It would prove a busy weekend for Alistair Brownlee as he would take part in two races – in two different countries. Yesterday he raced WTS Hamburg as part of the GB squad, and today he lined up for one of the UK’s most iconic mountain triathlons, Helvellyn Triathlon in the Lake District, Cumbria.
Alistair Brownlee was part of a strong pro field at the famously tough Helvellyn Triathlon, which included Will Clarke, Lucy Hall, Joe Skipper, Nikki Bartlett, Lucy Gossage, Elliot Smales, George Goodwin and newly turned pro (and former 220 age grouper of the year) Ruth Astle. And conditions for the race would be typical Lake District wet weather, with mist and almost sideways rain at times.
The PTO supported the race with a $15000 prize fund and it was structured so the men and women raced together with the first past the post being crowned the champion. To make it fair the top women’s wave set off 28:03 ahead of the top men’s wave.
The 1.6km swim took place in the beautiful, but cold, Lake Ullswater, at the foot of the small Cumbrian village of Glenridding. Lucy Hall led the women, while Alistair Brownlee was out first for the men.
The 61.2km bike route is made legendary by the appearance of ‘The Struggle’ over Kirkstone Pass at 44km. Climbing 400m in 5km, it’s an absolute beast loaded with 20% ascents that can test the best of the best.
Out on the bike leg Lucy Hall held onto the lead for the women with Nikki Bartlett close behind, but the men was closing and at the top of The Struggle George Goodwin had reined in Brownlee and they entered T2 together, 11 minutes behind Lucy.
Now it would just come down to who was the best at fell running, and who could cope with the extreme conditions (the temperature was zero at the summit) and bad visibility that was blanketing one of Lake District’s most famous and notorious fells, Helvellyn.
At 950m Helvellyn is the third highest peak in England, and the run route takes you up testing Swirral Edge, right to the summit, before a lethal descent over loose rocks takes you back down into Glenridding. By the time Alistair was at the summit he had shaken off George Goodwin, Lucy Hall and Nicki Bartlett, and was in control of the race. As long as he could descend safely the race was his.
And 13 years after winning Helvellyn tri as as a young athlete Alistair Brownlee returned to be crowned champion again, just 24 hours after racing in Hamburg.
Nikki Bartlett put in a great performance to be the first woman home, with Ruth Astle second woman and India Lee third. After leading much of the race Lucy Hall finished fourth woman.