Dowell Wins Gold At World Tri Age Group Champs
Melissa Dowell travelled to Oklahoma to race in the ITU World Long Distance triathlon Age Group Championships. She was part of a 30-strong representation of athletes from Great Britain. The GB age group team returned with 5 medals, 2 Golds, 1 silver and 2 Bronzes, with Melissa taking Gold in the female 50:54 age category .
The race comprised of 4km swim /120km bike / 30 km run with the hot, humid and windy conditions set to make it a gruelling race .
The 4km swim was based in Lake Hefler, usually pan flat but had been whipped up by 20mph winds making a choppy course . The swim was also non wetsuit due to the warmth of the water . Navigation was difficult due to the waves and made harder by the buoys being blown off course . What should have been a 4km swim became 4.5- 5km swim for many athletes .
Dowell, using her swim background, picked her was through the field and emerged from the swim in 1:19 as the second faster female and a clear 8 minutes ahead of her closest rival an Australian female in her age group. Many athletes were not able to make the swim cut off of 2:15 and 40 were rescued by the kayak support due to getting in distress from the brutal swim conditions .
The bike leg was a rolling course heading north out of Oklahoma . Dowell settled into a rhythm and concentrated on managing the hot and humid conditions . The wind picked up to gust at 30mph making the last 20km back into the headwind gruelling . Dowell took a further 9 minute lead from the Australian, finishing the bike leg in 3:48 .
Dowell started the run, a windy twisting 3×10 km course with no shade, with a commanding lead. She ran solidly in the heat and humidity to finish the run in 2:50 and a total race time of 8:01. This was enough to take the World Championship Age Group Gold medal, ahead of an Australian in Silver and a Canadian in the Bronze medal position .