British Middle Distance Championship – The Beaver Triathlon
1900m Swim; 80km Bike; 21Km Run)
1st Open 3:59:52
(27:50, 2:08:52; 1:20:44)
I first heard of The Beaver Triathlon going back to Chrissie Wellington’s 2007 Kona winners speech… as one of her first triathlons goals “it was always about the Finishers T-Shirt. I Finished The Beaver ;)” and again a few years ago when Gravsey sang the praise of The Beavers when he won the Open title in 2009.
After speaking to The Just Racing team at the triathlon show in March I was keen to include The Beaver as one of my build up races to an Ironman race this summer & even more so learning that the race would double as the British Triathlon Middle Distance Championship.
Being the X pro I knew I would have the tag as one of the race favourites but I expected a strong field to claim dibs of the British Open Championship Title. I wasn’t wrong either, it would go to the wire…
I knew was good form but I strained my hip flexor/ quad attachment 3 weeks out from the race. I have to thank Carol & Emma of Aberdeen Sport Therapy & Riverside Chiropractic) for doing a great job limiting my down time to 6 days & keeping me in one piece to make the start line in good form. This gave me 1 hard week of training & 1 taper week going in but I was confident of doing well.
Race week I booked the Friday off work to split the long haul drive from Aberdeen down south, setting off after work Thursday evening laying over at my pal Robbie’s in Edinburgh & then completing the journey to arrive in Belvoir / Grantham the following afternoon.
With the extra time in my pocket (which I’m glad I did) I checked the bike & run course on an easy pedal & jog around Belvoir Castle course routes.
The bike route had a slight detour to previous race editions due to resurfacing works that increased the bike course by 1 mile per lap – so the bike leg became 80.5km (50 miles) instead of the 74km.
Race morning brought some cloud cover & mist lying on the lake but cleared minutes before the 8am start. The swim encompassed a two loop 1.9km swim (possibly a little long), and when the Claxton went off I went straight into the lead wearing my HUUB Archimedes Wetsuit & light tinted Zoggs Predator flex’s for better visibility. I was soon chased down and had 2 in tow by the first turn buoy and on the return leg of the first loop I was passed by a young chap and so sat up & settled in second tow of our 3 pack, this would remain so until the swim exit.
The swim exit had a rather challenging uphill 400/450 metre run to T1 & made more so challenging that I could not get my wetsuit Velcro to undo – I litterly just got it off meters before entering T1. After a stressful unzip, I had the embarrassment of running past my bike, followed by my Zerod tri shorts wheeking off at the same time my wetsuit came down (I still had my Zoggs trunks on so no indecent exposure ;)). Getting to my bike I pulled my shorts out untangled them, put them on and I was off about 40 sec-1 min behind the lead 2 that included Pro Craig Twig.
The race course encompasses a bit of flat, downhill’s, undulating roads & couple of 10% climbs which I like. There was some wind on the bike & I biked pretty hard liking my Rotor QXL rings I had installed a few weeks earlier and reeled the front 2 in on the 2nd short climb after Easterwall. I eased up after catching the front 2 to settle into a more conservative pace as 3rd wheel on the front pace line until we came to the Easterwall climb on the 2nd loop to give a little dig & test the legs of the other guys. Both Craig and other chap who had been setting the pace seemed to be coping fine and I had settled in again as 2nd wheel going into the 3rd & final lap. On the final lap I gave another dig heading into Eastwell climb again and this time the bike leader popped and so it was Craig and I that headed into T1 together.
I dismounted the bike with the lead and lost it again after another terrible transition missing where my gear was situated again… (still hadn’t moved – same spot). This allowed Craig to take the lead starting the ½ marathon run. Setting off I felt good hitting the tarmac on my ON runners and I worked hard in the first mile to reel Craig back in to take the lead once more.
The run course was a tough 4 lap 21kmrun encompassing the fabled USN Hill which needed to be conquered four times before reaching the finish tape.
At the first turn around point at the top of USN Hill, I had about 10 sec gap on Craig but I could see that only 90 sec or so back was some fast looking runners coming through the field from the 2nd bikers in.. They looked fast and I didn’t feel so great anymore…
My legs were feeling pretty horrible on the first climb up USN hill and I was fighting camps throughout the first descents & climbs. I managed to settle myself down and concentrated on a good tempo and getting in some Powerbar gels, I knew the hill was an energy burner I would require this in the later stages – which I did.
At the start of USN hill for the 2nd time, the fast moving Tom Vickery took the lead and looked in great form to claim an easy win as he ran up the road making good time on everybody.
For the next 2 laps I was still running well thinking I was clear in 2nd place with Vickery at least 60-90 secs up the road & victory was out of the question, but on the final ascent of USN Hill, I spotted Tom ? or I thought I did but thought it must be someone else.
I pushed hard all the same to see if it was him or whether I was dreaming. it was Tom ! I pushed on to make a decisive pass mid way up the final hill to retake the lead & worked hard to the turnaround point so I could cruise down the last hill for the win J…
However this was short lived, not long after I waved to Alan the 1st lap lead car, I didn’t realise the whole time I was running in 2nd I was being stalked & reeled in by the other fast runner I had spotted on lap 1, Karl Alexander. I started getting really bad cramps again & heard some really heavy breathing behind me, when I eased up to ask if he was racing Open and answered “Yes” mentally I was saying “oh f*ck, I screwed this one up” I was hoping for a relay team member answer…
There’s little over a mile to go to decide this but I remember being in a similar situation when I won the Fraseburgh ½ marathon a no. a years ago. So mid way down the final USN descent Karl moved to my shoulder and we exchanged a few words running side by side. After the formalities were set I made the decision that I wasn’t waiting on a final dash sprint and I would use the same tactic I had done in Fraserburgh & that was to go 1km out, after all it worked last time, my only unknown was I didn’t know if my cramps would stay at bay…
On the final mile we were neck-and-neck and we dropped the pace down to 5:40/mile, I simply went with the hill, relaxed as much as possible & try to hold my form to push even harder on the short rise back up before the right hand turn to the finish. My legs were steadied, my heart rate was jacked , only one left turn to the finish chute, I wasn’t going to check my shoulder.. I checked my shoulder to be sure, I wasn’t sure if I had another gear, I was free… British Middle Distance champion 2013.
Smiles all round & an Erdinger Shower to go. It’s a fantastic way to win but a hard way to come 2nd. I congratulated Karl on a great race crossing the line 18 seconds later in 2nd and Craig running back into 3rd spot, Tom came through a couple minutes back in 4th.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Carol and Emma of Aberdeen Sport Therapy / Riverside Chiropractic & to my continued supporters Powerbar Nutrition, ON Runners, Zerod Tri suits, Compressport Wear, Neovite Nutrtion, HUUB wetsuits, Zoggs goggles & Greepers laces keeping me in the best competitive gear & sport nutrition, The Erdinger boys and to Alan Rose (www.justracinguk.com) and his team of volunteers without whom put on a fantastic race.