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Sharky's 2012 Triathlon campaign starts in South America!

sharky-sa-3Sharky has had a busy start to Olympic Year, in the first 9 weeks he has been out of the UK for 45 days. You may think he leads a charmed life, but the first 23 days was a solid block of training in Spain, where he returned pretty tired after some excellent swim sessions, exhausting bike rides and some essential running, strength and conditioning work.

He then had two trips to South America in quick succession, his first trip to Brazil was a great success where he represented Great Britain at a Fast Triathlon, finishing 2nd Individual and leading the GB team to Bronze medals. Six days after his return he embarked on another long journey via London and Madrid to Lima in Peru. Upon his arrival, the bike had to be assembled and made ready for racing, then familiarise himself with the course, race briefing and straight into his first Olympic distance triathlon of 2012. On the start line were seven Brits, five who Mark trains with in Loughborough and all of them have been in triathlon for some time. The athletes faced 2.5 metre surf on the 1,500m sea swim, which is Mark's weakest discipline, but the swim went quite well. The athletes tried to catch waves to bring them back to the shore and in the melee one athlete inadvertently used him as a body board to get back to the beach, which he later discovered was one of his GB teammates. He struggled at the start of the bike course, having swallowed too much salt water making him sick. He regained his composure and worked hard on the tough 7 lap, 40km bike course that took 70 minutes to complete, eventually passing people on the run and finished in 9th place immediately behind two of his teammates, Matt Sharpe the reigning U23 World Champion and Aaron Harris.

The following day he flew to Salinas, Ecuador to prepare for his next race six days later. It was another hot day and despite the race starting at 10.30am the temperature soon rose to 31 degrees. The swim went much better than the previous week, where he had a deficit of 40 seconds behind the leader but this time after exiting the water on the first lap of the swim, he was with the leaders and managed to maintain his form on the second 750m lap, finishing just 7 seconds behind the leader. Mark experienced another first on the bike, when fellow Trigold athlete, Matt Gunby lost both his drink bottles as he rode over a speed bump. After failing to get a bottle from any of the athletes around him, he caught Mark who gave him a full bottle. The bike ride was quite tactical, but Mark stayed with the leaders and approached the 10km run course knowing he would have to perform well to stay in contention. His hydration was impaired due to having insufficient drink on the bike and although he was able to get water on the run course, this tended to give him stitch. He ran well and recorded the fastest run split, finishing just 3 seconds behind an Argentinian athlete who was runner-up in Lima. Mark's second place was his first ITU podium placing, elevating him to 133rd place in the World rankings. Athletes hoping to be considered for selection at the Olympic Games must be in the top 140, but with two GB athletes already meeting the selection criteria and a number of GB athletes ahead of Mark in the pecking order for the final Olympic place, London 2012 remains a dream, with Rio 2016 a more likely target!

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Sharky's first ITU podium placing - Ecuador Sunday 4 March 2012

 

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Mark with girlfriend Lucy Hall who won Gold in the Elite Women's race!

 

Pre-2012 news, results & reports are on the old sites: 2009 to 2011, Pre-2009

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