Double World Champion
Helen is celebrating after taking two World titles. At the beginning of the month Helen travelled to Germany to race in the World Sprint Quadrathlon Championships for her first international quadrathlon race.
The competitors assembled at Ratscher Lake, in ThŁringen, to race over a challenging course of 750m swim, 20km cycling, 4.5km kayaking and 5km running. Helen, competing in the 40-50 age category, was first out of the lake in her age group with a 1min10sec lead over the second placed athlete, fellow Brit, Helen Dyke, who was the 2017 European Sprint Champion. Helen struggled to find a rhythm on the undulating bike leg but despite that posted the fastest time in her age category and extended her lead over Helen Dyke to 2mins27secs. Having only taken up kayaking two years ago, the kayak leg is Helenís weakest discipline but she was still able to post the second fastest time in her field. However, German athlete Anke Trilling had a great kayak leg, overtaking Helen Dyke and closing in on Helen, whose lead was reduced to 1min05secs going into the run. Meanwhile, Helen Dyke struggled with the choppy lake conditions and dropped to fifth place behind athletes Susanne Walter and Gabi Menke. Helen knew she had to push hard on the run to stay ahead of Anke and in doing so slightly extended her lead to take the win in a final time of 1.46.18. Anke took the silver in 1.47.37, with Susanne making up the podium with 1.51.58. Helenís finish time meant that she was second overall woman on the day, with only Lisa Teichert from the elite category posting a faster time.
The Championship race win also meant that Helen took the Quadrathlon World Cup Series title in her age category. The series rewards consistency over the season and Helen scored points with wins at World Cup races in Brigg in May, Box End in July and the World Championship race in Ratscher.
British titles defended
Only two weeks after winning the World Championships, Helen returned to the top of the podium, defending her British Quadrathlon Championship title.
The championship race took place in Bude, Cornwall and covered a challenging route of an 800m sea swim, 30km bike, 10k kayak and 10k off-road run.
The swim leg was a two lap course where competitors had to exit the sea, run along the beach and then re-enter the sea for a second lap. Despite a physical start, where the athletes fought for the best position, Helen kept calm and battled the waves and current to exit the water in first place, 2mins 8 secs ahead of second placed athlete Jacqueline Davies from Frome. The bike route was a real test of strength as it took in the infamous 30% climb of Millook. Jacqueline was overtaken by Natalie Abbott from Macclesfield & District Canoe Club but neither athlete could challenge Helenís dominance on the bike as she extended her lead to 8mins16secs. At 10km, the kayak leg on the Bude Canal was unusually long and five tight turns meant that the strong kayakers had a chance to come to the fore. However, despite this being Helenís weakest discipline she held off the faster paddlers behind her and entered the run leg still in the lead. Behind her Allison Parritt from Fowey Canoe Club had kayaked past both Jacqueline and Natalie, with Jean Ashley from Chester Triathlon Club moving into third. The top three positions didnít change on the undulating off-road run, which took in the Bude coastal path. Helen had an unassailable lead and crossed the finish line first woman overall in a total time of 3.07.33 to defend her British Championship title. Allison finished second in 3.26.50 and Jean took the final place on the podium in 3.28.42.
The Championship race win also meant that Helen took the British Quadrathlon Trophy Series title for the second year running. The series rewards consistency over the season and Helen scored maximum points with wins at Brigg in May, Dearne Valley in June and Box End in July, as well as the British Championship race in Bude. Helen will now have an end of season rest period before deciding on her 2019 aims.
Box End Quad Win It was three out of three wins in the British Quadrathlon Trophy Race Series for Helen after taking victory at the Box End Quadrathlon.
The race, which was a cross-sprint format of 750m lake swim, 15km off-road bike, 4.8km kayak and 5km run, was the third in the British Quadrathlon Trophy Race Series and also a World Cup Race. As with her previous races Helen led from start to finish, crossing the line in 1.54.32, with Jacqueline Davies finishing in second in 2.03.17 and Jean Ashley taking the final podium place in 2.04.43.
With three wins out of three races, Helen is firmly in the lead for the overall series title, which rewards consistency over the season. As there are six races in the series, Helen just needs to secure one more victory to guarantee she retains the title she won last year. The win also saw Russell move to the top of her age group in the World Cup Series rankings.
National Aquathlon Bronze Although concentrating on quadrathlon this season, Helen decided to have a go at the National Aquathlon Championshsips in Peterborough and came away with bronze in her age group. With high temperatures the 750m swim was non wetsuit, which Helen struggled with, leaving the water in joint fifth place, neck and neck with Monica Lawton from Welland Valley Club. Helen had a much quicker transition than Monica to head out ahead onto the 5km run and went on to overtake Paula Moore from WVTri and Jo Croft from Hoddeson Swim Club, to cross the line in 3rd place. Claire Vallance from SwimRunners UK took the national title followed home by Elizabeth Bellinger from Bishops Stortford Swimming Club, who took the silver. Despite winning the national title in her age group in 2012 and 2010 Helen was pleased with finishing on the podium.
Helen leads British Quadrathlon Trophy Series
Helen has taken an early lead in the 2018 British Quadrathlon Trophy Race Series after winning the first two races of the season. As reported last month, Helen won the first race in the British Series at Brigg in May and followed it up with a victory at the Dearne Valley Quadrathlon in South Yorkshire this month.
As with her race in Brigg, Helen led from start to finish. The race was over a sprint distance of 800m swim, 15km off-road bike, 4km kayak and 5k run. Helen led out of the swim and managed to build her lead throughout the race, finishing in 1.42.40. The 2016 Series winner Jean Ashley took second place in 1.51.07 and Jacqueline Davies rounded out the podium in 1.52.45.
Two wins out of two races means Helen is firmly in the lead for the overall Series title, which rewards consistency over the season. With six races in the Series she will need to win four to secure victory and hopes to build on her lead at the next Series race in Box End in July.
Brigg Bomber Victory Helen got her quadrathlon season off to a great start, taking the win in the first British Trophy Series race in Brigg, Lincolnshire. The race, which was also a World Cup race, saw athletes take on a 1500m river swim, 7km kayak, 38km bike and 10km run.
Helen had an excellent start, covering the up and downstream swim leg in 21.59, putting her well ahead of second placed athlete and current European Sprint Quadrathlon bronze medalist, Helen Dyke, who swam 24.18. Knowing that Dyke is a faster runner than her, Helen pushed hard on the kayak and bike leg to try and create an unassailable gap and covered them in 44.53 and 1.09.33 respectively.
As the course was an out and back route Helen knew that she had built a sizeable gap between her and second placed Dyke and so heading out into the 10km run she concentrated on holding onto her leading position. In hot conditions and fatigued Helen struggled to set a decent pace, running the 10km in 44.55 but still had a huge gap as she crossed the finish line first in a final time of 3:04:12. Helen Dyke took silver in 3:13:44 and Mary White the bronze in 3:26:55.
Terralta Apartotel Promo Helen was the subject of a film, released in April to promote the Terralta Apartotel in Benidorm. The film was shot during Helenís stay at the hotel whilst cycling in the Costa Blanca this winter and shows the bike friendly amenities of the Terralta as well as the roads and climbs in the region, including the famous Port de Tudons. Click on the link to watch the video and see the climb up the Tudons!
Baggies Bike Challenge Helen joined a team of twenty two cyclists who cycled from the Liberty Stadium in Swansea to the Hawthorns in West Bromwich to raise funds for The Albion Foundation. Helen and the team, which included former West Bromwich Albion players Brendon Batson and Bob Taylor, set off from the Swansea City stadium and rode over 150 miles on a route which took them over the Brecon Beacons and through Abergavenny, Hereford, Worcester, before arriving in West Bromwich for the game against Swansea. Upon arrival the riders were welcomed into the WBA Fanzone at the Hawthorns and received a rapturous applause whilst doing a lap of honour around the pitch at half-time. The challenge has so far raised just over £25,000 with the final total hoped to reach £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, working with children in care, Alzheimerís memories cafes, disability sports competitions and female sports development programmes.
Helen is the first woman to have participated in the annual Baggies Bike Challenge and as well as raising funds hopes that her participation will have shown young female Baggies fans that they can enjoy and succeed in sport.
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 Helenís 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 as well as some sessions in the local swimming pools. The Ponitente Beach promenade was the ideal setting for some interval and steady runs. Helen has now returned to the UK where she will focus on getting fit for the start of the quadrathlon race season. Helen was insured by
Totally Wonderfuel Partnership
Helen is excited to team up with Totally Wonderfuel, who will be providing her with a range of natural energy bites and balls. Totally Wonderfuel was set up by fellow endurance athlete Mel Varvel, who has a passion for baking and natural nutrition. Totally Wonderfuel has a simple food philosophy: honest, healthy, wholesome, nutritious and delicious food to help you eat well and perform better. All products are bursting with nature's own superfoods such as fruits, seeds, nuts and oats, and natural wonderfuel like dietary nitrates in beetroot and caffeine in coffee. Packed with protein, crammed with carbohydrates, full of healthy fats, high in fibre and teeming with essential vitamins and minerals, Totally Wonderfuel products will provide Helen with fuel for the body and soul; energy without compromise.
Charity Wattbike Classes
Over the winter months Helen has organised a number of Wattbike classes in aid of the West Bromwich Albion Foundation. The Foundation uses the medium of sport to work in communities to help raise aspirations and create opportunities for those that are disadvantaged or face barriers in life. The Foundation has a number of programmes such as educational initiatives in schools to help those that are struggling to achieve, mentoring and improving attainment with children in care or foster homes, opening up opportunities in disability sport, running sports initiatives in anti-social hot-spots and supporting sports development for girls. As well as organising the Wattbike Classes, Helen is cycling with a group of amateur cyclists from Swansea FC to the Hawthorns for the league match against Swansea on 7th April.