GTC races the Beasties

Stephen with his medal.
Stephen with his medal.

More than a dozen GTC members took part in the Beastie Sprint and Wee Beastie triathlons at Balloch Country Park on Saturday. The athletes welcomed good weather for the Loch Lomond swim, mountain bike course and off-road run.

Two club athletes made it on to the podium: Stephen Macintyre was first Male Supervet in the Beastie Triathlon, with Craig Napier in second place. Stephen also came sixth overall, while Nial Smith came 10th.

Karen Whyte was first female vet in the Wee Beastie race.

Other club members who enjoyed the event included: Hilary Glen and Lindsay Matthews in the Wee Beastie.

Paul Gallagher, Alan Mackie, Karine Salin, Phil Arnold, Caroline Millins, Kasia Ignaciuk, Frank Westerduin and Matthew Skilling took part in the sprint distance race.

Karine exiting the swim.
Karine exiting the swim.

The Sprint comprises a 750m out-and-back swim in Loch Lomond, followed by three laps of an off-road bike course on a mountain bike and then a 5k trail run.

Swim start.
Swim start.
Paul on the bike course.
Paul on the bike course.

Stephen’s Beastie Tri report

Stephen was delighted with his age category first place and a sixth overall in 1:17:34.

He says: “ This is one of my favourite triathlon events as it’s always been a bit quirky and really laid back, which is great for first timers and experienced triathletes alike.

“With an off-road bike course it doesn’t appeal so much to the TT speed merchants with all their aero nonsense so I fancied my chances at defending my 1st SuperVet title from 2015. It was actually my fourth time doing this race.”

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Stephen has seen the race grow over the past few years and with a field of more than 160 competitors the Beastie was split into two waves.

He says: “I was in the first wave and after waiting until all the Wee Beastie competitors had exited the water it was our turn to get wet feet.

“It was a balmy 15C in the water and was just perfect for racing although a slight chop meant breathing to the left caused me to take in a bit of water. The bonus was extra zip on the return leg of the 750m course, although my Garmin recorded 840m.”

As Stephen headed on to the bike course he saw Craig just ahead and passed him before the first bend. Stephen says: “I fully expected Craig to jump on to my wheel but when I dared to look back he was out of sight.

“I saw the next guy ahead of me and one by one I managed to pick them off before the more technical section at the top of the course and where I knew overtaking would be difficult.

“Next there was a slippery grass section that required a bit of skill to keep the speed up and to stay upright. After a sharp right hand corner, there was an almighty slope to ascend before the reward of a long descent on a hard surface back into the transition area.

“You have dismount and run with the bike for about 100m before you cross the mount line. It’s a bit of a faff and really interrupts your speed and rhythm and calls for some emergency braking and bike control.”

By lap three, Stephen had moved into third place. He was worried that his run would not be fast enough to hold on to his position but he gave it his all.

He says: “I tried not to think about a podium place especially at my advanced age but it is great to dream. Except, my dream didn’t last long as I was caught by the start of the long drag from the country park gates that leads up towards the castle and the turn point beyond.

“Now in fourth place it was be a case of trying to hang on in there. I started on the return downhill extending my stride and trying to keep the momentum going as I knew hitting the flat long section towards the finish would be like hitting the wall.

“Nial and Craig shouted words of encouragement as they passed going in the opposite direction up the hill.

“However, my stride wasn’t long enough and I was overtaken again as we approached the bottom of the hill. With nothing more to lose I was now in fifth place and given extra encouragement by the super group of marshals with their cow bells as I turned into the long straight along towards the finish line.

“No matter what, I decided, this would be my best placing ever in an event and I savoured the run in to the finish.”

Stephen had to wait to see if anyone would better his time in the second wave and consequently he ended up sixth overall.

He says: “I was well chuffed with my first place in the supervets and sixth overall and this race is the highlight of my season so far.

“If you are new to triathlons or looking for some racing then this is a race not to miss. Mark it down for 2017.”

You can check out Stephen’s race review at Beastie Sprint

GTC racers.
GTC racers.

Two first-time racers – and a returner

Karine finishes.
Karine finishes.

It was a first ever triathlon for both Karine and Kasia. Karine says: “After three years at the GTC, I finally did my first triathlon thanks to the suggestion from Caroline Millins.

“I want to thank all the coaches for the training and other athletes for their support.

“I enjoyed the event even while swimming with my head out of the water to avoid panicking and a run with no legs at all!”

Caroline crosses the line.
Caroline crosses the line.

Caroline raced in her first triathlon for four years after struggling with a back injury. She says: “It’s a super race! I really enjoyed it and for the first time in a long while I managed to run 5k so I’m delighted.”

See Beastie Triathlon to register for next year.