Alnwick Tri Club
On April 6, Morpeth Duathlon (run, bike, run) was the season opener for multi-sport activity in the region.
This was hosted in Morpeth where the centre of the town was shut down to traffic for most of the day to allow for the start and finish on the main street.
This meant it was a spectacular event with many residents coming out to cheer the competitors on as well as the normal friends and family who normally line the route. And, as it was a local event, the Alnwick Tri contingent were being cheered on by name most of the way round.
There were three races during the day, a short beginners’ race, a long standard race and the focus for the day was mainly round the medium-distance sprint race, which was also a national qualifying event for the Age Group World Duathlon Championships in Spain in May.
This meant that athletes came from all over the country to try to qualify for the GB Age Group Team and made for a highly-competitive race in which there were 186 competitors on the start line.
Just as the race was about to start, the sun came out for the first time this year, meaning all the athletes were overdressed for the first run which was two laps of the town centre, through Carlisle Park and Bridge Street.
The bike course was out on to the country lanes from the leisure centre to Pigdon and Netherwitton before coming back through Mitford, and the final run was another two laps of the town to ever-growing crowds cheering on the athletes.
In the men’s race, Alnwick’s Geoff Whitman finished the first run in 18th place with the rest of the Alnwick men a long way behind.
But this is a race about running then cycling, and running again, and Geoff was overtaken by one of Alnwick Tri’s new members, Phil Hall, who went from 49th place at the end of the first run to 12th place after the bike, having the fourth-fastest split.
He then almost held on with only four athletes running past him on the final run to finish 16th overall, second vet and winning the Vet 40-44 age group with Whitman catching quickly to get second place in the Vet 45-49 age group and qualify for Team GB for the Duathlon Age Group World Championships.
In the female race, Jaqueline Prouse was in ninth place at the end of the first run, two minutes ahead of Lisa Williams and Tracey Sample, who were neck and neck coming out on to the bike for the second year in a row. The other Alnwick ladies were just 20 to 30 seconds further back.
By the end of the bike leg, Tracey Sample had passed 55 male and female athletes, putting in the third-fastest female bike split of the day to be in sixth place in the female race.
But, three females ran past Sample on the final run so she finished ninth overall, sixth vet and winner of the Vet 40-44 age group.
Lisa Williams came in less than two minutes later picking up a third place in the Vet 40-44 category.
Then, three minutes later, Denise Drummond, Jackie Prouse and Sue Bolam came in very close to each other with Sue Bolam finishing second in the 50-54 age group.
Les Cavill was the sole Alnwick Tri competitor in the longer standard-distance race and he finished first in the 55-59 age group.
This was a great turn-out for Alnwick and shows that even in the most competitive categories, Alnwick Tri Club have some of the best age-group athletes in the country.
Results - Standard Distance Race: Les Cavill (First place 55-59 AG) 2:13:45. Sprint Distance Race: Phil Hall (First 40-44) 1:17:35; Geoff Whitmann (Second 45-49) 1:18:32; Mark Oldfield (15th 40-44) 1:31:02; Graeme Leathard (Seventh 50-54) 1:32:52; Stu Bruce (26th 45-49) 1:34:40; Tracey Sample (First 40-44) 1:35:06; Lisa Williams (Third 40-44) 1:36:54; Denise Drummond (Fifth 44-49) 1:40:25; Jaqueline Prouse (Sixth 44-49) 1:40:38; Sue Bolam (Second 50-54) 1:40:59.