Triathlon John

We’ve already mentioned John Russell once in this report, and many of you will already know he is one of the regions most accomplished young athletes, along with his brother, Adam. But what you may not know is that John has another passion, which still involves athletics, but also includes swimming and cycling – yes he’s also a triathlete, and a very good one at that! We’re very grateful for the following update from John’s dad, Stephen, which gives an excellent insight into how John’s triathlon season has gone this year. We think you’ll be impressed!

National Success At Triathlon Super Series…
Whilst brothers Adam and John Russell both competed successfully in local regional triathlons last year, Adam decided to now concentrate solely on running track through the summer…and XC through the winter. Things seem to be going well so far!! John on the other hand decided to move things on a level and give the British Triathlon Elite Youth Super Series a go…with XC very much a focus point for the coming winter! So with very active and focused coaching from Darlington Harriers for running, the local Bike stop Tyrekey Cycling team, and Darlington Swimming club – John has been given some great support to see if he can mount a serious challenge outside of the region…..and have some fun at the same time!

The first step was to actually gain selection into the series through the National Performance Assessment, with the top 50 athletes from across the UK making it into Tier 1, the next 50 making it into Tier 2 – there’s a lot of talented swimmers, cyclists, and runners out there. The 2 day test down in Nottingham and Loughborough required a 200m pool swim, and then a separate bike and run stage. Whilst there was a LOT of learning to be had, John came away with a place in Tier 1, ranking 33rd overall. A solid start for someone new to the national game.

The Super Series involves 7 races, and the best results from 3 races are taken to gain a national ranking, with the Performance Assessment also playing a part in these numbers. John’s first real race came at the Blenheim Triathlon – a late addition to his plans. A long trip to Oxford followed by an early morning start in one of the country’s biggest events. Hoping to improve on the Assessment ranking, the race involved a 400m open water swim, 12km (draft legal) bike ride, and 3km run. The Youths were mixed in with the Juniors – so no gearing limits on the bikes, in what is a fast and undulating bike course around the estate grounds. John had a solid enough swim, followed by a pretty mediocre transition to the bike (!) making it into the 2nd bike group, and then a cracking run to finish 17th overall and 7th Youth! A very nice surprise, and great reward for a lot of hard work and perseverance.
Less than a week later – and down to Leeds. Youths only this time, split into the 2 tiers. A big stage down at Roundhay Park with an open water swim, a very challenging bike circuit on wet roads, and a very hilly 3k run within the park. Out of the water in the bottom half, 2ndfastest on the bike, and then a great run saw John finish 8th in the country. Phew – Blenheim was no fluke!

To the North East for the next round. Hetton Lyons Country Park the venue, and the format even more challenging – Heats first leading to A and B finals. So the pressure on to perform well enough in the Heat but to also save enough energy for the (hopefully!) A final. The Heat got off to a very fast start and John’s transition from bike to run was not that great (!!)…so a bit of work to do to cement his place into the A final. But running training has been going very well!! So a solid 6th in the Heat and a place in the A final along with all the other fast guys. On to the A final and out of the water in the bottom third…not quite last…but some work to do on the bike! A fast bike group working well to catch the lead group just before the transition to the run. John in about 20th place going into transition, but about 10th coming out. And then he simply ran through the field and never lookedback. A first place podium, andno doubt about it, a lot due to the running!

As things stand John is ranked 8th in the country. One event to go – the British Championships down in Mallory Park on the 7th September. Points worth a 25% premium for the Super Series, and the potential to be crowned National Champion. It’sall to play for, fingers crossed…
Huge thanks to John’s Dad for this update, and congratulations to John for such a successful season so far…..and best of luck from all at DHAC for the British Championshipsnext month – be sure to let us know how you get on

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