Steve Clark (28) & Phil Binch (43) joined 10 other Great Britain athletes to take on the best quadrathletes in the world on Saturday 13th August in Sedlcany, Czech Republic over a 1.5km swim, 7km kayak, 40km cycle & 10km run course.
Steve has competed in the World Quadrathlon Championships twice before, finishing 10th in 2007 & 7th in 2008, but for Phil this was a big step up from the British Quadrathlon Championship races, where he finished 3rd in 2010 & 6th in 2011.
Steve’s aim for the World Championships was top 5 and first Britain over the line.
Phil, not at all knowing what to expect competing at this level, simply harboured a secret ambition for a top 15 spot.
It all started back at the beginning of the year, when Phil told Steve he was going to take on the World Quadrathlon Championships this year, after a few more defiant “i’m going, what about you comments“, Steve finally changed his mind and informed the GB Manager after the North Lincs Challenge of his intentions, although Steve had the matter of 2 weeks in Greece and a wedding only 3 weeks before the race, so this wasn’t ideal prep.
Steve & Phil with their brilliant team of supporters Emily, Graham (Steve’s Dad), Sarah & Georgie all arrived in Sedlcany, Czech Republic at about 7pm on the Thursday evening with the race taking place at 11:30am Saturday.
We met up with the rest of the GB team for a major carb loading session. I must say the food was absolutely fantastic.
Friday, the day before race went like this;
08:00am build bikes
09:00am GB team meeting
10:00am Steve & Phil cycled 1 lap of the bike course (it reminded Steve how much he loved this course for its smooth undulating roads)
10:30am Steve & Phil run 1 lap of the run course (the route was good, mixture of surfaces, great woodland loop and a killer cobbled hill)
11:00am quick shower
12 noon Carb loading lunch with the best supporters ever
02:00pm Kayak 1 lap on a beautiful lake
03:00pm The Great Peanut Butter Treasure Hunt, a must for both Steve & Phil nowadays for race day breakfast
05:00pm Race Registration
06:00om Team GB meal
07:30pm Race Briefing
08:30pm Final GB Team meeting
Saturday – Race day
An early breakfast and lots of peanut butter, strawberry jam & bananas
09:00am Town Centre transition opens (T3 – Bike to run) so we both take all our gear and sort our run transiton out before riding over to the lake to sort T1 & T2. With 3 different transitions for this course it was really important to make sure we got everything sorted and in the correct place.
11:00am start to warm up and get your race face on! (see photo below – Phil 2nd from left, Steve 4th from left)
Steve’s original aim for the race was to be top 5 and first Brit across the line, but after having Phil tell Steve at every opportunity that he could actually win and be World Champion, Steve started to raise his aim. Steve thought “first place lets give it a go” and with the Czech Sports TV company filming him before the race whilst he was warming up, the contender status really started to sink in.
The swim is 1500m lake swim with a 100m sprint to the first buoy (see pic above) before turning left, it got really messy at this first buoy with everyone swimming over each other. After it settled down Steve got onto Leos Rousavy (Czech), current World Series leader’s feet and just hung on for the duration, Steve came out the water in 10th position, down on were he wanted to be, Phil was out in 14th.
Onto the 5 lap kayak which has to be said, both Steve & Phil hated. For the first 2 laps Steve was just fighting to stay upright as all the big European paddlers know us Brits are weak paddlers and come steaming past you pretty much hitting your boat with their paddles. After 2 laps Steve managed to get going a bit and picked a few off that had come past him and he overtook Mat Stephenson (GB) who was going well to move into 13th overall. Phil continued to struggle to just stay in the kayak, any capsize would have been race over as it was a long swim to the bank, but Phil’s position had droped over 20 places to the high 30’s and the bottom half of the field, Phil’s secret ambition for the race was now in serious doubt.
After the kayak, a 100m run up hill to the bike transition, Steve managed to pass Ian Smith (GB) who overtook him on the kayak so he was now 1st Brit and 12th overall.
Steve had a word with himself “if i’m going to get top 5, i need to put the hammer down now, big style” and that’s what he did, taking on some big risks on the down hills staying in aero position all the way, even turning a bigger gear than normal up the hills, Steve moved from 12th to 4th on the bike, and with the run to come he was now thinking podium top 3, as he knew Miroslav Podborsky (full time Czech quadrathlete) would be miles ahead as he had put 8 minutes into Steve in the kayak alone.
Phil, just pleased to get the kayak finished, didnt just have a word with himself he shouted to the support crew on the run to T2, “now it starts“, knowing that he also needed a flying bike section.
Steve recorded the 2nd fastest bike split with only Podborsky recording a faster time, Steve was now up to 4th and Emily & Graham shouted to Steve that he was only 90 seconds down on Stefan Tiechert (GER) in 3rd place, with Peter Hobor (Hungary) in 2nd, 6 minutes ahead, Steve knew that 3rd place and bronze was a serious possibility, if he still had his running legs after that incredible bike section.
Steve, got onto Teichard’s shoulder after about a mile into the run and it was at the start of the cobbled hill, so this was where Steve would make his move and he picked up the pace at the toughest part of the route, after about 20 secs Steve heard a big groan and Teichert dropped off his shoulder.
Steve was now in 3rd and with the Podborsky & Hobor well out of site this was were he would finished. Steve said “coming into the finish was a great feeling knowing i was going to be stood on the podium because in the kayak if i’m honest i didn’t think it was going to happen.”
Phil meanwhile was still out on the course battling the run demons, he had done what was required on the bike, recording the 6th fastest split, which moved him right back into it and 13th overall, top 15 was back on.
The first 5k loop felt ok, Phil had hydrated well on the bike and came into the town centre turn point looking ok(ish), but had dropped to 14th, but with only another 5k to go, it was still all to play for.
At the top of the cobbled hill section, Josef Feichtinger (Aut) pushed on past, that put Phil in 15th with just under 2 miles to go, another “talking to moment” was in order. Phil tried hard to pick up the pace through the woods, emerging at the top of the descent into Sedlcany with a 50m lead on Martin Smoleik (Czh). Phil didnt want to leave it to a sprint finish, so it was time to stretch the stride and up the pace, the pain was evident. The GB supporters & fellow athletes, including Steve Clark, shouted at Phil to lift his pace as Martin was gaining. Phil hit the cobbled uphill finish, still in the lead, only 100m to go, pain was etched in Phil’s face, this was hurting, 50m to go and still in 15th, a final push from the Czech 20m from the line, and Josef crossed the line infront by a whisker, pushing Phil down to 16th but 4th Brit home. Totally exhausted Phil staggered to a bench, where team mates and supporters quickly gathered and made sure he was ok, the disappointment in Phil’s face was obvious, so close to top 15 but it was not to be (or so he thought).
Now for the medal ceremony, Lincsquad’s very own Steve Clark was 3rd in the World Quadrathlon Championships, the GB team erupted with applause when Steve took his position on the podium, a smart glass trophy & medal, some euro’s (after taxes!) and a lovely wooden shelf, yep handcrafted in Sedlcany, a nice wooden shelf, although where its going in Steve & Emily’s house is still under debate!
We cheered the final GB team athelete’s over the line, then it was time to shower and relax for a while before the awards ceremony at the town hall later that night, where the age group & the sprint race trophies would be presented.
Team GB met early for a celebratory meal, Steve had promised himself a huge Calzone, Phil (whose mood had lifted) went one better and ordered a maxi pizza thinking “how big could it be“, Tim Deykin another GB team mate thought the same, and both ordered a nice little salad starter in anticiption of the feast ahead. The maxi pizza’s seemed to take a lot longer to cook than everyone else’s order for some reason, in fact Steve had nearly finished his calzone when the maxi pizza appeared, oh my god, the jealousy in Steve’s eyes was obvious, Phil thought “nice one“. It did take some eating though.
At the awards ceremony, an announcement in Czech mentioned something about a failed drugs test and on receiving a copy of the official results, Phil was in 15th position, although not the best way to gain a position, a huge smile appeared on Phil’s face, and it was time for a celebration beer with Steve.
Team GB awards
– Steve Clark, 3rd World Championships (Male)
– Helen Dyke, 3rd World Championships (Female)
– Great Britain, 2nd World Team title (first 3 from each country home) with Steve Clark 3rd, Mat Stevenson 7th & Ian Smith 9th.
– Mat also took the M40 World title with Ian taking the M50 World title
– Josh Hook, 2nd World Youth Championships
Full results can be found on the World Quadrathlon Federation site (when updated)
Steve & Phil also want to say a huge thank you to Emily, Graham, Sarah & Georgie for their support, encouragement & time keeping over the weekend. Also, thank you to North Lincolnshire Council for the valuable sports grant which helped fund the trip to the World Championships, and to all the GB team mates and supporters, not forgetting Steve Hook, GB Team Manager for organising everything and especially for driving over 2500 miles with our kayaks.
A great few days with friends, a great race with the best in the world, bring on 2012.
(more photo’s and video will be uploaded asap)