I was lucky enough to have an email exchamge with Chrissie Wellington recently. I know....that's a bit mental. In the course of this I disclosed for the first time that my blue, blue, blue sky goal would be to qualify for the GB age group team at half/70.3 distance. This was her response:
"My blue blue blue sky goal was to wear the GBR vest as an age grouper. and look where i am now. Dare to dream BIG Paul, and you never know what photos you will be showing your child(ren) in a few years time. And , if nothing else, you will have an awesome time trying - not to mention some chafing, tan lines and a supersized appetite. all the good things to come from this obsession we called triathlon!"
How inspring is that? Pretty inspiring as it turns out. It prompted me to get in touch with British Triathlon and get some info on what is required and where to start. I was extremely impressed to get a reply within a couple of hours from Adam Elliot, Performance Age Group Administrator at Brisitsh Triathlon. He explained:
"As British Triathlon we look after Age Group events that are run by the ITU. These events are not 70.3 as that is a brand term used by Ironman but are of similar length. There are 2 Long Distance championships in the calendar, the ETU European and ITU World championships. These events alternate (in theory) between being o2 (double Olympic), and o3 (triple Olympic) distance.
The process for gaining a place on one of these teams is similar to standard distance racing but without qualifying events.
As there are no set qualification races, athletes are required to submit their own performances from any race within 18 months of the qualification process at longer than Olympic distance. So Ironman, 03, Half Ironman, 02 etc. To qualify, this performance must rank you within 115% (Worlds), and 120% (Europeans) of the winner of your Age Groups time in the race you use. You put these races in the space provided on the registration form (online – log in to membership page and select ‘Age Group Team Application’ from the left hand side)."
So, unlike at sprint and olympic distance, there are no specific qualifying events. So, I thought I would calculate my time from Austria 70.3 as a % of the winner in my age group to see if I was even anywhere near the level of performance required. And shit the bed - my time put me within the 120% required for consideration for the 2011 Europeans. Now, there are other criterea to fill, and a very limited number of places available so I'd say it's highly unlikely I will get in for 2011, but I will apply and this news combined with the amazing pep email from Chrissie Wellington has given me a huge boost and led me to officially declare my intent: I WILL ONE DAY REPRESENT GB AT AGE GROUP LEVEL.
There. I've said it. It's out there. I'll look a twat now if I don't give it my very best shot. And as a dad, I would love to be able to tell my son that his old man did what he set out to do - that is motiviation enough!
There is loads of work to do, and in a funny way I'm slightly looking forward to the end of this season so I can really start planning my attack. But the journey starts here, and I'll blog about it, warts and all.
By the way - I don't have any warts.