RICHARD Shephard of Stratford Athletic Club represented Great Britain in two different events at the ETU Multisport European Championships in Ibiza and came away with medals in both.
The middle-distance triathlon – the final event of the eight-day championships – was delayed due to thunderstorms and flooding, but it finally began in a slightly shortened format.
The sea swim was approximately 2km around an island, which Shephard completed in 29:10, putting him third overall in the 35 to 39-year-old category. The bike stage was reduced in distance but was nevertheless still treacherous due to the heavy rain, resulting in a large number of crashes.
“After a couple of near misses early on, I took it steady to ensure I made it back in one piece,” said Shephard, who finished the bike leg in 1:12:05 – the second-fastest time of the 35-39 field.
It was then out of transition and on to the run. The course included three laps up on to the walled fort of the Ibiza old town, before finishing in the marina. He clocked 1:20:45 – once again the second-fastest time of the field.
Shephard won gold in his age category – nearly five minutes clear of the Spanish silver medallist and ten minutes ahead of bronze.
“After what’s been another difficult year, it’s great to finish this season on a high and be competing again at this level,” said Shephard.
His gold medal-winning performance came just a week after his appearance in the duathlon earlier in the championships. Shephard, his wife Ceri and Fern Hordern, all from SAC and who all qualified to represent Great Britain, competed in either the standard or sprint distances.
The sprint distance duathlon was again held in treacherous weather conditions. In what unfortunately proved to be a somewhat disorganised race, a number of athletes were misdirected on a shorter route while many others crashed out on the bike leg.
Despite this, Ceri completed the course in full and battled her way to 11th position in her age group.
Fortunately conditions were much better for the standard race on the Sunday and most of the organisational issues had been sorted.
“Having not raced competitively for some time, I didn’t know how I would fare but I finished the first 10km run in sixth position overall,” added Richard, who clocked 34:00 for that stage.
He managed to move up a couple of places on the bike leg (46:38) and held on to his position on the final run (18:33), despite the hot conditions.
Richard was first British athlete back, finishing fourth overall and taking the silver medal in his age category.
Hordern, who also competed in the standard distance, finished seventh in her age category.
“I was in a very competitive age group, so it was a case of doing the best I could,” said Hordern. “Finishing seventh in my age group was better than I expected.
“It was very hot, which made the first and second runs challenging. Once we were out on the bike section, it was great fun. All went smoothly until the second run, when I had to force myself to get my legs to the finish line.”