Tri, Tri and Tri Again.

Reach Separations were represented by no fewer than 4 people at the Southall Sprint Triathlon this weekend.

MD Duncan Cliff, Technical Director Phil Abbott and Senior Separations Scientists Alex Brien and Victoria Coulthard all got up at an ungodly hour on the Sunday morning, all in the name of team building, sport and good old competition.

Duncan, Alex and Victoria were taking part as a relay team, with Duncan taking on the 400m indoor swim, Alex the 11 mile undulating bike ride and Victoria, bringing Team Reach home in the calf burning hilly 5k. Phil, in his second ever triathlon, was attempting to beat the relayers on his own.

With Phil having posted times for each of the events already this summer, the calculators were out to see what each of the relayers would have to achieve in their respective events to win overall. So the race was on – and in true Top Gear Challenge style, it was going to be close!

Duncan lead Team Reach out, beginning his pool swim before most people had even started their porridge, and boy did he do his team proud! Overtaking other swimmers in his lane 14 times during his dolphinesque 7 minutes 45 seconds swim.

Phil, on the other hand is more manatee than dolphin in the water and knew he was going to lose time on the first event. It was damage limitation time, and with a less than comparative 10:19 for the swim, Team Reach were already over 2 and a half minutes ahead.

Transition 1 for Team Reach was always going to be quicker than for Phil, with Alex already in his cycling kit all Duncan had to do was hand over the timing chip and Alex was sent on his way in just 48 seconds. With Phil having to put a shirt, socks and shoes on he was another 45 seconds behind.

Alex, a keen cyclist, decided to aim for an average 20 mph over the 11 mile course in order to keep the pressure on Phil. Not an easy feet given that after just 20 meters the marshals directed the bikes left and up a calf burning, stand up on your pedals climb! Still, what goes up, must come down and somehow Alex reached the dismount line in less than 33 minutes – not bad considering he was on a borrowed bike due to some not so friendly burglars the week before.

Again, Phil was left with a damage limitation exercise and although the recent atrocious Nottingham traffic had forced him onto his bike for commuting mileage, he still knew he wasn't going to be able to match the impressive times Alex posted. With a bike time of 35:29 Phil had lost another 2 and a half minutes putting him nearly 6 minutes in arrears.

Then came Transition 2, the first time an individual gets an advantage over a team. With no changes of clothes required Phil racked his bike, took a swig of drink and was out on his run in 20 seconds quicker than Team Reach managed.

With the arrears cut to less than 5 and a half minutes it was going to be a very close run-off. Phil's strongest event was the run and he predicted a sub-20 minutes 5k time. Good to his prediction he crossed the line in 19:51 and in the process set Victoria the challenge of running the 2 laps in just over 25 minutes to seal victory. An almost impossible task given her previous seasons best was 28 minutes.

And so it proved to be, despite taking 90 seconds off her previous best of the year, on a very challenging course, Victoria's time of 26:33 meant bragging rights went to Phil, overhauling his arrears going into the run and taking overall victory by just over a minute.

We did say it was going to be close!

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