Horwich Triathlon has its place in folklore as a tough season opener, and attracts some of Triathlons big guns. Rolling hills across the bike section before a bonkers trail run to the top of Rivington Pike means you need to have done your homework before entering. In recent years the swim has been shortened from 800mtrs, and the run shortened from 11.5k to attract more competitors. The strategy worked with 328 athletes on this year’s start line, the highest number yet.
Despite being an early race in the calendar, the weather was kind for once and the scene was set. Having done well in 2012, I had wondered what I should expect of myself this year. First race of the season, difficulties getting mileage in due to the birth of my daughter and none of the epic sessions from the previous year in the lead up to Ironman. But then a better structure to my training through Horwich Harriers could help me out.
After my usual plod through the swim, I launched myself into the bike and once my HR was under control started to feel good. Immediately out of transition, a well-known competitor past me but I felt I could hang on to him if I kept my head down and lit the afterburners. This was the only person to pass me on the bike and I picked off plenty of other competitors mainly on the climbs but by the end of the bike, I had lost sight of my pace target.
After a reasonable transition, I took it easy up the first hill to get my legs to recognise I was now running, The first mile or so is a leg and lung killer with most competitors walking one particular section as the lactic becomes too much. I took my chance and kept things moving, eventually spotting my pace target again at the summit of the Pike. “I can get him” I thought.
After letting the handbrake off, I leapt off the face of the Pike and started to retrace the route back into the town chasing hard after 2 guys along the cobbled trails. Fully committed, on my toes and desperate to make up time I glanced at my watch and realised I could beat last years’ 2hrs and 5 mins. I sprinted a mile breathing down the neck of my pace target and knew there was one small hill I could use to my advantage. One guy let me past, and in the final half mile on the very last lump I took my prey with no response, turning back onto the main road and going eyeballs out back into T2 at 6 minute mile pace. With 2hrs and 2mins on the clock I was really pleased and secured 28th place – my best result so far for this event.
Team_JMC competitors had done great overall, all inside the top 100 and our resident team missile Alex Lawton taking the win ahead of some very seasoned pro’s. A remarkable effort from Alex, and a great day to be out racing.