July 3, 2012

Canary Wharf Super Sprint

After being in France, Italy, and Spain it was time to go to London to race the Canary Wharf Triathlon. Canary Wharf is a high paced, draft legal, super sprint, trials and finals event. The race consists of a 400m swim (1 loop), 10k bike (9 laps), and a 2k run (two laps). The race starts off with 50 men divided into two individual heats of 25 and the top 8 men from each heat, plus the 4 fastest losers, are combined for a finals heat. Trials start at about 6:30pm and finals are at about 9:00pm on a Thursday evening right smack dab in the middle of town! It was an amazing experience and definitely a great race to make sure you have your transitions down!

I was in Heat 2 for trials so I got to watch the women race, and heat 1 of the men (which was an advantage, but the negative part was that we got less rest leading into finals). There was a slight curveball at the beginning of the men’s heats though and because of a major delay they had to alter our course to 400m swim, 5k bike, 1k run. It was the first time I have ever been at a race when the swim has stayed the same and everything else was changed - as a swimmer I was happy with these new ratios!

I lead the swim out and ended up riding solo for the first 3 laps of the bike waiting for the chase pack. The two guys I waited for didn’t want to ride so we all just waited for the main chase pack. Once in the main pack no one wanted to go to the front so I was getting excellent positioning into all the corners and into transition. I had a TERRIBLE T2 and was scared about not making finals for the first 700m of the run. Luckily I was able to make my way up into 4th position and hold it there to qualify for the finals.

Finals was a whole new ballgame. Everyone was bringing out their A game and it was back to the original full distance. Now that the finals heat was a combination there were two other strong swimmers I knew could get away, and one of them was my team mate and countrymen Ben Kanute.
Ben and I got extremely lucky by getting spots right next to each other on the far side of the pontoon. When the horn blew we were off and had a solid 10 second gap by the time we got out of the water. Another bonus for us was that Aaron Royal from Australia was able to get out of the water on our feet and make it a three man breakaway on the bike.

We all had solid transitions and from then until T2 it was just head down on the bike. We worked fairly well together, but after about four laps on the bike Royal started skipping pulls and/or taking very short/weak pulls. Ben and I were stuck in a tough position because we needed the gap to the main field, but as Ben and I kept riding hard (especially Ben, that dude is a BEAST on the bike), Royal was getting a chance to save his legs. I tried forcing him to ride through a few times, but that was just leaving Ben out in the wind longer and ruining our rhythm. I figured it was better to have a bigger gap to the field then to play around with Royal, so strategically Royal ended up getting the best of us, but that’s what comes with experience – well played sir!

The three of us came into T2 together with a 20 second gap over the rest of the field, but Royal and Ben were off like a shot. I think after Banyoles I was a little nervous about going out too hard, so I ended up holding back too much, especially for a 2k!

I held my position in 3rd until about 1.5k when Jarrod Shoemaker passed me. The guys from the chase pack were running extremely fast, and mentally I couldn’t get myself to go with any of them. I ended up running with Tim Don, Aaron Harris, and Adam Bowden for a bit and that helped me bridge up to Ben.  With 100m to go the others were well into their sprints and all I was able to do was hang on for 6th. Aaron Royal was able to hold off Jarrod Shoemaker in a very close sprint finish for the win which made me happy that someone from the breakaway won!

Overall it was an amazing experience, great racing, great people (I got to see my cousin who I haven't seen in forever), and I got a little bit of prize money which is always a plus!

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