In a huge weekend of racing for the club, there were three big events at which Alnwick Tri Club was represented.
The British Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) in Nottingham is a huge festival with more than 1,000 people competing against the best triathletes in the country.
Lisa Williams, Denise Drummond and Sue Bolam used the race as a warm-up for the European Championships, which is taking place in Austria in two weeks’ time, joined by Kate Murdoch who was unable to complete the Alnwick Sprint Tri three weeks earlier due to a puncture on the bike leg.
As with all races at Nottingham at the National Watersports Centre, Holme Pierrepoint, the swim is very crowded and it is difficult to even find enough space to breathe or put your hand in the water without hitting someone else or being hit yourself so it is always a relief to get that out of the way safely.
The bike is four fast and flat 5km loops round the lake followed by a final 5km circuit of the lake as a run.
Kate Murdoch had a safe swim but a great bike to finsh 28th in the 30-34 age group in a time of 1:24:49, while Lisa Williams swam and ran well with a very good bike leg to finish 18th in the 40-44 age group in a time of 1:14:36.
Denise Drummond had an excellent swim with a solid bike and run to finish ninth in the 45-49 age group in a time of 1:14:13 and Sue Bolam had a good bike and run to finish 16th in the 50-54 age group in a time of 1:18:19.
The following day at the same venue was the Outlaw Half Irondistance Triathlon race (1.2 miles swim, 56 miles bike, half-marathon run).
This was hotter than the previous day and with a 7am start for the athletes in the water. Lisa Athey and Vee Pollock both took part in the female 35-39 age group.
The lake swim was a bit reedy and began with a free-for-all that saw Lisa getting whacked in the head and Vee taking a knock to the face which saw her emerging from the lake with a nose bleed and swollen lip.
The bike course is extremely flat and fast, with only one real hill to speak of – the dreaded Oxton Bank, which isn’t actually that bad. The 56 miles went by in a flash – if you’re used to biking in undulating Northumberland it was a real treat.
It was then onto the run which, under normal circumstances, would have been a fast, flat two laps of the lake with a little digression along the canal tow-path.
Unfortunately it was now the hottest part of the day with the sun beating down on runners and the organisers offering sun cream as they ran past transition. Feed stations were inundated with request for water – more to throw over competitors than to drink.
It was extremely hot and humid, particularly along the tow-path, and both struggled with energy just being sapped, after strong performances on the bike. The finish line couldn’t come quick enough for the dehydrated athletes who were losing ground on the run.
Vee Pollock finished sixth in the 35-39 age group in 5hrs 13 min 59 sec and Lisa finished ninth in 5 hrs 24 min 44 sec. These were both great achievements in the oppressive conditions.
Last but not least, there was one club member representing Team GB in the standard-distance World Championships 2014 in Spain this weekend.
Marie Drodzowicz is one of the club’s newest members and competes in the female 50-54 age group. She attempted to qualify for the sprint-distance race at Morpeth Duathlon in April, but in an incident that everyone will have fallen foul of in one race or another, she was directed to finish a lap early on the second run. Not to be defeated, she changed her plans and travelled to the final standard-distance qualification race, at Stockton at the end of April, securing qualification comfortably.
Last week, Marie travelled to Spain which was rainy pretty much up to race day so there was no opportunity to acclimatise to the 26-degree heat on race day.
In true Alnwick Tri style, she must have done the damage on the bike as she finished 10th in her race. Getting a World Ranking of 10th on your first attempt is no mean feat.
Next for the club is the ETU European Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships in two weeks’ time where five club members have qualified to compete in Kitzbuhel – Austria.