The 2 – 12 August saw the new European Championships multisport festival descend on Glasgow. This included the ETU Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships on Saturday 11th August at Strathclyde Country Park, on the outskirts of Glasgow. This would be my first major race in GB kit, so I was equally nervous and excited.
Living in Glasgow meant that I was able to recce the course a few weeks prior to the race. This all sounds well and good, until it turned into a bit of a disaster. I dragged some of my club mates out in typical Glasgow weather (read: torrential rain) to ride out and go round the bike course with me. As well as having to get the train back to Glasgow as we were so wet and cold, I managed to fall off twice. The first of these was an embarrassing swerve to avoid pedestrians, the second was a pretty spectacular wipe out in which I managed to rip every bit of clothing I was wearing. Bad recce = good race, right?
Skip back to race week and I was feeling much more confident. The Parade of Nations Hub in the city centre was a great chance to meet some other athletes and soak up some of the atmosphere. Over the next few days we attended race briefings and course familiarisations. Living locally meant I didn’t have to stress too much about getting to and from the race venue and quite a few of my club mates were volunteering at the venue as part of the games, so it was nice to have some friendly faces amongst all of the madness!
My wave start at 7.30am meant a very early start. We were lucky to have a perfectly still, sunny morning and the loch looked amazing as we arrived, with a layer of fog sitting just on top. After racking my bike the day before, I just needed to lay out the rest of kit and do my final checks in transition. I don’t normally get particularly nervous before races, but the big occasion definitely got to me and I was really ready to get going.
We were herded into the pre-start pen at 7am. It was slightly chilly, standing around in just our wetsuits, but chatting to the other girls in my age group helped to calm my nerves.
With the swim being my strongest discipline, the only part I was concerned about was getting myself in a good enough position to get a good start. My wave comprised of 2 age groups and around 60 girls, which could make for a rather unpleasant washing machine simulation. We started in the water from a pontoon. I ended up slightly off to one side, which meant a longer line to the first buoy, but that I managed to avoid most of the madness and get myself ahead fairly quickly.
After the first turn I hit my stride and exited the water in 11.19 and 6th in my age group.
The bike was a 3 lap, undulating course. I am still relatively new to cycling. To illustrate, when I did my first ever triathlon last August, my parents, who came to watch, were concerned that I had fallen off because I took so long on the bike course. With this in mind, I was just hoping for a solid ride with no major hiccups.
After a slow start crashing into a sandbag swerving to avoid someone in the narrow transition onto the bike course, I felt like I hit a good rhythm. I was cautious of burning myself out on the first lap- there were some steep inclines on the course. I started to increase my effort over the second and third laps, managing to pick off some girls who had passed me on the first! The support from the crowd was great, especially on the final down hill into transition.
Running to T2, I realised how cold my feet were- I hadn’t put any toe warmers on my bike shoes and they were suffering from the morning chill! This, combined with post-bike jelly legs meant I took a while to hit my stride. The run course was fairly flat with a hill at the turn point. I felt good for the first half but admittedly I hadn’t done a great deal of run training leading up to the race, and was suffering a bit by the last 2km.
Running back along the side of the loch towards the finish and then along the blue carpet felt pretty special, despite the pain! It was amazing to have so much support on the course, and to see my friends, family and club mates cheering me in to the finish. I finished 12th in my Age Group. Despite the fact that may have made top 10 if I hadn’t slowed up on the run, I was absolutely thrilled! This marked only my 4th ever triathlon and was exactly one year since I raced at my first ever triathlon. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in a year.
Racing at Glasgow was a great experience made even more special being in my home town. I couldn’t have done it without my friends and family, who came out to support me, and my club sponsor Billy Bilsland Cycles, who let me borrow one of their racing bikes. Now, I’m looking forward to getting in some good racing and training over autumn and winter in preparation for next season!
About the author: Amy Ritchie is a Team GB Age Group Triathlete and Sundried ambassador