Guernsey Press

Norman hauls in Travers to win full season opener

CHRIS NORMAN’S strong start to 2023 continues.

Chris Norman leading James Travers on the run leg of Sunday’s Grandes Rocques Super Sprint triathlon. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32136716)

The soon-to-be Island Games debutant overcame the vastly-experienced James Travers at the first major triathlon of the season, the Grandes Rocques Super Sprint, to back up his victory at March’s Rocquaine Duathlon.

Beautiful sunshine contrasted with a chilling north-easterly wind for this short-and-sharp season opener, which consisted of a 400m swim, 10km cycle and 3km run.

A start time of just after 7am added to the challenge.

The eventual winner was always going to have a slight uphill battle on his hands after Travers, the more experienced of the two, left the water with a good lead.

At that point Youth Commonwealth Games swimmer Hannah Kennedy was second overall, with Norman third and just over 20sec. off the front.

But Norman’s faster cycle leg – bookended by very swift transitions – then negated Travers’ lead and gave the chance for the fleet-footed triathlete to complete a relatively simple run to victory.

He took the honours in 41min. 9sec. as Travers followed 30sec. later.

‘I’m so, so happy,’ he said.

‘It’s a nice way to start – first big race for me this season.

‘I was not sure how I was going to fare bringing the swim into the mix, which is my weakest discipline.

‘I tried to stay in contention on the swim and then push the bike as hard as I could.’

That plan paid off for Norman, who is the fastest runner on paper and is fresh from a big training block in the warm weather of Lanzarote.

The other Island Games man in the field, Ove Svejstrup, was never in direct contention but could still be backed for a podium place.

The veteran put in the best bike leg of the day – outpacing Norman by 6sec. and Travers by 12sec. – en route to finishing third in 43-43.

After James Tipper and Benn Garnham filled the top five, leading woman Amy Critchlow came in at a splendid sixth overall.

Women’s race winner Amy Critchlow exits the water at Grandes Rocques. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32136688)

The veteran triathlete gave away a minute on the swim to up-and-coming rival Kennedy, but her seasoned running and cycling legs had allowed her to flip that deficit to win in 48-16.

Runner-up went to a new face, Callie Hock, who ducked under 50min. after logging a particularly quick bike leg. Young Kennedy finished solidly third just over 2min. back.

After suffering a broken collarbone last summer, Critchlow is enjoying some nice, consistent training with this summer’s Island Games in mind.

‘Training is going as well as it can go,’ said a triathlete who normally loses steam after Easter due to work commitments.

‘It has been really consistent and I am in a good place.

‘I’m just going to keep going with that, get prepared as best I can for the Island Games.’

But for all that, she described the season opener as ‘a shock to the system’.

‘Second time I have been in the sea this year, and first proper swim, but it was good to get back into running through the processes.’