JUST a fortnight after winning the World Championship Sprint Quadrathlon, Evesham athlete Helen Russell returned to the top of the podium after defending her British Quadrathlon Championship title.
The championship race took place in Bude, Cornwall, and covered a challenging route of an 800m sea swim, 30km bike, 10km kayak and 10km off-road run.
The swim leg was a two-lap course in which competitors had to exit the sea, run along the beach and then re-enter the sea for a second lap.
Despite a physical start as the athletes fought for the best position, Russell kept calm and battled the waves and current to exit the water in first place some 2mins, 8secs ahead of second-placed Jacqueline Davies from Frome, Somerset.
The bike route was a real test of strength as it took in the infamous 30% climb of Millook. Davies was overtaken by Natalie Abbott from Macclesfield & District Canoe Club but neither athlete could challenge Russell’s dominance on the bike as she extended her lead to 8mins, 16secs.
At 10km, the kayak leg on the Bude Canal was unusually long and five tight turns meant the strong kayakers had a chance to come to the fore.
However, despite this being Russell’s weakest discipline, she held off the faster paddlers behind her and entered the run leg still in the lead. Behind her Allison Parritt from Fowey Canoe Club, Cornwall, had kayaked past both Davies and Abbott, with Jean Ashley from Chester Triathlon Club moving into third.
The top three positions did not change on the undulating off-road run, which took in the Bude coastal path. Russell had an unassailable lead and crossed the finish line first woman overall in a total time of 3.07.33 to defend her British Championship title.
Parritt finished second in 3.26.50 and Ashley took the final place on the podium in 3.28.42.
The championship race win also meant Russell took the British Quadrathlon Trophy Series title for the second year running. The series rewards consistency over the season and Russell scored maximum points with wins at Brigg in May, Dearne Valley in June and Box End in July, as well as the British Championship race in Bude.
Russell said: “This was definitely the toughest quadrathlon course I have ever done. Each leg had its specific challenges including a choppy sea swim, 30% climb on the bike, technical kayak course and an uneven off-road run route.
“I was still slightly fatigued from the World Championships, so was relieved to cross the finish line and defend my two British titles.”
Russell, who is supported by the Rivers Evesham Gifted & Talented Scheme, will now have an end of season rest period before deciding on her 2019 aims – one of which may be to contend for the World Middle Distance title.