Teacher recovers to finish on triathlon podium

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A DEPUTY head teacher from Milton Keynes swapped the class room for the Caribbean this weekend as she competed with her husband in the Tobago International Triathlon.

Claire Vallance, deputy head at Leighton Middle School returned to the island to defend her 2011 title, overcoming the odds to finish an excellent third.

While she was training for the event in Milton Keynes earlier this year, she was hit by a car while running along Watling Street and was taken to hospital with a broken elbow.

She received expert care from Milton Keynes Hospital to get her back in training as quickly as she could. And her podium finish was a just reward for her hard work getting back to full fitness.

But her joy didn’t end there as she celebrated a double success with husband Piers, a fire fighter at Great Holm fire station, who crossed the line in second place.

The competition was scheduled for Saturday, but the husband and wife team arrived late on Thursday, giving themselves just 24 hours to acclimatise to the tropical conditions and overcome the inevitable jet lag.

An Olympic Triathlon comprises 1500m Open Sea Swim, followed by a 40km Road Cycle race and finally a 10km Run. The field was especially strong this year and comprised some competitors who had represented their country at World Championship level.

The men’s event was won by Ian Mikelson (USA) with Piers Vallance (UK) gaining a very creditable second position, in 2hr 12min 10sec, improving on his time from last year. Ancil Green (TOB) was third.

The women’s event was won by Kelsey Withrow (USA), with Alex Consten (D) in second place, and Claire Vallance (UK) in third spot in a time of 2hr 27min 07sec.

The couple are now taking a much needed break to recharge their batteries, and will celebrate their second wedding anniversary this week in style.

>> Jim McKellar crossed the line a creditable second in the British Sprint Trathlon competition at Emberton Park on Sunday.

Racing in the age 75-79 category, Jim, competing for Phil Corley Cycle Team/Blue completed the course in 1hr 56min 52sec - a 10 minute improvement on his time in the race last year.

Jim will hit the streets again in June as he gets ready to take part in the Windsor Triathlon on June 17.