Not your normal day on the beach! – Abersoch Sprint Tri race report by Phil Murphy
Sun, Sea and Sand – Surely the way anyone wants to spend the weekend? So if you’re going to spend your Saturday morning in a huge fog of pain and sweat running around in lycra you might as well do it somewhere nice…….
Set in the stunning Welsh coastal village of Abersoch, better known for it’s amazing beaches, watersports, bars and restaurants to most people but in the sporting community it is becoming a bit of a mecca for runners and triathletes with several events now being based in the village making up what is known as the Abersoch Triple crown. A 10km race, a tough Sprint Triathlon and a grueling half marathon rounding off the year all culminate in the overall winner taking home the triple crown! Abersoch used to be home from home for me for many years and I spent 3 summers working and living in the village, so returning here to race was always going to be great and the on course support was amazing with a lot of people I knew cheering me on.
For Chris Standidge and I, along with talented bike ride Ben Macintosh indulging in his first ever taste of Triathlon, we saw this as an opportunity to test ourselves over what sounded like a tough course and make a nice weekend out of it at the beach. Travelling down the night before on my own proved a good move as I got to ride the bike course which was super technical with very fast windy roads along with super steep climbs, and come race day this inside info definitely showed.
Race day morning and the place was bathed in sunshine, warm and with an off shore breeze making the swim very flat in the sea. Warming up in crystal clear water of cardigan bay felt like you were in a really special location, similar feeling to when you get to race in some far flung tropical location, just maybe without the water being quite as warm!! We gather at the start line and a few friendly faces from Chester are with us showing the draw this place has with people from the North West. The field is just under 300 strong and as the gun goes the usual chaos ensues as we all run the 50m or so and hit the water at the same time with a few elbows and feet coming very close to my head. It soon settles by the first buoy and a lead pair of Paul Hawkins and Chris start to pull away from a chasing group that I decide to sit on the back. The swim has an Aussie exit at 300m with a run up the beach before re-entering the water for the final 450m.
The lead pair exit about 45 secs ahead of most the chasers and I can still see Chris and Paul as I enter transition, albeit, they are just mounting their bikes. A quick T1 and several of us leave together hoping to chase them down. Luckily for me my legs spring into action and within 10 minutes I have them both back in my sights with most of the other chasers no longer in contention. I decide to not hang about on the tricky part of the course and the knowledge of the tight course comes in to its own now as I manage to pull away from Paul and then Chris in the lanes arriving back in T2 with 20 seconds over Chris and about a minute over Paul.
Anyone that knows me, knows that the run is my weakest discipline of the three and as I start then run I expect Chris to reel me in very quickly. To my surprise I was running pretty well on what is a very hard course with 2 of the 5 km on the beach and the rest of the course on some very steep hills I manage to hold him off for the first couple of km until the inevitable pass on the way around the headland, and once he took the lead we both knew he was in control and could just do enough to take the win with me having to settle for second place 25 seconds back.
Overall this is a must do race. A real Sprint distance race without a pool based swim on a testing course. If you go next year, make a weekend out of it. We ended up on the beach all afternoon in 25 degrees and some good tan lines to take back to work on Monday morning. Many thanks to Mark from Sensation Group for organising and inviting us to such a great race and if you want to know more have a look at the whole triple crown series – http://abersochtriplecrown.com/ – And I am led to believe there is an exciting new development possibly on the cards for next years race but probably all I am allowed to say on that for now.
Congratulations is also in order to Paul for a great race to take 3rd and also Ben Macintosh for taking 4th place in his first ever Tri. I am sure this won’t be the last we see of Ben in the results this year! Also to Rhian Roxborough as first lady and 7th overall!