Standard Triathlon - 09/09/2018

Shetland Triathlon Club hosted their final event of the season at the weekend, rounding off their summer of racing with their Shetland Standard Distance Triathlon on Sunday. True to tradition the weather Gods were keen to make it as challenging as possible, and after one of the driest summers on record they decided to open the heavens and let the rain pour for the entirety of the event. Despite the soggy conditions 9 individuals and 1 team were keen to put their endurance and mental resilience to the test and lined up in the Clickimin pool for what was to be a tough afternoon.

Setting off on the 1500m swim leg any pre-race nerves faded and everyone settled into their own rhythm as they ticked off the lengths. Mark Hutcheon, who was racing as part of a team set a blistering pace from the gun while Andy Aitken and Scott Riise were closely matching each others moves not too far behind. By the end of the 60 lengths Hutcheon had built up a strong advantage before he tagged his team-mate, and despite swimming an extra 2 lenghts exited the water in 18.55 with a healthy 80 second advantage over Aitken. Riise paced his swim very well and was only a further minute behind in his first Standard distance race. In the next lane Ivor Johnson, also hungry for his first Standard distance event was putting time into more experienced athletes Shelley Humphray and John William Simpson, exiting the water in 25.41, followed by Humphray a minute later, a few minutes ahead of Simpson. Next to hop out of the water and onto the bike leg was young Eldon Wigram, who despite having never competed in a triathlon before was jumping in at the proverbial deep end, eager to take on his first event. Completing the line up was endurance sport aficionado Ray Saxelby, Yolanda Bruce, and Elizabeth Gifford who was raising money for charity in what was her first Standard distance triathlon. 

With heavy rain falling any chance of drying off on the bike was going to be impossible as the field took on the 40km hilly course to the Halfway House and back. Shetland Wheelers veteran Davie Johnson was cycling for the team and set off with intent to hold onto their advantage, but with Aitken chasing him down and passing him towards the turn it was a case of damage limitation on the spin back to town, their 2 minute advantage turning into a 3 minute deficit by the time they made it back to transition. Behind them Humphray on her new TT bike put in an impressively speedy ride despite the conditions to leapfrog both Johnson and Riise and move up the standings. Simpson also put the power down in a characteristically strong bike leg and climbed a position although a slow transition saw him slip back down again before taking on the final run. Wigram was putting his summer of cycling and time trials to good use and a very handy bike leg saw him gain a chunk of time over his more experienced peers. Behind him Bruce was chasing down Saxelby in a very evenly matched battle of speed and will power. Both of them were suffering in the cold wet conditions but in the end it was Bruce who arrived back with a slender advantage going into the run. Gifford paced her ride well and followed 3 minutes later. 

Out front on the course Aitken was finding his stride nicely, but Neil Arthur who was taking on the run leg as part of the team was focusing all his effort on the chase and was quickly closing the gap. Halfway through the 10km run route he passed Aitken and pulled away in what was a rapid standalone 10km time of just over 37 minutes. Aitken held his pace and crossed the line as first individual male, claiming his 3rd consecutive Shetland Standard title in a time of 2:12.20, however with the potential being shown by other finishers on the day it might well be slipping from his hands in the years to come. 

Humphray rounded off a great day out with a solid 10k to grab the women's title in 2:30.57. Riise who set off on the run in 2nd position in the men's race was being hunted down by Johnson, with the latter having the measure of the promising youngster on the day. Johnson took 2nd with Riise grabbing 3rd in a close rivalry that will hopefully spur each other on in future events. 

Simpson who has been taking a more relaxed approach to triathlon this year cruised in to take 4th despite Wigram closing the gap, the teen taking 5th male spot on the day and showing admirable drive not often seen in someone so young. 

Bruce was following behind, and once she had regained sensation in her feet after the cold cycle she settled into a good pace, comfortably completing the run in under an hour and finished 2nd female, Saxelby rounded off the mens finishers, and Gifford with the support of family and friends made it across the finish line to bag a very well deserved medal.

The club would like to thank the lane counters, time keeper and marshals who helped out on the day, as well as the competitors for supporting the event. The club will be starting a winter block of swimming training and turbo sessions starting in October. For more info visit the clubs Facebook page.  

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Sprint Triathlon - 29/07/2018

Less than ideal weather conditions is something many sports have to endure in Shetland, and the Shetland Triathlon Club has endured its fair share of tough days out in its 10 year history. From torrential downpours to hailstorms, and even a mini heat-wave a couple of years ago, it seems that 'if it isna ee thing its annider' when it comes to hosting events. On Sunday it was a (thankfully warm) strong southerly wind that the competitors had to fight against in the Shetland Sprint Triathlon.

Having run events at various spots around the Isles in the previous years, this year the West Mainland Leisure Centre in Aith was picked to be the host village, and provided an ideal setting for a good days racing. 

An 18-strong start list of 17 individuals and 1 team were split between 2 heats and kicked things off with a 750m pool swim. The ladies were off first and as expected Lynsey Henderson began pulling out a healthy lead over the chasing pair of Shelley Humphray and Emma Morris. Even after completing an extra 2 lengths by mistake she held nearly a 2 minute cushion over Humphray. 

After jumping onto the bikes in transition, the 20km course took on a long climb out of Aith heading over the hill towards Bixter. The first couple of miles made multiple times harder with a 25mph headwind to contend with. The remainder of the bike leg took the riders out West on a gently rolling route to the W. Burrafirth junction, where they turned and made their way back to transition, at times leaning at unusual angles against the stiff crosswind. After a fast sweeping decent back into Aith the top 3 positions remained unchanged, while further back Yolanda Bruce held onto 4th place, and Lizzie Gifford pulled past Alli Maitland on the bike to arrive back at transition in 5th place.

With running shoes pulled on the 5km run headed out and back up the road towards Vementry, the short inclines on the undulating route feeling tougher than they appeared. Humphray put her strong run to use again, pulling back a minute on Henderson, however the former was already out of sight and bagged the women's trophy at the finish line. Morris, having completed Ironman Austria a the start of the month, was enjoying the shorter event and rounded off the ladies podium 2 minutes later. Bruce was unchallenged 4th, and Gifford held onto 5th despite Maitland (6th) clawing back nearly 4 minutes on the run.

 

In the men's event it was Andrew Aitken who put the early pressure on the rest of the field, exiting the water with a healthy 2 minute lead over Ivor Johnson in 2nd place. Maurice Inkster and Orcadian Neil Croy were only split by 1 second in 3rd and 4th place respectively, Ian Simpson in 5th, and John William Simpson in 6th. Tim Ash, Raymond Sexelby and Neil Kitchen all exited within 15 seconds of each other a short while later, and Andrew Wishart and Neil Higgins a further few minutes down on them.

Aitken continued to pull away through the bike leg, but the pack was certainly being shuffled behind with experience and raw power helping Inkster, and in particular JW Simpson, weave their way up through the standings to 2nd and 4th respectively. Croy was riding well and maintained his 3rd position going onto the run. 

Aitken ran a comfortable 5km and crossed the finish line to take the men's title as positions continued to switch behind him. Inkster was passed first by Croy who moved into 2nd position, and then again towards the end by JW Simpson who won a well fought battle for 3rd place.

Johnson ran well off the bike and held on for 5th, and Wishart after picking off 3 rivals on the bike, passed another on the run to finish 6th, the duo showing serious potential for future events. After 3 well-paced and steady splits Ian Simpson took a solid 7th, and a quick run saw Kitchen nip past club stalwart Ash on the run in the race for 8th. Saxelby was showing good form on the run to hold onto 10th, and Neil Higgins was brought home by cheering support to complete the men's results sheet. Special mention has to go to himself, Andrew Wishart and Ian Simpson who were competing in their first (of hopefully many) triathlons.

 

There was 1 team entered on the day comprising of West Mainland Leisure Centre employees Scott Hodge, Matthew Saunders and Katriona Mouat who respectively completed the swim, bike and run legs. It was great to see them combine forces and support the event, and hopefully has inspired them to consider taking on all 3 disciplines themselves in the future. 

 

STC would like to give a huge thanks to the marshals and timers who helped out on the day. The Club's next event will be a Standard Distance Triathlon which will be held on the weekend of 8/9th September, date and time TBC. Again this event will be open to anyone individuals and teams. Visit the club's Facebook page for more details. 

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Novice Triathlon - 20/05/2018

On a bright but very breezy Sunday afternoon Shetland Triathlon Club hosted their first triathlon of the year on the roads around Sandwick. With the normal venue of Brae pool closed for maintenance the shift of location gave the 18 competitors a welcome new challenge on a new course. 

The event is primarily put on by the club to attract newcomers to the sport and allow them to take on their first triathlon in a short event with more emphasis on fun than competition. With a third of the start list completely new to the sport it would be interesting to see how they would fare on the undulating course. The remainder of the competitors comprised of a broad range of abilities, ages, and experience. 

Setting off in the pool for a short 400m swim, the event was set off in 2 waves.

The ladies were set off first and straight from the start Emma Morris pulled out a healthy advantage. Also swimming very well was Laura Crawford, and 15 year old Flora Quinnell was showing great form comfortably matching the pace of her more experienced counterparts Stephanie Bain and Ruth Christie. Everyone was out the water in under 10 minutes and ready to take on the 10km bike leg. With 2 loops of Sandwick to complete the exposed, undulating course was made tougher with a very fresh south easterly wind sweeping over the route. Everyone had the chance to enjoy the tailwind heading north, however other sections were made exceptionally tough, especially when the road started pitching upwards. Experience paid off for those who cycle regularly with Morris, Moraig Lyall and Lizzie Gifford posting the 3 fastest bike splits on the day. 

The run was a relatively flat out-and-back route past the Sandwick football pitch, although the headwind on the final section up to the finish line ensured there was a nasty sting in the tale. Everyone put out a tremendous effort and it was great to see Yolanda Bruce returning to the sport after a few years, producing a strong run to round off her day.

The men were set off in the second heat and straight from the gun it was the new faces of Scott Riise and Gary Tulloch who led the way, posting impressively rapid times in the water.  Laurence Little was next out, and also swimming well was Tim Ash and Neil Kitcken in his first triathlon event. On the bike Riise pulled away from the rest of the field as the pack began to shuffle positions behind. Norrie Lyall had the fastest bike split of the day and leapfrogged a few positions in the process, with Little passing Tulloch to move into 2nd position. Endurance sport fanatic Ray Saxelby was pressing on well but Phil Todd in his first triathlon was keeping him on a close leash. After a quick transition the run was well fought with everyone keen to hold onto their position, only Kitchen managed to climb a position after nipping past Ash as they set off on the 2.5km course. Young Riise showed great potential for the future by holding onto his his 3 minute advantage and crossing the line first. Jason Quinnell was eager to beat his daughters time from the womans race, but despite a solid swim, bike and run he came up a few minutes short of on the youngster on his first attempt. Peter Gracie also showed tremendous grit to complete his first multi-sport event. The pained smile drawn across his face at the finish line epitomising what this event is all about. 

Shetland Tri Club would like to extend a huge thank you to all the competitors who came and made the event worth running again. There was some impressive new talent on show, and the 18 who entered all made it to the finish line showing that it really is an event for everyone. Also a big thank you to all the marshals and lane counters who made the event possible.

The club have a Junior Triathlon on the 10th of Jun for 8-16 year olds, and a Sprint Triathlon on the 29th of July for anyone aged 15+. Entries can be made online via entrycentral.com.