James Emery is the Manager of TORQ's Triathlon team. He's a keen triathlete having raced all distances from sprint to Ironman.
Battling through the jellyfish and holding off a great runner made for a memorable and very rewarding race for Hamish Shaw at Abersoch Tri…
The race was a 750m sea swim, with a beach start and an Australian exit at about 350m. This would make things interesting! As the race director explained the swim course to the athletes, there was a little confusion over the route the swim would take, but after discussing it with fellow competitors, we worked out where to go! So then it was to the start line. I went and secured a place right at the front (spot the custom orange Huub wetsuit). A few tense moments passed, as some pump up music played prior to the start.
A mad dash to the sea ensued. I kept myself slightly to the left to start with, to avoid any clashes of arms and legs. It worked well and I had a clear swim to the first turn, I sat on some feet all the way back to the shore - for the Australian exit. This is quite an interesting twist to the swim. It does interrupt the rhythm of the stroke, but gives you a chance to see where you’re positioned, adjust goggles if needed and also to hear the cheers of the crowd making it a better spectacle for them.
Back into the water for the remaining 400m of the swim, I spotted a two foot long jellyfish underneath the next turn buoy, which was slightly distracting, but nevertheless I ploughed on. A group of us (about four athletes), got together to swim as a team and gradually we increased our distance from the rest of the field. For the remainder of the swim, we continued to work together through drafting one another to T1. I exited the swim in 6th place overall and set about a speedy T1 and onto the bike.
The first half of the bike passed quickly, this was helped by the fact that we were on good roads and there were only a couple of climbs. I moved my way up to 4th place in the first 10k. The second half of the bike was very different. The roads were very narrow, twisty, gravelled and often had muck and grass sections too. As the roads were also damp, I decided to ease off a little bit, rather than take any unnecessary risks. This helped to save my legs for the run for sure, as I had the same cramps that I suffered with at Bosworth. I pushed the pain & thoughts to the back of my mind, as I didn’t want to suffer them here. A couple of kilometres from transition, an athlete passed me, meaning I was in 5th place at the end of the bike section.
Exiting transition, I could see I was only 100m behind 4th place, but also noted that, fast runner, Ian Roberts was just entering T2. I knew I’d have to run well to hold him off and so I set out at a high tempo. Within the first kilometre of the run, I knew my run legs were with me, I moved up to 4th place and set my eyes on third (who was a little further up the road). On a slight downhill section, I powered into 3rd place, not looking back and keeping the pace high to distance myself.
About half way through the run, there was a 300-400m long uphill section. I worked this very hard and made sure I didn’t look back just in case Ian was closing in on me. I didn’t want to show any sign of weakness. Following this, was a speedy downhill section on tarmac, which I let my legs bound down. The route then headed to the beach for the last 800m. Prior to this, there was a 90 degree turn, at which point I allowed myself a sneaky glance behind and spotted Ian about 50m back. This gave me a little kick to speed up.
We headed onto the beach and I initially started running on the softer sand, which was very tricky and uneven. Jumping over the first groyne, I heard footsteps landing on a wet surface. I glanced to my right and spotted Ian was sensibly running on the hard wet sand (close to the water’s edge). I made a beeline for this harder sand and immediately it was so much easier to run on! I knew this diversion and clever running by Ian had closed up the gap to me, so I decided to sprint as fast as I could for the last 600m, so he couldn't get onto my shoulder. I managed to hold him off to take 3rd place overall and Age Group Victory:
All in all, a very pleasing race, especially where the run was concerned – thanks to Ian for hunting me down and pushing me on!
A big thank you to our Sponsors for making it happen:
FFWD Wheels – Race Wheels
Huub - Wetsuits
Schwalbe – Cycle Tyres
ISM - Saddles
Lezyne - Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
Altura – Triathlon and Cycle Apparel
Fenwicks - Lubrication
Camelbak - Bottles
Tifosi - Sunglasses
Limar - Helmets
Lake - Cycling Footwear
Jagwire - Cables & Housing
Swans - goggles
Shimano - Groupsets
Amphibia - Transition Bags
Stages - Power Meters
Race Ware Direct - Custom Garmin Mounts
Zero Point Compression - Compression wear
Thanks to Ian Roberts and Paul Green for the pictures