MBH Sailors Shawn Gimbert, Gus Gusterson, Matt Stokeld & Scott Markham today raced at the Interservice Triathlon Championships representing the Royal Navy. The Olympic Distance race is held each year with the Royal Navy, Army & RAF fielding teams to race against each other with the winning team being crowned Interservice Champions.
This year the Army hosted the event and opted for a change of venue relocating the race to WimbelBall Lake in Exmoor, home of the UK Ironman 70.3 race. The Army wanted to create a tough, challenging race and one that would break up the field on the bike leg to prevent drafting, a feature of previous races.
Well they were not disappointed! Along with the tough course, the great British summer weather added to the torment placed on the competitors. Rain forecast for 0830 tied in nicely with the race start and by the end of the swim, the weather delivered rain, mist and wind.
After a choppy 1500m swim in the lake, a long uphill run to transition on freshley mown and now very wet grass ensured feet were wearing ‘grass cutting slippers’ by the time transition was reached. Once on the bike course the unrelenting rain and wind hindered the tough climbs and treacherous decents. Strategically placed marshals yelled at us to slow down as hairpin turns and junctions approached. The 45Km course took its toll on the bikes with many suffering punctures due to the poor road surfaces and wet weather. Poor old Scottm was a DNF at the end of the bike leg due to being scared (his words!) on the downhills!! He can be forgiven though as he was suffering from a severe case of roadrash on a now fleshless backside due to a bad crash on Sundays training ride. Yes, that’s another crash for Scotty!!! We’re going to have to get that boy some stabilisers!
Once back into transition for T2, soggy wet running shoes were donned for the 10Km run leg (my cunningly placed towel long since blown away!). A two lap affair partly around the lake took in some muddy paths and tracks and not to be outdone by the bike leg a steep hill at the end of each lap! Some competitors, including yours truly, opted to walk part of the big hill. The speed I was shuffling up easily matched by a strong walk! At the end of the 2nd lap the finish loomed large and a sprint to the line was all that was left, if it could be mustered!
After putting our filthy, wet bikes and equipment back in the hire cars (sorry Thrifty!) the presentations were held – under canvass in typical Army fashion! This was the serious part, had the Navy Mens Team done enough to beat the other two services. Although, the race was won by Navy triathlete, Royal Marine Gaz Gerrard, the Army team came out on top just beating the Navy with the RAF coming third. It was so close but not close enough.
Some disapointment then, but a good sense of achievement for all, having completed what Gus described as the hardest Olympic Distance Triathlon he has ever done!
A race report by shawnyg