Leeds British Championships - Race Report by Will Grace
The 4 am alarm never gets easier, but a strong coffee and breakfast down I was ready to get going to the event village. After finding my way through the road closures I soon found myself having my temperature taken, no Covid, time to race!
Down to transition and I was amazed at the size of the field both in terms of the level of competition, with a few familiar faces and the fact transition filled a cricket pitch! Bike racked and kit laid out, it was time for one last toilet stop before the wet-suit goes on.
Whilst walking down to the swim the nerves began to build and so I tried to focus on all the training and hard work I had put in for the build to the race. Practising the art of putting that chimp back in his box and only letting him out a little at a time. The U20s and 20-24 AG were off and it was our turn to walk down the blue carpet which was later to be graced by LCB..
Although not a mass swim start, competitors lined up and followed each other in, meaning the start was still a fury of white water. Adrenalin pumping and I was off onto the swim, after a few hundred meters I was able to get into a rhythm and I found myself making my way through the pack and the younger AGs. Out of the water with 20:00 1500m swim (although my watch said 19:58..), and in to the long T1. Wet-suit off and lid on, time to cycle.
The bike course was tougher than expected with a few undulating hills and a long uphill slog to start with. Lap one done and I was feeling ok on the bike, but was aware of a previous European Rival chasing me down. Aware he is a very strong cyclist I focused on my race and held consistent in the second lap. I completed the 36.2 km bike course in 57:31, which I was relatively happy with.
Into T2 and it was time for my strongest leg. The run course was on mixed terrain with gravel tracks and grass sections with a few little kickers to raise the heart rate. Onto the final lap and I overheard that two people were in front of me, unaware if they were in my AG or not I dug deep to catch them, overtaking the lead runner on the final turn before the gladiator style travellator to the finish. Imagining I was being chased by the Wolf, I drove the legs up the final climb putting a gap between myself and the guy behind. I was the first finisher across the line with a 34:35 minute 10k, which I am very happy with.
Final results came through and chuffed to take the win in the 25-29 AG out of 98 athletes, and even happier coming second overall out of a field of 1209 (losing out to a very strong cyclist).
Overall, it was a very successful day at the races and has left me thinking on what I need to do now to take up to the next level (ideas welcome!).
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