Wednesday 10th April saw Cardiff and Swansea go head to head for the 3rd official Triathlon Welsh Varsity.
With the scores at one a piece from the previous years, all was to play for, with Cardiff hoping to defend the trophy they had one the year before, while Swansea hoped to wrestle it back.
The event consisted of a 750m pool swim, an 18.6km cycle (40 laps of the Maindy cycle track) and a 5km run. Both teams had 10 men and 10 women racing, with the top 10 finishers contributing to the points, with 1st place getting 10 points and 10th place getting 1. Whichever team had the most points would win the event and gain a point for their University in the Varsity shield. This year saw the Men’s and Women’s events become separate for the first time, with both counting for one point towards the Varsity shield.
Starting at 8am, there was a real chill in the air, but that was soon warmed up by the heat of battle with both universitites aiming to get as many of their athletes into the top 10 as possible. From wave 2 Ali Souch (Cardiff) set an early benchmark by being the first finisher under an hour – a feat that only 2 athletes achieved the previous year. Using his running background, Ali managed to run a 16:59 off the bike to come home in 58:52.
From wave 3, Hannah Briggs and Emily O’Riordan (both Cardiff) were taking place in an enthralling battle, with positions between the two of the swapping constantly. Hannah ultimately came home first by only 9 seconds, giving her the lead in the women’s standings.
From wave 4, Lucy Tothill (Swansea) raised the bar by taking the lead in the women’s standings by 9 seconds. Also from that wave, Teifi Drew (Cardiff) put in a strong performance to break the hour mark and move in to 2nd in the standings, however, this was short lived as Freddie Purcell (Cardiff) stormed home in the following wave to take 2nd for himself.
Wave 6 saw Ben Kent (Swansea) become the first athlete in green to break the hour mark, as he came home in 59:58. Following this, the final wave included the fastest swim of the day by Grace Kinnell (Cardiff) and both the fastest bike and run of the day by Paddy Livingstone (Cardiff). This was enough to give both of them the wins in the women’s and men’s race respectively. Grace ended up taking the win by 7 and a half minutes, while Paddy won by over 5 minutes. From this wave, Sam Johnson became the 6th athlete to break the hour by coming home in 59:04 and in the process secured 4th place.
Top 10 Women:
- Grace Kinnell – Cardiff – 10 points
- Lucy Tothill – Swansea – 9
- Hannah Briggs – Cardiff – 8
- Emily O’Riordan – Cardiff – 7
- Amy O’Hare – Cardiff – 6
- Katherine Lampl – Swansea – 5
- Lauren Hudson – Cardiff – 4
- Lotte Hoeijmakers – Cardiff – 3
- Emily Williams – Swansea – 2
- Ellen Seagan – Cardiff – 1
Total points – Cardiff 39 - 16 Swansea
Top 10 Men:
- Paddy Livingstone – Cardiff – 10
- Ali Souch – Cardiff – 9
- Freddie Purcell – Cardiff – 8
- Sam Johnson – Cardiff – 7
- Teifi Drew – Cardiff – 6
- Ben Kent – Swansea – 5
- Alex Hallett – Swansea – 4
- George Williams – Swansea – 3
- Jack Brammar – Swansea – 2
- Rhoss Adams – Cardiff – 1
Total points – Cardiff 41 – 14 Swansea
Cardiff in the end retained the trophy quite convincingly, with big wins in both the men’s and the women’s events. The strength in depth in University triathlon was clear to see which is hugely promising with the inaugural Welsh University Championships beginning in Bala in June.