Following the impact of event postponements and travel restrictions on the Great Britain Age-Group Team, September has seen the team travel to a number of events with the 2021 Europe Triathlon Challenge Long Distance Championships Roth the first.
Taking place on 5 September, the European Long Distance Championships welcomed athletes from across the continent including a team of Brits. One of the British Age-Groupers taking part was Richard File, who came home from Germany with bronze in the men’s 70-74 category.
“I just did my big race of the year in the European Long Distance Championships, held in Germany this time,” File commented.
“Its's 22 years since I first represented Great Britain Age-Group team. That was Montreal in 1999 and I finished 29th of 65 in my age group.”
As well as Roth, athletes have competed in Almere and Zofingen, with the sprint and standard distance European Championships in Valencia and Europe Triathlon Cross Duathlon and Cross Triathlon Championships also taking place this month.
Whilst the team who headed to Roth may have been a small one, the teams heading to the upcoming events will be back in the hundreds, with blue GBR trisuits set to be a regular site on the start lines once again.
“I've averaged one appearance a year,” File continued. “It was a huge thrill the first time I put on my GBR kit. Many of my early efforts were at long distance with memorable experiences in Nice in southern France.
“The camaraderie of the team was great, and then relaxing with them the day or so after the race.”
Athletes qualify to race either through qualifying events, meeting qualification criteria or through performances at previous championship events.
In a non-Covid affected year, the Great Britain Age-Group Team provides around 3,000 British Triathlon Home Nation members with the opportunity to race internationally whilst representing their nation.
“At first it was mainly the honour of representing my country,” File said when asked about his motivations for racing in the team. “Gradually I improved and realised that I might get a medal, with a lucky breakthrough to win the Sprint Distance World Championship in age group 60-64 at Hamburg in 2007.
“From that race onwards it was mainly about chasing the elusive long distance world title, finally getting there in Pontevedra, Spain in 2019. By then I had a coach, and she's made a huge difference, especially with the mental side. Thanks, Cat, if you're reading this - couldn't have done it without you.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen international races cancelled and travel restrictions imposed to mean that the Great Britain Age-Group Team has been unable to compete until September this year.
“The waiting's not been too bad,” File added about having to delay his race in Roth from 2020 to 2021. “I just kept training for swimming using stretch-cords draped around a lamp-post and I bought a turbo trainer to strengthen my bike muscles.
“Now I'm well into my seventies, 74 this year, and so I need to ‘keep the show on the road’. These opportunities don't come round that often - seize the day, and all that.
“This event was a double ambition - doing the ‘full distance’ race at Roth and representing GBR again. I finished in 14 hours 3 minutes and got the bronze. It's my last year in the age group, and that makes a big difference in your seventies. Roll on my new age group - the 75-79s.”
For more information about the Great Britain Age-Group Team and how to qualify, please visit the Age-Group section of the British Triathlon website.