It was very much a “Spain and Stockport” theme for St Helens Tri over the weekend as duathlon took centre stage at home and abroad. First of all, though, Lynette and George Houghton represented team GB at the OCR World Championships in Essex. Held over three days, it requires competitors to complete three separate races totalling 33 kilometres with obstacles aplenty. The standards are set extremely high and it is particularly difficult to record a pass on any of the three courses but both George and Lynette had the strength to overcome the challenges thrown at them and end as proud finishers. Two remarkable all round athletes who have carved out their niche and done so with commitment and enthusiasm.
The main focus of the weekend, however, was in Ibiza where four club members were competing in the ETU Duathlon Championships. On the Saturday Shirley Fox participated in the sprint distance race. Shirley has really upped her game on the bike in the last 12 months and her strength carried her to a creditable 17th place in her category. However, the big story of the weekend was undoubtedly that of Jeanette Fisher who was competing at international level for the fist time. Jeanette has always been a fast runner but here it was her bike performance that caught the eye, as she recorded a bike time quicker than most of the eight who finished ahead, and only a handful of seconds behind the overall winner! Ninth place was the very least she deserved for a stunning conclusion to what has easily been her best season to date. The following afternoon saw the standard distance races take place and competing for St Helens Tri were Eddie Hirst and Mark Turner, who were only racing a week earlier in Bedfordshire and Parbold. Eddie has concentrated on his bike strength (you might see a trend here) due to a few minor niggles in recent months and it paid off, as he matched Jeanette’s 9th from the previous day in the M40-44 standard distance event. Mark Turner recorded the best result, however, as he fought the rising temperatures and a strong M25-29 field to go sub-38 for his first 10k. He held firm on the bike course and despite having to back off in the final stages so as to make the finish he crossed the line in an outstanding sixth place, and less than two minutes away from the podium!
Closer to home, three members enjoyed rather shorter journeys to races in Liverpool and Manchester. Sarah and Diane Taktak changed into fancy dress for the Beat the Reaper 10k at Croxteth Hall. Sarah was flying round the iconic venue with her time of 55:51 putting her in the top ten of her category and Diane recorded an encouraging 1:02:17. Meanwhile, Robert Chesters pictured belowb took on his first solo multi-sport event in nearly four months at the end of season Stockport Tri Club Duathlon held at Poynton Leisure Centre. This is definitely one for your 2019 diary, comprising two technical 5k runs with some sharp climbs through a forest and a few stiles to swing round, together with a two-lap, 21km cycle stage featuring a very tough climb which caught out many a seasoned competitor. Robert came into T1 at the back of the top ten but made use of the flat time trial sections and his own recent weight loss on the hill to move past several competitors on the first lap of the bike course, and he remained at the sharp end all the way to the flag to finish fourth, with third in his age group, in a time of 1:20:39 and round off a terrific weekend where the star turns came from Jeanette Fisher and Mark Turner for their standout performances in Ibiza as well as Lynette and George Houghton in the OCR world championships. The Halloween weekend is a relatively quiet one but Kevin Dunbar returns to one of his favourite haunts at the Snowdonia Marathon, while November’s schedule includes the Fireworks 500 open water swim at Capernwray on the first Saturday and the second round of the Manchester Cross Country League at the Kenworthy Woods University Playing Fields on November 10th.