Tri returned to the British Isles on Sunday 7 June with the Grandes Rocques Guernsey Triathlon super sprint. Unfolding over a 400m sea swim, 10km bike and 3km run, it will forever be known as the first live British triathlon event to be staged since lockdown started at the end of March.
As Club President of the Guernsey Triathlon Club, I felt pretty proud of both the club and the island to be able to put this event on. Guernsey has been Covid-19-free for 40 days, so we were able to relax some restrictions and crack on with the show!
Unsurprisingly, even with the restrictions relaxed, it meant the race was a bit different to your normal triathlon. To adhere to the new guidelines we split competitors into two waves, with a maximum of 30 athletes going off in each; released in groups of five at one-minute intervals; doubled our draft zone on the bike; and asked athletes to maintain social distancing on the run – unless overtaking.
We had around 60 athletes take part in total, and I arrived early to do the race briefing. It was just so great to see everyone and also see how most of our top athletes have maintained their fitness throughout lockdown! The first race was for our island’s most competitive athletes, so those wanting to represent Guernsey at the Island Games. I went in the second race, and as it was my first actual race for about eight months it was a bit of a shock to the system!
The weather had been amazing throughout lockdown, and the sea had been looking inviting… until race day, obviously! By the time race two set off the swell had really picked up. I’d been put into the first swim wave, so we lined up in groups of five with one metre in between us. It took a while to get through the swell, and sighting was virtually impossible, but fortunately one of the water safety crew put on a bright jacket, so we all headed towards him. I was pretty pleased with my swim, but unfortunately my wave included a Channel swimmer and one of Guernsey’s top pool swimmers. It was their first triathlon experience – they left me for dust!
The bike course was a technical out-and-back along Guernsey’s coastline. I’ve been mountain biking a lot through lockdown, so the TT bike hadn’t been out much. My transition skills were also a bit rusty as we’ve missed our duathlon season. With the wave starts it was hard to know who you were racing, but I managed to pick off a couple of people from my wave!