Wow, what a brilliant day’s racing at the Bay. After the hurricane hit the race last year, the weather did us proud; 22 degrees, blue skies and light SE wind made this feel like racing abroad, as did the huge crowds who came out in droves to line the bike and run route, giving the Bay a truly European feel.
The men and women’s race winners could not have provided a greater contrast; the men’s race won by Phil Aiston (Tyne Tri) who at 29 is a veteran of racing over 10 years, regularly finishing in top 3 but never the winner, whilst Gemma Frost (Ryton Tri) completed her first Triathlon only weeks ago!
The Sea was clear, with barely a ripple until the gun start and the swimmers churned the water up as they swam out to the iconic Couple statue, known locally as Ebb and Flo, situated 200m offshore on the breakwater. Phil Aiston led the swim at the turn and was first out once again followed closely by Paul Jones (F4L Coaching), Roger Godley (Bike Tracks) and Sean Wiley (Onelife). Out on the bike all 3 chasers moved ahead of Aiston as they exited the closed road section out of town and that’s how it stayed until start of lap 3 of 3 when Garry Walker (NE31) passed Aiston to move into 4th place. On the final lap Walker moved to the front and exited T2 with a solid lead. On the run and Aiston moved back into 2nd place with a fast running David Turnbull (NE31) close on the heels of those ahead. On the 2nd lap Aiston closed down the final metres and hung with Walker around the far turn point to recover from that huge push, and then kicked hard on the final Km giving Aiston his well-deserved win after all these years of ‘nearly’ – a very popular victory in 1:07:54 including the fastest run split on the day. Walker held on for 2nd 8 seconds behind, with Turnbull rounding the top three positions, 1:07 behind the winner. Aiston is now the proud recipient of the Couple Trophy, a miniature replica of the statue, kindly donated by local resident Dave Futers.
The female racing was just as exciting. Becki Newman (Tyne Tri), Hannah Bedford (Army Tri) and Gemma Frost (Ryton Tri) exited the swim in close order and it was cat-and-mouse all the way on the bike leg with Kerry Gowland (NE31) making up over 2 minutes to join the leaders, finally moving ahead of Frost in the final lap.
Out onto the run and Bedford, running really strong, had a good lead and looked set for the win. However Frost was clearly flying with great form, quickly moving ahead of Gowland but had a significant gap to make up on Bedford and it wasn’t until the final Km that Frost made the catch and just eased ahead, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Bedford. The race for third was fierce, with Joyce Marks passing Gowland and closing in on Newman who was now in third place. Marks pressed hard on the final stretch along the promenade but finished 22 seconds behind Newman who held on for third.
Feedback at the finish was fantastic and the competitors hung around enjoying the sun and catching up with friends. The final open water Triathlon for the region certainly provided a fabulous racing spectacle and a great memory until next season. See you in 2013 at the Morpeth Duathlon in April!
Event photos, courtesy of Double-i-Photography, are now available online at http://www.facebook.com/double.i.photo#!/media/set/?set=a.276637839102998.47898.122707647829352&type=1