Dirty Dozen do a Duathlon, Two Busy Bees go to Manchester

Six teams of two represented St Helens Tri at the rescheduled Firefighters 2up duathlon on Sunday amidst conditions only slightly better than what caused the race to be cancelled back in March. The race comprises two 3.5 mile runs and a bike ride of around 23 miles into the wilds of the West Pennine Moors. Leading the way were two of the best runners in club history, Mark Turner and Peter Fairclough. They finished the first run in under 25 minutes, and although they are not as renowned for their speed on two wheels as other long serving members they still recorded a fantastic bike split of 1:15:49. Remarkably, they even managed to come close to their first run split on the final stage as they powered past a duo from Horwich to grab third place with room to spare. Next up were Michael Forber and Kevin Dunbar. Kevin later described the race as “Michael dragging him round” (maybe he forgot he’d been to Wythenshawe the previous day) but in any case the strongman duo were in their element here as they built steadily towards the final stage and made their way through the pack to finish in under 2:25 bagging a top 30 placing. Patrick Neill and Gary Birch have always been fast on the bike and Patrick in particular looks like figuring at the sharp end of the winter racing season. Here, they actually got in front of Michael and Kevin on the bike stage but ultimately had to give best on the second run. Nonetheless they still beat the two and a half hour mark and made the top 40. In keeping with the theme of “everyone had a story to tell” perhaps no team has been quite as storied over the last few months as Myka Heard and Carole James. Myka only recently learned that she has earned another team GB call up after a season disrupted by a bike accident, and Carole must surely be in contention for newcomer of the year after her age group wins in Helsby and at the St Helens Triathlon. Here, the dynamic duo were into the pitlane in under 35 minutes and overtook their age group rivals on the bike course, never looking back as they obliterated their division to win by over ten minutes. Antony Lindley was joined at the last minute by Dave Ashworth after Anthony’s teammate was forced to withdraw. The newly formed pairing didn’t skip a beat as they headed Myka and Carole into the changeover but ultimately had to yield to their fellow club members on the bike. Their strong second run still helped them up the order somewhat to a very satisfying result; in better conditions they would certainly have beaten the three hour mark. No long distance team race would be complete without a chapter from Sarah Taktak and Bethany Forber, and once again they had a race to remember. Despite a fall on the first run and both chains coming off during the bike course they still completed the course to a rapturous applause, beating the three and a half hour mark by just 41 seconds in their most rewarding team effort to date.

While the Dirty Dozen were battling around Belmont, Mike Gregory (pictured below) thought the same as Kevin, that one race for the weekend wasn’t enough, and joined sprint specialist Chris Hayes at the Manchester Half Marathon. The city was still buzzing from the Super League Grand Final the night before and the Saints really did come back to town for more with a bang, as the City of the Buzzing Bees was spared the worst of the weather that plagued the duathlon. The question was, would Mike’s experience overcome his tired legs or would Chris’ exuberance win the day? In the event Mike came out ahead, as he worked his way into the race gradually, peaking during the middle phase, and eventually recording a 1:43:21, three minutes and 23 seconds clear of Chris who clearly relishes the long distance races and promises to be a breakout star in 2020. Next week’s signature event is the Stockport Duathlon starting 8:30am at Poynton Leisure Centre, while the Petzl Night Run series and the usual Halloween themed races promise to provide plenty of surprises – hopefully of the treat variety!

Wizard of Wythenshawe and Hero of Hawaii – Robert and Eddie’s “Fields of Gold”

It was a busy second weekend of October as four events took centre stage with the Manchester double of Cross Country season opener at Wythenshawe Park and the Half Marathon close to home, while the Epic Events 2up duathlon and Eddie Hirst’s Ironman Kona adventures drew plenty of attention further afield. Part one of the roundup centres on the events in Manchester and Hawaii either side of the Super League Grand Final. While Eliud Kipchoge was resting up in Vienna after his historic sub 2 hour marathon and St Helens RLFC were preparing to do battle with the Salford Red Devils at Old Trafford, seven St Helens Tri members faced the flat but muddy confines of Wythenshawe Park with Claire Murphy off first in the ladies race. She had an open goal to take a commanding early lead in the club championship standings (with the best four results from five races to count this year) and she opened the defence of her title with an excellent run to a time of 40:40, placing her 137th overall. As she returned to base to join Andrew Bridge on photography duties, six members made their way to the start line for the men’s race. Robert Chesters had a history of getting off the line well at this venue, but here he spotted an open lane on the right, flew off like he’d been fired out of a cannon, took up a good position into the first corner and after passing a few fast starters on the opening lap, was into a good rhythm, apart from some difficult moments on the second lap when slowing pace in the mud led to falling blood pressure levels and some awkward lightheaded moments (proof that compression socks can be a lifesaver) but despite nearly landing on top of a Chorlton runner who fell over in the woods on the final tour, he finished in a new course PB of 38:12, 101st overall (bumped up to 93rd after removal of unattached runners) and take the first lead in the men’s club competition. Kevin Dunbar had the 2up duathlon on his mind and would definitely have challenged Robert in normal circumstances, but he still managed to record a good mid-41 time which put him easily in the top 200. Mike Gregory only managed to make it to Prestwich for round 4 last season but you wouldn’t have known it here, as he put in a gritty sprint finish just six days after his excellent Rainford 10k performance to clock a 44:06. Behind him a cracking battle was on between the more experienced Lee Stinch and the more powerful Peter Rawlinson. In the event Lee’s knowledge and all round abilities won out as he came out ahead to the tune of just 28 seconds, the pair finishing inside 47 minutes. It was great debut for John Wilson whose contribution endured the club finished 38th overall; with further experience the 39 second gap to Peter doesn’t look quite so insurmountable.

While the Saints Community was enjoying the Super League Grand Final and looking forward to Japan vs Scotland the following morning, Eddie Hirst’s incredible story was into chapter 132 (or whatever his current strike rate is) on the lava fields of Kona as the Ironman world championships rolled into Hawaii. After a packed week of activities including familiarisation swims, running races and swimming with turtles, Eddie lined up with the backing of his whole club and indeed of team GB. He was out of the water in a little over 68 minutes and his bike split was a 19.47mph. Amazing any day of the week, but it transpired that he’d hurt his foot and he spent some time in T2 having it seen to. He was advised to walk/run the marathon and wouldn’t quite beat the four hour mark but if anything it made his story all the more epic, the blur in the picture below was somewhat befitting of such a performance (no Eddie wouldn’t slow down) and he finished in under eleven and a half hours to close out a thrilling first half of the weekend. Part 2 will follow later today covering the 2up duathlon and the Manchester Half Marathon.

No Raining on Joe’s Parade – Rainford 10k Report 2019

And so amidst murky skies and squally showers, it arrived; the club’s second flagship event of the autumn as the Rainford 10k rolled around once again. It was six years to the day since the first running of the event and it continues to attract runners from beginner to England standard every year, as it pays tribute to local runner George Faulkner who was tragically killed while out running in 2012. Once again runners from far and wide made the trip to Rainford High Technology College to participate, but local talent would come out on top. In keeping with the “runners of all abilities” theme Matt Crehan did what he has done so many times before and took a resounding win for local club St Helens Striders in a new course record of 32:47; his contribution to the local running scene including his shop Made to Run is much valued by members of St Helens Tri. For the host club, Joseph Dennett, who has quietly worked his way through the ranks over the past few years, came from nowhere to lead his teammates home with 14th place overall and a time of 41:06. After Joseph came a sequence of mad scrambles to beat a particular “minute mark” beginning with Mike Gregory going two seconds under the 44:30 mark, while Chris Murphy beat his pre-race 46 minute target by just five seconds with a very driven sprint out of Ivy Lane. Peter Rawlinson was aiming for sub-50 on the back of a somewhat disrupted summer of running but he needn’t have worried too much as he handled the mixed terrain with aplomb and finished in the top 75 recording a 48:36. Lee Brownhill hasn’t been at the club as long as the likes of Joseph and Peter but he made his mark here, sneaking into the top 100 with a 50:26. Helen Curran has enjoyed a productive first season with the club particularly in sprint triathlons, but here she showed some good running form in the later stages as she put in a dash for the line and finished in 57:33, around ten seconds shy of team Costello (Dermot and his daughter Violet) who made an instant impression in her first ever 10k. A special mention must go to Sue King, who has been a most enthusiastic member of the Friday track run session team and ran the fun run with her children before the main event. Here, she was raising money for charity and amidst the morning gloom was immediately recognisable in blue and orange, and she recorded a result to back it up as she finished in a time of 1:00:53.

So plenty of winners, but full credit must go to Terry Bates and the BeUrBest team for once again staging an impeccably organised event which just gets better every year. In addition, thanks must go to the marshals, registration desk volunteers and catering team (including Marie Leahy’s family baking team) who put so much effort into making the day so memorable. Next year’s race is provisionally scheduled for October 4th, here’s to an even better event in 2020!

Coniston, Chester and Catalonia – Three Epic Challenges, One Epic Day

It was a momentous Sunday at St Helens Tri as the club hosted the Rainford 10k six years to the day since the inaugural event in 2013. Full details of how that played out will feature in a special report, but this column covers the Swim run Coniston, the Chester Marathon and Ironman Barcelona. Mark Livingston and Charlie Stirrup took on the unique challenge of Swimrun in the Lake District, an event similar in format to next week’s 2up duathlon in Belmont, whereby teams of two swim and run in tandem. However, the participants have to swim and run in the same kit (even shoes!) and have to stay together for the duration of the event. It also requires extreme endurance to stay out there for so many hours, but the two long serving members (entered for this race as the Terminators) were up to the challenge and finished 12th in a time of 7:44:57. Six members made the trip over the Runcorn Bridge to the Deva City for one of the most prestigious marathons in the country. The ever popular course is mainly flat but features a tough hill a couple of miles from the finish which always serves to put a dampener on those hoping to run negative splits. David Isaac is always up for such a challenge, though, and here he was right into it from the off, clipping away at 7 minutes per mile. Although slowed by the inclines towards the end he still led the club home in a fantastic 3:06:10, giving him a top-200 finish. Ian Orford has always been at or near the front of the club’s challenge when playing the long game and once again he ran a well measured race to finish in 3:15:21, but he was pushed all the way by Adam O’Shea who was closing in on him at the end, as the pair finished less than five minutes apart. Behind them a cracking race was on between Alan McKeegan and Alan’s brother Robert. While Robert held position over the first 30 kilometres, Alan made the pass in the fourth quarter of the race and beat his teammate to the line by just over four minutes with a particularly impressive surge of pace to close the deal. Will Bardin had done quite a bit of marathon running down the years, primarily in an Ironman setting so it was always going to be intriguing to see how he got on in a pure running race. It wouldn’t be long before we got the answer as he finished in 4:01:22; with better conditions he would certainly have beaten the four hour mark.

Nick Hall and Azzam Taktak made the trip to Spain for Ironman Barcelona, widely regarded as one of the fastest courses in Europe. Nick set a cracking pace of 2:02 per 100m in the water and followed that up with a solid 17mph average on the bike to reach T2 in just over six and a half hours. He proceeded to plug away on the run amidst the roars of the crowd to finish in a time of 13:30:06. Azzam was out of the sea in a little over 90 minutes and completed the bike course well before the seven hour mark. Being a veteran of so many long distance races the run was never going to cause him any worries and as he finished under the floodlights along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, he ran into the club Hall of Fame as a multiple Ironman, recording a time of 14:52:49, to round off part one of this week’s report, with part 2 being an in-depth write-up of the BeUrBest Rainford 10k.

Ladybower, Lightning Bolts and Lions – plus a Cruise in Chilly Cheshire

The end of September brought some pretty stormy conditions to race in at the Oulton Park Duathlon and the Kirkby Milers 10 in Knowsley, but several notable results gave St Helens Tri some good cheer ahead of the BeUrBest Rainford 10k. In keeping with the ultra theme, one late result from last week came from Stephen Webb who ran the Ladybower 50 miler and was in the top 10 from the beginning, rising to 8th at the 20 mile mark into a position he would never relinquish. He even made a late bid for seventh but ultimately came up a little short, however it was still an amazing result, arguably the best “under the radar performance of the season.

James Nairn has been one of the club’s most impressive improvers over the course of 2019; while others have grabbed the headlines, he has always been in position to spring a surprise on a race format he knows well and at the draft legal Oulton Park duathlon hosted by OP Events, he was in his element. For those not familiar with the rulebook, draft legal essentially means you are allowed to draft others, and road bikes only allowed (no clip-on tri bars allowed and restrictions on wheels are also enforced) James was right into the thick of things, recording a first run lap of under 17 minutes. His bike time was 37:10, good on a time trial bike but excellent without the benefit of an aero optimised position, and he put in one final strong shift on the last run lap to finish in a time of 1:15:10, good enough for 13th overall and a well deserved third in his age group. The Kirkby Milers 10 results are still very much incomplete at the time of writing due to an electrical storm which afflicted the timing system but Ian Wright was delighted to lead the club at Knowsley Safari Park, his time of 1:12:03 being less than a minute adrift of the time he set in much more favourable conditions last year, setting himself and the club up nicely for their second blue riband event of the autumn, the Rainford 10k, for which entries close on Thursday at midnight.

Storm St Helens hits Rome and the “Riviera”

Late September often signals the end of the triathlon season, but some club members are still pressing on with Ironman sanctioned races both at home and abroad. Gary Tomlinson was the first cab off the rank, or at least the start line, over the weekend as he took on Ironman Italy. On an emotional day for the sporting community, which saw ex-Formula 1 and Paralympic competitor Alex Zanardi capture the hearts of millions worldwide, Gary enjoyed his own day to remember as he was out of the water on under 85 minutes, and enjoyed the flat blasts through the Emilia-Romagna region to arrive at T2 within the 9:30 mark. A strong run solidified his position and he finished the race in 14:43:39, good enough for a place in the top 2,500. Closer to home, George and Lynette Houghton were once again on the OCR trail in a Wild Warrior race which they described as part obstacle, part swimming! Who would have thought that mastering kick and catch drills would help you in an obstacle race? Well, Lynette was first female home while George’s time of 65 minutes placed him in the top 10 of his class. The upcoming cross country season will no doubt be music to the ears of two of the club’s strongest all round athletes.

Sunday dawned in Weymouth for the start of Ironman 70.3 and the trio of Brian Diggle, Mark Eccleston, Kevin Dunbar and Lewis Shepherd woke to learn that due to the threat of high winds and driving rain, the swim had been halved in length to 950m. Kevin Dunbar has long been a strong runner and memorably surged over the line at Ironman Bolton earlier this year, but here, on the South Coast frequently referred to as the English Riviera, his swimming and biking really caught the eye, as he recorded 2:07/100m in the water and followed it up with an 18mph bike leg to lead the club home in under 5 hours 25 minutes. He was almost joined at the hip with Mark Eccleston who has effectively done two Ironmans this year if you count Staffordshire and Weymouth as one to go with Bolton. Mark was marginally in front out of the water and set a particularly notable sub-3 hour bike split but eventually Kevin caught his time on the run and it was Kevin who got the nod to the tune of just two seconds. Brian was actually in front of Kevin and Mark off the bike thanks to a stellar opening and middle segment but ultimately he had to give best to his teammates, nonetheless finishing in just and over six hours. Meanwhile Lewis was happy to finish the gruelling course in just over 6 hours 40 minutes following a good run where he ran impressively close to Brian’s pace.

There were no such worries for Debra Rayment who was racing a different middle distance event, hers being the Outlaw X in Nottingham. Her race was particularly notable for a 1900m swim around the 45 minute mark and a new half marathon PB as she marked a year since an ankle sprain with a gritty race to a time of just over six and a half hours, placing her in the top 200. On the other side of the Midlands Patrick Neill was following up last week’s run/bike special in Anglesey with the Crazy Legs Events Darley Moor Duathlon. Into the top 100 immediately out of the gate, he made up more than 20 places on the bike where he averaged close to 40kph for eight laps of the triangular circuit. His final 2.5km run of just over 10 minutes was a sparkling closing movement to another excellent performance as he took 92nd overall and 18th in his age group, rounding off another varied week of compelling stories and excellent results for the club. Next week’s signature events include the Kirkby Milers Knowsley 10 Mile Road Race and the Oulton Park Duathlon, while entries for the club’s own Rainford 10k are still available at the time of writing.

Almere, Anglesey and Ambleside – Epic Distance Season goes to Extra Time

At St Helens Tri, it is somewhat rare we run out of plaudits to bestow on a specific individual for their athletic achievements, but over the weekend the club saw another outstanding performance from Eddie Hirst at Challenge Almere. Held on the flat roads of the Netherlands, it offers the strong bikers a chance to make a break for it, something that is harder to achieve on the UK course. This would be the theme of Eddie’s race as he frequently recorded splits of close to 40kmh aboard his time trial bike. He planned his run to stay in Zone 1 with the Kona World Championships next month, but he still went under 3:45 for the marathon and placed an astonishing eighth in his category with a time of 10:04:12. A phenomenal achievement for the club’s most impressive and consistent athlete.

Closer to home, two triathlon festivals were taking place in Anglesey and Brighton. Patrick Neill overcame a virus to take seventh overall, and third in his category, at the Sandman Duathlon and he was joined by Mal Balmer who got off to a very good start in the Classic Triathlon which features a fairly flat bike course and a run through the woods finishing on the beach. His sub-20 minute 1000m swim was followed by a fine performance on the bike of just over 1:50 and a sub-50 minute 10k through the forest lifted him to 46th at the finish, while Paul Mcgregor rounded out an epic year of half and full distance triathlon with a time of just over six and a half hours in the Legend event, Mere seconds away from the top 100. On the south coast it was a somewhat chaotic race as Lynette Houghton, Myka Heard and Steve Williams were aiming once again for GB age group qualification in the draft legal sprint race. However, a crash on the bike course in an earlier wave meant that the trio were stuck in transition and though all finished the race, adjusted times are still being finalised at the time of writing. It wasn’t all long distance trips as Stephen Bolton took on his third triathlon in 10 days in Wilmslow, where he was joined by Chris Murphy, a long time club member and regular photographer at the Manchester Cross Country League races. Despite feeling like “the heaviest legs he’s had” on the run course Stephen’s recent experience proved key in enabling him to hold on for 61st place and a top 8 in his age group, with a particularly impressive bike split speeding him to a time of 1:30:58. Chris clawed some time back on Stephen on the run course, eventually coming home just over four minutes on arrears with 1:35:21.

For single sport events it was a tale of two races in Windermere and Hoylake. At the Epic Lakes Swim finale near Ambleside Mark Eccleston capped off an amazing endurance year with his first ever 5,000m swim, well over Iron distance. He has focused on stamina over speed since Ironman in July and it paid off as he finished the longest Epic Swim on the calendar in 1:54:11, with Andy Devaynes finishing around a quarter of an hour behind. In the mile race Tony Waine completed his “season subscription” to the “classic” distance with another solid sub 40 time. Over on the Wirral Peninsula Diane Taktak was on tour with the Isabella Rose Foundation, though she was running for St Helens Tri. Here, she completed the part tarmac, part grass course in under 65 minutes to round off a fine weekend of racing with star turns coming from Eddie for Almere, Mark at the Epic Swim and Patrick for his gritty effort in Anglesey. Next week’s offerings include the North West Triathlon at Barony Park in Nantwich and the Kendal Triathlon in the South Lakes as well as the Southport Seaside 10k. A backlog of postponed races also bunched the junior season into three successive Sundays from 15-29 September; an all-in junior column will be released separately at the end of the month.

The Saints Showpiece 2019 – #BeatShaleyBrow Edition

Five club members took the short trip north to Capernwray, near Lancaster, for the T2 Events midweek series season finale. James Nairn has regularly featured early in the weekly reports without ever quite being the one to lead the club home, but here he was star of the show, as his sub-14 minute swim and a pair of very fast transitions were pivotal in establishing himself at the front of the club cohort, and 21st overall with 4th in his category was a fine reward. Next up was Stephen Bolton, who only joined the club midway through the season and has bean a regular at the pool and open water sessions over the last two months. Here, he was warming up for the St Helens Triathlon with his first ever outing for the club, and a superb 36 minute 20k bike was key to him finishing in a time of 1:18:14 just a handful of seconds away from the top 30. Robert Courtley was not far behind as he put in a terrific performance in the water, however he had to give best to his teammates on the bike, nevertheless finishing in the top six in his age group. Team Taktak were able to go for it and not worry about the big show in town at the weekend as they would be among the many valued contributors to enabling the club’s flagship event to run smoothly. Azzam’s sub-13 minute swim and a promising bike split lifted him to 52nd overall less than half a minute away from the top 50, while Sarah set the only sub-10 minute swim of the Famous Five, eventually finishing 61st in 1:28:23, good enough to take another age group win to store in her impressive trophy cabinet.

Four days later the club’s biggest race of the entire year rolled into town at the fourth running of the St Helens Triathlon held at Eccleston Mere. The race offered sprint and standard distance options; the former including one lap of the Mere, a lap of the bike route and a single lap run round Rainford, simply going to two laps per discipline for the longer option. In the sprint distance it was a fairly spread out race at the head of the field, but Emma Austin, fresh from returning from Lausanne, was out of the water right at the front of the overall field and her huge improvements in bike strength meant that she had more than enough in hand on the run to finish third overall, easily winning the ladies’ race outright to boot. Equally impressive was Mark Derbyshire, who broke out at last month’s Manley Mere Triathlon. Here, in a far less chaotic race, he was out of the lake in exactly 15 minutes, and although he left it too late to catch Emma he still took fifth at the line, winning the M40 category. He was just over a minute ahead of bike specialist Peter Leadbeater, who was third-quickest of anyone on the bike course and briefly looked like edging the intraclub battle, but in the end Mark’s much improved running form proved to be the difference. Sam Walton is always in the mix for fastest swim time and here he was once again, flying round the Mere in under 12 minutes, while he notably recorded the fastest T2 time of anyone which proved to be crucial in determining which of the club’s up and coming talents would follow Emma home; Sam finished 11th just over a minute ahead of George Houghton, wiith the pair sandwiching Brian Diggle who positively starred on his debut for the club; 12th place being a good first outing any day of the week, but an outstanding one set against the backdrop of his planned Ironman 70.3 debut at the end of the month! Also finishing in the top 20 were Stephen Bolton, nicely recovered after his trip to Capernwray, David Mellor, another promising debutant, and Carole James, who knocked over a minute off her Manley Mere swim time and was particularly impressive on the run. Behind Carole a furious battle was on between Chris and Bethany Forber, with Chris ahead as they left T2 but Bethany starring both in the photos (Helen Broderick’s photography and encouraging words getting the credit here) and on the 5k as she overhauled Chris to lead the family home. The complete results including the club’s remaining finishers are available to view at https://www.webscorer.com/race?raceid=194217 where the sprint and standard results are listed in full.

In an exciting standard race, which saw former St Helens Tri member Sam Wardle win a thrilling battle with Alex Ward and Steve Hall for the overall victory, recent new member Dominic Pike led the current crop of Saints home, coming home just over five minutes ahead of his usual Friday night “partner in crime” Callum Bishop, as he asserted his authority on the race early doors with a blistering swim, followed it up with a bike time just over 75 minutes and rounded things off with a sub-36 10k. It was a close run thing between Mark Ashton and Dave Connor, as Mark edged ahead in the lake and put some serious daylight between him and Dave on the bike. A furious last-ditch effort on the run was enterprising but ultimately came up short for Dave as the pair finished 12th and 13th separated by just over half a minute. The next trio of Chris Connor, Neil Prescott and Paul Austin chopped and changed like an arcade slot machine as Paul held a big lead over his teammates in the water, but Neil and Chris battled past Paul on the bike and in the end it was a superior 10k from Chris that made the different as he grabbed a top-15 place to boot. There were plenty of highlights throughout the field, including Louise Johnson using her recent experience of long, tough, hilly bike rides to take second female home, and a welcome return for Gary Birch, who has made a name for himself at half and full distance Ironman races over the last few years, but here completed the course in under two hours 50 minutes enjoying a good battle with Paul Booth in the process. Another notable performance came from Chris Hayes, completing his first full season with the club, as he recorded his best 10k run performance to date elevating him into the top 50. Ultimately it was an exciting day of racing on the local lanes marred but the aforementioned accident for Kevin Dudley, but the club nonetheless did itself proud with valued contributions coming not only from those who participated but also the BeUrBest team, Rainford High Technology College and club members who gave their Sunday mornings to help with marshalling, the T2 drinks station and take photos. Next week’s main events are the final Epic Lakes Swim of the season at Windermere and the South Manchester Triathlon hosted by OP Events, while the Rainford 10k is just four weeks away and entries are still available at the time of writing.

 

St Helens Triathlon marred by serious collision

The 4th running of the St Helens Triathlon was marked by a serious collision involving club member Kevin Dudley. Kevin was hit by a motorist on the bike course, and after receiving first aid from the medical team and fellow club member Mark Eccleston he was taken to hospital with a suspected broken shoulder and fractured wrist.

The accident was a particularly untimely occurrence coming on a day when Dave Gaskell, who suffered a similar fall last month at the Manley Mere triathlon, turned up and supported the club’s flagship event receiving good wishes from the multisport community. Our thoughts are with Kevin and we send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Saints Steamroller Keeps On (Swiss) Rolling into September

Emma Austin, Myka Heard and Steve Williams are no strangers to team GB and on Saturday they were joined in Lausanne by Jennifer Pybis for the first time at the ITU Age Group World Championships. They were also joined by a far greater turnout from around the world than at the recent European finals and this was always going to put Jennifer, who has made her name in close quarter racing over the last few years, right in her element. She was out of the water in under 14 minutes, and a much improved bike split under the 38 minute mark had her in good position to secure a top half finish if she could just produce her customary blistering 5k run split. She managed that, and more, in rising to 24th position in the F30-34 division less than half a minute away from the top 20. Meanwhile Emma was always going to plan her race with the precision of a Formula 1 team, and as such she dived straight into the thick of things with a sub-12:30 swim! Her bike split with her matching green race wheels was also a fine effort, similar to what Jennifer recorded in her race, and although she was overhauled by a fellow Team GB athlete on the run she was still third British entrant home and 23rd overall in 1:21:08. That Myka Heard even made it to Lausanne after such a disrupted season was a remarkable story in itself and she arrived ready to make the most of it fresh off a come-from-behind age group win at the Deva Aquathlon on Bank Holiday Monday. She has made huge strides over recent months shaving off considerable time from her already fast 750m swim mark, and a bike time easily under 40 minutes set her up nicely for the 5k, where she sealed 33rd position in a time of 1:25:16. However, the star of the show was Steve Williams, who recorded the highest position of all four St Helens Tri entrants (17th in his age group) and holding off a late charge from a Mersey Tri entrant to be third GB athlete home. There was also a little bit of racing closer to home on Saturday as Karen Kelly took part in the Sundowner Half Ironman in Pocklington, Yorkshire. A popular race, it starts at 12 noon and, as per the name, athletes are still finishing as the sun goes down with a party overlooking Allerthorpe Park Lake. Karen was more than equal to the breezy conditions and, in a cracking sprint to the line, held on for a top 400 place – to the tune of just three seconds! Meanwhile Will Bardin was positively starring at the Chillswim End to End in Coniston as he completed the 5.25 mile course in a little over 3 hours placing him easily inside the top 250. He was joined by Eugenia Kervin and Ann Gregory (pictured below) who have been regular attendees at the Friday morning swim sessions at Edge Hill Sport. Ann’s contributions to the club go well beyond her long-distance swimming ability as she regularly helps with coordinating the development lane, and here she had her second moment in the limelight (after her performance in Salford earlier in the year) as she finished the epic in just over four hours. Meanwhile Eugenia was having the race of her life, as she proved that doing the longer distances and those extra lengths at club sessions really do make the difference, as she finished in the top 400 recording an excellent 3:36:54, while also placing in the top half of her age group.

The following morning’s flagship race was the Wigan 10k, which has become one of the most popular late summer 10k races over the past decade. Diane Taktak joined her friends from Team Isabella for a warm, cloudy and windy day of racing on the undulating course which nonetheless produced a very fast race at the front. For her part Diane managed to cling on when the going got tough in the last two kilometres to record a 1:02:15 easily putting her in the top half of her category to round off the “party before the party” of next week’s big event, the 4th St Helens Triathlon, for which entries close at midnight tonight (Sunday 1st September). However, entries are still available for the Rainford 10k on October 6th, where the winner will be presented with the George Faulkner Memorial Trophy.