Walton and Neal Shine to take well deserved wins
Guernsey’s Luke Walton and Nikki Neal were crowned Granite-Man and Granite-Woman following convincing wins in the Guernsey Triathlon Club’s third instalment of the 70.3 mile long distance triathlon event.
80 competitors lined up at Pembroke Bay at 7am to test their physical and mental ability.
Conditions were windy but not the force seven to eight which had been anticipated during the week.
Walton held off competition from Jersey’s Doc Snook who, despite a strong start in the swim and on the bike, unfortunately had to retire mid-way through the 13.1 mile run following a calf injury.
Walton was therefore home and dry in an incredible time of 4 hours and 7 minutes, some 15 minutes clear of his closest rival.
Despite suffering a broken toe days before the event, Mat Dorian came home in second place in 4 hours 22 minutes. Richard Stapley and previous winner Tim Johns finished next in third and fourth places respectively, giving Guernsey the top slots.
Walton, who is preparing for the World Championships in Hawaii next month, was happy with his win.
“I’ve always wanted to do the GraniteMan and thought that it might help with some race preparation ahead of the Ironman in Hawaii in four weeks’ time.
“The wind was pretty strong so good practice for Hawaii conditions minus the heat. Looking at the start list I thought Doc Snook would be very quick through the swim and bike so I had to try and not get too far behind. Also I was keeping an eye out for Mat Dorrian who is very fast on the run and had improved his cycling a lot this year.
“I felt good in the swim right from the warm-up and it went by pretty quick so it was a good start.
“On the bike I initially took a while to get going perhaps, feeling some fatigue from the last three weeks training. In the second half of the bike I felt a lot better and really picked up the pace and felt good coming back into transition.
“I ran quite hard to the turn on the first lap and caught Doc a lot faster than I expected. Coming back I could see I had a good gap to the next two so on the second lap I was able to relax a bit and enjoy a really good run course.
“It was a good confidence boost for Hawaii; despite some tough conditions it was nice to see a lot of people out there enjoying it. It was a fantastic race and I look forward to doing it again,” he said.
Nikki Neal, who was third woman into transition two after the 1.2 mile swim and the 56 mile bike section knew what she had to do in her strongest discipline, running, and she didn’t disappoint. Clocking a 1 hour 37 minute half marathon, the fourth fastest run split of the day, Neal thoroughly deserved her win having only taken to triathlon last season.
“I only secured a GraniteMan spot three weeks ago so I’m really chuffed to be first lady on the day.
“As predicted the 56 mile leg was miserable and I was overtaken by a lot of competitors including Shanine Johns who effortlessly cruised past me on the first cycle loop.
“I didn’t think I would have a chance of catching her on the run but, as it turned out, I did, along with Anita Jones from the UK and some of the guys as well. This made the final stages of the race very enjoyable,” she said.
Neal’s finishing time was a very credible 5 hours and 3 minutes with Jones second in 5 hours 14 minutes and Johns in third with 5 hours and 24 minutes. Guernsey’s Lyn Mahy took fourth place.
Meanwhile, 27 competitors lined up for the sprint distance which comprised a 750 metre swim, 20k bike leg and 5k run.
Guernsey’s Sam Herridge and Nathan Gosling took the honours for the women and men respectively crossing the line together in a time of 1 hour 13 minutes.
Guernsey’s Luke Winberg was first junior and third overall while France’s Gautier Hebert was the second junior to cross the line.