With a small group of just 10 triathletes, OUTriC went into BUCS Olympic Triathlon on 22nd May hoping to spring a surprise on some of the more established triathlon universities. Fuelled by a trip to one of Southport’s finest eateries* the night before, optimism (and blood cholesterol level) was raised – they couldn’t, could they? Separate men’s and women’s waves started 5 minutes apart, with the men off first.
Even a lake that can be described as nothing short of horrific wasn’t enough to stop the OUTriC charge, with Tom Lewin smashing the 1500m swim in under 19 minutes, while Tomek Dobrzycki and David Pearson both also had strong swims to come out towards the front of the field. Further back, Angus Young celebrated his 20th birthday by throwing up, though he must have been disappointed that this was down to the water quality rather than any alcohol consumption. As the women started, Renee Haver was looking to build on her cracking performances at BUCS Sprint and Varsity, and Charlotte Kirk was taking on her third triathlon in a week as the two OUTriC representatives in a field of around 70.
Into transition, a 400m run through the car park awaited the athletes before bikes could be mounted. As we had been excitedly told on multiple occasions by Chris Hutchinson in the preceding weeks, the bike course was a two-lap, closed road dash along the Esplanade, though the wind made for a particularly miserable time on the South-going section. Tom was left furious at being forced to draft or be left behind by his group, while Angus joyfully admitted afterwards that he’d been doing shifts on the front of his. In traditional style, Fergus Cumming started making his way through the field with another strong bike performance, and with 1km of the bike remaining both he and Tino Sulzer passed outgoing President Sam Skillcorn, who was painfully discovering that 12 “rest days” in 2 weeks wasn’t the best race preparation. Renee again cycled well on a flat course that suited her Dutch roots, and Charlotte was showing no signs of fatigue from her huge week of racing.
Onto the run, and on the men’s side the primary aim was not to get lapped by Tom as he ran the 10km course in just over 34 minutes to tie up an excellent 10th placed finish. David was next in, despite his best efforts to do three laps of the two lap course, and perennial Seconds team stalwart Tomek came in third to complete the Blues team. Fergus’ chase was valiant and he ran through the field to finish as the fourth Oxford man. Behind him, it looked like a battle was brewing between Tino and Sam, but after one lap it was clear that the latter just didn’t have the legs and Tino put in a very strong second lap to secure the higher placing. Angus and Chris were separated by only one place in the BUCS rankings to round off a fantastic day for the men of OUTriC as they all achieved top-half finishes. Renee came in a commendable 13th position on the women’s side, and achieving the 6th fastest female bike time will surely please her. Charlotte was 38th with a particularly strong run, showing no evidence of her exertions the previous week.
Another great OUTriC day was rounded off by the news that the only teams to beat us on the men’s side all came from Leeds and Loughborough, securing an overall 4th placed finish which, combined with the women’s 3rd at BUCS Sprint, cements our increasing claim to be considered among the top triathlon universities in the UK.