With training going so well it was time to devise a plan of action for the qualifying race. A brutal training regime was put in to place by coach G. Double bricks (run, bike, run sessions) became the norm, as did persistent physical fatigue accompanied by an insatiable appetite. I became accustomed to having a second breakfast, whilst protein shakes turned in to my new beverage of choice. Once the team felt strong, it was time for a test drive of the course.
The weekend before the race, the three amigos piled into Ali’s trusty polo and headed over to Clumber Park.
Parked up and with the bikes unloaded, we proceeded to check out the bike course. Ali had produced a highly detailed map of the course which would help us suss out the route.
After a few laps of the bike course, it was clear that it suited our needs and would hopefully play to our strengths; it was a simple square-shaped bike lap with some punchy hills thrown in for good measure. The trickiest part of the bike course would be the final uphill drag back to transition. However, we targeted this section because we believed it would be the best place to pick off our competitors and improve on our position in the race. After a good amount of time spent on the bike, we headed back to the car to slip on our running shoes. An easy jog to finish up ended our session and we were done for the day! Lots of coffee and cake was eagerly consumed before we departed for Sheffield.
Back on the road, we all felt reassured about the qualifying race. Our plan of attack was in place after checking out the course and we now had a clear idea about what was in store for us in a week’s time.
Race day, go hard or go home
An early wakeup call, ensured that we arrived at the race with plenty of time to spare. With the standard registration and bike racking out of the way, we went back to the car to get ‘race ready’. One hour before the race, we were all concerned about the same thing- supplements. This is something I feel strongly about; without supplementing I doubt I would have achieved the same level of success. During my studies I have also been investigating the effects caffeine and paracetamol co-ingestion on cycling performance and so far the results have been promising. So from studying the benefits of supplementation and seeing the effects first-hand on my body, it prompted myself, ben and Ali, to eat supplement capsules like they were Smarties out of a tube!
Feeling nervous at the prospect of qualifying for the World Championships, a final toilet stop was in order before we warmed up and took our places on the line.
Our start wave was lined up and you could tell everyone was eager to start. Learning from our past mistake at the BUCS Dauthlon Competition, we forced our way towards the front of the group. After the customary ‘come on lads, we’ve got this’ speech, the hooter went and the race began.
My strategy for the race was to go steady for the first half of the run and then pick up the pace on the return leg. This worked a treat – an 18 minute 5km was in the bag! Everything was going well as I went into transition and powered out onto the bike course. With the caffeine flowing in my veins and the paracetamol doing its job, I felt strong as I flew past people on the bike. I was quickly catching the earlier waves and pushing hard, chasing down the leaders. My dismount coming into T2 was the usual slick affair I was quickly heading trough a chaotic transition zone.
Bike racked, shoes on, helmet off, the practice had paid off! In transition I bumped into Ali who had clearly smashed the bike leg and caught up with the leaders of our wave. Flying out of transition onto the run – the usual jelly legs were present! However, I knew I needed to make this final run count if I had a chance of qualifying and I quickly started picking people off. Powering up the only hill on the run, I spotted Ben; a quick glance and an encouraging grunt reassured me that I was nearly there! I had arrived at the turn around point.
With my legs screaming at me to stop, I tried to dig deep and produce a final effort. I knew I wasn’t far from the leading guys in my age group and I wasn’t going to give up – even if my legs had other plans and were not cooperating. Struggling to keep the pace up and with the finish line in sight, I tried to ignite a finishing line sprint. Crossing the line I knew I was close to the qualification spots but I wasn’t sure. With the top four getting an automatic qualification place, the results were announced by coach G: ‘Ben; 2nd and on the plane to Spain, Kurt; nine seconds off 4th, finishing in 5th place, Ali finishing in a strong 6th place’.
Gutted wasn’t the word. Nine seconds off automatic qualification. Coach G assured me that I was still in a great position to qualify with eight roll down spots being awarded to the fastest non-automatic qualifiers. I was currently the fastest non-automatic qualifier and Ali the second fastest out of the two qualifiers with one race left to go.
To be or not to be, that is the question
It was an agonising wait for the final qualifier to take place. Three weeks felt like months and everything else in my life was on standstill until I found out my fate. Finally an email from British Triathlon arrived in my inbox and it was time to see if I was going to be part of team GB. All my training came down to this moment and I was feeling quite emotional. The first line of the email told me all I needed to know…
I was in. Bring on THE WORLDS.
A quick phone call to Ali confirmed that he had made it too and we were off to Spain to represent GB!
The final instalment of my road to the world championships will be online soon so keep an eye out!