A ‘Relay’ Good Day in Nottingham
The Zoot Triathlon Relays.
The Triathlon England National Club Relays Championship.
THE CLUB RELAYS!
Now in its 28th (?) year at its home of the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, the 2018 edition delivered fine weather, a sold out field for both morning and afternoon racing, great competition and lots of fun for the approaching 1800 athletes who raced in Nottingham on Saturday. It may live up to its tagline of Organised Chaos from an athlete viewpoint (behind the scenes, there is a LOT going on to make sure it isn’t!), but fast or slow, podium finishers or not, it is still one of the best triathlon weekends of the year.
The format has remained relatively unchanged for years – 500m swim, 15km (three lap) cycle and a 5km (one lap) run, held on the traffic free (but sometimes, not geese free!) perimeter road of Holme Pierrepont. Teams of four compete across the various categories of age / gender / mixed (or just have any combination you want, and race in the equally popular ‘Open’ teams), in a continuous tagging format; swim / swim / swim / swim / bike / bike… until the fourth athlete completes the final run leg. The fastest teams take around three hours, the slowest more than five… and, generally, everyone smiles. At least, they do when they have recovered from the efforts of their three time trial efforts.
In many ways it doesn’t ‘fit’ the current triathlon model. With a short break between each discipline, you could perhaps argue, is it a triathlon? With the increasing profile of the super-sprint format of mixed relay triathlon, this ‘Sprint’ distance is actually quite long. And yet… none of that matters.
There are many area in which progress is welcome. ‘We’ used the race in speedo’s and crop tops, we used to allow cycling in transition and – gasp – even within my memory I can remember a huge outcry that helmets in races were to be made compulsory! I think we can all agree, we have moved on for the better in all regards there. And many others. Progress – generally – is good.
The Club Relays though? It is, to me, a core part of the U.K. domestic triathlon scene. I first took part myself around 25 years ago as a student at Loughborough. I’ve raced a few times since then, and these days my connection with the event are as the Team Manager / administrator for a large club entry (17 teams this year), and I have spent most of the last decade as a commentator at the event. It is absolutely a highlight of my year – and was thoroughly enjoyed by the 60+ members of my club that attended this year.
That’s not to suggest the event hasn’t developed. The current swim location is much improved from the original cramped location in front of the grandstand. The run course set up for leg one makes access and space around the finish line much cleaner, while – as with most events now – everyone gets a timing chip. Even the registration process and team categorisation rules are far clearer than they have been in some recent years.
The Club Relays is a classic. Like all classics, it has had to be maintained and polished to keep it in good order – and right now, it is still shining.
This is one instance in which the ‘good old days’ are still here – and I seriously hope they are still here for many years to come. 440 teams and approaching 100 different clubs raced this year. If you’ve not tried it yet then really, you should.
Racing wise, as last year, saw the local Race Hub Triathlon Club cross the line first overall in the morning (Men) and afternoon (Mixed) to collect the fastest times of the day in the Race Team category.
The Club Men’s and Women’s division saw both podiums have a 1/2/3 of Army Tri, Lincoln Tri and RAF, while the Army took further honours in the Men’s V40+.
The closest race of the day was in the ever competitive Men’s V50+, where after more than three and half hours of racing, Team Tri Glos pipped Grimsby Tri by just 16 seconds.
The women’s V50+ team of Challenge Tri Camp were very impressive. Featuring a quartet of regular World and European Age-Group medallists, they beat all but one of the other female teams across all ages.
A mention too for Wakefield Triathlon Club. Surpassing even their own always impressive entry (36 teams…), they took Gold and Bronze in the afternoon’s Mixed Club category.
Zoot Triathlon Relays, Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham – Saturday 25th August 2018
4x 500m / 15km / 5km
MORNING SESSION – TRIATHLON ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS
Race Team Male: Race Hub Triathlon Club – 2:58:58
Race Team Female: Colchester Harriers – 4:09:26
1st – Army Triathlon Association – 3:02:10
2nd – Lincoln Tri Club – 3:13:36
3rd – RAF Triathlon – 3:20:08
1st – Army Triathlon Association – 3:27:59
2nd – Lincoln Tri Club – 3:47:09
3rd – RAF Triathlon – 3:53:01
Club Junior Male: Black Country Triathletes – 3:30:06
Club Male 40+: Army Triathlon Association – 3:21:27
Club Female 40+: Race Hub Triathlon Club – 3:46:52
Club Male 50+: Tri Team Glos – 3:34:02
Club Female 50+: Challenge Tri Camp – 3:46:30
Open Team (non Triathlon England Championship), morning session: Challenge Tri Camp – 3:11:58
AFTERNOON SESSION – TRIATHLON ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS
Race Team Mixed: Race Hub Triathlon Club – 3:13:47
1st – Wakefield Tri Club – 3:23:01
2nd – Manchester Tri Club – 3:28:34
3rd – Wakefield Tri Club – 3:30:30
Junior Mixed: Wrekin College Triathlon Club – 3:25:28
40+ Mixed: Alnwick & District Triathlon Club – 3:46:55
Open Team (non Triathlon England Championship), afternoon session: Tri-Anglia – 3:20:06