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Podium at National Xtri Championships

Chris achieves another podium result with a strong second place in his age group…

And, so another Summer racing season has flown by and I had reached the final key race of 2011; the National Xtri Champs. I knew this was going to be a tough race with the National title on the line, but my training had gone well.

Race day arrived and the weather was perfect (sunny and 15 degrees). With all the usual formalities taken care of, I had a few minutes to relax before it was time to put on my trusty wetsuit and make my way to swim start. After a very brief warm up in the 16 degree water (cold), I headed to the start line and was under starters orders.

“Go!” I was away, into my usual routine of setting off at a hard but sustainable pace. However the lead swimmer had already opened up a good gap leaving me curious as to whom the swimmer was. I was battling with two other swimmers until the second turn buoy where I eventually managed to pass and drop them. By now I was about 50 seconds behind the lead swimmer, so I decided to concentrate on maintaining my pace for the remainder of this lap.

Out of the water, quick right turn and back into the water onto the second lap in 2nd place, my swim was feeling easy. I held my pace and position for the remainder of the swim and emerged with a greater gap to both 1st and the chasing athletes.

Transition bound it was time to get on my bike. I decided to push hard for the first 3k of the bike to build up a lead on the chasing athletes, but I proceeded to misread a route sign!

A quick U-turn and I was back on course, but not only had I lost over a minute in time, I had also been passed by 3 or 4 athletes. The only saving grace was another rider had taken a different incorrect turn, giving me someone to ride with, which was great for directions and pacing. We exchanged some pleasantries and decided to work together for another 6k until I caught a tree root and had to unclip. I tried to catch back up, but he was riding at a good pace and I just couldn't make the gap.

I continued over the rolling singletrack in time trial mode and the remainder of the lap flew by. Past transition and onto the second lap, I pushed on trying to sustain a good pace, but noticed my front disc brake lever hit the handlebar without any resultant braking! This would make things a little trickier and I had to back off a little to ensure I didn't kill myself.

Over the dismount line I racked my bike and swapped my cycling shoes for my trusty racing flats. Helmet off and it was time to play catch up. I hit the run at a comfortable pace knowing if it felt hard I would suffer later on, it took a while for my legs to come right, but after 3k I was starting to feel good. Cadence up, stride length increased and I was starting to make back some of the ground I had lost.

Onto the second lap I had caught and swiftly passed two athletes. I kept my pace high and managed to catch and pass another with around 2k to the finish.

After a quick left turn, I was now transition bound and close to the finish, I dug deep to see if there was anyone else to catch but alas not. I entered the finish gantry and crossed the line 6th overall and 2nd in age group, good stuff!

The top 5 athletes had finished a little way ahead, with this time being lost on the bike. I remain happy with my performance and look forward to my 10 days off before my 'Winter' block begins. Lots of biking and running to come - looking forward to it already.

By the way, the leading swimmer (and winner) happened to be the 2011 World Aquathlon Champion Richard Stannard. Watch out Stannard, I'm coming for you!

Thanks again to our sponsors for all their help, here's to a successful Winter and 2012 season.

Delicious, natural and healthy nutrition: www.torqfitness.co.uk
Frames – Merida: www.merida-bikes.com
Cycle Shoes – Lake: www.lakecycling.co.uk
Helmets & Glasses – Limar: www.limarhelmets.com/eng/
Cables – Jagwire: www.jagwireusa.com
Aerobars – USE: www.use1.com
Wetsuits – 2XU: www.2xu.com
Wheels – Fast Forward: www.ffwdwheels.com
Powermeters – Powertap: www.cycleops.com