Perran Tri Me & Neil Close Up

Perranporth Triathlon – September 2017

I was wasn’t sure whether to race the Perranporth triathlon or not right up to the 24 hours before the race. Being so close to the World Ironman 70.3 Championships I was worried that it would be too much so close to the race. I knew a flat standard distance triathlon 7-days out would have been fine and easy to control my power and heart rate zones etc, but this is Perranporth triathlon, it involves a 1.5km surf sea swim, a gruelling 38km bike course with a big steep climb per lap and then a 7.5km beach run, finishing off running over the dunes. I missed this race last year as I was racing in Australia and knew I’d miss next year because of racing in South Africa. I didn’t want to go 3 years with out competing in my hometown race, the local support is fantastic and it’s always the highlight of my race calendar. So even with the bad forecast expected I rolled down to registration on the Saturday and got my entry.

The joy of racing in your home town is that with the luxury of a 9:30am start and only being a 2 minute cycle from transition I could have a nice chilled start to the day, with all my home luxuries and breakfast with my feet up watching tv. The rain was pouring down outside and knew it would be a hard race. There was a hive of activity in transition and it was good to see the weather hadn’t put off the tough Cornish triathletes.

We were lined up on the beach with a 20m dash into the sea, I took it steady as being low-tide didn’t want to hit any pot-holes and twist an ankle. The sea was a lot bigger than I was expecting and it was a real battle to make it out to the first buoy. I got knocked back a few times but tried to use my Surf Life Saving skills to good use. Turning the first buoy I could see a few swimmers up ahead but I just got into my own rhythm. Coming in I was hoping to catch a wave but couldn’t really latch onto any. I exited the water with Tri-Force star Fenella Langridge and started the long run to T1. Even though it was so wet luckily it wasn’t that cold unlike Dublin 2 weeks ago.

Setting off on the bike and up Liskey Hill for the first time I managed to overtake junior triathlete Travis Bramley and then super swimmer Dan Goodway. I was feeling strong on the bike but was annoyed as I could hear the brakes rubbing on my wheels. I hoped once I was settled in on the flatter sections and sat down this would stop, unfortunately it kept rubbing which was very annoying but also helped in stopping me on the downhills as I was very nervous of coming off. The first lap I always planned on pushing slightly above Ironman 70.3 power to use it as a bit of a tempo session for next week. On the first lap I could see Neil Eddy just ahead and even though I really wanted to push on to catch him straight away I held back a little. On the second climb I managed to catch and overtake him. I got him to have a quick look at my brakes to see if he could work out what was happening but he said nothing was sticking out. The second lap I lead the way and settled into my race power for next week. Hitting the decent into Perranporth on the narrow lanes Neil pulled a massive gap on me. Hitting the climb for the final time I know I had to either dig deep to catch him or let him go, I didn’t want this to end up being a battle on the run either as I knew how well Neil was running and my competiveness would of taken over and if I left T2 with him I would of ended up putting in 110% to try and get the win.

Starting the run, I just felt relieved to have made the bike course in one piece and knew my parents were relieved I stayed upright! I don’t think I’ve run on sand all year due to all my injuries so it was a shock to the system that for 1st kilometre. I ran strong and well down along the beach to the end. I tried to always be on the harder sand and just kept an eye on my heart rate. The plan was to push the first half of the run, then cruise it home. At the turn around Neil had a massive 2 minute lead (he really was in top running condition because I wasn’t exactly slow on the first half), and knew I’d never catch him. It was great seeing Dan Goodway in third, quality friend and unbelievable how quick this boy runs with such massive shoulders! On the return run leg you have to go up the zig-zag path at Perran Sands, then up over the dunes and down again. Even at a walking pace my heart rate was rising. I jogged the last downhill onto the sand and enjoyed the atmosphere from the local support. I felt like I had let people down by not winning but knew I had bigger fish to fry next in the United States.

Another joy of racing in my home town I was able to be home within minutes of finishing and on the indoor bike trainer doing a light cool down. A quick shower and it was over to the Wateringhole Pub on Perranporth beach for a hearty portion of spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread. After a lonely solo trip to Dublin it was nice to be surrounded by friends and family for the presentations. I picked up 2nd overall and 1st in the under-30’s. Once again the prizes from Giant-Helston and Snugg Wetsuits were incredible and I feel very lucky to have these great two companies as my sponsors. They aren’t just sponsors but Steve and the team at Giant and Malcom at Snugg are more like family after so many years of working together.  A massive shout out to my other supporters Asics UK, Torq Nutrition, Fizik and well as the constant support from coach Julian Wills (, Laura at Verve Fitness & Therapy and Simon & Billy at Tri-Force Endurance. I feel very fortunate that even with such an injury disrupted season these guys have stood by me and are always there to help 24/7.

Now it’s onto the big one, the World Ironman 70.3 Championships in Chattanooga. It’s going to be a tough race and I know I’m nowhere near as fit as last year, but I’m going to go and give it everything I’ve got. No matter the result I’m going to enjoy the race and as long as I’m constantly learning I feel I can reach my triathlon potential and get that pro license card.


Michael Birchmore

Training hard is what I do

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