Triathlete Lynsey Henderson recorded her biggest success to date by finishing second in Sunday’s Knockburn standard distance event in Aberdeenshire.
The flagship event for the North of Scotland always attracts a class field and this year was no exception with 2007 UK Ironman champion Scott Neyedlli and Scotland’s fastest ever Ironman Graeme Stewart among the male entry.
The women’s entry was stacked with British representatives including Jenifer Eilertsen, age group world champion at the sprint distance, and Mairi Crawford, a silver medallist from the same world championships in Canada last year.
As Lynsey was warming up disaster struck. While putting on her wetsuit before the swim start her zip snapped off, making the suit unusable. Only the kind intervention of a marshall saved her, by running to the car to offer her his wet suit for the race. After a frantic change of neoprene she was ready and in the water for the start.
The 1,500 metre swim is Lynsey’s strength, and it showed even in this class of field. In the first lap she swam side by side with Eilertsen, but for the second lap Lynsey pulled ahead to exit the water as the first female in 22 minutes, leading the vastly more experienced Eilertsen by six seconds into T1.
During the first transition Lynsey struggled to get the borrowed wetsuit off in her usual fast style and this allowed Eilertsen to take the lead on the bike. Lynsey quickly recovered her composure to mount the bike and start on the 25-mile course, regarded as one of the toughest.
Lynsey had been training hard over the winter to improve her cycling and it showed as she powered through the course in pursuit of Eilertsen. She showed she was a match for the world champion, even on the bike, by coming back into T2 in one hour 20 minutes, within two minutes of her and putting in a quick transition to get out onto the cross country run.
The large crowd were now asking each other who the Shetland girl was, the unknown quantity leading to some debate as to whether she would be able to hold on to second place.
Lynsey is usually a strong runner, but with the course being hilly it was a real first for her. Eilertsen pulled away on the run, but Lynsey still ran strongly to post a 47 minute 10K and claim second place by two minutes in the female category ahead of Mairi Crawford, the world championship silver medallist.
The result reinforces the potential that Lynsey has, considering that she is relatively new to the sport and is racing with and beating girls that are coached to compete at a world level. This result has catapulted her on to the national stage, and she hopes to be competing at a European and world level soon if her progress continues.
She said she was very grateful to the man who allowed her to borrow his wetsuit, without which her success would not have been possible.