The New Year's Day Triathlon in Edinburgh is a very special event. It consists of a 400m swim in the Commonwealth pool, followed by 3 hilly bike laps of Arthur’s Seat, and finishes with a 5km road run through the historic streets of Edinburgh. Given the location, the weather is often pretty ‘bracing’. The event starts around midday giving plenty of time for people to wake up!
Sundried sponsored athlete Alice Hector has written a fantastic race report in the form of a poem.
The First of Jan, it's New Year’s Day,
A lovely time for rest and play.
Maybe extended time in bed,
Nursing a touch of ‘tender head’.
A big roast lunch, a laze around,
Watching some old film you found.
But there’s a certain type of fool,
Who likes to go against these rules.
They think, “oh, what a good idea
To do the opposite of beer,
And do a tri at Arthur’s Seat
To prove that we are totes elite”.
These silly people, barely clad,
Fight wind and cold and feeling bad.
Swim some lengths, then rush outdoors
And bike and run like Minotaurs.
I was there, and I admit
To being a certain breed of twit.
We do this type of thing for FUN,
Which lo, perplexes everyone.
The wind was screaming “stop right here,
You crazy athletes: disappear!”
Triathletes are the hardy type
And don’t give up without a fight
And Mother Nature, raging round
All but blew us to the ground.
Swept one direction then the next
Unwitting passers-by perplexed
Whisp'ring as we grunted by,
“bunch o eejits, tha’s no lie”.
Crosswind here and crosswind there,
Dummy out, this isn’t fair!
Finish at last and joy of joys,
I've beaten all but 5 fast boys.
Twas bonus more than anything:
To stay upright AND take the win.
For my efforts I was given
Haggis – big as any chicken.
4 kilograms of meat and ‘stuff’
Apt for being so mighty tough!
Racing the Ironman 70.3 World Championship is always special. The calibre of athletes is high, the competition fierce, and the atmosphere is electric. I was absolutely delighted to qualify at my first race of 2019, despite having a year off due to injury throughout 2018.
This year, the world championship was to be in Nice in France, and athletes were to tackle what was being described as one of the toughest bike courses yet. 1,300m of climbing up the famous Col de Vence was going to be extremely tough. Especially when you favour flat courses as I do!
Training had gone well leading into the race though and with some specific turbo sessions designed to build climbing strength, a whole lot of track sessions, and a little weight lost to help my power to weight ratio, we were in a good position.
The weather was perfect – brilliant sunshine, blue skies, and the sea was so warm that the organisers were teetering on the decision of a wetsuit or non-wetsuit swim (wetsuits are banned over 24.5 degrees), but with just 0.5 degree leeway in favour of wetsuits on the morning of the race, the decision was favourable.
As we lined up on the beach with almost every famous name in triathlon present, I was excited but felt super relaxed. We hadn’t put any pressure on this race, just to see whether I could finally do myself justice at a world championship, in the toughest of tough fields on the global Ironman 70.3 circuit.
With the format of women racing on the Saturday and men racing on the Sunday, it always makes for a more pleasant race environment, especially during the swim and the bike. Women tend to race less aggressively than men and the atmosphere almost feels ‘calm’ in comparison.
Crystal clear water made for an additionally pleasant swim – in fact at one point I actually acknowledged that I was enjoying it, which is probably a first! The sea was warm, there were fish swimming below us, and no dramas at all, and with just a little chop, it didn’t seem to take too much out of me as I ran into T1.
The start of the bike was flat and fast along the coast so I was in my element, but this didn’t last long before the course swerved inland and we were hitting the start of the climbing.
Weirdly, I was also enjoying the climbing. My power numbers were looking super strong but I felt comfortable and was riding within myself, so pushed on trying to make the most of the stunning scenery. The famous climb seemed to go quite quickly and before I knew it we were starting what would be a FUN descent which would last about 30km – plenty of solid recovery time!
The final stretch of flat road led us back into transition and although my bike split seemed slow at a touch over 3 hours, the climbing would have accounted for much slower bike splits than usual – even for the pros.
I ran out of T2 feeling strong and was delighted to see my parents and my coach on the course – the support at a world championship is extra special, and it definitely made the 21km run go quickly. The run course stretched along the Promenade d’Anglais with the sea glistening alongside the entire way, it really was a beautiful spot for a race.
I was holding my pacing very comfortably, perhaps even a little too comfortably, and as I ran down the finish chute I felt super proud to have completed yet another Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I was pleased to have run a 1:34 half marathon, especially off the back of such a tough bike course, and although my overall time seemed a lot slower than usual, in 5 hours and 17 minutes, I knew my personal performance was strong and I couldn’t have got much more out of myself.
I ended up finishing 25th in my age group out of 250 – a huge improvement in my overall result compared to previous world championship events. I was so happy with this result, finally I had achieved the performance that was warranted and it was testament to all the hard work I had put in so far in 2019.
The best bit though, results aside, was that I absolutely loved the race – every single minute. I had no dark moments, I was just in my element and for me, you can’t ask for much more than a perfect race.
About the author: Amy Kilpin is an elite triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
The surreal feeling of stepping onto a podium; and the awkward bit when you're on the number 2 step but still taller than the guy on the number 1 step. My aim is to make it less surreal and more normal. Instead of thinking someone must have got the results mixed up, I need to think how I deserve to be there and have worked hard for it. The biggest change I have had to make and still need to make is my mind-set. It’s a constant project and therefore needs constant attention. Self-worth is important, liking myself and being positive about myself, all the time. Focusing on the now and letting negativity pass me by is an ongoing project, and knowing that I am always learning and to question everything that I think I know. If I met myself, would I think I am a good person? This is the mind-set that I believe will make me a better athlete and also a better person.
The first run went very well for me. I ran at a pace that felt hard, but at one that I knew I could sustain for 10K and still be able to swing a leg over my bike afterwards. The course was muddy and partly off-road which added an extra challenge, but the main thing was that I ran at my own pace.
In November last year I met Oliver Saxon at Animis Racing Team who I soon asked to be my coach. Having never been coached before, it was very new and a bit scary, but it’s a change and a challenge that I embraced because I knew it could have a very positive effect on me. I told him what I thought, what I wanted to do, what kind of athlete I wanted to be and fully trust the training sessions that he sets me. It was important for me to find a coach who I liked and who I thought I could have a good coach/athlete relationship with and also one whose method of coaching would suit me; as for those that know me, I'm far from normal.
The bike course was not plain sailing. A new bike with my arms closer together than I'm used to meant I had to adapt quickly and make the most of what I had on a multi-lap, bumpy, tight and twisty, hilly, slippery course. Being laps, it meant there were slower riders to pass after the first lap on narrow roads and often with cars around. There are always some 'oh shit' moments as you are constantly risk assessing your actions whilst also in full-on race mode. 'Do I shout now and pass or wait for this car? No, there's enough room, the car has slowed and the rider ahead has heard me, I'm going for the gap.' It's a hard balance to get right sometimes and I'm always thankful to whack the bike back on the rack in transition knowing I've remained upright and not had any mechanical issues.
Everything about my training has changed, from where I train, to how I do it, to what I pay attention to and what I don’t and to the aids and tools I use. I put my trust into my coach's method, get my head down and put the work in. So far, it’s led me to probably my best race performance yet by bagging a silver medal in my age-group at the England National Standard Distance Duathlon Championships last month. But the result is just a consequence and a medal is just the icing on the cake. The real aim is to be happy when racing, to feel good and continually use endurance sport for the 'natural high' and for my mental well-being, to feel strong and enjoy the process. If all of those things fall into place, good things like shiny bling-bling and standing on numbered boxes will be more likely to happen as a secondary result. That’s what I believe anyway and I believe in myself that I have potential if I work hard.
The finish line was a lovely sight and I knew I'd had a good race. As with most second runs after a hard bike ride, you run as fast as you can but not so fast that the legs seize up with cramps. This meant I was dangerously on the fine line of having the odd warning shot twinge in a calf or a quad as my body was quick to let me know when I was pushing my luck and to not try and ramp the pace up. Anyway, I finished, nearly stumbled into a wall and ate a banana or two before realising I had a number '2' next to my name in my age group of 25-29 year olds.
So a few weeks later, and my body rested, I am carrying on the hard work leading to the second race of the year at Anglian Water Standard Distance Duathlon. I would not be at this point or even close if I didn’t have Oliver putting in the work and the thinking behind his whole approach to training me and I am thankful for having that support there that I really need. When you push your body and mind and are continually adapting to new things and in new directions, it’s tough to do it alone.
Dubai was a challenge and was always going to be. Leaving the UK with a temperature of 3 degrees Celsius straight to Dubai airport at 32 degrees was epic but a massive shift in pace and difference in atmosphere.
A strong swim started the day but also slightly backing off to preserve an amount of energy for the demanding bike course in scorching temperatures. A smooth transition followed the swim and after running through the cold showers, the bike course started.
Nailing a personal best on the bike was a massive highlight of this incredible race and all the training really paid off. Returning back to the city I took on my last caffeine gel and prepared my legs for the run. Transition again was very smooth and a high cadence started for the first few kilometres but unfortunately the heat got the better of me.
The liquid feed stations were quite spaced out and with the temperature now in the mid-30s, the field was faltering. A mid-run surge was followed by a painful finish, but with a personal best overall at Ironman 70.3 a happy athlete and coach returned to base. Mission completed!
A massive thank you to Sundried for the lovely triathlon suit which was a pleasure to wear and represent in certainly challenging conditions! Awesome to be part of team Sundried.
About the author: Andrew Jones is a triathlete and Sundried ambassador.
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