What can you do with 11 days’ notice?
Turns out quite a lot … if your name is Lucy Charles-Barclay.
British long course triathlon specialist (she’s a three times runner-up at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii), Lucy lined up on the start line at the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) in Leeds on the weekend – the second leg of the 2021 WTCS.
And what a performance she delivered in her first ever short course race.
The WTCS Leeds course reportedly had a few surprises in store once the familiar 1.5km swim in Waterloo Lake had been negotiated – a long climb out of transition, a 40km bike course entirely in Roundhay Park, and a 10km run that ended with a punchy incline.
Lucy’s swimming skills were quickly on display as she, together with fellow Brit, Jess Learmonth, set the pace in the 1.5km swim.
However, the short course specialists – some of the best short course athletes in the world – quickly showed their skills in the super-quick transitions that are typical of short course racing (a lot different to long course) and their tactical prowess on the technical bike course, overtaking Lucy once the swim was done.
But considering Lucy only had 11 days to prep leading into Leeds, she held her own and proved she can do just about anything.
In the end, it was Maya Kingma from the Netherlands who was crowned the queen of the north of England on Sunday afternoon, delivering a near-perfect race, coming across the line in 01:54:26, with Jessica Learmonth (GBR) hot on her heels coming in second in 01:54:37. Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell rounded out the elite women’s podium in 01:54:46.
And what a gutsy performance from Lucy!
She managed to out-pace Taylor Spivey (USA) to finish fifth in 01:56:50.
That’s right, a top five finish in her first ever short course race.
Lucy followed the phenomenal Flora Duffy (Bermuda) across the line, who finished fourth in 01:55:25.
‘A very small chance that it could go right’
“Me being me, I always want to kind of prove the doubters wrong and show that I can do this,” Lucy said in her race wrap-up on her YouTube channel, which dropped overnight.
“But it really did feel like the chance of failing was way higher than the chance of success, purely because I just hadn’t had the time I wanted to prepare for the race.
“So, I went into the race knowing that there’s a chance that it could go completely wrong but there’s also a very small chance that it could go right, and I could have a great race.
“There’s so much to learn but for a debut with not the prep I would have wanted I was really happy.”
Will we see Lucy on the short course field more often in the future?
“Well, I hope so. I think that proved that I can be competitive,” she said.
“I was kind of in the race and part of me was like, ‘You’re doing well but you haven’t done the prep you would have wanted, so you could be better than this. But you’re still having a great race. You’ve got to go with it. You’ve got to learn on the go’.
“There’s a huge part of me that has always been about the Olympic dream. Growing up being a swimmer it was all about, ‘I want to go to the Olympics. I want to race in an Olympic Games. I want to be an Olympian’.
“And that has never left me. It’s always been in the back of my mind.”
With a top five finish in her debut short course race, Lucy has certainly proved that she’s got what it takes to be competitive in all triathlon distances.
So, perhaps it’s a case of, watch this space?