The first honours of the paratriathlon season were awarded at the British Paraduathlon Championships where this year’s British champions were crowned over the run, bike, run format.
Twenty-nine athletes took to the startline at Prestwold Hall for the super sprint duathlon, consisting of a 2.5km run, 10km bike and 1.25km run, which was also the first event in this year’s British Triathlon Paratri Super Series.
Ten national champions were crowned with one of the standout victories of the day coming in the open PTS3 where Henry Urand claimed the British title in his first race.
Urand has had success on the bike, winning national titles on the track and road, but the event at Prestwold was his first taste of combining multiple sports and he crossed the line more than a minute ahead of international medallist Colin Wallace, who has also been involved in the sport for less than 12 months.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Urand said. “This is my first race and I only got classified in February, so I haven’t been in the sport for long. I came to see what it was like, the atmosphere was really great. It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m the para champion, it’s crazy.
“I did my first brick session yesterday and I started the running and probably only got 400 metres in, and I thought this is horrible, so it wasn’t a surprise that it hurt but it was great. I’m really hungry to see where this is going to take me now. Llanelli is next so I’ve got to get some time in the pool before then and try and be at my best for that.”
There was a return to racing for 2018 European and 2018 and 2019 world champion Hannah Moore who became the female PTS4 British champion.
Speaking after the race, Moore said: “It’s the first time I’ve raced in two to three years now so just to be on the start line is really exciting and to win today is really great. I’ve had a couple of years of injury and illness so to be back healthy, happy and really enjoying training it means a lot to me and hopefully this is the start of bigger things to come.”
One of the closest races of the day came in the female PTS5 as last year’s Super Series champion Cheryl Went fought off the challenge of Stef Reid, who only took up the sport last year having won multiple Paralympic and world medals in para-athletics.
Reid had the advantage after the first run, but Went took the race lead on the bike which proved to be decisive despite Reid’s best efforts on the second run. Went took the tape, crossing the line 17 seconds ahead of Reid, with Megan Fergusson claiming bronze.
“I’m very happy, there was some tough competition out there today, so I’m really pleased I’ve been able to come away with the win,” Went said. “Last year was a learning curve going to all of these events, so this year I know what to expect and hopefully I can really enjoy it.”
The open PTS5 was won by Michael Salisbury, who became British paraduathlon champion for the second successive year, as did Finley Jakes in the open PTS4.
Salisbury was joined on the PTS5 podium by silver medallist Tom Barnard and bronze medallist Jack Green, while Michael Fox earned silver in the open PTS4, only a few months after first taking up the sport, with Ben Molnar securing bronze.
After his win, Jakes said: “It’s good to carry on from last year and see the consistency of winter training paying off and it was good to get back out there for the first race of the season. It’s a good benchmark for how the winter has gone and it’s good to see what we have worked on over the winter coming to fruition.”
There was a successful title defence for Bret Crossley in the open PTWC as he secured his fourth British paraduathlon title in a head-to-head battle with Darren Williams. Mel Nicholls claimed gold in the female equivalent to earn her first British title.
It was also a first paraduathlon gold medal for Oscar Kelly who completed the course with his guide Jamie Price, with Nathaniel Costigan finishing second to earn silver in the open PTVI.
The female PTVI race included the return of Rhiannon Henry, a Paralympic medallist and world champion in para-swimming who has previously spent time in paratriathlon, winning at her first World Triathlon Series event in 2015.
On her comeback, she became British paraduathlon champion, alongside guide Brooke Gillies.
The PTS2 title went to Ryan McClure who claimed the victory ahead of last year’s champion Jack Howitt, who claimed silver, and bronze medallist Ethan Dent.