownlee at Hyde Park later in the day suffered a puncture. The only difference was that Johnny didn’t have his Dad changing wheels in the car park before the race!!!!!
To give Naomi her due, she managed to get the tyre re-inflated and re-joined the race giving it absolutely everything despite knowing that her chances had been scuppered. Somehow. despite all this. she was still quicker than a few girls on the bike and eventually came home in 29th place.
Alannah in the meantime had her best cycle of the year with a 9th place which was reward for having some cycle training over the half term holiday. She came out on to the run in 9th place, but not for the first time this year her normally dependable run phase deserted her and she finished in 11th place overall.
Hannah and Sara, who are both younger age band competitors, had two completely different races with Hannah starting well and losing places and Sarah picking up places as the race progressed.
Hannah, although in a different wave to Naomi and Alannah managed to split the 2 of them on the swim with a 10th place but lost 4 places with a slow 31st place through the T1 transition to come out onto the bike in 14th place. Having safely negotiated the first hairpin she then came to the next very tight hairpin and took the first part of the corner really well, only to then find she was unable to complete the exit out of the turn before running out of the course and scarily getting the barrier tape wrapped round her throat. Luckily 2 Tri-Force Junior supporters were on hand to calm her down and she started cycling again, but her confidence had been really dented. Hannah had a 30th place on the bike which really pushed her down the field and a 29th place on the run meant she finished 28th overall.
Sarah was in 32nd place after the swim, but then had the quickest T1 transition of all the girls to start moving up the field and came on to the bike course in 29th place. Sarah thankfully had an incident free bike ride and had made up another 5 places coming on to the run after a 22nd place bike .and another quick transition. A 20th place on the run meant she finished 25th overall.
Our only Tristar 3 boy competitor was the younger age band James Mabbs.
James was in 15th place after the swim and the first transition and looked like he was cycling really well, although the 20th place on that discipline seems to contradict that theory. This is probably because he is rather small compared with most of the other boys and doesn’t have the physical strength that they possess. James came on to the run in 16th place and unusually for him really struggled with a 19th place in that discipline to come 15th overall.
In the Tristar 2 girls race the club had 3 very strong representative in Sophie Mabbs, Jessica Thorn and Christy Durbin along with the younger age band Grace Dommett.
Sophie was first to go in the snake swim and duly posted the quickest time and was 28 seconds clear of the pack coming on to the bike. As a result that meant that she was the fox being chased by all the hounds behind her. Cycling is not her strongest suit and she was caught and overtaken by a cyclist from PACTRAC. A 4th place on the bike meant she came out on to the run in 2nd place. Despite being in a lot of leg pain, which in part contributed to 4th place on her normally very strong run she still managed to hold off the other competitors to come home 2nd overall. Like Lucy she managed to miss the presentation, but this was because she was travelling to a swim gala in Basildon.
Jess and Christy have had numerous close battles over the past year and this event was no different. Jess was in 7th place after the swim with Christy a mere 4 seconds behind in 9th place. Jess managed to increase her lead by another 9 seconds and gained a place coming on to the bike whereas Christy had lost a place. Christy had an excellent 3rd place on the bike and managed to overhaul Jess who appeared to have latched on to Sophie’s wheel and mistakenly probably thought Sophie was cycling faster than she actually was. Jess was 5th on the bike and came into transition 10 seconds down on Christy, however by the time they had exited transition Jess was back in the lead by 1 second. Jess then managed to latch on to Sophie’s tail again on the run and increased her lead over Christy by another 24 seconds. Jess had an excellent 2nd place run to finish 4th overall and disappointingly missed a podium place by only 8 seconds. Christy was 6th in the run and finished 6th overall.
Grace also started very well with an 11th place swim and maintained that position through the first transition. A good 17th place on the bike meant she was still in 14th place coming out on to the run. She then really suffered on the run, mainly due to breathing difficulties and finished 26th overall.
The Tristar 2 boys race had an enormous field of 48 competitors and the club were represented by Sam Newman and Thomas Jarman.
Sam being in the younger age band acquitted himself really well and after a 24th place on the swim started to gain places on a number of competitors around him. His cycle was eventful in that at one point he felt he must have been in the Grand National as a competitor fell right in front of him and he did really well to swerve and avoid a nasty accident.
Sam was 19th on the bike and had moved up to 19th overall coming on to the run where 1 10th place moved him up another 4 places to come 15th overall. He was really happy with how he had done and celebrated with his sister proudly showing off their medals.
Tom was 11th on the swim and really looking forward to the challenging bike course. Unfortunately having successfully mounted his bike, when he started to pedal nothing happened.
After another couple of attempts it transpired that his chain had come off and managed to wrap itself around the cogs which meant he lost minutes trying to unravel the chain and attach it back on the cogs. As a result Tom was in 45th place on the bike and despite a better run came home in 35th place overall.
A big thank you to DE Photos who kindly supplied a number of the images in our gallery