On 23 May 2012, the Army Triathlon Association held their annual sprint distance triathlon championships at Keynes Country Park, part of the larger Cotswolds Water Park. This race is always a popular event, sitting well in most race calendars as it follows quickly on from the pre-season training camp in Cyprus. The 750m open water swim is followed by a 20km bike route and a 5km run making it a short and fairly accessible event for novices. However short though, this does not detract from the high level of racing that the event attracts. For many of the top athletes, this is the first opportunity to test their early season form against the rest of the Army field. Those wishing to make it onto the Army Triathlon squad in 2012 were all on the start line hoping for good results.
The open water swim took place in the Keynes Lake where water temperatures had warmed slightly following the stint of hot weather. The swim was led out by SSgt Neil Ferguson who is an ex-Army swimmer and is used to leading the early part of Army races. He was closely followed by Maj Chris Stuart with WO2 Mark Livesey just over a minute down into the first transition (T1). Once out on the bike it was WO2 Glyn Painter who posted the fastest split and rode himself into contention, but WO2 Livesey also rode very strongly coming into the second transition (T2) in the lead. WO2 Livesey continued his consistent performance across all three of the disciplines pulling away from Maj Stuart and SSgt Ferguson to win by just under a minute. Maj Stuart ran well and held on for second place, with SSgt Ferguson finishing strongly in third place. WO2 Painter finished in fourth position after a strong bike-run combination and was also the first placed veteran finisher.
In the female race a strong swim from newcomer 2Lt Ellie Ridley saw her take up an early lead and retain it for the whole race. She was challenged on the bike by a solid performance from SSgt Lisa Clash who is returning to triathlon after two years away from the sport concentrating on her cycling. 2Lt Ridley is a current Combined Services level runner, and made it count on the final leg of the race posting a very fast 17.07 min split for the 5km route. Clash followed in second place just over 2 mins behind, and taking the female veterans category winner. Third place went to Major Sarah Thomas.
The day was a huge success with over 150 athletes competing. This bodes very well for the next race in the ATA calendar which is the Standard Distance Championships on 13thJune in the same location. Expect to see some hard racing for the most coveted Army title in the series.