The second St Helens Tri club duathlon of the winter season took place today with 21 athletes converging on Pikelaw Place in Skelmersdale for a course comprising two laps of running twice through the local walkways and along Pimbo Road bookending a six lap blast on the bikes around the course normally reserved for local road races. Conditions were not as warm as a month earlier and a noticeable wind picked up during the course of the morning which would blunt the top end speed on the cycle stage but a cracking race was enjoyed by all. In the early stages Robert Chesters put his winter of cross country running and tough sessions in the hills of Aughton to good use and reached T1 around a minute ahead of Ian Orford and Dean Golba. However, the bike course would prove to be somewhat different and while Ian dropped back, Dean was immediately into the zone that saw him record him 4:31 at Ironman 70.3 Dubai. Equipped with a finely tuned position on his Giant Trinity (even down to the length of his aero extensions!) he took the lead at the end of lap 2 and would reach the pit lane over two minutes ahead thanks to an amazing sub-32 minute 20k bike time. Robert would not give up and somehow completed the second 4.5km run in under 15:30 but ultimately ran out of time to make the deficit up as Dean won in a time of 1:07:20, some 29 seconds ahead. After a wait of a few minutes it was new member Neil Prescott who took third place, his excellent bike split within a minute of the time set by Robert being the difference in his battle with Patrick Neill for the last podium position. James Nairn, last month’s best newcomer, enjoyed considerable improvement as he moved up from 10th in February to 6th here, challenging Neil Jackson for 5th overall even if Neil’s superior bike speed proved to be enough of an edge.
Steve Williams made it two out of two in the super-vets race, almost catching leading M50 Paul Austin on the bike, before Paul’s superior running speed took him clear on the final stage, happy as he was to be cheered on by his daughter/photographer/marshal/junior team GB star Emma (who took the ohotos shown below, a small selection of her esxelexce photography). Indeed, they both had their hands full holding off Ian Orford towards the end as he rebounded from outside the top 10 on the bike to chase them down on the run and give them a real hurry-up to the finish. Carole James reached T1 in the top 10 and was happy to have chosen her race bike, as in a marked contrast to Parbold a week earlier, she found the position well suited to the flat and fast confines of Pimbo; she would hold onto her position on the second run to join Steve in winning her division in both events. She finished around three and a half minutes clear of Lynette Houghton, whose son George put in a terrific charge on the final run segment to overtake Melanie Sayed and finish in the top 15, demonstrating the sheer potential of the club’s junior cohort. Indeed it is they who will undoubtedly drive the future of the club as it looks to continue its recent successes on the wider stage and also promote its own events, with the next one being the St Helens Triathlon on Sunday 8 September, for which entries are now open!