Free spot for triathlon team?

PETER GIBBS
Last updated 13:00 15/02/2013

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It's two weeks to the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon. The focus this year is on introducing people to the sport of triathlon.

For Nelson Mail reporter James Greenland, the introduction is going to be short and sharp and you could join him.

Professional triathlete Tom Curtis is taking James under his wing in a crash course, helping him with a two-week buildup for the event. It's all in the name of journalism, as the experience will give James some rich material for a story.

Tom and James need a third team member. Is that you?

No experience needed, just a willingness to swim 300 metres, bike 8km and run 3km. Speed not important. The first person to email me, peterg@nelsonmail.co.nz gets the free team spot, some coaching and advice from an expert and the chance to have a good time (including a free pass to Taste Nelson later on race day).

I've been following a couple of other beginner teams as they prepare for the race.

Team Yeah Nah is a bunch of runners who have decided to push the envelope. Graeme Sellars, Yvonne Shaw and Stuart Hague were at Westport last weekend for the Buller marathon and half marathon.

For Graeme, running has been the focus recently. After recording a 3hr 10min marathon, he's ready to get on his bike, although in this case it's team-mate Yvonne's bike, which he'll be taking for its first ride in the weekend.

That gives him two weeks to get the hang of the bike - not ideal, but this is a fun race, not a world championship, so there's nothing resting on it.

On the other hand, the team has been diligent in taking regular swims and with Buller out of the way they'll be taking on the Port Nelson series swims on Thursdays for the next two weeks.

Yvonne recorded her fastest-ever half marathon last weekend, taking 1hr 45min, 10 minutes faster than her previous best, but she's ready for the next event. "Definitely focusing on the team tri now - can't let the boys beat me."

Her strategy for the next two weeks: "Swim, swim, swim, bike, bike, bike, run, run run."

Team Evolve were the winners of the training package for the team triathlon.

Suzi Hume and Justine and Lou Perkins have had two sessions with swim coach Lionel Padial and two with trainer Nige Burgess, the first covering running, the second biking.

Nige describes the bike session: "Started off with a bit of theory, then we rode up and down Maitai Valley together practising skills such as gear selection, braking, drafting, how to do tight U-turns and general riding tactics.

"The only real major pointer I gave them, and is fairly common for most beginner triathletes (and even some advanced ones), is to spin more, ie. to not grind such a big gear and preserve the legs a little more for the run."

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Lionel Padial had a swim session booked in with the group last weekend, but nature got in the way, as midwife Suzi was busy with a delivery. The other two team members, Lou and Justine, had a good session though.

Lionel reports: "We spent the session going through tips for sighting and navigation.

"The main changes in their swimming . . . heaps more fitness and miles better body position - obviously each change affects the other."

Justine sums up the main benefit she's gained so far: "The session with Lionel, was once again very useful. Lionel went through how to sight while sea swimming, and ran around the pool to different points while Lou and I swam, trying to keep identifying where he had gone to next. That was fun and a great exercise."

Swimming's the big gain for Suzi too: "I am still buzzing about the progress I have made in swimming. At the beginning of this summer I would be spent after one 30m length. Now I can do the 400m sea swim and still feel good."

With entries for the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon now rolling in, there's a good mix between experienced triathletes setting up personal challenges with other teams and complete beginners looking for a new experience.

Changes to the transition and changeover setup will make the race even more of a spectacle and help team-mates keep track of each other and a staggered start will give slower teams a good lead at the beginning of the race.

For a rehearsal, the sprint triathlon at Rabbit Island next weekend will be a perfect opportunity to practise some skills, particularly with the short race option offering very similar distances to the team tri.

More information about next week's triathlon at nelsontriclub.co.nz. Information and entries to the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon on March 2 at teamtri.co.nz.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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