A game of two halves at SteelMan Triathlon (or maybe 3?)

28th June 2016

Sunday’s SteelMan Triathlon at Dorney Lake offered all that is great about triathlon in one day.  We had the first waves of 11-16 year olds in a draft-legal format, followed by three different distances of triathlon (Challenge, Olympic and Sprint), and finally triathlon’s first cousin the ‘Aqua’ distances which were for those wanting to swim and bike or swim and run only.  The AquaBike (swim/bike) option is always particularly popular among those with dodgy knees or those who just aren’t fond of running – we can all relate to that!

The first wave of the day was at 9am, with the 15-16 year olds kicking things off, followed by the 13-14 and then 11-12 year olds.

The children’s events at SteelMan were run with gear restrictions, which is an intelligent new British Triathlon rule where gearing is limited in order to level the playing field. This helps ensure that more youth and kids are getting drafting practice, which is a great example of a sport thinking on its feet to help give valuable race experiences at an early age.

With the wind blowing down the lake towards transition, half of the bike course was a slog into the wind, meaning drafting would prove to be fundamental to having a good race.  One child realised early on that by missing the lead pack out of the swim they would struggle to catch up on the bike – it was amazing to witness children in this great sport of triathlon already beginning to think like the elites.

A special mention should also go to the parents, who were all on good form too – getting up early and sacrificing their Sunday for the racing.  We have noticed at Human Race that parents of talented triathletes have learned over the years that they have to let their child do their own race.  4-5 years ago we had to be much firmer with parents who wanted to jump in the way and get involved which isn’t the right thing to do; for the child or for the race’s safety.

Tom Hughes crossed the line first in the 15-16 boys category, with Almaz Nerukar taking the Youth girls victory.  Joseph Martin won the 13-14 boys with Elsbeth Grant winning the girls.  Christo Chilton won the 11-12 boys and Bethany Cook won the girls.  All participants in the children’s waves were real stars and we were amazed by their determination and ability – an inspiration for the adults following them!

Next up were the adult triathlon waves, where the greatest sub-plot to the SteelMan this year was a group from Tri4duchenne. Inspired by a three year old called Jamie, 30 Dads have come together to take part in a triathlon to raise money and awareness for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is a terminal muscle wasting condition affecting young boys. Many of these ‘Triathlon Dads’ have had to buy their first bike, some have had to learn how to swim, all have had to train hard to get anywhere near the right fitness level.

They hope to raise £50k to make a real difference to the cause and help find a treatment for DMD. Jamie’s dad Alex said ‘There are no words to describe what it is like to be a Dad with a son who has Duchenne, but days like today when friends and family come together in support of our cause help us believe that we can make a difference and find a treatment.

Thomas Upfold won the Mixed Challenge wave in 1:44:02 and Della Roderick won the female Olympic wave in 2:37:35, surely made straightforward by coming out of the swim a hugely impressive 10mins ahead!  The male Olympic waves were split into over and under 40 with Eugene Grant (2:16:11) and Hugo McMillan (2:11:58) winning respectively.  Alex Deans (1:05:24) of the omnipresent and talented Team Dillon won the Sprint and Team Sydenham from Petersfield Tri Club won the Sprint Relay.

Our CEO Nick Rusling also took part in the Sprint going round with his wife Zoe, who was doing her first triathlon.

Our thanks as ever to the hard working crew who kept smiling all day, as well as our partners who help bring the event to life, Zone3, ERDINGER Alkoholfrei and British Bike Hire.  And finally, thank you to Eton Dorney for providing such a stunning and world class backdrop for us to compete against.

If you are feeling inspired after the SteelMan Triathlon then check out the BananaMan Triathlon in July or HSBC Triathlon in September where we have more kids options and various distances all available.