Bank Holiday weekend in August is typically characterised by three things; the Challenge Cup Final, Creamfields and the triple-header of the triathlon club relays, the West Lancashire Triathlon at the club’s adopted swimming home of Edge Hill in Ormskirk and the Wirral Open Water triathlon at the Marine Lake in West Kirby. At Holme Pierrepont National Watersports Centre the club had just one team this year, comprising of Myka Heard, Shirley Fox, Paul Booth and Mal Balmer. The Awesome Foursome (their choice of name) did the club proud with some particularly forceful swimming honed by years of long distance sessions at various open water venues and powered their way to 84th place overall finishing the course in just over four hours.
It was an altogether busier morning at the West Lancs Triathlon at Edge Hill Sport. The club’s 12 entrants set off at various times during the day but the Ralfs family led the way on the results table, with Thomas being the only one from the Saints to dip under 70 minutes, his experience in short-course swimming proving pivotal in establishing a fast start and his contributions to the run track sessions paying dividends with his 24 minute 5k split giving his second in his age group. His dad Alan was mere seconds behind, having inched ever closer to his son’s time during the bike and run course he was just less than 20 seconds behind at the finish, his 1:10:12 nevertheless placing him just outside the top 50. Peter Leadbeater has gone a bit under the radar since his sparkling early season form, but having gone well at the April triathlons he went even better here, a sub-34 minute bike split elevating him into the top 60 overall and seventh in his category. Robert Courtley had Chris Dyson for close competition together with Andrew Beacock and Chris Wynne, as the quartet somewhat managed to concertina having been pretty spreadeagled after the swim, Andrew and Chris catching the eye on the 5k in particular. After this closely matched quartet there was a gap of a couple of minutes to Sam Walton, who battled like a man possessed to beat the 80 minute mark and did it to the tune of just nine seconds; he was glad of his blistering 6:02 for the 400m swim once the heat hit out on the bike and run course, and fourth place in his age group was a just reward. He was just over three minutes ahead of Mark Syratt, candidate for “under the radar” improver at the Friday night track sessions, who came up with a tight, consistent race plan and stuck to it, eventually finishing in a time of 1:23:06. He was followed home by Sean Dalby who obviously enjoys the concept of racing short distances frequently; he improved from his showing at Manley Mere particularly on the run to clock a 1:25:51 just seconds away from the top 250. Rounding out the club’s registered entrants was Keith Ashcroft, who went under ten minutes on the swim and dug in deep in the near-oven like temperatures on the top of the hill during the run course to finish in just over 90 minutes.
Over on the Wirral the open water triathlon was in full swing, with its trademark hilly bike route and run along the marina proving a hit with both the entrants and locals alike; a far cry from other such events where Bank Holiday disruption is seen as a major nuisance. Leading the was for the Saints sextet were the dynamic duo of Andrew McGlone and Richard Seville. A trip to the bookmakers a year ago might have got shorter odds on Richard leading the club home but Andrew positively starred in the marina, out of the water in under 13 minutes! He enjoyed two particularly rapid transitions as he put his name forward as a dark horse for 2020 GB consideration and despite Richard’s best efforts on the bike and run he could not catch his teammate, the pair separated by just twelve seconds at the flag. The pair were nearly a quarter of an hour ahead of recent new member Ian Wright, who has been prolific in running races for years as a member of the IRF but here he was right into the thick of things for his new club, as he was out of the water in just over 18 minutes and proceeded to clock 45 minutes for the bike before a solid mid-21 run time saw him home inside the top 150 just under five minutes ahead of a relay team featuring the club’s very own Neil Wallace. In the midst of this passage of play Mark Eccleston added another sprint triathlon to his varied 2019 resume as he recorded the fastest 5k in his long and storied career finishing in the top 70 with a strong run to 1:22:28, although he mentioned in his post-race comments that his 20mph+ average aboard his Giant Propel from Thatto Cycles was even more satisfying (the value of a good bike fit if ever we needed evidence!) Rounding out the club’s entrants on the Wirral were Azzam Taktak and Wendy Webb who were both closing out race seasons largely marked by long distance events; Azzam finished in just over 90 minutes while Wendy recorded a 1:56:07 to close out a weekend where the star turns came from Thomas at Edge Hill, Andrew and Richard at West Kirby and the Awesome Foursome at the relays. The schedule for next weekend is rather more sparse but entries are still available for the St Helens Triathlon on September 8th and the Rainford 10k four weeks later.