Tenacious – adj. 1 not readily relinquishing something 2 persisting in existence
In July 2012, another triathlon club started up in Dubai, decimating T2A’s ranks. Tenacity is crucial in endurance sports: What do you do when the legs cramp, when you get yet another flat, when the water’s so cold you fear you’ll lose fingers? What do you do when your crew shrinks by half? You dig in and you keep going.
And Race 1 of the 2XU Triathlon Championships at Mamzar Park in Sharjah on October 30th, was where it all the training, all that quiet persistence, came together. Zoe Cresswell and Tom Dalgarno took the top spots in the sprint distance with a baker’s dozen of podiums for the remaining T2A athletes in both the sprint and the Olympic event.
T2A’s stellar team performance at Race 1 (and perhaps also our new ‘high-vis’ tri-suits) caught the eye of many in the local triathlon community, including ITU champions, Alison and James Grinnell. The Grinnells joined T2A shortly after another of T2A’s power couples, Britt ‘Kona Royalty’ Kjemhus Welander and Chiff Welander, who along with Ulrik Lund, are swelling the ranks of T2A’s Nordic mafia.
Special mention goes to Suz Newton at Mamzar, who leapfrogged a few of her usual adversaries to place fifth overall in the sprint. Hardly suprising coming off of her gutsy run in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago on September 17, where Zoe Cresswell placed eighth in her AG and T2A’s favourite Illinois boy, Glen Osmond, brought it home to place 15th in his AG.
Another example of tenacity came in Jeroen Van Cauwenberghe (Capt. J’s) comeback race, IM Western Australia in Busselton on December 6. Busso is another step in J’s dream to race Kona by completing a dozen full IM events then entering the lottery for a ticket to the Big Island. Jeroen nipped in just under 12 hours to strike another IM off his list.
While Capt. J said he’d like to call it a day on the full IM distance once he’s reached Kona, he’s “totally addicted to how it rips your body and mind down to its core”. Similarly, Piers Constable made a pact never to race another IM on the run leg of IM Arizona on November 15. No one believed him for a New York minute. An eye-watering bike split of 4:54 (yes, for 180 km) helped him to a storming 9:39 finish.
Perhaps more importantly, he shot to the top of the Team T2A Ironman distance Top 10 rankings, earning the bragging rights and envy of all Type A athletes .
But it wasn’t all Ironman events with their shiny finish chutes and regular aid stations for T2A’s athletes in 2015. In fact, it wasn’t even all triathlons. Chris Sellar placed first in the sub-veteran category and 10th overall in Dubai Creek Striders Half Marathon, which apparently was a kind of training run for him and Benny Walton. On the bikes, T2A Team A notched up a fifth place in the Emirates Road Cycling Club Team Time Trial event on November 15. And in the water, Ulirk Lund took the top spot in the 2XU Five Star Aquathon in Abu Dhabi on December 11.
Early in the year, Jamie Atherton competed in the Fred Whitton 2015 a “beautifully brutal” 177 km ride round the Lake District in the north of England. With an elevation gain of 3,759 m, “the route profile itself resembles a particularly unhealthy ECG reading,” according to Jamie. Tron was racing to honour the memory of his friend and best man, Nigel Black, and did him proud with an 8:37 finish.
Another T2A athlete keeping it real in 2015 was Anders Strandberg whose ranking on the nails-o-meter shot up when he completed the SwimRun Loch Lomond Inch by Inch on September 5.
Based on Sweden’s legendary Ő till Ő race (island to island), athletes in two-man teams swim from one island, run over it, and then swim to the next one in this self-supporting event. Ten swims and ten runs later, Anders and his team mate snuck in the top ten with a 6:20 finish.
While 2015 was a great year for Team T2A, there is always something to improve on in triathlon: a transition to tighten, a cadence to crank or a swim to streamline. And if blowing a hole in your PB is not enough motivation, then there’s CP’s psychology games, matching you with your team mates. In fact, maybe the Cresswells should call out the Grinnells who call out the Welanders?