On Monday, May 4, a number of Alnwick Tri Club members took part in the Ashington Tri, a local, friendly race organised by Tri Northumberland.
It is traditionally the first local triathlon of the year and as such is the target for a lot of novice triathletes.
Ten club members competed over the distances of 400-yard pool swim, 23km bike and 5km run, of which five were first-timers who were grateful to find many of the marshals were also Alnwick Tri Club members and coaches, which helped settle the nerves.
Notable performances from those who were experienced triathletes came from Vee Pollock, who finished a very strong second female overall, one place higher than last time she did the event two years ago, and Angie Embleton, who has much improved her bike over the winter and is running brilliantly.
The first-timers all have learnt to swim over the last few weeks and months and had different levels of success depending on how long they had been swimming.
While at the prize-giving, first-timer Lynne Banister was flabbergasted to find she was third in the female 50-59 category and Ian Atherton was second in the male 60-69 category, losing out on the win by only a handful of seconds in his first triathlon.
Full Ashington Tri results: Vee Pollock, second female, 1:08:12; Allan Smith male 51st, 1:10:34; Ian Horsley, male 77th, 1:14:09; Charlotte Dodds, female 13th, 1:19:22; Ian Athertoan, male 115th, (Second 60-69) 1:20:57; Angie Embleton, female 16th, 1:21:38; Tim Shepherd, male 137th, 1:25:53; Rachel McCoy, female 36th, 1:26:32; Lynne Bannister, female 48th, (third 50-59) 1:29:59; Brett Slater, male 157th, 1:38:43; Kate Lawson, female 68th, 1:46:48.
A week later on Sunday, May 10, seven members of Alnwick Tri Club competed in the British Sprint Triathlon Championships 2015 in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.
The preparations had not been ideal as the cold weather prevented proper open-water training locally with Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park at a very chilly 10 degrees celsius in the week leading up to the race, and there were rumours that the water temperature in the River Ouse at St Neots was so cold that the swim could be shortened or cancelled completely.
Come 8am race day and the Ouse was confirmed at 13.5 degrees so the the full 750m swim was on to the relief of the good swimmers and the disappointment of the not-so-good swimmers.
With more than 700 competitors, the British Championships is a huge event, also serving as a World Championship 2015 and European Championship 2016 qualification event so the absolute best triathletes travelled from all over the country to take part and to compete for coveted places on the Great Britain team.
Amy Thorne was first to compete in a wave with all the female competitors up to 39 years old.
This is pretty scary for a 15-year-old, who was practically the youngest there, to cope with being first off in such a huge event, also in her first-ever river swim.
Amy swam well and dug in on a 25km bike ride that was 5km longer than any race she had done previously, but had a few females pass her on the three-mile run to finish an excellent 11th in the 15-19-year-old category.
Next up was Denise Drummond, Tracey Sample and Lisa Williams in the over-40 female wave.
As always Denise swam well, getting out the water a minute ahead of Sample and two minutes ahead of Williams.
Williams then set out to track down her team-mates on the bike to come in ahead, with Sample and Drummond leaving to start the run neck and neck.
Sample ran the fastest of the Alnwick Tri Club females on the day, but was not able to track Williams down and they finished eighth and ninth in the 45-49 category while Drummond came in just a short while later, 13th in the 50-54 category.
The final three Alnwick Tri competitors of the day all competed in the male 45-49 category in a massive wave of 175 competitors all between 40 and 49 years old.
Jock Bolam, Ian Simon and Stephen Thorne started only five minutes behind the ladies so set their sights on chasing them down despite a number of injuries.
Ian Simon was accidentally punched in the face during the swim warm-up by another competitor so did not swim as well as he normally does and Jock Bolam had injured his hand the previous day and had been advised not to get it wet so swam taped up, with a glove on to keep it dry.
Bolam and Thorne came out of the water pretty much together and, as shown in recent weeks, Bolam used his superb cycling ability to chase down the ladies and Ian Simon.
Ian had caught Tracey and Denise at the end of the bike and ran well, past Lisa to finish 16th in the category.
Bolam chased down Denise, but couldn’t catch the other ladies to finish 42nd in the category with Steve Thorne close behind in 56th position in his first National Championships.
Five of the seven club members who competed in the British Championshipss finished in the top 16 in the country in their age groups, showing Alnwick Tri Club has a high standard of athletes able to compete with the best in the country.
Denise Drummond’s finishing position was enough to qualify her for the World Championships in Chicago in September with the other three females from the club just outside of the qualification places.
There is a final chance to qualify for the Sprint Distance World Championships at the end of May in Nottingham, which will again see Alnwick Tri Club out in force trying to qualify for Team GB.
This weekend will see the 17th Alnwick Sprint Tri at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre on Sunday morning, and Alnwick Tri Club would like to invite any interested members of the public to come down and cheer on the local triathletes.Anyone interested can find out more on www.alnwicktriathlon.co.uk