Erica Hawley, Lynsey Palmer and Nick Pilgrim all raced today with mixed results.
Erica was making a welcomed return to racing as she took on a tough test in Malmo Sweden racing in a European Cup Sprint Triathlon against seniors. She produced a strong performance to finish 16th in a very pleasing time of 1 hr 03 mins 39 secs. The winner was Justine Guerard of France 1:01:12.
Lynsey gained some valuable experience today. As a relative novice to junior elite racing she took on the USA’s best 16-19 juniors in the US Junior National Championships in West Chester, Ohio and finished 50th out of 68 starters in a time of 1 hr 12 mins 25 secs. With the draft legal format on the bike in junior elite racing so much depends on how you come out in the swim and Lynsey’s time of over 13 mins left her trailing the leaders who completed the swim in under 11 minutes. However, Lynsey’s bike time of 35:52 and run of 20:46 were encouraging and with time and work on her swim she could well be challenging for a top 10 placing in the next two years.
Nick Pilgrim placed 27th out of 68 finishers in the US Youth Junior National Championships today for ages 13-15 which, given his results in some of the US regional youth races this year, will no doubt be a disappointing result for him. He finished in 33 min 18 secs with the young US phenom Andrew Shellenger easily winning in 29 min 30 secs with 2nd place Nick Holmes crossing the line over a minute back in 30 mins 58 secs. Nick still has one more year in the youth ranks and if he can continue to make the progress he has shown this year expect him to be up in at least the top 10 next year.
Flora Duffy was unable to continue her winning streak today but still produced another excellent race to take 2nd place in the Montreal World Triathlon Series behind Australian Ashleigh Gentle.
Perhaps feeling the effects of the race in Edmonton last week Flora was unable to break away from a group of 12 on the 40km bike and for the first time in the series this year found herself getting off the bike with some of the sport’s stronger runners, including Gentle.
A slow transition saw Flora trailing the lead runners out of T2 and she had to work hard to get to the front with the lead group of three runners that included Gentle and the winner of the first two WTS series races, the experienced New Zealander Andrea Hewitt.
Gentle, a renowned runner who did not race in Edmonton, slowly pulled away from the chasing three that also included Kirsten Kasper and by the midway point had a 41 sec lead over Flora who herself had opened up a narrow gap on Hewitt with the USA’s Kasper falling back to 4th. Flora worked hard to narrow the gap to just 23 secs at the finish but it was not enough to catch an emotional Gentle who had recorded 5 second place finishes since she started racing the WTC circuit in 2011 but had never before recorded a win. Gentle crossed the line in 1hr 59 mins 04 secs with Flora posting a time of 1:59:27 and Hewitt 1:59:48. Joanna Brown, an outstanding young Canadian produced a breakthrough race to outsprint Kasper for 4th.
Flora will know that things might have been different if the lead group of eight that started to pull away on lap 1 of the bike had maintained that momentum as Gentle was in a group that caught the lead group. Sometimes very fine margins come into play in WTS races. Gentle was actually 11 secs down after the swim but the steep and longish T1 run to the bikes allowed her to narrow that gap going into the bike. Then Flora’s uncharacteristically slow T2 in which she had to re rack her bike and stumbled whilst putting on her shoes also cost her important seconds.
For Flora though, this race will be a lesson well learnt and showed her that she is right up there with the best runners in the sport.
With the USA’s Katie Zaferes only finishing in 9th place today Flora’s lead in the series has stretched out to 654 points over Gentle who moves into 2nd place over Zaferes.
With just two races left in the series and the Grand Final in Rotterdam offering 1 1/2 the normal prize points (not 2 times the points as previously reported), Flora will need to do the maths to see if she should go to Sweden for the last race before the Grand Final.
Gentle showed today that she might well be Flora’s biggest threat for the WTS overall title but so much will depend on whether Gentle can stay with her on the bike.
Flora will however take note that there were a number of factors that might have played out differently, especially the failure of the leading 8 to get away and hopefully she will be encouraged with her run performance as she recorded the 2nd fastest run today even though she was perhaps not at her best. That said, Gentle was also suffering from a heavy cold going into today’s race so could she have run quicker ?
There is still alot to be decided in what should prove to be an exciting finale to the season.
Nick Pilgrim (13-15 Youth Elite) and Lynsey Palmer ( 16-19 Junior Elite) will take on the USA’s best youth and junior triathletes this weekend as they take to the start line for the 2017 USTA National Championships.
Both Lynsey and Nick earned their places on the start line with excellent performances in USTA junior and youth series races in 2017 which gave them solidarity spots for this weekend’s races.
The USA has great depth in junior triathlon so for Lynsey, being one of the youngest in the age group, these championships will be a strong test but also a great learning experience. In the regional race in Ohio she showed that she certainly belongs at this level of competition. A finish anywhere in the top 60% would be a big achievement.
At just 14, Nick Pilgrim still has another year as a youth elite athlete but with two top ten finishes in USTA regional races in 2017 ( he was the 1st 14 year old in both races), he will be hoping to at least crack the top 20 this weekend.
Lynsey starts at 8AM local time ( 9AM Bermuda) with Nick going at 12: 05PM (1PM Bermuda).
This Saturday 5th August Erica Hawley will be looking to put a couple of less than ideal months behind her as she races in the senior women’s elite race in the European Triathlon Union’s European Sprint Cup Triathlon in Malmo, Sweden.
After a great start to the season and a good training camp in Banyoles, Spain, Erica came off her bike in Austria the day before her first scheduled junior elite race in Europe which resulted in her withdrawing from that race. She then raced in Holten, Netherlands but her shoulder was not healed and led to a poor swim followed by a mechanical on the bike and a 28th place finish.
To add insult to injury, on her return to Banyoles, Erica then got hit by a car on a roundabout resulting in bruising and road rash but luckily no major injuries. Erica returned to Bermuda to recuperate but has spent the past couple of weeks with team mates in Slovenia preparing for this race. Although she has a new bike on order, she has had to go back to an old bike for this upcoming race so hopefully it will not affect her performance. The driver of the car that hit her was at fault and the insurers have already compensated Erica for the bike ; that’s the good news !!
Erica is no stranger to racing in the senior elite ranks and a good performance and solid time will give her alot of confidence going into the ITU Junior Elite World Championships in Rotterdam in September , her last race world championships as an elite junior (assuming she is given a solidarity spot for these championships). Fingers crossed, this race will get her back on track after what was such a promising start to her 2017 season.
Erica’s race gets underaway at 3PM Swedish time which is 10AM Bermuda time.
For more on this race and to get Erica’s result go to :
Flora will be looking to build on her astonishing ITU World Series performances as she goes for her 5th win in a row in the old city of Montreal. Flora has been so dominant in her four races that it is hard to see anyone beating her in Montreal.
After two sprint distance races in Hamburg and Edmonton, the elite athletes will race over 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run. The longer distance format will favor Flora as, working with other top swimmers, it will give her an opportunity to perhaps distance a large part of the field on the swim, something that was difficult to do in the sprint distance races (even though that did not stop Flora from getting away on the bike in Hamburg and Edmonton).
With none of the UK swim / bike specialists in the field Flora may again be in a position to team up with the USA’s youngster Taylor Knibb with whom she road away from the field in Edmonton. If that happens then expect Flora to ride with Taylor for the first part of the bike and then try and distance her, and any others in the group, in the last 10km or so.
The bike course lap is short (9 laps) and technical with one good hill and a rolling profile which will suit Flora and if she gets away as expected it will give her the advantage over a larger chasing pack going into the three technical corners.
Should Flora win it will mean that she will extend her lead in the series which now stands at just 8 points over the 2nd placed Katie Zaferes, who is not shown on the start list for Montreal. Third placed Kirsten Kasper is racing but with 2677 points to Flora’s 3200. A win for Flora might mean she opts out of racing in Stockholm on August 26th so that she can prepare for the Grand Final of the Series ( which has double points and is the unofficial World Championship race) in Rotterdam on Saturday 16th September.
Flora’s race gets underway at 1.36PM Montreal time ( 2.36PM Bermuda time) and results will be at http://www.triathlon.org or you can watch the race live by going to triathlonlive.tv and subscribing ( if you haven’t done so already).
As I was looking through some old newspaper clippings of mine, as you do at my age to relive the old glory days (!!), I realised that August 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the first international triathlon in Bermuda.
I recall the excitement amongst the local triathlon community and and the Bermuda public in general when the race was announced. An international triathlon in Bermuda with $100,000 in prize money matched only at that time by just one other triathlon in the world, the Gold Coast Triathlon in Australia. With worldwide coverage on television this event was a big coup for Bermuda.
The event was the brainchild of a colourful Irish rugby player, Patrick O’Riordan, who lived in Bermuda at that time, and there were those who thought that such a major undertaking could not be done.
But it did go ahead and the organisation was superb. The 1500m swim was held off the race headquarters, the Southampton Princess Hotel, and both professionals and amateurs had to swim along the shoreline and then out to the reefline and back to shore. I recall some very nervous locals who had entered the amateur race practising the swim from the shore to the reefs and being more than a little scared !
Transition was in the car park with a climb up to South Shore for the 40km out and back bike that had 180 degree turns at both Paynter’s Road and by Church Bay and ended at the Bermuda Regiment car park. The only glitch with the out and back course was that with Bermuda’s narrow roads and so much prize money at stake the pro bike race became a bit if a draft fest ( not allowed in those days) and race referee Tom Smith, another no nonsense local rugby player, had no qualms about DQ’uing some of the worst offenders. At that time drafting was an automatic DQ after a warning.
What was extraordinary was that O’Riordan and his team managed to get volunteers to man just about every road and driveway that intersected the route which was completely traffic free. Equally extraordinary was the number of supporters who came out to watch the race. I can recall coming along South Shore with thousands of people lining the road at such an early hour of the morning with their newspaper race special ( an eight page special in the Mid Ocean News) which had everyone’s race numbers so they could cheer competitors on.
The tough 10km run course in hot and humid conditions took competitors along South Shore to Cobbs Hill and over to Middle Road and then up the back driveway hill to the Southampton Princess ; a hilly course with a brutal ending !!
Sadly there were not really that many overseas amateur entries but the local amateur entry made up for that. The professional field was a ” who’s who” of the best international triathletes in the world at the time, including the “big four” men as they were known, Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Scott Molina and Scott Tinley, legends in the sport. Also in the field was the new super star Mike Pigg, who had laid claim to be included in the “big five”, and young 15 year old sensation Lance Armstrong ( yes, the same Lance Armstrong). The best Europeans were also there, including Holland’s Rob Barel and multiple European and UK champion Glenn Cook and another star UK triathlete Robin Brew ( who was later Flora Duffy’s coach when she went to high school in the UK). Canada was also well represented with Andrew McNaughton and Richard Browne and New Zealand’s Rick Wells also one to watch. Added to that were a number of up and coming triathletes including Ken Glah and Clark Campbell of the USA.The women’s field was equally impressive with the very best in the world including the USA’s Linda , New Zealand’s favorite Erin Baker, the UK champion Sarah Springman and another pre race favorite Kirsten Hanssen of the USA. The legendary Puntous twins, who also went on to make their name in Ironman racing, were a star attraction as well.
And to add local interest in the professional ranks, Tony Ryan and Dyrone Minors and running legend Sandra Mewett chose to enter the professional wave.
Mark Allen, the pre race favorite ran his way to the title with Kirsten Hanssen taking overall women’s honours. Local Tony Ryan finished in just over 2 hours 1 min to finish 20th amongst the pro men and took home $500 in prize money whilst Greg Hopkins had a disappointing race for him finishing in 2 hr 07 mins but first amateur overall and received an all expenses holiday for two in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Ryan might have wished that he had entered the amateur division !!). Youngster Kavin Smith, who went on to become a 9 time winner of the May 24th Marathon Derby, was 3rd Bermudian, winning the 25-29 age group.
Sandra Mewett was the first local woman in 2 hrs 29 mins 09 secs ahead of Peggy Couper and Cathy Gurret.
The race came back to Bermuda in 1988 with a loop bike course but problems with church complaints about access to church services led to the race sadly dying a death the following year amongst great controversy.
6 weeks later my son Simon was born on the day of the biggest local event in Bermuda. He appeared on his due date, 20th September 1987, the day of the SunLife Bermuda Triathlon which had 134 individual senior entries after a record 167 teams of three had raced the week before ( there were no junior races at that time) . I started the race, had a major tyre blowout and made it to the hospital with plenty of time to spare !!
When I raised the possibility of getting new Bermuda age group kit I never knew it would involve so many permissions and choices. But …. thanks to the efforts of Jen Wilson and the support of the BTA, in particular Patty Petty, we now have new triathlon one and two piece short and long distance kits for those representing Bermuda.
Here is a picture of the new kit which is similar to the kit worn by Flora Duffy and our elite juniors.