National Club Relays 2004

Happy to oblige with a race report. More than willing to relive Saturday for anyone that cares to listen. This is fairly long … but I don’t care cause we’re NATIONAL CHAMPIONS ! (smile appears on face ;o)).

I had the honour (drew the short straw ?) of being opening leg on the team and thus get to be involved in the argie bargie that is a triathlon start. I was expecting this to be bad as most teams probably put their strongest swimmer first. The starter gave us a 10 second warning… so in my head ‘…9…8…7..’ BANG – we’re off. I sprint hard and have clear water very quickly – I look across and see alot of swimmers up with me or ahead so I ease across to get on someones feet. I ease into my pace and following the turn buoy find I’m starting to pass one or two people. For once on standing up from the swim I don’t feel too dizzy – I run and find Ali immediately – he’d done well to get such a good spot. I believe we were in the top 10 at this point.

All the remaining change overs went smoothly and we ended the swim section in 17th place some 3.39 behind Sheffield Tri. This didn’t worry us as we felt the swim would definitely be our weak section.

Bens hand over to me from the swim was flawless which cannot be said about my mounting of the bike. All I can say in my defence is that I was aiming to take it steady and not totally f**k it up. Ali was heard to comment “There’s room for improvement there”. Thankgod we won by 21 seconds (sorry if I’ve spoilt the story) rather than lost by that. My slow bike mounting made me determined to push as hard as I could. Over the past few weeks I’d been doing loads of cycling due to the cut on my foot preventing me running and I felt strong on the bike. I pushed hard and I have to admit that the 15km bike was absolutely brutal. I had the pleasure of passing loads of the teams that had got ahead of us on the swim. I’m told I handed over to Ali in 5th place. My bike dismount I felt I nailed – jumping off at a decent speed … in my haste I managed to take out another competitors bike that was already racked ;o(

Ali headed off on the bike – he was easy to spot with his white rear disc. Though I didn’t see it I was told Ali’s mounting of the bike was super slick and a joy to see. (I know what I’ll be practising this winter). Going down the back straight it looked like Ali was flying. Cadence looked awesome and he was passing everyone. Same has got to be said for Phil and Ben – again easily spotted by there rear discs – they looked to be flying.

By the time Ben handed over to me we were still in 5th mere seconds behind the 4th place guys but sitting reasonable pretty as we felt the run would be our best bit. At this point we were about 1.40 behind the leaders. We reckon that if we were within a minute of the leaders when Ben took over we’d win and even with a 2 minute deficit we had a chance but that was probably the maximum deficit he could make up over 5km.

I set off using the 4th place guy as a target but found he was pulling away slightly. I decided to look ahead as it wasn’t just the 4th place guy I need to close in on but the ones in front. It felt like i was catching 3rd even though the 4th place guy was pulling away slightly. That course was tough and I hurt like hell. With about 1km to go I had Ben screaming at me “The fourth place guy is hurting !” “Lengthen your stride, use those legs’ “Relax your shoulders” – it helped and I found that little extra – utter agony. God was I pleased to hand over to Ali. Unfortunately the deficit over first had risen to somewhere around the 2 minute zone.

Ben’s shouting was so good I headed out to do the same for Ali. He looked in pain also. I screamed “Go go go”. He handed over to Phil and the deficit I’d timed at 3.57 and we were still in 5th. Now my mind went to perhaps a podium finish was the best to hope for. The first place guy came by and Ali and I set our watches. We looked down the field and there’s Phil – cruising !! He was in 3rd catching the 2nd place guy and made up some 2 minutes on the leader. I screamed “Go go go !!”, Phil put every ounce in and took out the 2nd place guy with a couple of hundred metres to go. Absolutely awesome run from Phil which put Ben in with a fighting chance of overhauling the leader. Now to Ben – a mere 1.57 behind the leader. Could he do it ?

We saw the leader go by on the other side of the Lake – he looked to be running well. Ben was easy to spot – he looked like he was sprinting and he was passing people like they were on a Sunday stroll – it was an impressive sight. We timed him as he pased opposite us – he’d made up 20 seconds in just over 3 minutes. Shit this was gonna be close. Phil ran up the course so he could motivate Ben when it really mattered. Ali went to get the rest of the Tri London.

I was stood by the Thames Turbo guys when the cyclist in front of the leader came along. This must of been somewhere between 500m and 1km to go. I could see the opposition guy about 10m behind the bike. The Thames Turbo guys were saying ‘Your guy needs to be in sight if he’s gonna catch them’ – i look beyond and couldn’t see Ben. Then I looked right behind the bike and I erupted ‘GOOOOOOOOO BEEEEEEEEEN !!” he was already the leader and flying like a man possessed. I did my utmost to run along the bank screaming at him. Ali did the same and it felt like the whole of tri london was there screaming. He was flying, looking back he could see the 2nd place guy was broken. Ali and I continued runnning round and managed to get through to the finish and partake in a lovely sweaty team tri hug. The commentator could be heard to say “They look pretty happy”.

Awesome. I’m still smiling.

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