Tri Hards Norman and Tipper prove to be the best out west

THE progression of Chris Norman and James Tipper reached a promising milestone as they shared the spoils in the season-concluding ‘West is Best’ Swimrun.

The Tri Hards pairing of Chris Norman, left, and James Tipper on their way to victory. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28786300)
The Tri Hards pairing of Chris Norman, left, and James Tipper on their way to victory. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28786300)

When the two developing triathletes joined forces as team Tri Hards for the Otillo-style challenge from Pleinmont to Pembroke, they powered past several established top guns such as past winner Dave Crosland.

For both, it was their biggest win so far, not just in its 25km distance split over eight swims and eight runs.

Amid a depleted entry of six full-distance teams, they faced early pressure from Michael Richards and former Siam Cup star Jim Elliott.

Passing the first aid station on Lihou headland, the eventual winners were 30sec. clear. Yet come the half-way point at Vazon, they were 90sec. to the good and largely assured of victory.

Elliott and Richards soon after began to slip back, something that Crosland and partner Nick Babbe made hay on.

In Norman’s case, his joint 3hrs 9min. 37sec. victory was the cherry on top of a promising season where he had nevertheless fallen several places outside an Island Games berth in the local qualifier.

The Games postponement has therefore borne a certain silver lining for him.

Given extra time, the established personal trainer and protege of Josh Lewis’s Entire group is hopeful of future selection. But, he admits, it won’t be easy.

‘I’m hoping to make an Island Games slot, but the standard’s so high,’ Norman said.

‘I was a little bit early – I only started triathlons two years ago, so I’m still on the rise.

‘It’s still a wish on the list, but I’m definitely less affected than some people.’

Tipper, a rower of British Championships pedigree, has also enjoyed the recent shift in sporting focus.

Both thanked the organisers for an enjoyable event on what was forecast to be a dismal, rainy day.

‘Really nice day, sun’s shining, and the water’s clear, which is amazing, and it’s quite nice to have a team event as the last of the season as it’s such an individual sport,’ Norman added.

Crosland and Babbe took second in 3-17-53, having dropped Richards and Elliott by nearly 4min.

Magda Murphy and Rachel Leech were the first and only all-female pairing, clocking 3-40-27.

Guernsey cliff-running ace Tiaan Erwee, sidelined by injury from his normal focus, proved an intriguing draw of the half-distance competition as he and Harley Gavey took official first place.

But Sean Murphy and Mark Naftel opted to complete the event separately due to other commitments and did so in a leading 1-36-07.

Adding to the various choices taken by competitors, two junior pairings completed a three run and three swim variant from Port Grat.

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