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The Highs (and lows) of the World AG Triathlon Champs

The Highs (and lows) of the World AG Triathlon Champs

Fiona Russell - aka Fiona Outdoors - is a Planet X sponsored athlete and recently raced in the World AG Triathlon Championships in London. This is the detailed account of the highs (and lows) of her biggest race yet...


Most of you will know that I qualified for the World AG Triathlon Champs. On Friday I took part in this incredible event in Hyde Park, London. I lined up with hundreds of other age group sprint triathletes on the same weekend the the elite triathletes also raced. (You might have seen the Brownlees on the telly on Sunday?!) Here are some of the things I loved about the World Champs (and also some of the things that made it tough).

The support from my family and friends was hugely uplifting. - My mum, dad, auntie Pamela, auntie Rachel, the G-force, Little Miss Outdoors and friends, Super Ace Teri and Nicky, as well as fellow club triathletes Ele, Ian and Martina came to the race and waved banners and cheered me on. It was amazing to hear my name being screamed out as I raced. (I know there were other friends cheering me on but I am not sure exactly who!). And thanks also to Uncle Joe and Nova for looking after me in Luton!

The cheering crowd made me smile. - I wouldn’t normally find myself smiling during a fast-paced sprint triathlon. That’s because it is a sprint distance and it hurts. But whenever I heard “Go GB” or “Go GB Russell” shouted out by a stranger in the crowd I smiled inside, and occasionally on my face, too! (Grimacing is my usual face-set in a triathlon race.)

The other competitors were friendly. - Before the race I was very nervous but all those that I spoke to (mostly in my age group team) were lovely. They were happy to help with last-minute tips, lend me a track pump, guide me to the swim start and act with generosity of spirit.

Being part of Team GB made the taking part feel very special - The managers were there to help and because I have never raced at anything other than local level before, having access to experienced advice etc was invaluable. 

I enjoyed riding my Planet X Stealth TT Red Mean Machine on the bike course - I also loved seeing the banners of family and friends. And I took comfort in my riding ability as I whizzed by other competitors. See below for what I didn’t like!

Sprinting for the finish line - I overtook a woman in my age category in the last metres of the run and that felt good. 

Finishing the biggest event of my life created a huge mix of feelings - I was relieved, exhausted, delighted, thrilled, proud and a little disappointed to find my placing was 44th. Then again, that is 44th in the world and there can’t be many old birds (I’m 45 and a mum) who can say they took on their first world champs and finished in the top 50. (I have raced only a handful of triathlons in my life, too.)

I was also pleased with my bike time It turns out I was 20th out of almost 100. Planet X, I love your TT bike!

Being beaten by top-notch athletes - I found out after the race that I was beaten by a former Olympics gold medallist (she was first, unsurprisingly) and many former world and European triathlon gold, silver and bronze winners.

Hearing from my family who tell me they are so proud of me - It brought me close to tears.

What made the race tough

Travel - Getting from Glasgow to London with a bike on a plane, train, in a cab etc was extremely stressful.

Logistics - Arriving on time for briefings, team photo, registration and transition entry added to my stress levels.

Setting up transition is nerve wracking - I dithered and faffed as I tried to decide where to put my helmet, glasses etc.

Lack of sleep - A full night of not sleeping before the race made me jittery and further nervous.

Being battered about in the open water swim was unpleasant - I doubt anyone did it on purpose but while swimming in the Serpentine I was slapped, kicked and pulled at. I felt like I was being pushed around like I was in a washing machine.

The long transitions - I know there are necessary because there are so many bikes to rack for so many athletes but this made the run from the swim to the bike and the bike to the run very long indeed.

T1 fail - The chord on my sunglasses became tangled up around my pony tail and I wasted time sorting it out. 

The bike section was very wet and technical - The 12 mile/20km bike section was set over three laps. Each lap included two 180-degree dead turns and numerous bends and chicanes. The road was very wet and after dozens of crashes (some ending with broken bones) the marshals were required to keep the pace at every corner as slow and safe as possible. I understand why this had to be but it mean the sprint bike course was more slow-fast-slow-slow-fast-and slow again.

Penalty anguish - I was very worried about incurring a penalty for drafting so I rode with more caution than normal.

The run was hard - My legs felt zapped and I couldn’t get my head to push my legs to go faster. I thought I’d finished after one lap but then realised there were two.

I wasn’t pleased with my run time - I was half way down the field – and this would normally be the section when I catch other competitors but my legs just wouldn’t take me any faster.

And the aftermath?

Never again?! - I said before I raced, when the nerves were so high I felt sick, that I would never put myself through a world champs again. Only a few days later and I’m already looking ahead to when the qualifiers might be for 2014.

Triathlon is addictive - It sucks you in, gives you a fantastic variety of training, challenges you to push your body to all its limits in three different sports, propels you to race and then draws you back again to try just a bit harder to beat your times and reduce your faffing in transition.

Many thanks to everyone - Including my amazing coach the Mighty Vickster, and my long-suffering partner the G-Force and daughter Little Miss for their brilliant support over the last year. I might need your support again next year!

Buy the Planet X Stealth Pro Carbon range of TT bike and frames here

20 September 2013

Planet X Triathlon Essentials

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