Quarry Bank Mill is a popular tourist destination for families as well as school trips and last Wednesday it provided the backdrop for the first St Helens Tri outing of the week. Diane Taktak, who had enjoyed a packed season of running on and off road joined friends from the Isabella Rose Foundation to take on the Run North West trail race. Such has been the variety of events on Diane’s schedule, here on a particularly testing course she ran strong where others faltered and completed the course, just over five miles long, in a time of 51:52. Three days later it was the turn of Violet Costello to star at the Dee Mile swim hosted by Chester Tri Club. This event now offers a half mile option for juniors to participate in and Violet, a regular attendee at Friday morning swimming and the Friday night track run session, performed brilliantly to take third in her category. Where Emma Austin and Sarah Taktak have progressed from junior to adult racing, Violet is set to follow!
In keeping with the triathlon club “community” feel of the weekend, and as a reminder to the masses of our own event in four weeks’ time, eight club members made the trip to a chilly, drizzly Manley Mere on Sunday morning for the annual open water sprint triathlon hosted by Stockport Tri Club, who also stage an autumn duathlon on October 20th. As detailed in the news flash on Sunday night, Dave Gaskell, who had been near the head of the field out of the lake, was involved in a very distressing crash on first corner of the bike leg and is now recovering in hospital from surgery to a fractured thigh bone. In one of the most chaotic races in St Helens Tri history it was somewhat miraculous that the same fate did not befall Robert Chesters, who dragged his worn wetsuit to 45th place out of the water before picking off the fast starters during the early stages of the bike leg, only to end up going the wrong way and, in turning round, locking up his rear wheel and end up flying over the handlebars into the road! Luckily Robert landed straight and got back on the road quickly, setting the seventh quickest bike split despite not breaking the 38 minute mark and following it up with a run split bettered only by the overall race winner. His final place of 8th tied his best in a Cheshire based event and he was joined in the top 20 by Mark Derbyshire. Mark and Robert left T1 almost joined at the hip, and in one of Mark’s strongest showings in a long time, he parlayed his Southport 10k running form into a top 20 finish overall. However, the feelgood story of the day, and probably the best since Sarah Taktak’s Ironman journey, was that of Carole James. Carole’s story goes back to well before she joined the club, having spent many years running at Southport Waterloo AC. She has improved immeasurably thanks to regular attendance at the Friday morning swim sessions, frequent trips to open water venues to improve long distance conditioning, and a recent bike fit at Thatto Cycles to install aero bars on her bike. It all came together on the slippery streets of Helsby as she powered round the course in a little over 90 minutes and overcame a deficit of more than two minutes to charge into the division lead on the run course and won her age group by 41 seconds! An outstanding performance from quite possibly the club’s most impressive newcomer of 2019.
Four more club members finished behind Carole, with Debra Rayment being next home. She matched Robert’s top 5 in age group result thanks to an improved bike split that saw her get within a minute of Carole’s time. Six minutes later came Sean Dalby, in his first major outing since Ironman 70.3, placing 71st and getting quite a gap on his teammates thanks to some very rapid transition times. Robert Saile came flying out of the blocks setting a swim time mere seconds behind that of Mark, before reaping the rewards of some consistent pacing on the bike and run course to keep his head while others around him lost theirs, and with a bit more luck he would have finished in under 1:50. He was chased to the line by Christopher Sullivan, who only recently joined the club and put in a good shift especially on the final stage to finish in well under two hours, rounding out a fraught but eventually rewarding day for the club where Carole undoubtedly stole the show with her first ever age group win. Next week’s signature events are the Bassenthwaite Lake triathlon and the Epic Events Coniston swims, while the club continues to promote the St Helens Triathlon and Rainford 10k, scheduled for 8 September and 6 October respectively.