3 members of Wight Tri took the long journey to the west coast of Wales earlier this month to take on the Wales Middle Distance Triathlon.
Mary Norman, Joe Norman and Grant Philbrick all competed in the award winning, middle distance race in the small town of Fishguard in Pembrokeshire. Although all 3 have experience in competing in long distance triathlons you can never take this distance for granted, especially with the hilly terrain around the Welsh countryside.
They took on this race because it fitted in with their training schedule for their upcoming full Ironman in Copenhagen in August: the main considerations being the timing and the similarity of the swims.
The 1,900m swim was a sea swim, but in a relatively sheltered bay. It was a mass land start, running down the slipway into the sea and off on a 950m lap of the bay before exiting the water at the other end of the promenade and running through the crowds back to the entry slipway to do a second lap.
The water was very cold and it took a few minutes to settle in to a rhythm after the initial shock. Joe was out first and into transition in just 40:04, Grant in 44:08 and Mary in 49:28.
The bike was an out and back route on rolling roads into St. David’s, the country’s smallest city. From St. David’s, the course added a large loop through narrow winding country lanes before returning to the city again and heading back to Fishguard on a mix of farm lanes and A roads.
It was very frustrating for the riders because what should have been the fastest roads. The route to St David’s was against a really aggressive headwind and then the competitors had the wind on their backs when they had to keep the speed in check when they were navigating blind bends and very steep ‘slalom’ downhills. They had all gone there anticipating personal bests following months of consistent good training, but that was not going to happen here.
Joe completed the slightly short bike course of 54 miles in 3:07:29; Grant in 3:25:17 and Mary successfully extended the course to it’s full 56 miles by taking a wrong turn and adding the missing miles to her journey to finish in 3:52:24.
Back in Fishguard for the run, the sun finally came out. Consisting of 4 laps of a very diverse course around the bay, the route started by going up and down the promenade in front of the crowds before turning out to sea and out and back on a long breakwater. Returning to land they had to run through a park and then up onto the cliff paths that took them high above the bay before looping round and returning down and back to the race HQ to repeat. They were all able to cross each other’s path several times due to the looping lapping nature of the route.
Like the bike, it was not a fast run course due to the hills and the wind, but they all finished the triathlon strongly with good half marathon times; 1:49:38 for Joe, 1:54:11 for Mary and 1:54:43 for Grant.
Joe finished the event first of the trio in a super fast time of 5:42:48 and 6th out of 32 in the super Vet Male category, with Grant 10th in the same category in 6:08:12. Mary had another fantastic race to take the top spot of the podium to finish 1st in the Super Vet Female category in 6:42:33.