Super league Jersey

Super League Jersey was my first race outside of the UK, so I was very excited for it. I was flying over from Scotland with my mum, and my friend Fergus was on the same flight as us, which was amazing. The main event was the professional race, with the best in the world competing on the same day as us!

Darren Wheeler – That Cameraman/SuperLeague

Since it was a super league event we had a different format to usual, with two short triathlons back to back(300m swim, 2km bike, 800m run). It was good to do something different where there was lots of thinking involved. Before the race I planned to wear cleats (clip in pedals) over flat pedals because of how many corners there were, as I could accelerate more quickly out of the corner and I thought this would be worth the extra time putting on my bike shoes. I also practiced putting my swim cap on while running beforehand, because this wasn’t something I had ever done before. It was actually quite fun even though I looked very silly!

Darren Wheeler – That Cameraman/SuperLeague

My race was mid afternoon, so I had the whole morning to myself. The only thing I needed to do was to go and register at about 10. My mum and I went down to the race venue from our hotel with all my kit to register, and then just stayed down there to watch the professionals race. There were super league banners everywhere and the course was already completely shut off, it was all very exciting. Most of the friends I had made at the super series were there, so we all watched the pro races together. It was so exciting to see the sprint finish between 2 brits in the men’s, and in the women’s the first two women were brits too!

Darren Wheeler – That Cameraman/SuperLeague

After that it was time to warm up-I did a jog, then drills and then strides which were 200m at 3k pace like we had been taught at school games. Then it was to to go into the athlete lounge. It was right next to where all the pros were eating after their race. We had a long table in the middle with food a well. We went out from there into transition to set up and then down onto the pontoon for the start. I think this was perhaps my most well executed race to date, because I had a plan in mind I was constantly thinking and planning ahead during the race and beforehand. When we were on the pontoon we had 5 minutes to get a quick swim warm up and then line up, but I decided not to do a swim warm up as we didn’t have wetsuits on and I didn’t want to get cold. I had already done a good warm up before so I was proud of my decision, even though everyone else went in.

Onto the swim itself and I was number one on the pontoon so right on the inside, and I was scared that I would get caught up at the first buoy, so I went very hard at the start and got round that first and then just stayex on the front for the first 2 thirds of the race after which I slowed down to try to get one of the other guys who usually swims faster to come through so that I could save energy, but it was only in the last 20 m someone came up next to me but I did a small sprint so I could have a clear run to transition. Afterwards when I checked the splits, I saw that I would have come out in about 16th if I was in the pro race!

I had a solid transition, making sure I put my cap and goggles in my trisuit for the second swim. On the bike 4 guys came past me, but I only lost a few seconds to the front and I didn’t want take any risks on the technical course since I had another time round to go. I made sure to leave my bike in a low gear for the second time round going into transition. On the run I was feeling very good and caught up with the front pretty quickly, then sat on the back for a short bit, before deciding it was too slow and speeding up slightly, but still running within myself. I still managed to get ahead by a few seconds, though. Near the end I started putting my cap and goggles back on for the second swim. I took off my shoes and went back down the ‘cheese-grater’ (picture attached) and the along the pontoon to dive back in. I loved diving back in-it was one of my favourite bits of the race.

I went into the water in first with a few seconds over second and another few seconds back to third. I just went hard on the second swim to get as big a gap as possible, as I knew I was a better swimmer than the guy behind me, but he was a faster cyclist. I really started to hurt and get tired towards the end of the swim, but I persevered and came out of the water with about a 10 second gap, maybe slightly more. I went into transition, and came out with my bike which I pushed round the u-turn, which was just after the mount line, because I thought I would have a smoother and faster mount (I also did this the first time round). On the bike I just rode solid, being careful enough on the corners and not killing myself, as I knew I could probably outrun the 2 guys behind. Coming out of the final transition I led but one guy was just behind, so I accelerated our of transition and got a gap which I held until the end, although I was really suffering. I was so ecstatic about winning the race as I was in the younger half of the age group. I even got interviewed by the commentator after the race!

After the podium presentation was done and we had got our stuff, a few of my friends and I waited outside of the hotel where the athletes were staying to get some pictures. We got one with double world champion Vincent Luis and hayden wilde who was 3rd at that event. The next day there were also activities happening, and lots of the pros were walking around so I managed to get some pictures with quite a few of them. It was a great experience and one of my favourite races to date, if not my favourite!

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