Competitors battled tough winds on Sunday with Julia Grant and Jonathan Hotchkiss taking the victory of Stage 1 at the 2011 TriGrandPrix Championship.
The TriGrandPrix championship is now in its second year and consists of six races of various distances held around Europe. If you do several of them you can accumulate points based on your age-group finishing position, which could lead to some very nice championship series prizes.
The prizes in each race are not too bad. At the UK event, held at Emberton Park near Milton Keynes, the age-group winners win $460 Zone3 wetsuits and there is a $6,000+ prize fund for the overall top three men and women in each race. But before thinking about the prizes the competitors had to come to terms with completing a half-ironman distance race in winds of 48kmh. Trees were bending, tents took off and disc-wheels were being swapped for training wheels. It was going to be a tough one.
It kicked off with a 1.9km lake swim where British pros Tom Sturdy and Jonathan Hotchkiss surged into a clear lead, while Boulder-based New Zealander Julia Grant was the first woman to hit transition, followed by Brits Lucy Gossage and Eimar Mullen one and two minutes later respectively.
Out on the bike the athletes fought hard to keep control of their bikes from the sharp side winds, as they tackled the rolling 90km course. Men’s leader Hotchkiss held his nerve, building a four-minute lead over second placed Sturdy, while women’s leader Julia Grant extended her gap over Gossage and Mullen.
Hotchkiss kept his lead throughout the run, despite an amazing effort from the Spanish professional Raul Amatriain, who was over nine minutes down coming off the bike. He somehow managed to hold a pace of 5 minutes 20 seconds per mile for the entire half marathon, despite strong headwinds and an undulating course. He ran down his compatriot Javier Herrera, and then caught and passed Tom Sturdy, closing down a six-minute gap in the process to finish in second, with Sturdy in third. Triathlon Plus’ Coaching Editor Phil Mosley finished behind Herrera to take fifth in 4 hours 10 minutes.
Kiwi Julia Grant just about held onto her lead throughout the run, despite losing four-minutes to Lucy Gossage who caught up to within 25-seconds but had to settle for second. Eimar Mullen was also making up ground on Julia Grant but not fast enough, finishing third in 4 hours 27 minutes.
1. Jonathan Hotchkiss 03:56:05
2. Raul Amatriain 04:01:27
3. Tom Sturdy 04:01:59
4. Xavier Boneta Herrera 04:06:19
5. Phil Mosley 04:10:08
1. Julia Grant 04:23:23
2. Lucy Gossage 04:23:47
3. Eimear Mullan 04:27:26
4. Annabel Hagon 04:48:48
5. Elisabeth Brama 04:53:13
Now TriGrandPrix moves to the second stage: BH Zarauzko Triatloia. Julia Grant, Tom Sturdy, Xavi Boneta and Raul Amaitrian will face tough competition in the Basque Country.
They will race against Triathletes like Bjorn Andersson, Clemente Alonso, Mikel Elguezabal, Miquel Blanchart, Hektor Llanos, francÃ©s Herve Faure and Peru Alfaro. We will also see the winners of the last three Ironmans Mathias Hecht, winer of Ironman St George 2011, Timo Bracht, winner of IM Lanzarote 2011 y finally, Eneko llanos 5 time winner of Zarautz and also winner of Ironman Texas 2011.
In the female side Anna Cleaver is already training in Zarautz. Anna will race against Ana Burgos, Ana Casares, Eva Ledesma and the TriGrandPrix UK 2011 Julia Grant with an amazing shape. Not only that, but also we will have Caitriona Morrison defending here 2010 championship and celebrating her recent victory in IM Texas 2011.