Club Relays – Mens Wave – 24 August 2014 - A team manager’s viewpoint

If your like me as soon as the team sheets come out you’ll be examining them to see who the competition is going to be, I Identified 3 teams, Racetime events, Torq and of course you can never ignore TriCamp TFN, although it was Racetime that looked the strongest. had a strong team of Oliver Milk, Phil Wolfe, Dan Jenkin, and Doug Roberts.  Although each discipline had a weak point there was also plenty of strong points and I knew the race would be won or lost by how well we got through our weak points and how well we took advantage of our strong points, I told the team there would be less than a minute in it at the end so they were to leave nothing on the course.

9:45 and the athletes are in the water.  Olly Milk first, you never know what to expect from the first leg with a mixture of tactics being deployed, Olly hit dry land in 6th place, a good start.  Over to Phil Wolfe and a swift 7:03 and up into 2nd.  Dan Jenkin is not renowned for his swimming but we knew his strengths laid later in the race, lost 2 places down to 4th.  Over to Doug Roberts the power house of the team and with the fastest swim of the day brought us back to 3rd.  Out of the wetsuits and we identified the first two teams both juniors, Wrekin College and Racetime Juniors, while Iv no doubt some of these guys have a bright future I wasn’t worried for today.  1:25 back to Racetime A team and I was happy.

The first bike leg gets the honour of a motorbike escort and looking across the lake to the far side was pleased to see Olly had overtaken both the teams in front and was now pushing ahead on the bike, 3 laps and a 20:53, it looked like it was going to be a fast day.  Over to Phil Wolfe a very accomplished elite racer but rides a road bike without tri bars so this leg was going to be key.  Duncan Shea Simonds was on one of the fastest bikes money can buy would be hunting him down.  3 laps down and Duncan closed in and we were now neck and neck with Racetime, he handed over to Sam Wade while Dan Jenkin was on leg 3 for, my opinion two evenly matched cyclists, we watched them go punch for punch each having little jabs at each other but still locked together at the end of leg 3.

Over to the 2 powerhouses Rich Horton (European U23 Duathlon Champ) a very accomplished bike / runner for Racetime, Doug Roberts for an International elite racer, two totally different styles Doug very aggressive on a road bike with clip on bars whipped through transition and attacked immediately to try and establish a gap, 15 seconds through transition, Rich on the other hand on a top end TT bike smooth and powerful, the gap was slowly closed as Doug started to suffer from 2 very hard weekends in a row, (including a very hilly British Middle Distance champs were he was sent of course while in a commanding lead loosing 15 minutes but still fought back to 5th place and Saturdays effort in the mixed team), handing over to the runners we were still locked in battle with no one giving an inch.

First leg of the run another key leg, Olly has been suffering with Compartment Syndrome and I didn’t really know what to expect.  Racetime had a speedy junior in Macauley Carline and at the end of leg one RT had carved a lead of 1:14, I knew the race was on 3 strong runners to come.  Leg 2 Phil Wolfe v Duncan Shea Simonds gap down to 15 seconds.  Leg 3, Sam Wade, a very quick runner in his own right but we had an ace in our pack with Super runner Dan Jenkin.  We watched the catch on the far side of the lake and Sam appeared to latch on, out of site they went and my nails were getting shorter, 15:28 after he left Dan came storming to the hand over for the fastest split of the day, but were was Sam? 

Doug was off for the final leg not knowing his lead, he doesn’t have a dink in his armour but with a runner of the quality of Rich chasing him I wanted 30 second to give us a realistic chance, 37 seconds later Rich was off, stopwatch at the ready I timed the gap at the score board at the far side of the lake with less than a third of the final leg gone Rich had closed to 20 seconds, I was worried, Rich appeared to go hard while Doug looked to make a conservative start, was I clutching at straws?  We would find out in about 12 minutes.  Team mates spread themselves along the last straight to cheer Doug on and feed him info.  

I headed to the finish, John Levison, Tri247 editor and race commentator was as excited as I was suggesting a sprint finish was on the cards, I was hoping not. It seemed like an age before Doug appeared in the distance with approx. 300m to go, a few seconds later so did Rich, as they got closer I knew the title was ours, I high fived Doug as he ran past to the finish for a 17 second victory.  After Four years of always getting on the podium we finally hit the top spot! 

I have been racing and spectating this race for the last five years and while I am slightly biased I don’t recall the winning margin ever being that small.  Congratulations have to go to both teams for an awesome race and for the neutral spectators we certainly put on a show.

The shine was taken off the win slightly as this was the English Champs, with Doug being Scottish we wouldn’t qualify for National Medals.  This race was always the British Champs for as long as I can remember which changed in 2013 when they decided they didn’t want to support it anymore.  We weren’t the only team that were denied Championship medals for the presence of Scottish or Welsh athletes, and I would call on British Triathlon to reconsider its decision and make this the British Champs again!

Thanks to Iain and all his team at OSB for putting on what is always an excellent race

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