Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Tramore’s Kieran Jackson who finished fifth overall in the International Superleague Triathlon Qualifier in Ottawa, Canada over the weekend. Photo: Damien Jackson.

Waterford Triathlon Club’s Kieran Jackson finished fifth overall in the International Superleague Triathlon Qualifier which took place in Ottawa, Canada, at the weekend. This was only his second time to race this new exciting format and almost made the top three which would have meant qualification for the Pro Series which starts in September. The qualifier consisted of two races in different formats, one on Saturday and another on Sunday.

First up on Saturday was the race format is known as the ‘Enduro’ and is considered the most brutal of all the Superleague Triathlon formats, where athletes race three continuous triathlons (300m Swim – 4km Bike – 1.6km Run) without a break. The last two athletes from each swim, bike and run are eliminated leaving the remainder to fight it out. The race is very exciting for spectators as it takes place in laps format in a tight and technical area consisting of four laps each race on the bike and two for the run. The pace was explosive from the start with a ferocious battle for places over the aggressive and no quarters asked or given swim! Jackson exited the water in 10th position and was away on the bike in the second pack chasing the four leaders. He had a good first leg run and was up to sixth place as the athletes dived into the Rideau Canal for leg two. Exiting transition for the bike in Leg two Jackson had moved to fourth place driving on the chasing pack to try catch the leaders. The race continued in this vein for the 3rd leg but the leading pack were never caught. Ryan Baile from Australia who finished 10th in the Rio Olympics won the first leg followed by Longcroft from Canada in second and Austin Hindman, World Junior Champion in 2016 in 3rd. Jackson finished sixth on day one to keep him in with a chance of winning one of the ‘Golden tickets’ for the first three overall from the two days racing to the Superleague Pro Series Triathlon in September on day two.

Sundays format was the ‘Eliminator’. This format involves the athletes racing three rounds of triathlon similar to the distances above with a 10 minute break between each one to reset the bike in transition, recover as much as possible and get ready to go again. The format also involves a ‘cut’ which eliminates all athletes outside the top 15 at the end of round one and in round two eliminates it down to the final 10 athletes to fight it out to the finish.
Jackson recovered well overnight and learned quickly from the swim ‘boxing match’ on Saturday. In round one he exited the swim in fourth position about six seconds behind the two leaders. Onto the bike and the gap was quickly swallowed up and he finished in fourth place making the required cut of the top 15. Ten minutes later the remaining 15 athletes fought it out for the top 10 places that would see them progress to round three. Again a good swim from Jackson saw him exit the water in fifth place and was quickly up to second on the bike leg. This continued into the run and Jackson eased into the final 10.
Once again 10 minutes later, the third round began. It was full on at this stage with each athlete fighting for those qualifier places to the Pro Superleague Triathlon. Once again Jackson had a strong swim and exited the swim in fifth position which he maintained throughout the final round.

Jackson finished up in a very impressive five place overall from the two days racing missing out on the three ‘golden tickets’ for the first three qualifier places. He was however, very happy with his performance and pleased the way his training is progressing and looks forward to improving throughout the next few weeks. Next up for Jackson is the National Sprint Distance (750m swim, 20km Bike and 5 km run) Championships in Dublin on the weekend of 17th August.

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