Saturday the 14th of July saw Orkney Triathlon Club return to Stromness for the annual sprint distance event kindly sponsored by the Scapa Distillery. Sprint distance consists of a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. Entry numbers were good with forty participants including three teams from the ORFC Dragons. This made for a great friendly atmosphere and a crowded Stromness Swimming Pool. The event also doubled as the annual Inter County between Orkney, Shetland and Caithness so the competition was to be fierce.
On a changeable day with the constant threat of rain the race got underway in the pool and it was Shetlands Andrew Aitken who led the way out into T1. Andrew was swiftly followed by Orkneys Paul Kerr hot on his heels, both exiting out onto the bike leg seconds apart. In the women’s section Shetlands Lyndsey Henderson was, as predicted, first to leave the pool and set off on the bike already producing a typical solid performance. Orkney triathlon newbie Jo Donaldson was second women out of the pool and peddled off into the relative unknown showing her natural talent for the sport. Most notable during the swim leg of the event was the great team spirt shown by one of the ORFC Dragons teams. When a team swimmer was unable to continue due to breathing difficulties, for most this would have spelt the end of the race. Not for these ladies who drew on their rugby experience and made a rapid tactical substitution and within seconds a new swimmer had donned their cossy and taken over the swim leg to save the day! Great team spirit.
As the race proceeded the usual flurry of competitors in and out of T1 (swim to bike) continued and the high number of competitors really tested the timekeepers and marshals skills of observation.
At the sharp end, first to return from the out and back bike course to the Sandwick hall was Orkneys Paul Kerr who managed to edge ahead of Shetlands Andrew Aitken. Andrew was putting it all out there in the hope of cracking Paul before the run. This wasn’t to be and Paul headed off on the run to the Point of Ness and back at a blistering pace cooled by the rain beginning to fall. Paul swiftly returned to the finish line at the swimming pool to win the men’s race producing an astonishing run split of 15min 43seconds, overall time 57min 35 sec. Andrew Aitken was next to cross the line in 1hr02min30sec. Third was the first Orkney male Neil Croy who has worked hard to improve his racing this year, in particular his swim, and it showed producing a great time of 1hr09min54sec. Shetlands Lyndsey Henderson dominated throughout to win the women’s race and finish third overall in a time of 1hr 09min 48 seconds. Shetland continued to control the women’s with Shelley Humphrey taking second in 1hr 14min 07sec. Third was Orkney tri newbie Jo Donaldson in only her second sprint distance event and a time of 1hr19min14sec.
Despite a wet finish to the race for most competitors spirits remained high and good numbers, mainly due to inter county visitors from Shetland and Caithness, gave a real buzz to the event. Also the teams from ORFC Dragons helped give the event a fun, relaxed and friendly feel which hopefully will encourage others to try the sport.
As well as the individual categories the event was doubling as the annual intercounty between Orkney, Shetland and Caithness. Each counties first four finishers times ,which must include one female, are added together with fastest team overall winning. This year saw very competitive racing for the Viking trophy and Orkney made use of their home advantage to produce a winning time of 4hr37min57sec some 5 minutes ahead of nearest rivals Shetland. The winning Orkney team consisted of Paul Kerr, Neil Croy, Mark Dowell and Jo Donaldson. Well done Orkney.
All in all a very successful event for Orkney Triathlon Club who could not run these events without the many helpers who assist with timekeeping, lane counting and marshalling on the day. Also thanks to Stromness Swimming Pool who, as always, made everyone feel very welcome, Tesco for supplying post finish water and banana’s for everyone and lastly huge thanks to new Orkney Tri Club sponsors Scapa Distillery for generously donating various cups for the event.
Anyone wishing to see detailed event results or interested in taking part in future events should contact Orkney Triathlon Club on the club Facebook page.