Glasgow Triathlon Club

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Neal wins St Mary’s Triathlon

Bill, Neal and Maggie
Bill, Neal and Maggie

Club member Neal Robertson triumphed at the recent St Mary’s Standard Triathlon in the Scottish Borders.

Neal clocked a superb 2:08:20 to win the race on Sunday. He was 24 seconds ahead of the runner up.

Three other GTC members were also racing. Bill Rees and Maggie Darroch were second in their age categories finishing in 2:50:58 in the Male Vintage and 2:52:06 in the Female Super Vets respectively.

Chloe McAdam came home in 2:44:30 in the FS class and in her first triathlon

Neal’s winning race

It was Neal’s second time at the St Mary’s Triathlon, which is organised by Durty Events at St Mary’s Loch. Neal saw the event as a “training race” because his main aim for this year is the Standard Distance National Champs.

He says: “On the morning of the race I almost didn’t bother going because I was at the end of a three-week block of hard training. I train in four-week cycles with three hard and one easy weeks.

“I felt knackered and it’s also a long drive from Glasgow to get to St Mary’s Loch, between Selkirk and Moffat. But I’d got everything ready the night before so I just got on with it.”

When Neal arrived he decided he’d do the race “for fun” and see how he got on.

He says: “The swim seemed to go okay and I felt comfortable enough. I know I’m always going to lose time in this part of the race so I simply try to limit how far I get behind the front swimmers.

“As soon as the bike started I knew I had good legs. I had the club wheels on my bike and I felt like I was flying. I was instantly passing people.

“I had come out the water the same time as a guy I regularly race against and who always puts a couple of minutes into me on the bike, but when I realised I could see him just ahead I knew I was on to something good.”

Neal faced the frustration of being stuck behind a campervan on a twisty uphill road but thankfully it pulled over to let the racers by. He passed more riders and found he was gaining on others. Then came the run.

Neal says: “As I started the run I had no idea where I was placed but it’s an out and back run so I was looking for people in my category coming back to judge how many where ahead.

“As I approached the turn I still hadn’t seen anyone and then I did see someone I recognised. This gave me the motivation to push on and I sensed I could win the event if I caught him.

“With only a few kilometres to go I almost lost hope because I didn’t seem to be gaining but the run is off-road and very slippery, twisty and lumpy and suddenly I saw him just up front on a straight piece of road.

“I didn’t feel like I was speeding up but he seemed to be slowing. Once I was on his heels, I put in a kick and passed him and tried to make sure he couldn’t follow.

“I had a glance back and it worked because he dropped back and I had the lead with only 1km or so left. I pushed on as if I was being chased and crossed the line to win my first standard distance. I was delighted.”

The swim in St Mary's Loch. Pic credit: Mark Kay
The swim in St Mary’s Loch. Pic credit: Mark Kay

Bill suffers with the cold

Bill Rees is also aiming for the Scottish Standard Distance Champs on August 28. He found the cold and wet conditions tricky on the day of the St Mary’s Triathlon but he managed to enjoy some of the race.

Bill says: “It was one of those Scottish days with grey skies and a cold loch. They said it was 14C but no one seemed to believe them.

“The cold might be to blame for my remarkably incompetent transition. Then my bike ride was interrupted by losing my chain twice, which is really stupid because I knew it wasn’t quite right and just because Nick Green was away on holiday was no reason not to sort it out.

“However, the bit I really enjoyed, and it is difficult to say why, was going downhill in a hail storm.

“It was also a compensation to pass GB international, Maggie, on the run and be left standing by Neal as he chased down the leader. I thought the guy ahead of Neal was too far away but he had no chance.

“At the time it did seem like a difficult day for racing but then I read about Christine’s race in Nottinghamshire, which put things into perspective.

“Now I have a couple of good lessons to put right before the Scottish Championship where a PB is long overdue for me.”

Two riders on a wet bike course. Pic credit: Mark Kay
Two riders on a wet bike course. Pic credit: Mark Kay

Maggie’s 2nd in 2nd standard tri

Maggie was taking part in her second standard distance triathlon at St Mary’s Loch. She decided she wanted to finish feeling better than first time round, which she reports she did.

She says: “The swim was cold but it went well and I was pleased with my time of 26 something. Pinkston morning sessions have helped with that.

“The cycle was hilly and undulating and very wet. At some points the rain was like stair-rods and I was cycling with my eyes closed. However, bizarrely, the cycle was my favourite bit. The downhills were great and there were some flat sections you could blast along.

“The run was mostly trail, which was very muddy and slippery and I regretted not using trail shoes.

“I chased Bill for most of the cycle section. I was passed on the run course by another member Chloe, who was racing her first triathlon and finished ahead of both Bill and myself. She’s one to watch!

“I was also passed towards the end of my run by Neil, who had started in the second wave (we were all in the first).

“I knew by the runners passing that he was near the lead but I had no idea if he would finish first or second. His finish time was incredible, especially given the conditions.

“The surprise bonus was when Bill and I realised we were both second in our age groups. It was a great race.”