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Lessons from a Pro debut: Andrew Horsfall-Turner

Andrew Horsfall-Turner kindly pens his thoughts on his pro debut for TRI247 - read on for what he learned at IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence.

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Redefining triathlon

The name Andrew Horsfall-Turner has been a regular feature on TRI247 throughout the 2021 season.

In May, Andrew finished a close second – and ahead of Tim Don – at the Outlaw Half Nottingham. He followed the Outlaw Triathlon Series to Holkham, North Norfolk in July, where he was second in the Elite wave, which ran alongside the PTO-supported event.

This highlight was to come however, as his big target was the full distance Outlaw Triathlon back at Holme Pierrepont, the National Water Sports Centre.

Not only did he win, but he broke the course record, collected a £3,000 bonus for doing so and set a new Welsh iron-distance record in the process, stopping the clock at 8:26:27.

Andrew originally planned to take up his Pro licence in 2022, after racing at the IRONMAN World Championship in October. When that was postponed, he decided to change his plans – and Sunday’s IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence was his professional debut.

We contacted Andrew in advance of the race and asked if he would report back and let us know what he learned – whatever the result was, good bad or indifferent! – and he’s kindly agreed to share his thoughts with you.

No doubt you’ll be able to find out more later this week direct from Andrew via his excellent YouTube channel – highly recommended.

Five lessons from my Pro Debut

On Sunday I competed in my debut Professional long-distance race at IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence in the South of France.

With rain overnight, the roads were a little wet on race morning, and it was somewhat overcast – which wasn’t a bad thing knowing how hot it had been the day before.

I managed a respectable 11th place on my debut, but it wasn’t without some drama and a five-minute drafting penalty (more to come on that). I wanted to quickly highlight five things I’ve learnt from the experience, and possibly how it compares to Age Group racing:

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The Swim

Traditionally I’m used to having clear water from the off due to my background in competitive swimming. On a domestic level, athletes seem to just give me space and let me get on with it! But this was different. A frantic start meant that I got completely locked out and had to swim wide around the field to get to the feet of the lead swimmer. Then, when eventually taking the lead, a swimmer was able to sit on me all the way to T1. 

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T1

Although first out the water, I was not the first onto the bike! Racing against athletes with high-level experience at short-course and professional racing, it was obvious that my transition skills are far from fully developed. I lost 20 seconds, which meant that when I got onto the bike I was already isolated and on my own! 

The Bike

This is where I feel like I gained the most from this event. I got ‘pinged’ with a five-minute drafting penalty (which may or may not have been fair). In short, a French rider slotted into a gap that I believe was bang on 12m already, causing me to sit up and try and back off, but I was instantly given a blue card!

I guess the lesson here is twofold. The first is I need more experience of riding in a pack, and the second is to be more vigilant and anticipate other riders’ actions earlier. 

Andrew Horsfall-Turner / IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence

T2

Don’t take so long! In my defence I was forced to watch an IPad screen tick down from five minutes! But after that, and similar to T1, the speed and precision of these athletes changing into running shoes is something I can only get better at with time and practice! 

Run

Developing the specific skills you need for the course. Similar to watching the St. George 70.3 World Championship a couple of days ago, when you have a course that isn’t just flat you need to develop the right skills to be able to run fast!

What let me down in Aix was not running uphill, but running down. I felt like I was constantly trying to put the brakes on and it felt far from natural. This has got me thinking about what I can do better in the future to develop this skill of running downhill fast! 

Overall, I loved the intensity of being in the PRO field and I am already chatting to my coaches Dylan Morris and John Mills as my focus moves towards Challenge Salou in two weeks’ time!

Big shoutout to all the other athletes racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Aix-en-Provence. Especially Kim Morrison and Fenella Langridge in fourth and fifth respectively, only two weeks post-Challenge Roth! 

Instagram: andrew_h_t | Youtube: Andrew Horsfall-Turner 

[Header Image photo credit: Activ’ Images / IRONMAN]

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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