AS THE NEW TRIATHLON SEASON KICKS OFF, HERE’S A GUEST POST FROM THE END OF THE 2016 SEASON THAT SOMEHOW ESCAPED BEING PUBLISHED.
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN TRIATHLONS, CHRIS’S REPORT PROVIDES A GOOD SUMMARY OF THE LOWS AND HIGHS OF BEING A COMPETITIVE AGE-GROUP TRIATHLETE.
This race report was written by Chris McGuigan who took up my race place when I was unable to make it last weekend
It’s been a successful year for me in my first year of the 50-54 AG. I had one thing in mind when setting out the triathlon stall for 2016 and that was to top my Age Group in the National Series rankings. Everything was going well with AG wins in the Sligo pool sprint and coming 2nd overall at the City of Derry Triathlon was just an unbelievable result for me, then a nasty fall off the bike on 12/7/16 put the rest of my season in serious doubt.
A bike crash nearly ended my hopes
Travelling at speed, the front tyre blew out, and I hit the ground really hard which left me with a lot of road rash and a very sore hip. Running off the bike was impossible to do for the next few days and Lanesborough’s Two Provinces National Championship Sprint was just four days away.
I decided I would race, and limped round the course, but still managed a 2nd in my age category. Ten days later I was in Rostrevor for the Top of the Mournes standard distance triathlon, an honest course to say the least with a gruelling hilly bike. I was still suffering from the bike fall, but again managed a 2nd in my age group category which kept me in touch for this year’s mission.T hankfully I’d a break from racing now for a few weeks which gave me a good chance to recover and with the following standard distance and sprint distance races I managed to top the age category ,everything was back on track and I was running pain free again.
2016 Titan Experience Pulse Triathlon: the last race of the season
At this point, I was topping the series rankings and felt like it was ‘job done’. The last NS race of the season was on the horizon: 2016 Titan Experience Pulse Port Beach Sprint Distance Triathlon. It was a case of “Should I enter it? Do I really need to enter it?”, then with all the indecision, it had sold out! Panic stations. After a few unsuccessful messages and emails I got in touch with Pete Wedderburn who’d left a comment on Pulse’s upcoming race. With nothing to lose I contacted Pete, wondering if he knew of anyone who had entered but wasn’t racing. By sheer good fortune, Pete offered me his entry as he wasn’t able to race. I was one very lucky triathlete as a few of my fellow club members had tried in vain to pick up an entry.
On to the race itself. The trip to Port Beach was a carbon copy of last year’s event: a beautiful morning, with a light wind and a flat calm sea. With close to 650 competitors, all the big guns were there vying, for the last points of the season and I knew it was going to be a very competitive race.
After the Super Series men and woman were off, it was time for the Age Groupers and the nervous walk to swim start. Red hats went first and then another 15 minutes wait for us green hats to go. At last the count down, then the start klaxon and we were off.
A classic beach swim start
The start of the swim was rough with everyone trying to avoid the dreaded washing machine. After a few thumps and one dunk, I was finally settled and had a clear enough path to the first buoy. I had no more issues with the swim from then on: sighting was good and I felt fairly comfortable throughout. Exiting the water, I quickly pulled the wetsuit off to the waist and made the dash to T1. First transition went well with no problems: I was straight out, over the mount line and on to the bike and away.
overtaking people on the bike
For me this is when my race really began. Pushing the bike really hard, I passed a lot of people. The course was quite busy at this point and I had to concentrate, especially with cyclists who were completing rather than competing, Some were leisurely cycling in the middle of the road and at times could move from one side to the other.
The route was well marshalled and it felt safe and reassuring at the junctions. I was off the bike 30 mins 47secs later, with a great dismount into T2, bike racked, helmet off, trainers on and I was away on the 5k run.
Negative splits on the run
The run course is a really fast flat run and again this is where I’m able to reel in a lot of competitors. I settled well into the run, breathing was controlled and felt strong, a slight climb to the half way point, around the cones and I was on the home straight. Feeling good, it was a case of bursting it for the last 2k or so. I had negative splits (i.e. going faster for the later part of the course) for the run so no complaints there.
A personal best and second in my age group for the race
Over the finish line on 1:03:47, a PB from last year, I was over the moon, and I was second in my age group for the race. The post race atmosphere was brilliant with athletes congratulating each other and swapping their race stories. Everyone was buzzing.
It wasn’t long before the prize giving started for the Super Series men and woman. Then on to the National Series Age Groupers, where I picked up my prize for second place. Then it was time to pack up the bike and wetsuit, and back to the car for the journey home.
Well done again to Pulse Triathlon Club, along with Titan Experience, for another great race and see you in 2017.
The final result: top of my age group in the National Series
Although I didn’t win my age group category in this race, the result meant that I’d topped the overall 50-54 National Series Age Group across Ireland for 2016. This had been my goal at the start of the season, so I was delighted to achieve it, despite the mid-summer bike crash. It’s all over now: roll on 2017!