This was held around Loughborough on the weekend of the 16th/17th April 2016. Athletes took part in swim time trials and then bike and run in the order based on their swim finishing time.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about my introduction to UK triathlon since moving back here last year. We arrived too late for the tri season last year, so my prep training was a winter season of cross-country in the freezing wet and mud (but I qualified to race for Kent County and my school team came third in the English School Nationals), with swim training at school and biking in Richmond Park when the weather is OK. Training in the warm HK weather and open waters never felt so far away :(. So my first taste of competition was the Windsor Duathlon a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn't prepared for the speed of the event at all! It was a 2.5k run, 10k bike and 1.15k run with the best times around 8.30, 18.20 and 4.00. about 32mins all in with a big field of 58 competitors. My lack of form really showed with a time of 38.57. Well I could only do better from this point!
So we just returned from the British Triathlon trials held up in Loughborough over the weekend. It was a great experience and I got to meet and race with the elite youth group (15-16) of England Triathlon, and I recognised most of them from the Windsor Duathlon. This was an important first step into learning about how triathlon is managed and run in the UK, how to get into an English Regional Academy, qualify and enter for the big races, the type of training required and for me to see how I can compete with these guys!
The whole weekend was very well organised with plenty of educative presentations on the Saturday morning by some of the top coaches and senior officials in the country like Rick Velati - England Talent Head Coach, Thom Phillips - England Talent Doctor and Dan Salcedo- BTF Performance Pathway Manager. We were briefed on the ethos of triathlon competition in the UK (commitment, fun and professional, trust and respect), as well as how to stay fit, eat properly and avoid injury. There was also a session on balancing racing and training with schooling and uni exams. I found myself thinking that I had heard much of this before thanks to 26 Coaching's own commitment to comprehensive education and training.
In the afternoon we had the swim time trials, 400m with 5.45 cut off. The cut off was not a problem but your finish time then dictates the order of start for the bike/run the next day. So the fastest swim time was 4.13 and mine was 5.31, which meant I had to start the bike 1min18sec behind the leaders. On Sunday morning (after more briefings), we had the 10k bike and 2.5k run on an excellent private race track outside Loughborough. The older and more experienced youth group knew the form, including the new bike roll-off rules, so not only was I starter at the back of the pack, but my bike was heavily restricted! Anyway the bike/run/and 2 transitions was 28.39 and I came in 49th overall, and since I am still the youngest in the group I have this whole season and all next year to get up the ranks! All in a fantastic experience and I have realised the steep learning curve ahead if I want to compete fully at this level.
As you mentioned before, UK triathlon at youth level is all about speed, with the longer distances not permitted until after Junior age group who still race sprint distance. But my path into UK elite triathlon could not have been even remotely possible without the amazing tuition and training at 26 Coaching, which has given me the best foundation into the ever more popular and increasingly competitive world of elite racing in the UK. Thanks Andrew, Kate and team for all the coaching and great times, and see you in Liverpool!!