by Paul Martin
Where do I begin? How about mid July. I was sitting on the bed checking a social media update from Super League Triathlon (who I've followed since watching the Hamilton Island event earlier in the year) with details of the next event. The post read 'Super League is coming to Jersey', I checked the dates, 23-24th September.
I'm free that weekend, so I turned to the wife and said, "Do you fancy a dirty weekend in Jersey at the end of September, without the kids?" (I turned 40 in August and we were looking for a weekend away to celebrate anyway, Perfect!) "Yeah ok," she replies. "I like Jersey." (we've been before) So she set about finding somewhere to stay. I thought I better come clean early on and told her about the event. "Not a problem, it is for your birthday after all," came the reply, get in! One-bed apartment Friday to Monday and a couple of Easyjet flights for a couple of hundred quid all booked.
Friday 22nd, good afternoon flight over, apartment was very good for the small amount paid and just a 10-minute walk to the Super League venue, things were looking good.
Took a walk over to the venue that evening to see what the spectator areas were gonna be like, it turned out you could pretty much watch from anywhere, fantastic, so we strolled through transition (yes through, which was all set up ready for bike racking for the Corporate Mix event in the morning) and along the finishing chute. Banners and LED boards and screens all over the place, it looked fantastic. Right, couple of pics, bit of dinner and off to bed.
Saturday 23rd, glorious sunshine, shades on, let's go! We decided to give the morning Corporate Mix event a miss and come back at 12pm to find a spot to watch the Elite Mens event. We managed to cut through the hotel that all the pros and organisers were staying in and passed by several of the not-so-well-known pros without even realising, palm-to-face moment. Got to the other side and found a great spot to watch and film the start.
The horn sounded and off they went, Holy S**T! over the next hour or so I witnessed the fastest and most awe-inspiring racing i have ever known! We worked our way round the course throughout the race taking pics and videos and shouting support. Got the Tuff-fitty banner out in a few spots to try and get some TV coverage (not sure if we did or not) and took a few pics with it too. Found a good spot to see the finish and it was Blummenfelt, Murray, Brownlee, respectively, they had been well clear throughout the race so well-deserved.
The women were up next and they did not disappoint! Same spot for the start, get in, Brits, Sophie Coldwell and Jodie Stimpson lead for a fair part of the race but were outdone in the end by Zaferes, Spirig and Cook. We did the same as for the men's race and worked our way round the course shouting support and taking pics. It was amazing how close you could get to the racing and with the course being really short there was always someone to watch. When the women's race had finished the spectators were welcomed onto the course and into transition to greet and congratulate the pros, wow, more pics and lots of grinning ensued! Day one done, found a nice restaurant for dinner and took ourselves to bed. Didn't sleep much, too busy grinning and going through the photos and videos taken.
Sunday 24th, cloudy and raining, it couldn't have been more different conditions. This was gonna be a tough day for everyone. Ladies first this time. We went looking for a sheltered spot and found a few places round the course, caught sight of a few very nasty crashes on the bike sections, lots of skin and tri suit left on the course today, ouch! We worked our way round and decided to cut through the hotel again, glanced over to the bar area and it was fairly empty with an outside area looking over transition and the run up to the finish, no one there to say we were not allowed to be there so took the coats off, bought a drink, took a seat and watched the event through the window and over the glass balustrade between showers. I came back in during a shower just as Jonny Brownlee wandered through the bar in front of me, just enough time to say "good luck today Jonny", to which he replied "Thanks mate, let's hope I do better than yesterday" (a slight shoe-fitting issue in the last transition lost him a few valuable seconds, which was too much for him to be able to catch Murray and Blummenfelt). More grinning ensued!
Todays racing was made even more thrilling as the field was cut to 15 after the first swim-bike-run, then to ten after the second swim-bike-run so there was racing within racing! Awesome!
I watched and cheered all the ladies up the finishing straight to blaring music, applause and cheers after each tri and the final sprint to the end. An amazing finale for them and well-deserved, none of them held back despite the dangerous conditions. I saw a few of them hobbling back in to the hotel bandaged, bloodied, and bruised, including Brit Emma Pallant. Final result, Zaferes, Cook, Spirig, well done ladies, just a little too much for the Brits at the end.
Now for the men. We walked round a bit of the course in the rain then decided to get back to the Hotel for most of the race this time as the view was good and there was a big screen a little further down so we could keep up with the racing we couldn't see. As with the ladies, the field was cut after each tri and they also did not hold back. A few of them definitely left with a lot less skin than they arrived with (Brit Ben Dijkstra being one of them) The racing was fast and furious and a little tighter than yesterday. Still Blummenfelt, Brownlee and Murray in the mix but joined by a few others Schoeman, Royle, Hauser, Mola, etc...
Again, we cheered them all up the finishing straight after each tri and to the final finish line. Blummenfelt took it convincingly on the final run with Jonny not to far behind and then followed by Murray a few seconds later. Blummenfelt was outstanding all weekend, the win was well-deserved, and after being pipped at the post in the ITU grand final by Vincent Luis the weekend before you could tell he really wanted this one.
I slumped back in my chair still grinning and thinking this couldn't get any better, well, it did. As i sat there the pro ladies started appearing in the bar area, right, selfie time, i managed to collar as many as i could even though it only seemed to be me and half a dozen of the Jersey kids tri club that was approaching them asking for autographs and selfies, i don't think many people realised that the hotel was still open to all, felt a bit like an old stalker at times but what the hell. Then the men started coming in with their bikes, well i say men, when you see them on the telly you think they are these big, tall, strong, machines, when actually they are normal young lads and ladies that are just bloody fit!
All of them were more than happy to talk and pose for selfies even when a few of them were battered and bruised and no doubt knackered. I spoke to Dan Halksworth (a Jersey Lad who did brilliantly and had the whole Island behind him) as he came back in with his bike and whose last comment to me was "you better get the selfie in now cos i'm about to go and get smashed", and rightly so!
Just to show how normal these pros are and to top off the weekend we shared the Easyjet flight back on Monday with none other than the winner Kristian Blummenfelt, Current ITU world champion Mario Mola, Agnieszka Jerzyk, Laura Lindermann, Joao Pereira and a few others whose names escape me. We returned home a very happy couple.
I apologise for rambling on so much but this weekend was, by a country mile, the most amazing, awe-inspiring, fast, competitive, and friendly event, sporting or otherwise, that I have ever attended or even seen for that matter. Credit to the Super League Triathlon organisers and the islanders. I understand that they are planning to do this event in Jersey for the next five years so if you want an amazing weekend I could not recommend this enough. All the pros seemed to enjoy the format as well and I think all have said they will return next year. I am certainly hoping to. I have added a couple of pics with this report and will be posting a load more including videos on my Facebook page soon, link below.
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings as much as I enjoyed the weekend.