The clock is now ticking down to Ironman UK but sprint distance races are still on offer and there was plenty for the club to celebrate over the weekend in Cheshire and Cardiff. At Cholmondeley Castle the focus was on the latest round of the Castle Triathlon Series where no less than 34 race options were on offer. The focus of such weekends is always on the triathlons but the club also had entries in the 10k and half marathon. Helen Broderick enjoyed her best ever overall placing in a race in the 10k competing with her daughter as she finished the multi-terrain course in a time of 56:58 placing 14th overall and sixth lady home. The values of attending the Friday night track sessions have never been more on show than they were in the half marathon as Thomas and Alan Ralfs took to the start line. Thomas is a top track sprinter with a proud history of competition and has contributed to the club on many occasions with his energy and knowledge at club sessions, and here he got his time to shine, finishing an astounding fifth on debut in a time of 1:38:19, while Alan edged a close battle to take the last slot in the top 10 just under four minutes further back. In the multisport arena it was the turn of Cheryl Pace, Colin Dobbs and Patrick Neill to take centre stage with Cheryl racing the sprint, Colin doing the sprint plus and Patrick Neill in the standard race. Cheryl has been a runner for many years with particular experience of off-road racing at Penny Lane Striders and here she was in her element taking 5th in her category and a top-50 place overall thanks to a sub-18 minute swim and a much-improved performance on the bike and run. Colin Dobbs found the sprint plus, particularly the mixed terrain of the run course, very much to his liking and his excellent sub-40 minute run was key to him working his way up to 37th overall in a time of 2:37:44. That was it for Saturday but on the Sunday Patrick was flying in the standard distance race, as he was out of the water in well under half an hour, recorded a sub-1:20 time for the 44km cycle and had enough in his legs on the run to take fourth in his age group, his final time of 2:39:16 being arguably his best performance so far in 2019.
While the day trippers headed back along the M56 to put their feet up, Paul McGregor was in the last stages of a very notable performance in the Yorkshireman Half where he placed sixth in his age group finishing in just under six hours. Meanwhile Emma and Paul Austin were down south in Cardiff for the ITU qualification race. After the Leeds Triathlon earlier in the month, club reporter Robert Chesters (the third member of “Team Green and Blacks” owing to the colours of their bikes) mentioned how much triathlon has evolved in the last few years, noting that where we used to race in remote locations, now we more frequently compete in cities turned into miniature stadiums for the day. Cardiff, like Leeds, definitely fell into the latter category as the swim in the bay was followed by a multi-lap dogfight of a bike course round the city centre, with the run being more like a Tour de France style experience as the competitors soaked up the atmosphere in the Welsh capital. On offer were places in the 2020 world championships in Canada and as such Emma was always going to have her eye on the prize. She was out of the water in 12:50, this time ahead of her dad, before his superior bike speed put him ahead to stay, at least on overall time. For his part Paul would finish in 1:11:34 giving him a top-20 finish in his age group but Emma was about to spring a major surprise. Her running has been superb in between a succession of frustrating injuries but here she recorded a blistering sub-22 5k, and her final time of 1:12:29 gave her the result of the weekend; third in her category, automatically putting her through to Canada 2020! After a season disrupted by every possible setback, this result, while not her highest divisional placing on record, was surely her most satisfying, and it capped off a weekend full of surprises where several new stars emerged. Next week’s signature race is the Epic Events Southport Half Marathon and 10k, while the second round of the Epic Lakes Swim Series follows on July 7th and the biggest date of the year, Ironman UK, takes place seven days later.