Saturday 31st of August saw the North East Regional Academy and IRC squad head down to Eaton Dorney for the ETU / IRC’s to defend our title held for the past 2 years. A change to the format of the IRC’s saw the youths race being held separately and only the T2’s and T3’s counting for the team points.
Our region had struggled at the start of the season with races being cancelled due to the poor weather, including our selection race. A revised selection process included a 6 week training camp at last years IRC venue, Hetton Lyons Country Park. With a number of our athletes carrying injuries and recovering from ilness we went into the race knowing we had a fight on our hands but confident we could still perform.
Friday we set up our ‘base camp’ at Eaton, with physio/massage, bike mechanic and camping stove providing everything needed to prepare the squad for the next days race. A short swim and dive start practice (the pontoon start being a new experience for a number of the athletes) and a loop of the bike course helped familarise the squad with the course before retiring for a relaxed evening.
Saturday then saw the most talented TriStar 2’s and 3’s in each region race each other at the iconic Olympic rowing venue.
In the T2 girls race Rhianna had a solid swim but then unfortunately suffered on the bike with an asthma attack, she put in a gutsy performance to finish but was unable to realise her potential on the day. Lisa and Sophie were within a few seconds of each other until the run when Lisa managed to pull away. The T2 boys showed great potential with James battling it to the line to come in 8th place, unfortunately his chip came off in the swim and he was recorded as 10th (this is currently being reviewed as there are photographs of him finishing just behind the 7th place athlete). Will put in a great performance and while he was disappointed he now knows what racing on the national scene is like. Daniel did himself proud and again has learned what it’s like in the ‘big pond’. For all the T2’s it was a fantastic learning experience and fired them up for moving up the ladder.
The T3 girls was won by our Kate Waugh with a solid performance from start to finish. The starting positions on the pontoon made Charlottes job harder than expected, but that’s the luck of the draw, but she came through for a strong finish on the run. Rhianna is an incredibly strong cyclist, but starting at the far end of the pontoon and a short flat bike didn’t allow her to demonstrate her true ability on a more ‘sporting’ course, a future xterra champion in the making though.
In the T3 boys Jake put in an all round solid performance in tough competition for 15th place. Christopher unfortunately had a mechanical as he started the bike course and DNF’d which was a shame as he’d had a great swim and was in a good position to set off on the bike. Daniel was here to learn about racing at the next level and put in good performances on the bike and run, which he did, now it’s a solid winters swim training to bring him up to speed.
The IRC squad was then treated to the spectical of watching the elite youth and junior races. In the youth race our star athletes, Jack Willis and Jordan Hull, demonstrated their experience and strength throughout the race. Jordan was unfortunately ill building up to the race and struggled on the run slipping to 4th but Jack was able to kick free and win with a fantastic sprint finish.
For the Jack and Jordan this rounded off a fantastic season and secured 1st and 2nd for the elite youth series.
In the elite junior race Calum suffered from a detrimental placing on the pontoon to miss the chase pack out the swim. The effort needed on the bike to make up the deficit resulted in cramping on the run and unfortunately had to pull out. While disappointed with this race it doesn’t distract from his British Championship win at Liverpool and World Duathlon Championship Bronze in Canada this year.