St Helens Tri began a varied week of racing with two turning out at the the midweek 10 mile time trial, the last Tuesday event of 2018. Debra Rayment and Helen Broderick faced the timekeeper and both managed to beat the 29 minute mark, setting the tone nicely for a Saturday of two contrasting races, these being the Lions Trail Marathon and the Bassenthwaite Triathlon. The former is a long-standing staple of the midsummer long distance running season, the latter an ever-popular triathlon which always sells out months in advance of race day. Lee Stinch was on form at the 26.2 mile event as he placed 14th overall with a fine performance which saw him duck under the 3:45 barrier, while Mark Derbyshire starred in the Lake District, where a combination of a strong swim and a couple of very speedy transitions lifted him into the top 50 by the end of the race. In keeping with the Lake District theme, four club members rounded off a very wet and windy weekend in the UK’s favourite National Park by participating in the Epic Lakes Swims at Coniston the following day, with the Semer Water Swim having been cancelled the day before. Carole James continues to improve posting a time of 42:26 for the mile distance, but the star performance came from Andrew McGlone who has proven to be one of the revelations of the 2018 season. Here, he completed the 2.4 mile event in an astounding 1:07:29, nearly twenty minutes ahead of Ironman Will Bardin, while Mark Eccleston crossed the line a further eight minutes in arrears at the end of one of the toughest long distance swims he has participated in.
There was plenty of racing action in somewhat less scenic locations as the Birchwood 10k and the Stockport Open Water Triathlon at Manley Mere also took place on Sunday. At the little New Town just outside Warrington Ian Orford and Diane Taktak took on their latest 10k challenge, with Ian making a welcome return to the racing circuit as he placed 125th in a time of 42:27 while Diane Taktak overcame the morning of the four seasons (at least in terms of weather) to clock a 59:18. Ian’s right hand man Kevin Dunbar was one of many tackling the Stockport event and it may yet be the first chapter of a long story to be told in 12 months’ time that Kevin’s Ironman 2019 journey started at this small venue which is perhaps the opposite of Bassenthwaite; it rarely attracts large numbers of entries, yet it is very conducive to fast times for all abilities whether new to the sport or very experienced. Kevin may not have much history to fall back on at multisport but here he was right into the thick of things as he clocked a sub-20 minute swim followed by a solid bike and a terrific run even quicker than one of the overall podium finishers, as he climbed to 18th place in a time of 1:24:13 at the finish line. He was only three places and just over 90 seconds behind Michael Forber who was participating in his first triathlon since Ironman. Here, he recorded a swim of just over 16 minutes, which set him up nicely for a top 15 finish overall and 5th in his age category, as he held off a fierce late comeback from Kevin to be first club member home. Entering the midweek 10 must have been an inspired move on the part of Helen Broderick as she was third of the six Saints over the line, with that all-important form on the bike lifting her to second in her age group and a top-40 overall placing. Ben Mason is relatively new to the club, but here he passed numerous people once out of the water with a strong bike performance and some good running off the bike to finish in just under 1 hour 36 minutes, coming so close to the top 50. Chris Forber had to give best to Ben on the final stage but her time of 1:37:35 was still good enough for third in her age group. However, the star of the show was undoubtedly Bethany Forber, who has made a strong impression with her coaching abilities at recent club sessions. Here, she exited the water in tandem with Helen, and though she dropped back somewhat from her teammates on the bike, an excellent run on tough off-road terrain not only placed her 61st overall, but first in the F20-29 age group by over seven and a half minutes, as she swept the board recording the fastest time in her age group on all three stages of the race; she had no competition whatsoever for the star performance not only in Stockport, but of the entire weekend. And Bethany will get another opportunity to shine next weekend as the signature race of the August Bank Holiday weekend is the national club relays at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham where the club has six teams of four entered in a unique race where all four members of each team have to complete the three disciplines, with plenty of recovery time between stages. With the West Lancs Summer Triathlon and a similar event taking place in West Kirby on the Sunday it promises to be yet another packed weekend of racing action.