Stranraer triathlete and member of the Galloway Harriers Ian Hannah recently competed in the Deva Standard Distance Triathlon in Chester.
With places up for grabs at the World Triathlon Championships to be held in New Zealand later in the year, the race attracted an extremely strong field of multisport athletes.
Ian had targeted this as his key race this year, with a view to gauging his abilities against other athletes in his 45-49 age group.
His long-term ambition is to qualify for the World Championships next year to be held over the Olympic course in London. This year’s race would give him an idea of how much work would be required over this winter to make the grade.
The top four age group finishers in each qualifying race guarantees a place. If they don’t wish to go, the athletes who finish +15% of the winner’s time in the age group qualify.
With this in his mind, Hannah arrived the day before at the venue and had the chance to recce the bike and run elements of the course so he knew what was coming the following day.
The 1500m swim took place in the River Dee with Ian’s wave of athletes setting off at a bright and breezy 8.50am. Having used the advantage of being in one of the later heats, Hannah had had the opportunity to watch the earlier swimmers and note the currents of the river, enabling him to position himself well to avoid the resistance of the current in the first part of the race.
Once they had reached the turning buoy, the current gave them a push along and Hannah exited the swim with a speedy 19:10 swim stage time (153/587 overall and 24/82 in M45-49). A good start.
Transition 1 (T1 as it is known in triathlon), between the swim and bike, is often a period of the race where crucial time can be won and lost, with athletes needing to remove their wetsuits, swim hats and goggles and don their cycle accessories. Hannah was reminded of his lack of recent racing practice as he fumbled a little with zips and buckles, producing a slower T1 time than he would have liked, but he was soon off on his favourite leg of the sport – the bike.
With a 40k cycle stage to complete, Hannah made the most of his natural abilities in this section and passed many of his fellow competitors and even those who had set off in earlier swim heats. With a 22.7mph average, he completed the ride in an impressive 1:07:42 (52/587 overall and 6/82 in M45-49). Heading back into T2 to change shoes for the running leg, Hannah was a bit slicker in his change, enabling him to get off on to the two-lap run course without losing places.
On to the out and back section of the run, Hannah was able to check other race numbers to see who was in front of him in his age group. Having only seen one athlete and with another one passing him, he knew he was at least third. Unfortunately, there were four others who had a faster swim and bike leg, meaning Hannah was in seventh. He ran hard, up and down the hills and steps around the course and was not passed by anyone else the whole run. Hannah completed the run stage in a strong 41:45 (106/587 overall and 11/82 in M45-49), a couple of minutes slower than hoped for as a result of his fantastic bike split but nonetheless an excellent performance.
With the event having been won by Paul Ryman in 1.59.33, Hannah completed the race in a very impressive 2:07:09 for 71st out of the 587 finishers. Having held on to seventh in his age group, he gained a qualifying place for the World Championships in Auckland, due to the roll down of faster competitors not wishing to compete.
However, with Auckland not being just next door to Wigtownshire, Hannah has decided to decline the place, get his head down into training and aim to qualify for next year’s event in London.
With such a strong performance as this off the back of a winter of injury last year, you really can believe that an athlete of Hannah’s ability and resolve will be able to do just that.