Over the past week the St Helens Tri activity could be broken down into three distinct categories; long distance triathlon, obstacle course racing and how to survive 13.1 miles on the arid flatlands of the Merseyside coast praying for some desert rain. It’s rare that our report begins with an Ironman save for the annual showpiece in Bolton, but if ever there was an exception to be made it had to be for Richard Seville, who only joined the club from St Helens Striders just before the St Helens Triathlon last September. Richard impressed on that occasion and marked himself out as one of those career “strongman” runners who frequently feature at the sharp end of triathlons well into their 40s but he had never taken on an Ironman prior to last weekend. Sports fans in Austria who weren’t at the Red Bull Ring for the Formula 1 Grand Prix were able to turn their attentions to one of the most scenic long distance triathlons in the world as Ironman Austria rolled into town. Richard kept the club updated throughout the weekend with photos which looked more like the Florida Quays than the Styrian hills which must surely inspire those who have done Ironman UK and want to venture a bit further afield. Much of Richard’s training has been based on non-stop rides of over 80 miles and there really is no better way to prepare for the ultimate endurance test, as he proved brilliantly. His swim and bike times were right up there with the best in his age group and despite having to walk through the aid stations on the run course (as many do) and shuffling through the last few miles (as he put it) he still recorded a phenomenal time of 10:40:07 which instantly put him among the best Ironman performances in club history. In the short history of St Helens Tri, there are perhaps only two members who joined and made a similar impression within 12 months at Ironman level; one being Che Heard, the other Eddie Hirst. The latter was in action at the Outlaw Half in Nottingham organised by One Step Beyond events, who host the club relays next month. Eddie was quick as usual in the water but it was his bike time which really caught the eye, and event though Eddie has only recently returning to running following an injury he still completed the challenging course in under five hours, good enough to put him in the top 15 for his age group on a day when the exposed nature of the Nottingham course and the high UV made for especially challenging conditions.
Moving onto obstacle racing, George and Lynette Houghton were racing once again having qualified for the world championships thanks to the results of last week’s Spartan Super at Aston Downs. They didn’t venture quite so far afield on this occasion, instead settling for the Delamere Commando 10k which must feature as a possible option for a club day out in 2019. In a close run thing, George crossed the line just ahead of Lynette who was second female on the day. Both are now looking forward to the club relays weekend where plans are already afoot for anyone who wants to try obstacle course racing to have a go at Holme Pierrepont on the Sunday – let the battle for third place begin……….
While Lynette and George were enjoying the relative UV shelter and a bit of mud and water in Cheshire, Kevin Dunbar and Ian Orford joined a few friends who race for the Isabella Rose Foundation in part one of the Tour of Merseyside, a six day, 52 mile event comprising of various distances and terrains. Part 1 itself was the Epic Events Southport Half Marathon, held as per the opening line of the report in an area in the midst of a Saharan drought (hence the reference to desert rain). The conditions were probably the toughest ever for said event but Kevin and Ian were more than equal to the daunting task as they spearheaded the St Helens Tri challenge and completed the 13.1 miles in a time of 1:37:34, Kevin even having the energy to complete the mile race with his son before the main event. However, they were upstaged on this occasion by David Isaac, who has not been racing quite so much in 2018 compared with previous years but he made up for lost time in more ways than one as he powered round the seaside town in a remarkable 1:29:25, which put him in the top 70 while John Wilson took time off from supporting the juniors to round out the club contingent as he quite comfortably beat the two hour mark. Also in action close to home were Paul Stupples and Charlie Stirrup who competed in the Liverpool Phoenix CC 25 mile time trial on the Bickerstaffe/Melling course. Paul was among the first few off the starting ramp and dug deep to beat the 70 minute mark while Charlie showed why he is one of the club’s leading cyclists with a fine performance clocking 1:00:47 to round off a weekend where Richard Seville undoubtedly took the plaudits for star performance, with a respectable nod to Eddie Hirst for his sub-5 hour half Ironman. Next weekend’s signature events include the Ullswater Triathlon and the UKFast Manchester 10k starting and finishing at the Etihad Stadium which should serve as a fitting prelude to the biggest event of the year seven days later, Ironman UK.