Walker builds notice of intent

The first build-up race for the 2008 Turtle Tri took place on Sunday, kicking off a series of races set to reach a climax with the Turtle Tri next month

Two distances were on offer, with a shorter 200 metre swim, 5 kilometre bike and 1.25 kilometre run catering for those participants preparing to take part in the sprint distance event at the Turtle Tri on November 23.

The longer distance featured a 400 metre swim, a 10 kilometre bike and a 2.5 kilometre run to prepare participants for the Olympic distance triathlon, the main event at the Turtle Tri.

The event had a good turnout, with a number of people taking their first shot at triathlon. However it was a number of familiar faces who dominated.

A glitch with the swim markers meant that the swim leg was quite a bit longer than expected, with the shorter distance covering around 400m instead of 200m, and the longer distance also cover double the expected distance at 800m.

In the shorter of the two distances on offer, Matthew Courtis, only 13, who literally swam away with the event. He built a massive lead during the swim, which he never relinquished as he cruised through the cycle and run legs to take the victory by a country mile. Courtis’ time was 28 minutes 38 seconds, a two and a half minute beating of second place finisher Catherine Murray in 31:08, with Jonathan Rosa claiming third in 32:07.

The win by Courtis did not come as a surprise to those who had been keeping an eye on his recent career, as many would have taken note of his excellent performance in the final event of the Ogier Stroke & Stride series a couple of weeks ago.

In that race Courtis was the fifth individual competitor across the finish line, beating a number of well respected triathletes in the process.

In the main event, it was the returning triathlon veteran Dave Walker who set the course alight. After an impressive swim, Walker ripped up the tarmac on the cycle leg, and cruised home on the run to take a very impressive win. Walker’s time of 45:07 brought him home almost eight minutes ahead of second place finisher Laurent Weber who clocked in at 52:58.

Weber only just managed to hold off a charging Neal Coleman who crossed the line a mere ten seconds back for third place.

In the women’s division Lauren Bennett claimed a hard-fought win in 54:52, a mere eight seconds ahead of Gill Commins, placing the two women in fourth and fifth overall respectively. Justine Plenkiewicz rounded out the women’s podium in third with a time of 57:18.

Walker admits that his strongest rivals were not in attendance, with Marius Acker off island at the time of the race and Jasper Mikkelsen building up to an Ironman race and therefore not competing in the shorter distance race.

However, Walker’s focus and composure during the event as well as his imperious win should signal his intent for the Turtle Tri.

Although he is loath to take up the mantle of race favourite among the local competitors, his continually improving form should see him pushing Acker, Mikkelsen, and the other top contenders every step of the way.

Ultimately, the organisers were very satisfied with the response to the race.

‘I was pleased with the turnout, especially the number of first timers! Hopefully we’ll get more people out for the next two as the distances start to increase,’ said race organiser Polly Cox.

The event also featured a number of teams, as well as a couple of individual participants who took part in only one of the three events.

Although shorter distances make triathlon a less daunting sport, many prospective participants would rather be members of a team. Finding the right team can be almost as hard as the sport itself. Fortunately the organisers are taking care of that as well.

Cox said: ‘We have a match maker scheme for anyone wanting to be on a team but can’t find one. The contact e-mail is [email protected].

‘This system worked really well last year. All people need to do is provide their desired discipline(s) and event (Olympic or sprint), and whether they want to be on a mixed team, all male, or all female.’

The second event in the series is on 26 October, with registration at the race venue on Governor’s Way opposite Public Beach from 6:30am, with the start from Public Beach at 7:00am. The shorter distance will feature a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run, with the longer event featuring a 700m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.