So it’s happening, after a tense weekend praying for ash to stop raining from the sky, Ollie Turner eventually found out that he had an invitation to compete at the maiden Super League Triathlon (SLT) event in Jersey at the end of September.
A difficult weekend in Pentiction for all involved had seen two days of professional racing cancelled due to the wild fires that were having a serious impact on air quality. The SLT team had taken the difficult decision to cancel the pro racing on the Saturday and Sunday leaving only the individual TT times standing from the Friday. Due to the nature of SLT and the evolving form of the athletes across a weekend we didn’t think it fair to base the Golden Ticket allocation on the TT alone. So we took the step of inviting all the athletes that had travelled to Canada to come to the opening race of the season and compete in the first Championship Weekend in Jersey.
This will create a race within a race as those athletes who lined up in Penticton will be fighting it out within the field for the five Golden Tickets still up for grabs!
Jersey resident Ollie Turner is one of these athletes and is stoked to be competing in his home town, in front of a supportive crowd and still in with chance to take a Golden Ticket! We spoke to Ollie before he flew to Penticton so thought it would be a good chance to check in now and see where his head is at.
Ollie it’s great to have the opportunity to talk again after your trip to Penticton; so how much of a rollercoaster was that weekend?
“To be honest I tried to take as many of the positives away as I could, I met loads of cool people there and I was rooming with Jack Felix and we had exactly the same personality so we got on really well which was good. Jack introduced me to all the other US guys which was awesome. The race itself, I was disappointed it didn’t happen as I’d been training specifically for it but it was no ones fault at the end of the day so you can’t blame anyone.”
Going into the weekend were you expecting to be as high up in the opening TT as you were and did this give you confidence going into what you perceived to be your strength – the mixed racing?
“Once I got hold of the results I immediately started looking at who was in front of me and the time gaps between me and 5th place – what I needed to get a Golden Ticket. Ben Kanute and Jack were up there and those were the guys I knew personally were also good at the shorter distance stuff, the longer course guys had previously said to me that their run speed and swim speed might not hold up so I’m instantly thinking how can I go about this. Looking at the results I’m joint six with one of the Schofield twins with his brother 10 seconds behind us so I went right over to them and I was like right boys we need to hatch a plan here to catch up some time. I knew I was in the good situation as these two were in the top three in Australia for junior triathletes so they’re pretty good athletes!”
What was the plan?
“Well I knew I could swim with them if not faster but I knew they were good runners – so I was hoping my experience would come into play with mixing up the disciplines. So the plan was to work with them and kill ourselves to catch the faster guys and hopefully catch one or two of them on the second day which was the swim, run, swim, bike, run. We’d be looking to slide into the top five there so we were sitting in a good position going into the last day which is the day that suited me best with three short sharp races one after the other. Third day I was hoping to get a good swim to get into a pack on the bike and pull away form the not so strong swimmers who would be on their own on the bike and then all you’ve got to do is run in and not get eliminated.
So I did have a plan up my sleeve but we didn’t get to pull it off!”
So you were hoping for the longer course athletes that had shone in the TT to fade over the rest of the weekend?
“Well I’d never met these guys before and they were long course athletes and they certainly had a massive experience advantage on me because they were like 12/13 years older than me and had been pro for all that time. I wouldn’t underestimate any of them but was hoping my experience in Poznan, and then training specifically for this race, would help big time for the shorter sharper stuff because I had been racing the shorter stuff all season I was hoping that it would come through.”
So after the TT at what point did you start to get an inkling that it wasn’t going to happen for the rest of the weekend? From the outside looking in it was hard to get an appreciation of the scale of the problem on the ground.
“Part of me was saying I’ve travelled all this way I want to race but there was another part of me saying if they move this to Jersey will I have a better chance…? But then on the second day when I woke up I knew immediately we weren’t racing as it had actually got worse. I had a terrible night sleep going into the third day as I was dreaming I kept checking the air condition charts and it dropped to a 8 and we were racing……I was so worried that because day 2 had been cancelled we’d have less time to catch up with the guys that were ahead. Being 1:15 down and we’d lost that extra day it just got into my head and I dreamt about it all night. But then when I woke up on day three it had got even worse so there was never going to be any racing. It was a really random night. It was literally raining ash from the sky. They definitely made the right decision not racing and ever since I’ve got home I’ve been trying to shake off the wheezing and get the impact out of my chest.”
So – you’re going to Jersey, well you’re in Jersey, but you know what we mean. You’re racing in the first Championship Weekend of the season, is there an element of bitter sweet to that or are you just happy?
“Oh there is definitely an element of better sweet as I’d have loved to have qualified outright but the format in Jersey suits me. If we’re looking at the sole purpose of qualifying for the series then the way that it all panned out works in my favour. In Jersey the course suits me and with a home crowd which I’m hoping, I’m really hoping!, are going to get behind me.”
So when it comes down to it if you had to pick one single place on earth to go for the race of your life to try to qualify for Super League, Jersey would be it?
“Yea I guess yea. Knowing the course and especially that area of Jersey, I’m there everyday, I drive along the road every day and swim in the pool next door. The crowd will lift me up and two of my friends are having a load of masks made up with my face on them. They’ve picked the worst picture of me they could find and they’re having around half a dozen made…”
So whats the plan from now until race weekend?
“So I have one thing on my mind and that’s to qualify, I’m not going out to enjoy the experience of racing the best, I want to go out to qualify and that’s the bottom line. Between now and then I have a very busy couple of weeks. I have my first official GB race in Turkey the weekend before so that’ll be a good judge of where I’m at endurance wise. I’ll fly directly back from Turkey into the final prep before the race.”
Has anything changed in your prep now you know it’s Jersey that is the decider?
“Now I know I’m racing Jersey I’ll probably do some more specific training on the course.”
Do you think the race within a race plays into your hands at all?
“I think it’s good because if you look at Dan Halksworth’s race last year that shows just how good these guys are. Dan is an absolutely fantastic athlete but he struggled out there last year big time so it just shows how hard the race will be. So there will be the chance to mix it up but also use the confusion to race the others who are on a similar level to me.”
Who are you rivals going to be?
“Ben Kanute will be gone, he will be with the top guys. The Schofield twins will give me grief and I would never write off Nathan Killam because you should have seen that man run the beer mile – I’ve never seen anything like it. Nathan is the sort of person who would put himself down and then come out of nowhere and smoke it.”
So what was the end of the weekend in Penticton like?
“Yea great fun, we had a good night out and a few laughs before flying home.”
So once Jersey is over and you’ve qualified whats the next move?
“Ha, well I’ll look forward to the rest of the season and to be honest I need a bike sponsor… I’ve been helped out by one of the guys in my local bike shop who gave me his racing bike and he needs it back after the Jersey Super League. So after Jersey I am bikeless… So I’ll probably spend a few weeks looking for a bike sponsor.”
As you can hear Ollie Turner is all in for the Jersey Championship Weekend, he is laying it out there to get a contract and also hoping to attract a bike sponsor. He is Jersey’s top triathlete and well in with a chance of a Golden Ticket to progress through to the rest of the season so we wish him all the best for Jersey and hope to see him lining up at future Super League events.
Go for it Ollie!