Dunkerque provided the first race of my season and also the opportunity to spend some time with my French club over ‘La Manche’ near Lille. The race itself was in a format I had never experienced before; it followed the relay format, in teams of 2, but the last 1500m of the run leg was run together alongside my team-mate. Coming into the race with a decent few months training behind me and being partnered with an Elite duathlete I knew that we had a good shout at a podium. The race itself played out to our plan and by the time we were running the last 1500m we were in 2nd position chasing down the leaders. Unfortunately, they were just too far ahead and we finished up in 2nd only 20secs down from the winners. I was pleased with the result and the whole week, experiencing the French Tri culture and staying with Vincent, was very enjoyable and one which I hope to repeat and maybe even better next year!
BUCS Standard Distance Full Report: Road Trip, Racing and near death experiences!
Being down in the Derby area, BUCS provided an opportunity for a road trip down to England. With the car packed up Andy, Conrad and myself journeyed down the M6 to find a random lake in the middle of nowhere. Conrad, a student over from USA, had been training with the Gateway swim squad all year. With Andy and myself fired up from the opportunity to race each other for the first time, we thought our relatively unknown squad could do some damage within the field. Furthermore, let’s not forget Alice! She had travelled up from her house in the leafy surroundings of the south coast and was flying the flag for the Eutri Girls.
We travelled down to the local Travelodge the night before the race, did the usual course familiarisation and then set off for the bright lights of Burton-upon-Trent to seek out race fuel. It is at this point where the subject of my report title comes into view. Conrad, our designated driver who had driven down the motorway with relatively few incidences, now found himself in a situation which provided a somewhat greater challenge for someone used to driving down the road on the other side across the Atlantic. This situation was a series of roundabouts in which both myself and Andy can say that we are glad to come out alive from (ok slight exaggeration but it would be safe to say if our heart rate wasn’t up from the prospect of a 5am race the next day, those few roundabouts certainly got it beating). Anyway, we’ll leave that story there…..
Onto race day. With our stomachs fuelled, cups of beetroot juice downed (apparently 10% performance gains…) and final bike checks completed, we headed out to the race start where we met up with Alice and begun our warm up and readied ourselves for the start. The swim was slightly eventful with my goggles coming off just after the first buoy which made the rest of the lake swim a slight struggle; however, after a decent T1 and hard few first kilometres on the bike I managed to catch the main chase group containing athletes I knew were of similar ability to myself. Andy, after a solid swim was a further few minutes up the road and Conrad was also working hard behind me. Cycling alongside a group of athletes who are travelling similar speeds makes the non-drafting format at this level reasonably difficult but after 20kms I managed to pull away and focused on closing down the leaders, including Andy, up the road. Reaching T2 I had climbed into the top 12 and could see Andy racking his bike and heading out on the run. Team Eutri was looking in a strong position!
The run was three laps around the lake and with Andy just ahead of me and running fast out of transition I knew if I could maintain good form we were in for a top team finish. The run is the strongest discipline for both Andy and myself and this proved to be the case as we came through the field picking off our competition throughout the laps. Andy’s run form proved electric as he ran the 2nd fastest time of the day running himself into overall 4th position, just outside of the medals, and I came in 9th. Conrad, Our third team-mate, wasn’t too far behind finishing off our team in 29th. These results were the best ever posted in Eutri’s history and earned us 4th in the BUCS men’s team competition (something we will look to build on this year). But what about Alice I hear you say? Well. Although, she didn’t have a team to back her up, she produced an outstanding performance also finishing in 9th position posting individual splits that the majority of the male field could only look on in envy of. Again, we can hopefully put out a full women’s team next year that challenges at the top end of the Uni rankings.