Helen Russell

World Champion Quadrathlete and Duathlete


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GB SUP Series
After a break from racing for over two years due to the impact of the pandemic, Helen was back on the podium in the first two races in British Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) Series race. More used to triathlon or quadrathlon, it was Helen‘s first ever SUP race season, after taking up the sport in 2020. Racing for Fladbury Paddle Club, Helen was competing in the N1sco1/Naish category, where competitors all race on the same make of inflatable board.

The first race of the series was in Cardiff Bay in May. The 10km race started at the International Water Sports Village in the Welsh capital, crossed the bay and then went up the River Taff before heading back to, and across the bay, up the River Ely and finally to the finish line back at the watersports village. After the starting horn, Kerry Baker from Island SUP, who has been racing since 2014, took the lead and held onto it from start to finish, crossing the line in a time of 1.25.06. However, there was a close contest for the other two podium places behind Kerry. A three way battle across the bay ensued between Helen, Gemma Cone from Northern SUP Race Team and Kirsty Lynas from Southampton SUP Club but Helen settled into second place on the Taff, with Gemma staying in touching distance behind her. Helen created a gap between her and Gemma in the return leg across the bay and held onto it to take the silver medal finishing in 1.26.24. Gemma took the third podium place in 1.27.01 and Kirsty finished in fourth place in 1.27.21.

The second race in the series was in June at the Battle of the Thames at Kingston, London. The six mile race started at the Thames Sailing Club and consisted of three laps on the river. After the starting horn, Gemma Cone, racing for Northern SUP Race Team took a slight lead, followed by team mate Julia Welsh and Helen in third. Approaching the first turn at Kingston Road Bridge the three were still all together but Gemma and Helen pulled away on the approach to the end of the first lap and Helen narrowly went into the lead. Gemma settled in behind Helen but it was neck and neck throughout the rest of the race, until the final turn at Kingston Road Bridge where Helen exited the turn slightly ahead and started to create a gap. She pushed hard and extended the lead to cross the finish line in first place in a time of 1:28:12. Gemma finished 36 seconds behind in 1:28:48 and Julia took bronze in 1:34:03.

With this win and her second place finish at the first race of the series in Cardiff in May, Helen has secured a national GB SUP series ranking, which will be confirmed after the final race in the series later this season. Although Helen won‹t be doing this final race, athletes only require two results to secure a ranking.
SUP Triathlon Debut Win
Helen was back on the top spot of the podium after taking gold at her first ever SUP triathlon (Stand Up Paddleboarding/Bike/Run). The race, at Llangorse Lake in Mid Wales, was the first in this year‘s SUP/Bike/Run series of races and saw athletes tackle a 3km stand up paddle, 21km bike leg through the Brecon Beacons National Park and finally a 5km trail run alongside the lake.

Helen had a great start, posting the fastest SUP time in her race despite being new to the discipline, finishing in 28.12. Katie Black was second fastest off the water in 32.09 followed by Kerrie Gilling in 33.54. There was a fairly long run to the first transition,before heading out onto the tough bike course, which had numerous climbs including the Allt Filo. Starting at 119m above sea level the summit climb had 176 meters of ascent over 4km, with the whole route packing in 314 meters of ascent over the 21km. Helen posted the second fastest bike time and had a swift second transition. Although struggling in the final run she managed to do just enough to secure first place in a total time of 1.52.10. In fact, her time was so good that not only did she finish first female but also came 2nd overall, just 6 seconds behind the first man. With excellent bike and run splits, Kerrie Gilling was the second fastest woman in a time of 1.54.08 and Claire Sadwell took third in 2.04.32.
Rivers Fitness Partnership
Helen is delighted to have been chosen again to be part of the River Fitness Talented and Gifted Scheme. To support her training needs Helen will have access to the leisure centres within Wychavon (Droitwich, Evesham and Pershore), which will enable her to use the excellent facilities on offer from the 25 metre pools, state of the art Rivers gyms, a great selection of classes and the health suites to aid her recovery after hard sessions.

Website: https://www.riversfitness.co.uk/
Scimitar Sportswear Ambassador
Helen has renewed her partnership with Scimitar Sportswear. Based locally to Helen in Worcester, Scimitar are the go-to brand for custom sportswear, sublimated shirts and custom promo items. Scimitar manufacture the highest quality custom sportswear for clubs, charities, corporate events and mass participation marathons, matches and sportives. The company has particular expertise in cycle wear, running wear, triathlon kit, rugby playing kit, American football uniforms and medium to large runs of bespoke run, cycle, charity and corporate event and fundraising shirts. You can use Helen‘s discount code: HELENR20 to get 20% off full price items and HELENR5 to get 5% off sale price items. Enter code in checkout.

Website: https://scimitarshop.co.uk/
 Baggies Bike Ride
In March Helen cycled from Fulham to West Bromwich as part of the Baggies Bike Challenge, to raise funds for The Albion Foundation. Helen rode as part of a team of twenty-nine cyclists, which included former West Bromwich Albion player Chris Brunt and celebrity fundraiser ‘Blind Dave Healey‘. The team cycled a 180 mile route, which took them out of West London and through Reading, the Chiltern Hills, Bicester and Banbury, before arriving in West Bromwich for the game against Fulham. Upon arrival the riders were welcomed to East Stand at The Hawthorns and received a rapturous applause whilst doing a lap of honour around the pitch at half-time. Helen has been fundraising with the other woman on the team, who completed the challenge, Sarah Robinson and together the duo has raised just over £2,000 and overall the team have raised in excess of £30,000.

The money will go towards the work of The Albion Foundation, which runs a range of community outreach initiatives including, school visits and extra curriculum education, food bank and parcel deliveries, working with children in care, Alzheimer memories cafes, disability sports competitions and female sports development programmes.

Donations can still be made: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wbasarahandhelen
Escape to the sun
Helen was lucky to be able to escape the cold and wet British weather in January for a block of warm weather training in the Costa Blanca. The base for Helen‘s stay was the bike friendly Terralta Apartotel in Benidorm, which situated near a number of Vuelta a Espana climbs, is ideal for cyclists. She teamed up with Ciclo Costa Blanca for the use of a hire bike. The main focus of her training was cycling but she was also able to take advantage of the warm sea temperatures to do open water swim practice and the Ponitente Beach promenade was the ideal setting for some steady runs. Helen was insured by SportsCover Direct.

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