Sunday would prove to be just as busy for St Helens Tri as the first round of the Manchester XC league the day before. The long haul tripper of the week was Eddie Hirst, who was travelling by far the furthest to compete but was actually in the most significant race of the weekend. Bedford Autodrome is a smaller, twistier version of Oulton Park owned by Jonathan and Jolyon Palmer (both former Formula 1 drivers) and Eddie was competing in the standard distance duathlon which also served as an ITU Duathlon qualifier. With a series of calf and hamstring niggles over the past few months the last thing Eddie would have wanted would have been a poor weather forecast; unfortunately so it transpired as large puddles of water courtesy of Storm Callum made progress very difficult for everyone especially on the bike course. Nevertheless, his black and orange bullet also known as his time trial bike served him as well as ever and he held on tenaciously during the second run to place 31st overall in just over 2 hours 6 minutes, which also gave him fifth in his age group and leave him in with a chance of world championship qualification. Closer to home, Mark Turner (pictured below) led the club by example as he has done so often in 2018 by taking an excellent seventh place at the ever popular Parbold Duathlon, where he was backed up by Will Bardin, who also had a strong outing particularly on the cycle stage, as he got home under the two hour mark which put him just outside the top 50. Strangely, for two events that were originally scheduled for March 18 (and both fell victim to the final Beast from the East) Parbold and Lancaster were rescheduled for the same date again, so it was left to Chris Murphy plus Sarah and Azzam Taktak to tackle this increasingly popular race which comprises two off road runs with some fast roads to stretch those cycling legs on. Chris Murphy was on fine form as he was into his stride from the off, and a good show of consistent pace over all three stages saw him place 32nd overall, while taking a top-six place in his age group. His 6th place was matched by Sarah who recently set a new mark to aim for in training with a fine run in a recent club 3000m time trial at Edge Hill University, and the first signs of this improvement were evident from the off, yet she actually saved some of her best pace for towards the end as her running strength combined with two lightning fast transitions saw her match Chris Murphy’s sixth place, in the junior women’s standings. The pair were split by Azzam who seems to be fitting in a race every weekend at the moment, but he showed no sign of burnout as he finished in just seven seconds over two hours, yet cracked the top 50 overall.
Sarah and Azzam weren’t the only ones racing from the Taktak family as Diane had to contend with some rather miserable conditions in Liverpool for the Alder Hey 10k. Hosted by Sports Tours International, it is a scenic route round Croxteth Hall and Country Park, normally associated with the weekly Parkrun. According to some runners there were some rather tight turns marked out by some rather haphazardly placed cones but Diane overcame it all in her usual cheerful manner to go well under the 58 minute mark and place 263rd overall, scoring, you guessed it, yet another sixth place to match her daughter and Chris Murphy in Lancaster. Meanwhile several club members who raced at Wythenshawe Park the previous day were out in force for Team Isabella at the Manchester Half Marathon, widely regarded as one of the fastest courses in the country. While their results counted for the IRF, Danielle Buckley raced for St Helens Tri in the hope of getting under the two hours mark after a year plagued by injury and as such she was delighted to cross the line in a time of 1:57:35, rounding off a super Sunday where the star turns came from Mark Turner in Parbold, Chris and Sarah in Lancaster and, with the result of the weekend, Eddie Hirst at the Bedford Autodrome. Next weekend’s schedule is rather more sparse but while Eddie and Mark go for glory at the ETU standard distance championship in Ibiza, the Stockport Tri Club Autumn Duathlon at Poynton still has entries available at the time of writing while there will no doubt be plenty of pictures doing the rounds on social media as the plethora of Halloween themed races offer plenty of tricks and treats in the run-up to October 31st!