Regular followers of the club news reports will have noted the rise and rise of Sarah Taktak. Since joining the club a couple of years ago she has gone from participating in a nine-mile sponsored walk which at the time was known as “something mad” to completing numerous multisport events of various distances right up to half Ironman level. Rarely has someone under the age of 18 taken to such long events so well, especially the ones with tough courses requiring that special type of conditioning, but at the Anglesey Sandman Triathlon, a favourite among St Helens Tri members over the years, she was looking to put away the season series and take home the F23 title. It started well enough, with a swim time of just over eight minutes in the sea, but it was her character in recovering from a difficult first transition that really impressed, as she demonstrated improved strength on the bike course and made a crucial pass on the final 5k run to lift herself to 9th place in her category. Together with her results at the Slateman and Snowman triathlons earlier in the year her performance was more than enough to clinch the championship. Also racing was her dad Azzam, who was a little way behind exiting the water, yet really put the hammer down on the bike course and ran his best 5k for a while to place 232nd overall in a time of 1:38:20. In the classic distance race on Sunday Alan McKeegan was right out of the blocks with a sub-29 minute swim for the first stage and while he lost out al little on the bike, a good sub-50 minute 10k saw him home in a time of 3:40:34. He was joined in the classic race by Philip Hughes who had to give best to his teammate on the swim and run, yet was remarkably close on bike splits; in the end Philip’s time of 4:24:00 saw him sneak into the top 400.
While Sarah joined her mum Diane and a few of her friends from the Isabella Rose Foundation at the Totally Wicked Stadium the following morning for the St Helens Colour Run, the club excelled in four diverse events held in Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria. Will Bardin and Peter Rawlinson took part in the Ivan Percival Salthouse Dock open water swims, a low-key, friendly event open to all with all the proceeds going to charity. Results are not yet available at the time of writing but at Ormskirk Cricket Club the skies cleared just in time for both the start of the final day of the Food and Drink Festival and the ever-popular Ormskirk 10k. Here, Keith Ashcroft took on the rolling course around the local lanes and was rewarded with a time of 56:43, beating his previous PB by two minutes, leaving him suitably delighted with the result. In addition Michael and Sarah Hodgkinson made a welcome return to racing at the latest event on the Ulverston Triathlon Club calendar, the Lakeside Triathlon in Cumbria. A low-key event with that modern rarity of an open water swim in September, it is part of a local series which only recently became open to all. Michael proved that he has not missed a beat in the time away as he was third overall thanks to a particularly rapid run split while Sarah also enjoyed a profitable day out as she was in the podium positions throughout, finishing third lady home.
The juniors were out in force at the Deva Junior Triathlon hosted by Chester Tri Club. Racing in the boys sprint distance were James Evans and Thomas Mulhaney. James was a revelation as he made up places throughout the race and just ran out of time to snatch second place, but a bronze medal so early in his St Helens Tri career was a brilliant results to take into the off-season. Thomas was very evenly matched with James in the pool, before James took off on the bike course to pull away, however Thomas still managed a top-10 finish with a time of 17:44. Chloe Evans had a similar race to that of James in the corresponding girls’ event as she ran on the fringes of the top 10 for much of the race, but put in a great run that almost saw her grab 6th place, however in the end she had to settle for 7th position in a time of 18:34, a result matched by Sally Bearon in the Tristars Start race. The midfield was quite congested for much of Holly Hirst’s race in the T2 Girls event but a couple of rapid transitions helped her to finish 18th overall in 34:01, while Thomas Saile placed 24th in the same age group for the boys. Olivia Hague recorded the fastest swim time at T3 Girls level, and was very much in the hunt for a podium until the later stages as she eventually finished in fourth place, while Naomi Bearon and Hollie Saile had a good outing in the same race as they placed 9th and 11th to close out another superb week of racing with the star turns coming from Sarah Taktak at the Sandman, Michael and Sarah Hodgkinson in the Lake District and Keith for his efforts at the Ormskirk 10k. Next week’s two signature events are the North West Classic Triathlon in Nantwich and the Oulton Park Autumn Duathlon, while the club hosts the annual BeUrBest Rainford 10k the following Sunday, starting at 10am.