A stunning finish at the 2016 Outlaw Half Triathlon as lead change in sight of the finish line earns defending champion Karl Alexander memorable race win and a £1500 course record bonus
On a Bank Holiday race weekend which will be dominated by British success at the 2016 European Championships in Lisbon, fast times at Ironman Brasil and another Brit on top at Challenge Salou, the perhaps less glamourous setting of the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham provided a timely reminder that triathlon excitement can be achieved on a domestic level too.
A competitive men’s race
The fourth edition of the ever popular Outlaw Half Triathlon from OSB Events looked to be a very open race on paper with several potential winners in the men’s race.
Defending champion (and Tri247 contributor) Karl Alexander was back to try and defend his title, while there was plenty of pre-race interest in the prospects of Time Trial star turned triathlete, Matthew Bottrill, in his first race at the distance after performing well in several early season duathlon events.
Joining them was former Outlaw Full winner Joel Jameson, local athlete Simon George, who finished fourth in this race last year and XTERRA specialist Matt Dewis among other potential contenders.
The distance of the race is ‘70.3’ (miles)… little did we know, even with just a couple of miles remaining, just how crucial the ‘point-three’ bit would be.
Leeman leads after swim
Matt Leeman (Benfleet Running Club) headed Simon George out of the swim by just ten seconds in a time of 25:20 with defending champ Alexander, in his weakest (but improving) discipline, just two minutes back and inside the top ten.
That represented a great start for an athlete who told me earlier in the week that “I’m in far better condition than last year, I’ve lost 4kg, am riding better, running strong off the bike and been working hard in the pool. If anyone is going to beat me they’re gonna have to work hard!”
Matt Bottrill, as expected, was well down and outside of the top 200 after his swim of 34:37 while Joel Jameson (who started in wave two), had also lost significant time with a 31:02 opener.
Massive bike by Bottrill
By T2, Simon George had pulled clear on the bike and would start the run with a three and a half minute lead after a 2:16:29 split. Behind, Alexander rode strongly too (2:17:48) while Bottrill was now in his comfort zone, and a 2:10:07 would move him up through the field to third place at T2.
After a pretty pedestrian transition from Karl, he would start the half marathon practically side-by-side with Matt having arrived in T2 just a few seconds in front.
Both George and Alexander had set off strongly on the run and they both looked great. Six and half miles later and at the end of lap one… they were still running strongly, and still both looking great! I had my stopwatch running (in my role as event commentator), and starting lap two the gap looked almost identical as I passed that news on over the mic as I was pretty sure Karl would want to know how his pursuit was going.
That metaphorical fat lady was getting ready to sing… but not just yet. Surely close on four minutes to catch was too much?
Joel Jameson passed the same point around 18 minutes back on Simon George, but having started ten minutes later in wave two (effectively eight minutes behind), that suggested that he was making up ground in his best discipline.
The win might be out of reach but, to me, he certainly seemed to be threatening the podium positions. Bottrill was still moving ok, but was dropping back now on the run.
He would eventually run a 1:33:22 half marathon – which, given he ran 1:28 for a fresh half marathon recently, was probably a fair reflection of his current running level. He would eventually finish eighth and, I’m sure, take home a long list of things to learn from.
All change in last mile
It would be all change in the very final stages of the race however; as Simon started to struggle, Karl was digging in and perhaps increasing his own pace.
Amazingly, the last few miles would see that gap fall and with the red carpet of the finish line in sight, Alexander would make the pass – meaning that after more than four hours of racing, Karl had lead the race for, perhaps, less than one minute in total – but it is who crosses the line first that matters, and this pairing had produced a grandstand finale for the supporters.
Awesome racing Simon and Karl. Chapeau!
— Matthew Bottrill (@BottrillMatthew) May 29, 2016
Thankfully for us, we’ll get the inside track on exactly how it panned out very soon from Karl’s own perspective when we publish his race report in the next day or so. To the victor, go the spoils – and as a member of the ERDINGER Alkoholfrei team, it’s not the first time Karl has done this!
— Erdinger Alkoholfrei (@ErdingerAF_UK) May 29, 2016
Not forgetting the women
I hope you’ll excuse, in this instance, the relative focus on the men’s race… but the ending really was a special one!
The women’s race was dominated by Linda Evans. Exiting the water alongside eventual third place finished Rebecca Nkoane (Chiltern Tri), Linda proceeded to set the fastest bike split (2:35:21) to build a T2 lead of around ten minutes over local athlete Claire Shea-Simmonds (Racetime Triathlon Club), who had finished second in the full distance Outlaw Triathlon here last year.
With the first five women running almost identical times in the 1:33 to 1:34 range, there was little change over the half marathon. Clearly, the women have got their bike/run pacing sorted.
That hurt a bit more than a usual Sunday of swim bike running! pic.twitter.com/CHp1oiavPf
— Linda Evans (@LindaEvans90) May 29, 2016
Shea-Simmonds was happy with her second place, sportingly adding:
So @OutlawTriathlon Half was like Outlaw Full, I was well beaten into 2nd by younger, more talented athlete but happy with my performance.
— Claire Shea-Simonds (@ClaireSSTri) May 29, 2016
So, another excellent day of racing at Holme Pierrepont with a most unexpected but fabulous finish. Let’s hope for the same at the new Outlaw Half Holkham on Sunday July 3rd.
|Karl Alexander |
|Simon George |
(Giant Lincoln/Lincoln Tri)
|4:11:20||Claire Shea-Simmonds |
(Racetime Triathlon Club)
|Joel Jameson||4:13:26||Rebecca Nkoane |
|Matt Leeman |
(Benfleet Running Club)
|Matt Dewis |
|4:16:40||Gema Snape |