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Podium at Salford Tri

This race has some great history including being the venue for the 2002 Commonwealth games and has become a truly iconic race. Hamish Shaw had a good solid race and came 3rd in his age group in a very competitive field…

Salford Quays was the location for the 2002 Commonwealth Games Triathlon. Lots has changed to this location since then, including the Media City build. It is now a stunning part of Manchester and I was looking forward to this race. I had a bit of a cold post Eirias Triathlon, which lasted a few days - if it had lasted any longer than that, I probably wouldn't have raced at Salford.

The transition area was in the shadow of the BBC buildings and was already well set up. I decided I didn't fancy leaving my bike racked up overnight even though it wasn't a numbered racking system. This may have cost me a more preferable place, but at least my bike stayed dry from the torrential rain that was falling.

The weather for race day was much more pleasant. A couple of spots of rain to begin with, but the sun soon came out by the time I was due to start. I had a start time of 8am (the first wave). I was quite glad of this as the wind was due to pick up as the day went on. Plus it meant I could stay and cheer on other athletes after I had finished.

After the race briefing, we all entered the water into what was a narrow swim start area for about 75 swimmers. The water was fairly pleasant at 19 degrees and the sun was just cresting over the buildings alongside the dock. The hooter sounded and the race was underway:

The first 100m were a bit hectic due to people fighting for places and the 2-lap swim was a fairly straightforward rectangle. Two faster swimmers broke away from the lead group after about 250m. I was leading the second pack and it remained that way for the rest of the swim and I exited the water in 3rd place:

My racking spot wasn't the best, but this didn't stop me from having my usual fast T1. Soon after mounting the bike, two racers came by. I told myself to keep them within around 50-100m ahead. It was a 6 lap bike course with one dead turn, which was useful for gauging time to those ahead. Before I reached the halfway stage, I had passed the two faster swimmers and was putting plenty of distance into them. That put me into 3rd place.

On lap 4 of the bike, my legs were feeling strong and I was closing on 2nd place. I waited until the start of the 5th lap, where we had a slight headwind, to power past him. The gap grew to around 30-40 seconds by the time I hit T2 in 2nd place.

I headed out onto the twisty run course hoping that my run legs would be with me. About half way into the first lap, I turned a corner to see that there was an unclear route ahead. I saw Alex Lawton running on the bridge over the dock, so I assumed the course went to the left and up onto the bridge. I was about to tackle the bridge when a marshal shouted at me saying that I had gone the wrong way. Quite frustrating really, she directed me back and underneath the bridge. By this point the guy I had passed on the bike, who also took the wrong route, had caught up with me and accelerated away. 

My best run legs weren't with me and two other athletes came by at the end of the first lap. I managed to hold station on the second lap and finish in 5th place overall and 3rd in my age category.

I was most pleased with my performance on the bike in this race. In a couple of races this year, I have faded toward the end of the bike section, but I actually felt stronger in the last two laps than I did in the first four.

I only have two more races planned in for this year, which are Bala Standard Distance, in which I hope to qualify for the 2014 European Championships, and the World Championships in London. I will be happy with a top 20 placing at London considering the highly competitive nature this year and it will be a great racing experience for me as I look to push on my fitness over the winter.

(Photos with thanks to Dave Armitage and Bebe Balmer)
 

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