05 Aug Will Cowen wins Age group race at Challenge Wales
I’d had a good consistent winter this year, getting through uninjured and motivated for racing. After an ok but underwhelming performance in Mallorca, I was keen to get a solid race under my belt for this season. The lead in to Wales was positive, with a hilly 5 mile run race the week before and a 10 mile bike TT the following day showing some encouraging signs. Race day for Challenge Wales rolled around and presented the opportunity to race against a solid pro field, with the age group race starting with the pro field and not the usual 5 minutes after. I exited the choppy sea swim about a minute behind the main pro pack, starting the bike slightly down on where I’d like to be. Given the lack of swim focus recently this is a dial which can easily be turned up in future. Onto the bike I ended up in a pack which consisted of a mixture of pros and age groupers, and after a few stints driving the pace on the front I decided to sit in and save my legs to see if I could better my sub par running performance from a month before in Mallorca. I find that you tend to know the second your feet hit the ground if a run is going to go well or not, and this was no exception. Luckily the sensations were good and I set to work fighting the headwinds and hills that made the run course an honest and interesting route. The goal had been to treat the rest of the race as a warmup for the run and it was great to finally get through a race feeling like I was running strong the entire way.
With the Challenge pro prize purse it brought a strong domestic field and a really good opportunity to see where you stack up considering everyone was set off together (usually the pro wave is separate).Chris Hine
I feel like Chris really understands what I’ve been trying to do with my racing and training alongside a full-time job, and this result underlines the hard work we’ve both put in over the past couple of years. My time at Challenge Wales has meant that I’m now in the privileged position to be able to race in the pro field at races next year, so I need to figure out how will be best to approach that. I’m now looking forward to a few slightly different races for the rest of this year before knuckling down to hit the ground running in the pro fields in 2023.
The Challenge race in Wales is the first of this edition but has ran been previously under a different brand. With the Challenge pro prize purse it brought a strong domestic field and a really good opportunity to see where you stack up considering everyone was set off together (usually the pro wave is separate). The course and conditions were challenging and it is a half ironman distance (1900m swim, 90km bike, slightly short 21km run). The focus with Will this year has been all about improving his run split and since working together from the end of 2018, was seeing how competitive he could be with balancing a full time job. Some specific strength and conditioning work and careful intensity distribution has been the key components of that this year. We both felt the Mallorca (Ironman 70.3) race was a bit rusty and so it was great to execute a better performance here. The gap is relatively small to the front of the field but the difference with those athletes is durability from the amount of time they can contribute to training. This gives Will some really good information for making decisions on race direction going forward.