The North West Classic Triathlon and the Windermere Festival of racing provided a scenic backdrop to another fruitful round of racing for St Helens Tri over the past weekend. At Alderford Lake it was a tale of the first opus joining one of the greatest stories of all as Chris Murphy, whose photography skills have been much valued at club events, joined forces with Steve Williams, perhaps the greatest example to those who think they will never make it to the big stage. Chris actually set a faster run time in his first open water triathlon as he posted a final time of 1:18:57 with a 22:39 run split, but Steve possibly set the club record for biggest ever winning margin in his age group. Exiting the water in under 11 min, he set a staggering sub 37 bike split aboard his Cervelo P2 and rounded off with a 25:07 run to win his age group by over 14 minutes! An incredible effort on a day when Eddie Hirst’s two daughters Holly and Grace took part in the untimed junior duathlon at the same venue, a fine example of an event held under Covid-19 secure guidelines and allowing future generations to thrive in a pressure free environment.
The following morning was equally action packed with club members eager to make the best of a truncated race season. Chris Hayes was in action at the mile swim and recorded a useful sub-40 minute time, then the attentions turned to the Epicman Windermere Triathlon, one of the most scenic in the UK. A spirited battle developed between Charlie Stirrup and Peter Fairclough, with Charlie eventually pulling out a gap on the bike. Despite Peter making up more than ten minutes on the 20km run Charlie ultimately prevailed by just a couple of minutes, taking a top 40 spot overall as well as top 5 in his age group. Anthony Bearon has regularly attended club sessions for the last few years, and with the family cheering him on he got his just reward as his unique training method of cycling to club sessions paid off with an excellent effort resulting in a final time well under the 6:30 mark, while Will Bardin actually ran ahead of Anthony in the early going but eventually finished around half an hour in arrears. Chris Hayes and Kevin Dunbar were evenly matched during the swim in the standard distance but Chris and his new found speed aboard the bike proved to be the difference, and despite a terrific effort by Kevin to reel his teammate in on the run Chris took the honour of first club member home, finishing in 2:43:52 with both making the top 40. A similarly close battle developed between Azzam Taktak and Paul McGregor where Paul set the quicker time on two wheels and Azzam had it all to do on the run. This time, the faster runner got the edge as Azzam finished ahead by around eight minutes. Diane Taktak rounded off the weekend of racing at the Capesthorne Hall half marathon, one of the most stunning locations in the country to run a 13.1. Her small group of six runs during the lockdown proved invaluable as she took on the surprisingly warm conditions and finished in just over two hours 20 minutes. Next week’s flagship event is the City of Birmingham Triathlon, while duathlons at Oulton Park, Milton Keynes and Castle Combe promise an exciting autumn of racing to look forward to.