05/06/2022 - nOVICE tRIATHLON
Having been a regular feature on Shetland's sporting calendar for the past decade, the Shetland Triathlon Club were back up Brae at the weekend to host the 2022 Shetland Novice Triathlon. The short distances make it a perfect event for those targeting their first triathlon, and of the 22 sign-ups, half of them were taking part in the sport for the very first time.
After a bit of a drizzly start to the morning the weather improved and the field of competitors were able to take on the challenge in near perfect conditions.
The 400m swim saw a few speedy times to kick off the day. In the ladies event Kaila Ratter was the pick of the bunch and was out the water first in 5m37s, followed by Merran Nugent who's regular attendance at the club's swimming sessions was definitely paying off. Laura Nicolson was next out in 7m23s and was keen to see if she could better the time she set at last year's event. The rest of the ladies were snapping at their heels though as they headed out on the bikes.
The 10km cycle route headed out on the rolling road to the Scatsta Airport and back. It gave a chance for the slower swimmers to pull back some time on the others, while those out front tried to hang onto their positions. Anne Bennett, Laura Nicolson and Jaqueline Tulloch posted the fastest 3 bike splits but there were no big gaps opening up between them and the rest of the field. Despite losing air in her rear tyre Taz Tollan pushed on too and made it back to transition to take on the final run: a tough out-and-back 2.5km course which took on a tough hill halfway through. Tulloch, who had taken part in the Edinburgh Marathon the weekend prior, showed no signs of tired legs and ran a strong last leg, finishing in 53m40s. Nicolson, after blitzing her bike and pushing the run, knocked a staggering 14mins off her time from last year to finish under 55mins. Less than half a minute separated the next 3 finishers, Anne Bennett, Kaila Ratter, and a super debut from Jackie Darbyshire. Nugent ran a steady 2.5km to round off her first tri, and club stalwart Elizabeth Gifford sneaked in just under the hour mark. The ladies results were rounded off by 2 more debutants: After a solid swim Laura Irvine paced her bike and run efforts well to reach the finish line, and Taz Tollan, no stranger to endurance run events, pushed all the way to the end to round of an incredibly spirited performance.
In the men's event it was Shetland newcomer Alistair Smith who set off fastest in the water. Having not taken part in a triathlon for several years, it was obvious he was keen to get back to it. Seasoned club member Laurence Little was a handful of seconds behind, and first-timers Neil Wishart and Dugald Gunn exited the water only a minute later.
The men's bike splits were very evenly matched, less than a minute separating the fastest 6. Debutant Craig Irvine was climbing the leader board with the fastest cycle of the day, while Karl Williamson and Dugald Gunn, also taking on their first triathlon, showed they could be in the mix with the more experienced racers. A few minutes later the duo of Simon Allan and Mark Fountain were level-pegging, with barely more than a handful of seconds separating them since they set off on the swim.
The tough 2.5km run was the final chance to shuffle the pack. Despite a storming run from Williamson he ran out of road to put any more time into Little who held on to take the top spot in 43m51s. Like the bike, the men's run splits were very steady across the board, showing they had all saved something to get them home. Gunn and Irvine both crossed the finish line in impressive times, while the ever-present Tim Ash, who must be losing count of the number of local events he has taken part in, finished in 46m17s, his fastest ever time at the event.
David Coles, fresh off a cycling holiday in Spain, showed he had good legs throughout his swim, bike, run, while Smith rounded off his very respectable return to the sport with a time of 50m09s. Wishart paced his efforts well to tick off his first Tri and, as well as Allan and Fountain, who paced each other perfectly all the way to the last step.
Club Chairman Andy Aitken commented "The club are thrilled to have had another great showing of new faces at the Brae Novice. Year on year the event always manages to attract folk who are stepping outside their comfort zone, and many of them go on to tackle longer distance events throughout the rest of the season."
The Shetland Triathlon Club's next event will be a Sprint Distance Triathlon in Sandwick on the 10th July. The event is open to anyone aged 15+, and can be taken part individually or as a team. For more info please visit the club's Facebook page or website.
10/07/2022 - Shetland Sprint Triathlon
The Shetland Triathlon Club brought some activity to an otherwise sleepy Sandwick at the weekend as they hosted their 2022 Sprint Triathlon on Sunday morning. As competitors began to arrive at the Leisure Centre for registration there were flashes of blue sky and the sun was trying its best to punch its way through the clouds.
The lady's field was set off first . Although a couple of big-hitters were missing through illness and other commitments, reigning champion Emma Leask was in attendance and would be pushing hard to retain her title. Her biggest challenge would come from 15 year old Layla Todd who, after competing for a few years in the youth category at several events on the Scottish mainland, was stepping up to her first Sprint distance event. In the water Todd settled comfortably into her race, ticking off her lengths and exiting, as expected, in first position. Strong swimmer Kaila Ratter followed half a minute later, and Merran Nugent, also in her first Sprint event, was out the pool in under 13 minutes. Leask followed in 4th hoping to make some gains on the bike and run.
Any optimism of improving weather conditions proved to be misplaced, and the fresh westerly wind made the bike course even more of a slog that it otherwise would have been. Out front Todd was continuing to pile on the pressure, putting power through the pedals and extending her lead with every lap that passed. Leask climbed her way to 2nd position, Jaqueline Tulloch rode well to bring herself up to 3rd, however Nugent was hot on her heels as they arrived back at transition. Stephanie Bain was holding a steady pace in 5th and Zoe Strong, in Shetland on holiday, jumped from 9th to 6th as they headed out on the run.
At the head of the race Todd was quite literally running away with the win. Leaving nothing to chance, her 20.09 5km was the fastest run split of the day (including the men) and she hammered home to take the lady's title by a sizeable margin. A characteristic strong run from Leask saw her take 2nd , and in the fight for 3rd Tulloch managed to hold off an advancing Bain to take a spot on the podium. Strong passed Nugent to take 5th and 6th respectively, while Ratter held onto 7th. Elizabeth Gifford swam well and endured the bike/run to take 8th and Jan Howard completed the lady's results sheet after a solid run to the finish line.
After last year's thriller the men's race was set to be another close one this time round. Andy Aitken and Andrew Grant were the favourites for the day, each hoping to use their strengths to outdo the other across the 3 disciplines. In the pool Aitken looked to put as much as of a buffer between them as possible and made short work of the 750m swim in under 10 minutes. Scott Riise was next out, followed by Jens-Mortan Rasmussen who had sailed from Faroe a few days earlier in a vain bid to find summer. New club member and strong swimmer Alastair Smith was in 4th after his favourite of the 3 disciplines, with young 15-year-old Cameron Read snapping at his heels. Stewart Hutchison, after a surge of inspiration the day previous, had signed up to take on his first race after suffering a serious leg injury last year. He cruised through the swim in 6th position while Andrew Grant had some work to do as he emerged from the wet stuff in 7th place, nearly 4 minutes off the race lead.
After fastening helmets and clipping into pedals it was down to business in the fight for positions. Aitken, accutely aware of Grant's current form on the bike, was pushing hard as he knew the gap between them would be closing as the miles ticked by. As expected Grant smashed the bike leg and had closed the gap to the race leader to just 2 minutes, passing 5 if his rivals and moving up to 2nd position in the process. There was another battle taking shape behind as Riise and Rasmussen were going tit-for-tat for the duration of the cycle. The former using his descending skills and knowledge of the local route, the latter using raw power on the uphill and headwind sections. Neither could shake off the other and they set off on the run with Riise's nose just ahead. Read was holding his position after a superb bike leg, the youngster showing real strength on 2 wheels. Hutchison was next in, followed by Dougald Gunn in his first Sprint race. Mark Georgeson, back in his old homeland for the week, gained a few positions on his ride with Tim Ash following.
The stage was set for an exciting finale, however a lingering calf injury unfortunately spelt the end of Aitken’s race as he pulled up barely 100 metres into the run. This offered Grant a clean run at the title which he grabbed with both hands. Not wanting to cruise to an easy victory he pushed every step to the finish line, his time proving he was a deserving winner. Riise extended his slender lead over Rasmussen to take a comfortable 2nd place, the visitor taking a well-earned spot on the podium. Read just missed out on the top 3 but showed some serious potential for future events and Hutchison impressed by holding onto 5th. Triathlon newcomer Karl Willimason was next to cross the line. After coming out the water in last position he gained 2 places on the bike, and a further 4 with a zippy transition and an even zippier 5km. Himself along with Gunn both stopped the clock in under 90mins, an impressive feat at the first time of asking. Georgeson, Ash and Smith followed, and Alistair Hunter put in a steely performance as he completed the men's event.
Sharing duties on the day was the Adam Miller and Ian Jamieson who combined forces to take on the event as a team. Miller showed his strength in the water and was able to catch his breath before the run while Jamieson took on the bike course.
Shetland Triathlon Club would like to thank all the helpers, marshals, and pool staff for their help with the event.