Kent Richardson lay in a crumpled mess after pushing one of Bermuda’s Commonwealth Games athletes for the majority of the race at the Aon National Sprint Championships at Clearwater on Sunday.
But minutes later, the indefatigable 55-year-old was back on his feet, looking like he could go round again.
It was a big weekend for Bermuda triathlon. As well as the home race, won by Glasgow-bound Tucker Murphy, Tyler Butterfield earned a superb third at the IRONMAN France and Flora Duffy broke the top 20 in a high-class World Series race in Chicago.
Richardson’s success, though, remains an enduring story on the island’s sport scene — and he made no effort to hide his delight at gaining a second-place overall finish at Southside rather than an age-group placing.
He credits training with Butterfield — the island’s IRONMAN star — with his eye-catching display at the weekend.
“We did a little open water swim at his place,” he told the Bermuda Sun. “And then Tyler and I did another lap and as we were swimming, he pointed out a couple of little things to do with my right hand and about making sure I finish my stroke with my push.
“I’ve also been putting inner tubes around my ankles to force my legs to sink in the water, I’ve been swimming with board shorts for more drag doing certain drills, and it all paid off. And in the end when I went out there, I was shocked at myself as I was pretty far up there with the swim. Normally, I’m much further back.”
In touch at the start of the bike, Richardson had overtaken Murphy by the time the two started the 5km run. It was then that the extra 22 years began to take its toll.
Richardson, though, still had enough to hold off Mark Robinson, 31, by a second in a furious sprint finish. “I was knackered, I must admit,” he said “I was looking back going ‘Mark’s coming, Mark’s coming’. I was giving it everything. That was hardest sprint finish I have ever had.”
The summer is far from done for Richardson, with the US 5150 Nationals in August (he was third last year) on the horizon, before heading to the XTERRA World Championships in Maui in October with Flora Duffy. How does he keep himself going?
“I think sometimes I get up and just think to myself ‘Okay, Kent, is this all you’ve got, how good can you really be? I think until I lose that spark of ‘How good can you get?’ I will keep going.
“At the Virginia XTERRA there was a guy, 60 years old, who passed me on the mountain bike. And I couldn’t get him on the run. “He was flying, so I always use my analogy that I’m a big, big towel that’s full of water. I’m now at the very end, it’s run out but there’s a few more drops. I’ve got two or three more rings on that towel of ability and then I’m cooked, I’m spent, I’m done. Game over!”