A team of four GTC athletes took part in the 2016 Scottish Team Relay Championships last month. Wendy Gorman, David Venables, Fiona “Outdoors” Russell and Torquil Clyde may well have had a combined age (190!) that was greater than any other team at the Knockburn event in Aberdeenshire but they still had a good racing day.
Knockburn is a fantastic venue. The triathlon complex is purpose-built with a man-made loch, a mini cycle track and great running trails. The champs sees teams of four each completing a 300m open water swim, a 5km bike ride and 1500m run.
The format is female, male, female, male and you tag the next person who starts as you finish.
Although the distances are short the racing is unbelievably hard. If you race competitively, you feel as though you are pushing yourself to your limits throughout the swim, bike and run.
The loch water was thankfully warm (about 15/16C). The course was marked by large orange buoys.
The bike course is an out and back 5km. It is mostly down a hill and then back up the hill. It is windy and bumpy and very hard indeed.
The run is on a mix of trails and tarmac and if you have swum and cycled hard this section feels impossibly difficult on tired and wobbly legs.
GTC race Scottish team relay champs
Wendy went first with a very strong swim, then a good bike and run. She said: “The bike course was so hard. Coming back up the hill, I could feel the pain in my legs. I knew the run would be hard on tired legs – and it was. It was harder than I thought it would be.”
Then David, who despite an alleged lack of training, did a superb bike ride and the fastest in our team. He said: “I was breathing so hard and loudly all the way through the relay. That run was painful. It might be short but it’s a very tough event.”
I was third in line. I had a terrible swim. I was the only person in the loch by the time it was my turn and I had trouble seeing the buoys so I swam all over the place. I do not see brilliantly in open water swimming. On the last part I had to stand up to work out where I was!
The bike section was brutal because of the uphill. I was gasping for breath all the way back up and I could feel the burning in my thigh muscles from pushing so hard.
Heading out on run was painful. Again I was breathing really loudly and hard and my legs felt like jelly. I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to see the finish line.
Torquil made great time on the swim, bike and run. He is always a strong competitor and on the day he raced to the point of collapse. I have never seen his face etched with such pain as he completed the run. He said: “I could see another competitor just in front of my and I decided I had to overtake him. It really hurt to do that!”
Our final placing was sixth, which was good considering most of the other teams had at least a couple of younger, stronger athletes. And although we all raced to our limits we each decided soon afterwards that it had been a great “fun” event.
We enjoyed a day of watching other athletes, taking part, chatting, catching up and being baked by a warm May sun. The relay champs are a great event for groups of club members. Why not give it a go next year…