The inaugural British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup touched down in Nottingham at the weekend. A lot of interest was placed on this race with the format now being involved in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The relay consisted of a 300m swim, 7.5km bike and a 1500m run in and around the Victoria Embankment. Each athlete would take on the super sprint triathlon in a female, male, female, male order. There was a total of 17 teams competing for the cup… Regional teams of Leeds (I,II), Loughborough (I,II), Sterling (I,II) Cardiff, Bath, London and Nottingham were up against GB Juniors, GB U23s, Wales U23 and the international teams of Germany, Australia, Japan, and Canada.
Leg one featured HUUB’s Sophie Coldwell (Loughborough I) as well as previous World Champion and Olympian Non Stanford (Leeds II), 2017 U23 European Champion Georgia Taylor-Brown (Leeds I), 2017 European Junior Champion Kate Waugh (GB juniors) and other World Triathlon Series (WTS) regulars such as Joanna Brown (Canada). With Coldwell leading the swim it was inevitably going to split up the field and going out onto the bike it looked like the field had already been cut from 17 down to just 11 teams in the leading pack. Non Stanford known for her gritty racing was back on the scene after a few months off due to injury and was keen to push on the bike. She was joined at the front of the race by Coldwell and another HUUB athlete Megan McDonald, who was racing for Team Bath. With the run only 1500m, it could potentially favour the younger athletes who would be more accustomed to racing over the shorter distances. By the end of leg one Georgia Taylor-Brown had opened up a small gap on Stanford, Coldwell, Brown, Olivia Mathias (GB U23) and HUUB athlete Jenny Manners (Cardiff).
Aaron Royle (Leeds I) headed into the River Trent with a small gap on HUUB athlete Gordon Benson (Leeds II), Chris Perham (Loughborough) Matt Sharpe (Canada), Adam Bowden (Cardiff) and now a select few others. Royle known for his swimming prowess held the gap on the swim and looked to extend it in the first few kilometres of the bike. A group of Perham, Benson and Sharpe formed behind, and it looked like Leeds were employing team tactics with Benson forcing Loughborough and Canada to do the work to close in on Royle. By the end of the bike Royle had developed a sizeable gap ahead of the trio which he carried onto the run. However it seemed he was labouring after a solid effort on the bike. By the end of the 1500m run, Benson had managed to win back the lead, but things were all still very tight.
The four teams at the front going into leg three were Leeds II (Lucy Hall - 2012 London Olympian), Canada (Paula Findlay - multiple WTS winner), Leeds II (Jessica Learmonth - 2017 European Champion) and Loughborough I (Jodie Stimpson - 2014 Commonwealth Games Champion). Hall had a small gap but it was soon brought back by the efforts of the chasing teams. Late on in the bike the Leeds teams again employed tactics with Learmonth breaking away leaving Loughborough and Canada to chase, however no lasting damage was made with Findlay and Stimpson looking strong on the bike. With Jodie having only just come back from an injury and Findlay's run shape unknown it was anyones guess as to who would triumph over the extremely short run. Learmonth put the pace on early, however Findlay managed to cling on with Stimpson only a few seconds behind. Unfortunately the pace seemed too fast for Hall and it looked like the early work on the bike was taking it’s toll. It seemed that the podium would be shared between Leeds I, Loughborough I and Canada, unless Mark Buckingham, the last minute substitute for Jonny Brownlee (Leeds II) was to do something on the final leg to catch up.
Into the final leg and HUUB’s Tom Bishop and Ben Dijkstra representing Leeds I and Loughborough I respectively were joined by Canada's Jeremy Briand. Dijkstra had some work to do over the first 200m, but all three athletes came out of the water within two seconds. Bishop, swift through T1 soon put the power down on the bike and a gap began to open to Dijkstra after he had trouble getting his feet in his shoes. Briand was unable to stick with Bishop who was powering through the 7.5km bike. By the end, Bishop had extended his gap to Dijkstra to just over 30 seconds with Briand also unable to stick with the super talented Dijkstra. Onto the run and it would take a mighty effort from the young Loughborough athlete to take the win away from Leeds I. Bishop looked as in control on the run as he did on the bike and pushed on to take the win. Leeds I finished in 1hr 18 mins and 58 seconds. Loughborough I 41 seconds back in second with Team Canada rounding out the podium a further 48 seconds behind.
If you would like to watch the race, it is still available on BBC iPlayer, where HUUBs Olympic and World Champion Alistair Brownlee was commentating throughout the race.