You can’t beat the British summer, and as I go through my final warm-up drills the rain taps out a steady beat on the roof of the marquee. With the 20 or so long-course racers having already headed off into the morning gloom half an hour ago, the 60-strong short-course field unwillingly leave the shelter and head for the start line.
With the World Championships in Zofingen just a few weeks away, many of the racers (myself included) are using the UK race as a final race shakedown. Top elites Matt Moorhouse, Esben Kaczmarek and David Vaughan are regulars on the Powerman circuit and are chasing valuable ranking points.
With the rain easing, the gun goes off and we start the first run with two laps of playing fields before heading into the historic town of Sherborne. I find myself near the front, but with a ‘training race’ plan of tempo runs I try to disengage my competitive side and settle into a comfortable rhythm.
Trotting through sleepy Sherborne
I let the front pack go and as soon as I drop steeply downhill towards town, am running on my own. Sherborne is still waking up as I trot through the narrow streets, and although I’m not a fan of flat road runs it’s a lovely course with plenty of interest.
In what seems like no time at all I’m heading back up the steep climb for another two laps of the field to finish the first run. My Garmin clocks up 10km on the first lap; by the time I come into transition in 42:41mins it is reading 11.5km – no matter to me, all good training miles in the bank.
Transition is smooth, with only a minor battle with my helmet’s visor. With blue skies now above me, I head out for the 60km bike. As I tackle the first climb, I rein in my early enthusiasm, but am soon picking off riders ahead. The road surface is draggy, but the undulations suit my riding style and I’m able to settle into a solid rhythm.
I religiously ride to the numbers on my powermeter, and as I pedal though the stunningly picturesque villages and past the very, ahem, ‘happy’ Carne Abbas Giant, feel strong and am fueling well. I clock 1:44:19, know I’ve ridden reasonably conservatively and again plan to run tempo.
A racer who I’d passed late on the bike pulls away from me as we leave transition, but drawing on every ounce of discipline I possess I let him go and focus on running to my plan. As I retrace the first run, Sherborne is out in force now to support the event and the sun is shining.
Turning the screw
He’s not pulling away from me, and as we climb back to the playing fields I catch him. I resist the urge to push on and stick to my metronomic pace. He catches me again halfway through the first lap but seems to be breathing hard. As I sit on his shoulder, seems to be slowing down.
I finally give in to my competitive side, put in a surge, and as he mutters something unrepeatable I open a gap and push on for the final lap and the finish.
A 45:07min second run gives me an overall time of 3:13:47 and sixth place. I’m satisfied with a solid morning’s work and don’t feel I’ve taken too much out of my legs for the following week’s training. The race has been brilliant, even with the bonus run kilometres, and I’ll be back next year to give it a 100% effort. In the meantime though, bring on Zofingen.
In the men’s short-course event, Matt Moorhouse, Esben Kaczmarek and David Vaughan contested a close first run before Moorhouse destroyed the field with a 1:35:40 bike split, backing this up with a strong second run for a 6min winning margin in 2:56:30.
Amy Chalk led the women’s race by over a minute on the first run but faded on the bike to allow Siobhan Horgan to take a 10min winning margin in 3:21:57.
The small hardcore field that took on the long-course race was brought home by Michael Page in 5:33:47. Catherine Faux dominated the women’s race, finishing in an impressive 5:47:41 and taking third spot overall.
Sherborne, Dorset, 11 August ’13
Short course (10km | 60km | 10km)
Top 3 men
Matt Moorhouse 2:56:30
Esben Kaczmarek 3:02:37
David Vaughan 3:02:52
Top 3 women
Siobhan Horgan 3:21:57
Amy Chalk 3:31:46
Charlotte Harris 3:50:22
Long course (10km | 120km | 20km)
Top 3 men
Michael Page 5:33:47
Andrew Brierley 5:45:44
Oliver Perez 5:49:13
Top 3 women
Catherine Faux 5:47:41
Tracy Cook 6:22:30
Lucie Custance 6:43:38