Ex-hurricane Bertha and the forecast of high winds and heavy rain failed to stop Guernsey Triathlon Club’s Pembroke Olympic Distance Triathlon and Spint Triathlon from taking place last Sunday.
The event, sponsored by the Ana Leaf Foundation, saw Ben Creasey take the spoils after a two-season hiatus.
The strong windstayed firmly in the south leaving the sea in Pembroke bay safe to swim in, although heavy showers did have some effect on those triathletes who chose to race.
It was all to play for with the event being the last chance for local triathletes to qualify for the Island Games Jersey 2015, with Alan Rowe and Bob Guilbert particularly looking for decent races following a mechanical failure and cramp respectively in the first qualifier in Jersey five weeks ago.
With the dominant local James Travers racing the British Triathlon Championships in Liverpool, having effectively secured Island Games qualification on the back of his race win in the Jersey Triathlon, the head of the field had a close and interesting race.
The 1500 metre swim was a two-lap affair in choppy waters and saw Martin Chapman exit the water in first place.
With the roads wet and slippery competitors faced 10 miles riding into the force six headwind down the west coast road, before climbing L’Erée Hill.Strong gusts along the top road heading out to Pleinmont challenged the riders before a strong tailwind back up the coast helped prompt speeds in excess of 30mph back towards transition to complete the 25 mile route.
The 10k run was two laps on the coastal path out from Pembroke to Chouet beach kiosk and back, allowing athletes a good opportunity to see where their main challengers were. Creasey, Mat Dorrian and Rowe were closely grouped with Creasey, whorecently returned to the sport with a heavy training regime, took a superb win to show he has lost little of the promising form he showed before his sabbatical. Dave Crosland took fourth whileGuilbert battled some cramps to take fifth place.
Creasey said: “Having not raced for a couple of seasons, I wanted to make a good comeback so I have been training hard to get back on form. It was great to feel it paying off, especially in my swim. Conditions were tough, but I definitely enjoy it when it’s like that so itsuited me well. It made for a tough morning for all the volunteers, so they deserve big thanks.
“I was really pleased with the bike leg;pretty treacherous in those conditions but good fun. After finishing the bike in third I was feeling good, so pushed into second. Halfway through it looked as if I was gaining on the leader (unfortunately later disqualified for taking the wrong bike route), which gave me a new boost to take the lead with about 2km to go”.
Dorrian was equally pleased with how his season is going.
“It was a fun race in challenging conditions. I found myself on my own in the swim, which I lost time on as always, but managed to get into a rhythm and not swallow too much water. The bike was a steady effort; the return leg was much slower than it should have been as I opted for caution around the wet corners rather than speed. The run was also surprisingly tough. Overall I am pleased though, hopefully I have done enough for selection for Jersey and a winter of swim work should help my times”
Amy Critchlow took the ladies win after strong swim and bike legs and battling through a hard fought run while Magda Puzio had unfortunately slid off her bike descending Pleinmont hill but still managed a spirited second place.Both look to have secured firm Island Games selection.
Critchlow said:“During the swim I was mostly focused on the course buoys as I was aware that the strong offshore wind was pushing swimmers off course and I didn’t want to swim any unnecessary extra distance. The choppy conditions were tough but we were reasonably sheltered in the bay and after completing the first lap I felt more comfortable going into the second. My plan for the bike leg was to keep a high cadence cycling into the strong wind towards L’Erée and save my legs for L’Erée Hill. The section along Torteval road heading to the top of Pleinmont hill was gusty and I had to concentrate hard on keeping the bike under control on several occasions. Due to the conditions (and several warnings at the race briefing) I descended down Pleinmont Hill almost at a snail’s pace and managed to stay upright. The reward was then the Pleinmont to Pembroke section which was nice and fast and I used the tailwind to my full advantage to get back to transition. I realised I had gained a small lead through the swim and the bike legs but I knew I would have to work hard in the run to maintain my lead, as this is always my weakest of the three disciplines. However I liked this run course and am learning that I favour more of the technical off-road runs, so pushed through the two laps and was happy to cross the finish line without dropping my position in a tough but enjoyable race.
Talented junior Josh Thornton took the win in the half distance race, followed by Dave Watson in his first triathlon and club stalwart Chris Dodd in third, while visitor Racheal Jeffries took the ladies sprint distance win.
Island Games selectors for triathlon will be meeting in the next fortnight to discuss the triathlon squad for Jersey 2015.It is likely the 10-strong team will consist of six senior men, two or three senior woman with one male and one possibly female development place available. An announcement of the team will be made at the end of August.
The next race in the calendar takes place on 14 September and is a long distance triathlon. Full details can be found at www.guernseytriathlon.com.