IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth 11/9/16 – Christina Demetriou
On Sunday 11th September we were blessed with a beautiful day for racing and so the adventure began on the shingley beach in Weymouth.
The sea was warm and calm, the rolling start less stressful than a mass one. At first, it was not too busy but about 10 minutes into the swim I encountered traffic. This was the moment I put to use all the open water “skills” we practise under Sean’s coaching at Crosfields on Monday evenings. Someone tried to swim over me and I kicked them hard (they didn’t try again.) I defended my space and enjoyed barging through tight gaps just as I’d practised with my lane buddies. A kayak sped past me, a marshal left their post, (I think to check on a swimmer,) and many competitors ahead of me, and possibly behind me, cut the course by swimming on the inside of the furthest turn buoy. I assume this was down to poor siting and blindly following others; why would you cut the course on purpose? The swim back to the shore was quieter and so less eventful. Once out of the water there was a very long transition run to the tent, followed by a very long run to the bike and then off into the sunshine on the machine.
I enjoyed it the most. A scenic, undulating, challenging course which brought back fond memories of my younger triathlon days on a similar course and on some of the same roads. I was glad to be a stronger cyclist this time. Nick Lees came past and slowed for a short chat. A chat and a whinge about lack of bike fitness. Then he promptly left me in the dust! I was looking forward to Damien Ward riding past too but I later found out he had been delayed by an incident on a technical downhill corner. A few miles from Weymouth and up a steep incline, my chain came off. I frantically tried to click it back on but ran out of momentum and had to stop. It seemed like it took ages to sort out and get back on up the steep part, but in reality it probably cost me only about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I got off the bike feeling fairly fresh, upbeat and ready for the run.
The run was hot and dragged on. The support and feed stations were great and got me through. 7 toes blistered (laces not tight enough?) and this really affected my running. It was great to see Tri2o team mates throughout on course and also supporting, air horning, photographing and cheering (Tina and Sabrina and kids.) A very necessary distraction. After running around the end of the pier for the 3rd time I knew the adventure was about to end. 6 hours 3 minutes, 53 seconds. It was hard but incredibly rewarding and a beautiful race which I can highly recommend. After only 2 slices of pizza, (I honestly only had 2 slices, Jason Barrett, and promise you I didn’t eat all the pizza in the 6 hours before you finished the full,) I was already excited about the big one I’d entered the week previously, even with the exhaustion, blisters and aching legs. Before this however, there is the small matter of a sub 6 hour IM 70.3 target!
I am proud of my performance but could not have done this without the encouragement, companionship, coaching, friendliness and inclusiveness of Tri2o. Being a member of the club has rekindled my love for the sport. I look forward to every coached session and training session with my club buddies. With you, I never fail to laugh, learn or enjoy myself and I have made some amazing friends -thank you.
VICHY IRONMAN 70.3 – AUGUST 2016 – Martin Cook
Vichy is the only Ironman race where they run the 70.3 on the Saturday and the full on the Sunday. Therefore if you do the 70.3 you get the pleasure of sitting with a beer and watching the suffering in the full Ironman.
Registration was painless although my Ironman all world athlete privilege was to join a bigger queue than for the other competitors. In fact there was no queue for them so I didn’t bother with the all world athlete silliness. Also I didn’t realise that there was a free bus from town so my 40 minute walk was not necessary. At least it was there for the return journey.
Racking later in the day was marred by me forgetting my race number. Why they needed to see it when you have a bracelet is anyone’s guess but I managed to get through 2 checkpoints to get to the race referee who said that I could check in with him in the morning. Pointless but a waste of time arguing and at least they had been flexible.
Annoyingly they didn’t run the bus for the race morning so my warm up was the same 40 minute walk. I don’t think that it would have killed them to run the bus for the race start.
I checked in with the race referee – yes my number seemed to be remarkably similar to all of the others.
On to setting up my bike. Pumping up the rear tyre there was a funny noise and the valve extension fell off. Something was now rattling around now in the deep section void and I could neither pump it up or let it down so I was stuck with it at 75 psi. I would have punctured it and replaced it but I didn’t think I had anything with which to do it. It was only after the race that it occurred to me that I had a safety pin in my race belt.
As rumoured the day before it was declared a non-wetsuit race – all that money on a snug wetsuit specifically so that I could for the first time ever in a race escape from my wetsuit like a pro and I was not allowed to use it.
So into the queue for the jump into the water. A quick chat with Stephen Ridley taking my mind off the prospect of the shock of cold water that time in the morning. So it came as a surprise that 25c feels pretty warm.
The swim start was a rolling start – very closely controlled with people being let onto the pontoon at precise 3 second intervals. The conditions for the swim itself seemed to me to be quite choppy. It’s in a river but effectively it’s a lake as it has a dam under a bridge. 37 minutes for the swim when I was thinking 32/33 so not a great start. Shows how poor I am without a wetsuit (although the other swim times seemed pretty slow so maybe it was just generally slow). My race goal was to get under 5 hours and before the race I was thinking that I needed to do really well on all sections to have any chance of doing it. A poor swim, flat tyre and a foot injury that been niggling away for a couple of months meant that I was now not optimistic.
The bike leg seemed to be going pretty well though although I was only looking at average power and HR so I had no idea how this was translating into a bike leg time as it’s a single lap. There were only 2 distance markers that I saw, one at 25 and the other at 70km. at the 70km I did a quick calculation and realised that I was going pretty well. The final bike time was 2.32 which was much better than I thought possible.
The least said about the drafting the better. It now seems endemic in Ironman racing. So blatant was it that at one point I was overtaken by two guys in the same team kit. They need to increase the penalties. The prisons (as the French like to call them) were pretty full when I went past them which seems to me to suggest that a lot of people now seem to have decided that 5 minutes in the prison is trivial when drafting might save 5/10 minutes per hour.
Out of T2 in an overall time of 3.20 so a sub 5 hour was back on.
The temperature was now climbing – 27c at the start of the run. At every aid station there were volunteers with hosepipes at the start and finish so there was plenty of opportunities to cool down.
A tough run but very nice along the banks of the river and into town through a park so plenty of variety to take your mind off the pain. Finishing time for the run of 1.35 which was 2 minutes better than Barcelona 70.3 from 2 years ago. Still staying ahead of the aging process!
Total time of 4.55 so very happy. Unfortunately, although that would have won my age group in the previous year it was only good enough for 4th this year. So no qualification for the world champs in Chattanooga in 2017. Never mind still very happy to beat the sub 5 hour mark (time was running out) and improve my Barcelona pb by 20 minutes.
I’d shipped my bike which worked out really well. The van was in the car park so I collected the bike from transition and handed it straight over. We then went for the bus to find that only the French would schedule a 2 hour lunch break when the service was needed most (apologies to any French club members but really what were they thinking?). So a very hot 40 minute warm down walk back into town.
Bridge to Bridge Swim, aka “Thames Marathon” – Georgia Jackson
After (temporarily) falling out of love with triathlon and realising that I have very badly designed feet, I needed a new and different challenge for 2016. The most natural rest for my poor feet was a swim focussed year and the goal I chose was the epic 14 km swim from Henley to Marlow in August.
Having completed the fabulous Jubilee River 10km swim in 2015, entering the Bridge to Bridge (B2B) seemed an easy progression – well, it’s only another 4km, right? After I pressed the enter button in a moment of lunacy, the reality of “only another 4km” hit home. When I shared my exciting plans with friends and family, the usual response was “HOW far?! That’s a running distance … you are utterly bonkers”, apart from my mother, who just said “You’ll get Weil’s disease”; but then she always says that when I swim in open water.
I needed to structure my preparation, so I downloaded the training plan suggested by the Henley Swim company (who run the event). This suggested building up to 6-7 km in the pool and some very complicated sets, so I largely ignored it, joined Reading Masters, continued the Friday morning Tri2O swim, and the rest of the time hung on to the feet of the Channel Swimming lads at Bradfield pool for dear life. Their experience and encouragement, led by the ever enthusiastic Glyn Bevans, got me through some mammoth pool sets and along with a few Jubilee river and lake swims, I felt pretty prepared. I also felt it was extremely important to build up as much natural buoyancy as possible to aid my swimming endurance, and thankfully had no trouble doing this with copious amounts of cake and chocolate.
I had no idea how quick I could swim it, but going on my sub-3 hour Jubilee Swim in June, along with the stronger downstream current of the Thames but a likely slower pace due to the increased distance, I figured around 4.5 hours would be something to hope for. I planned to swim solo as I like my space and solitude in the water, and this year we were allowed to do so as tow floats were compulsory. It was difficult at times due to sheer volume of swimmers, but for the most part I found plenty of space. Others chose to swim in “pods”, herded by nervous kayakers trying to stop us being sucked up by the Gin Palaces cruising on this most affluent section of the Thames.
The swim is broken into 4 separate legs, with a food and drink break (and usually a weir) at each break point. The second leg is the killer at 6km in length (eased by a gel midway), although following the first 4km leg you really feel like you’ve broken the back of the swim by the second stop. I had planned to meet a friendly face at the 10km point, but unfortunately rather underestimated both my pace and the current – and arrived at around 2:40 hours rather than the predicted 3 hours! I did loiter for about 10 -15 minutes, but sorry Tim, I did say I wouldn’t wait! I took advantage of the plenteous supply of Haribo, Soreen, bananas and flapjacks, and then plopped back in the water.
By the third stop (hearing that Tim had tried to catch up on his bike but got lost!) it dawned on me that a sub-4 hour swim was a real possibility. So, with the thought that “there’s only 2.2 km to go”, I set off. At about 1km from the finish, I left my arms somewhere on the river bank (to be reunited a couple of days later) and floated inelegantly downstream. Marlow seemed to last forever. However, I got there, and in 3 hours 56 minutes (incredibly 26 or so minutes of which was food stoppage!) and was delighted to meet up with some of the Windsor and Maidenhead OSS as well as fellow Tri2O clubmates Erik Andersson and Hella Lipper (with their faithful support crews).
The Thames really is a lovely place to swim – much cleaner than many would have you believe – and the scenery was beautiful. There were also a lot of very swanky mansions to ogle. Apart from the rather hefty entry fee, the disappointingly feeble latex swim hat (definitely one up to My Sporting Times for their vastly superior Jubilee hats), the lack of coke at the feeds stations, and the 45 minute wait in the blazing sun for bus transport back to the start, it was all in all a stunning swim and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a different endurance challenge. I am unashamedly proud of myself for completing it, and openly grateful to the generous current on the day for providing me with a very respectable time. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again – back to triathlon for 2017 methinks. But perhaps a Channel swim in 2018? Mmmmm, more excuse to eat cake, now that appeals.
Challenge Roth – July 16 – Martin Jeffery
Long story short – Having completed Challenge Henley in 2012, in 12hrs 21min,
it was time for another crack at Long Distance Triathlon. I had a plan to go sub 11
but a really hot day scuppered the run & I hit 11hrs 11min. Still a PB by an hour
but slightly disappointed, given the training & fitness on the day. There’s always
The long version – I’m relatively new to the club & have not met very many of
you. I’m a vet, 44, & only started doing triathlons in 2008, my first was the
Bananaman ¾ distance. My background was hockey, which I played
competitively from 16-42, retiring to concentrate on cycling / Tri. I had run a bit,
with a few ½ marathons & 3 marathons. My mate (Chris) was into cycling & he
also did Challenge Roth in 2010.
After my first Tri, I did a couple of sprint races at Dorney, one or two a year but
nothing more. I was doing more cycling with my mate, local sportives & just out
In 2011, we decided we needed a challenge, so in July cycled London to Paris in
24 hours, as part of a charity ride with Scope. In 2012, Chris (everybody has a
mate like this) decided to up the ante. Rather than just do London to Paris again,
make it a bit harder. So 7 days before the start of L2P, I find myself in John
O’Groats. 7 days & 800 miles later, I am on the start for L2P & 24 hrs later in
Paris, having cycled 1,100 miles in 8 days !
Thus a cycling base fitness was established. I’d been swimming with Chris over
the summer & Challenge Henley was in September. Two months to do a bit of
running & I completed my first Iron distance tri.
Roll on 3 years & I was getting the itch to try IM again. Chris suggested Roth, so
we drove over to watch, bikes in the back. Rode the route Sat, watched on
Sunday & registered on the Monday, having joined the queue at 4am !
Post Roth I had a swim lesson with Jennie “POINT YOUR TOES” Jones. I signed up
for a training plan & she kept me on the straight & narrow. I came along to Weds
AM Swim at the Wilink, with Mike & Vanessa, my Lane 3 team mates. A rather
last minute decision to buy a full on Tri Bike, led me to Callum Hughes for a bike
fit & I was ready for Roth.
Having watched the year before, I knew what to expect but even then, the
atmosphere exceeded all expectations. Competing with elite athletes & Jan
Frodeno setting a new World Record was amazing.
The swim went well & my target was 1:10 – 1:15. I could hear a voice in my head
on the swim & it was Jennie – Point your toes ! I was very happy to come out of
the water in 1:11, feeling fresh. Not the fastest time in the world but definitely
Onto the bike & having ridden the course before I knew was to expect. It’s not
flat but it is fast & the roads were in superb condition. The challenge here was to
reign in the adrenaline & save something for the run. I didn’t manage a negative
split but only dropped 4 mins from lap one to lap two, so fairly consistent. Target
5:20-5:30 & I hit 5:15, very happy & still feeling strong.
The run – is where the wheels came off. I had been doing plenty of long bricks in
training & metric IM, so I knew my 4hr target was achievable. However I’m a big
bloke (6’7”) & don’t fair to well when it’s hot. I got around to the halfway point
knocking out 8 min miles but was starting to slow. At 8hrs 35mins into the race, I
still had 2:25 to run a half marathon, so sub 11 was on….
With hindsight (a wonderful thing) my energy drink was not going down & in the
heat of the moment I forgot to replace the carbs. With the temperature now
around 30 degrees, I was just drinking water & running on empty. Which around
mile 22 became jog / walk when I realised sub 11 was no longer going to happen
& I broke mentally. The crowds were great & kept me going to the finish in 11hrs
After Henley I said never again. After Roth, I am definitely doing another Iron
Distance tri, otherwise those 11 minutes are going to haunt me !!
Thanks Jennie for the training plan & to Callum for the bike fit.
Thanks to my wife for being incredibly understanding & apologies to my boys for
being out training so often.
See you on a Tri course soon,
Outlaw Triathlon – Justin Watkins
So I’ve just completed my 3rd successive Outlaw triathlon and Ive been encouraged by the club to write a brief (long) blog of my year so far. I decided this year would be the big one as I’m not getting any younger and needed a few new goals to focus on. The rough plan was to run a few marathons before targeting the Outlaw once again and Ironman Wales, using three 70.3’s for my training.
My year started on New Years Day with the Flitch Way Marathon near Braintree and whilst it was never going to be a PB due to it being a muddy trail run and I was very heavy weight wise at the start of the year, it did at least help me get one monkey off my back; as I was able to run my first ever marathon throughout without walking. I learnt a lot that day and I took this forward to my future events.
My next tactic was to lose some weight and to do this I worked with Stu at Immortal Fitness to adopt a diet for 6 weeks. The diet went well and I lost about 1st 7oz.
It was now mid February and I was starting to enjoy some events, as I’m not the greatest trainer and so prefer to train using events instead. These are more fun, easier to motivate yourself for, you fuel better, you have feed stations and you have others to compete against.
One early run in particular went well and gave me belief and that was the hilly Watford Half Marathon. I had a great run and came within 10 secs of my PB 2:02:04.
I think at this point I decided to introduce some much needed additional much needed focus and I set myself 5 goals to achieve in 2016. A 5K PB, a 10K PB a sub 2hr Half Marathon, a sub 5hr Marathon and a sub 15 hr Outlaw Triathlon.
I certainly focused heavily on running early in the year as I enjoy it and it let me down a bit last year, as I didn’t put enough time into my running. As well as running I’d had a good winter progressing my swimming by swimming twice a week at Willink and Bradfield.
However, probably the greatest performance enhancing thing I did though, was to attend Richard Coates’s presentation on the Brain and Sports Performance. In this key presentation I learnt to how suppress my anxiety and to focus on pushing myself in the current event both before and during the race and not holding back anything for a future event or giving myself any excuses to not perform.
The first PB to go was my 5K, where inspired by my girlfriend leaving me for dust, I tried to catch her and did a PB at Basingstoke parkrun of 25:41. This proved to be the start of a magical trio of PB’s in April. Next up was Reading Half and feeling confident and motivated I pushed for a PB. It was at 10 miles that I was very confident of a PB and getting under 2:02, that I decided to really give it my best shot, take the pain and go for a sub 2. I really pushed in those last 3 miles and knew it would be close going into Majeski stadium for the last 0.1 of a mile, having passed the 13 mile sign at 1:59:20. I gave it my all and I dodged and weaved through people for a last ditch dip at the line. A few minutes later I was ecstatic to learn that I’d done it and recorded the magical time of 1:59:59.
So now onto the Brighton marathon. I was full of confidence but would the dreaded 20+ mile curse inflict it’s usual pain, suffering and disappointment.
I had a plan and listened to my body and executed it well. My race was spot on and I ran the whole distance again, smashing my PB by 27 mins and recording a time of 4:42:58. I now believed anything was possible. From running marathons it was time to start to think about triathlons and in particular cycling as to the end of April I’d only cycled about 100 miles in 2016.
My first triathlon as usual was the Hart triathlon. This proved to be tough as I punctured twice but continued on to complete the race as I could still gain the practice and fitness.
I then had a brief switch back to running and enjoyed a weekend away in Kraków, Poland; running the marathon there. It was a great race and saw me finish a minute outside of my PB in 4:44, but it was a great mental confidence booster again.
I then returned to England to race the Outlaw Half in Nottingham the following weekend. This was a tough race for but a good training and learning session for me. The swim was horrible as it was freezing cold and I got a bad kick on the nose from a breast stroker early on, which destroyed all my confidence and rhythm. My bike was good despite it being very windy and I ran strongly to finish in 6:36. After the Race though, I thought how the hell am I going to do a full outlaw in two months when a half was such hard work.
Next up two weeks later was Ironman Staffordshire and another chance to enjoy myself training and get my first taste of the Ironman brand. I loved the weekend although we had a lot of rain. The course was tougher than the Outlaw, with Staffordshire’s lumps and bumps both on the bike and the run. I completed the event in6:47. The Ironman brand was interesting and they put on a good show, but by far the best selling point of their product; is the closed roads. Again after the race I worried how I was going to do the Outlaw in a month and a half.
I then did some cycling, enjoying the club fish and chip ride and the wiggle chiltern classic sportive. These two events strengthened my legs and by cycling a couple of 100+ mile rides, put some cycling confidence back into my body.
It was then off to North Norfolk and the beautiful new Outlaw Half at Holkham Hall. Despite arriving in gale force winds and rain meaning we needed to tie the guy ropes to “Big Tony” my “triathlon van”, the race conditions proved to be good on race day. The weekend was a great fitness and confidence booster, as I ran the Holkham parkrun at 9am Saturday, followed by the Holkham 10K at 12:00, before preparing for Sunday’s 70.3.
One of the best things I did Saturday evening was to walk around the lake and view the swim course. This proved to be invaluable to understand the contours and route ready for the race. For the first time this year I had a comfortable swim, as I’d learnt from previous races that I was going off too fast and getting out of breath and losing any rhythm I had. Instead I slowed things down and enjoyed it. The bike was good but hard as Norfolk was a lot more lumpy than expected, as well as very windy. Then the run was like IM Staffordshire with a 3 lap course within the Holkham Hall grounds, with the first two miles being uphill. I finished up completing the event in 6:44. What was great though after Holkham, was that I suddenly felt strong and confident knowing I could do the Outlaw in 3 weeks.
Following Holkham I then ran the Yateley 10K determined to get my last run goal of a 10K PB. I pushed hard and took a minute and a half off my previous best to record 52:28. I then cycled the 128M Magnificat Sportive. A great training ride and a lot of grim hills. Next up was the Wednesday VOTWO Dorney Sprint. I love these events, book on the morning, turn up 30 mins before start time, get your numbers, rack your bike; put your wetsuit on and off you go! My satisfaction another PB and lots more confidence!
The following Saturday was time to thrash out another parkrun PB and take 34 secs off my previous best in 25:07, more importantly I was able to beat my girlfriends PB. Then with time running out and a week to go before the Outlaw I decided to do an Olympic triathlon at Dorney the next day. Another PB and my first sub3 Olympic and more confidence.
In the final week before the Outlaw I took it steady (for me) a game of five a side football, Tuesday, then Wednesday night I did a slow trot around Crowthorne’s woodland 5 race followed by Nottingham’s Colwick parkrun the Saturday before the Outlaw. They were good to keep things ticking over and to acclimatise to the onset of 30C summer heat.
The Outlaw itself was now just a case of having a plan, believing in myself and delivering. I hoped to do a 1:30swim a 6:30 bike and a 5:30 run and allow 20 mins for transition/sun cream. My swim went well and I took 3 mins off my PB completing the course in 1:27. I then did a good transition and set off on the bike. All seemed well to begin with, no wind for the first 15 miles, then it all changed! The wind got up and I got a puncture at 45 miles. The puncture cost me about 12 minutes to fix and my repair saw my inflation pressure probably not as good as I’d hoped. Anyway It was all OK, no more punctures and still a PB cycle in 7:02 coming into T2.
I started the run knowing I was about 15 minutes better than my previous two years and felt good for a PB, however I had no running legs whatsoever, so I decided to do something completely knew to me and untested!!!!! How crazy??? Suddenly race day would be the time to experiment in the strategy of running 9 minutes and walking 1 minute. I hoped that by adopting this my running legs may come back. In fact I loved the strategy as with the run feed stations about 1.7 miles apart, I could time the walk at the feed stations with two 10 minute cycles. I also liked the strategy as it gave you a regular target to focus on throughout the run, it preserved your legs and lowered your heart rate, all in all meaning it was easier to keep going. I pretty much managed to keep to the strategy and was confident of a PB and before long I was jogging down the magnificent red carpet and crossing the line in 14:35:01 taking 50 minutes off my previous best.
As well as being really pleased and turning around last year‘s disappointment, it also meant I’d chalked off my final goal for the year, a sub 15 outlaw. I now had the full set to go with my 5 and 10K PB, a sub 2 half, and a sub 5 marathon.
I’m now writing this on holiday where I’m having a rest at last before returning to training and a bit of fun, taking on Ironman Wales in September.
I guess now it’s important to think about what I’ve learnt in the year and by the way, despite having my most successful year so far, it’s not been glory all the way. However, when it goes wrong it’s important that you understand why it went wrong and it’s how you adapt to it, this is important. You also need to understand why things go right so you can do those things again.
So here are my learnings :
- A) always have targets
- B) use metrics to analyse performance
- C) have a plan
- D) learn from others
- E) the support of a loved one helps
- F) keep it varied and fun
- G) believe you can do it and don’t talk yourself out of success, before and during the event
- H) analyse and improve your nutrition
- I) a cheeky wine is ok
- J) success breeds confidence, keep doing things that give you confidence
- K) if something’s not right, sort it out before race day, so you have nothing to fear or worry about for the race
- L) stick to the knitting where possible, or adapt based on experience if you’re in trouble
- M) don’t do it alone, feed off others where you can
- N) be prepared and relax on race day
- O) it’s all in the head
- P) stretch and maintain your body regularly, have plenty of massages / maintenance.
- Q) train using races it’s easier and more effective
- R) make sure you remember to have fun and always do things that are enjoyable
After a big year, next year will see lots of nice sedate 70.3’s and no plans for any 140.6’s. (He says) . So far I’m booked in for IM Mallorca and plan to book for the lovely Outlaw Half at Holkham Hall.
Swim Run Snowdonia – Alex Warner
It was during the 2015 season when many of us will have seen Steve Stroud turning up to the Tri2O swim centre and swimming in his trainers and getting out the lake and completing a few running laps in readiness for Otillo (http://otilloswimrun.com/). During 2015 many will have questioned his sanity, but one year on the club now boasts Swim Run UK Champions!
Although this race report centres on one team victory for teamwork, it is club victory having seen many of the Tri2O clan pull together throughout the season to turn up and perform. I will spare the trials and tribulations of the full FaceBook group chat but the GIFs include (not an exhaustive list, in fact I didn’t have to scroll far!): sinking ships, sitting on the toilet, cats on trains(?!), one man bands, corpses, beer carrying challenges, man bags, model selfies, pumping iron, crazy birds etc. Do feel free to accost one of us if you wish to see/ hear more! This, for me, was teamwork; sharing highs, lows, support and banter, what much of us need to keep us going throughout a gruelling training regime and competition season. Add to this that Bob Harper has been devising Swim Run specific sessions for the group (below) on a weekly basis, then you had a team ready for business by the time they got to Snowdonia.
For those of you know me, and have raced with/ alongside me, you will know that getting to the start line can sometimes be challenging. [I tell myself] I am an organised individual; but the facts speak for themselves on race day. Prior to this, my ‘personal best’ was being on the toilet at the BRAT triathlon 2015 and having to sprint down the pontoon to dive in and join the back of the swim pack because I missed the starting gun (Andy Morgan tells this story particularly well)… The reason I tell this, is because Swim Run Snowdonia was not too dissimilar! The whole crew got onto the coach to be bussed to the startline, but we had to drop off our mountain bags (compulsory safety kit) at PenyPass. I thought this was an opportune moment to ‘clear’ pre race nerves and go to the toilet. Moments later (after my partner forgot to tell anyone that I was not on the bus!) I found myself sprinting down the hill, waving arms above my head, trying to alert someone (anyone!) that an athlete had been left behind. Luckily for me, it was only a 200m, 30 second effort, but this was another great example of my ‘Fail to prepare…’ The bus picked me up, much to the delight and ironic cheers of other competitors, and safely delivered me to the start line.
The race started with a 5K downhill section to our first swim. This was down a reasonablysurfaced gravel track through rolling countryside. Andy and I set off at 6.30/ miles and got to the water first; however, were closely marked by Gareth and Richard and Will and Nick, both getting there within a stones throw of the lead. There were probably 10 or so teams vying for the top spot as we embarked on the first swim.
We then entered the lake for the first of our 7 swims, a mere 2.2K. During training Andy and I knew that we were slowed by swimming in trainers, so had opted to use hand padels. 2.2K was the furthest we would have swam with them on before so this was another example of our ‘Fail to prepare…’ One of our secret weapons was that we had chosen to, as a team, use a swim bungee tow rope. Effectively this was an elasticated line that attached around our waist and meant that neither of us could ‘drop’ the other and that we drafted to perfection following the leader. We were not the best swimmers on the day but we held our own, rotating efforts, exiting the water in a respectable 4th position.
After our first swim we then had a 5K run route around more rolling hills and stunning scenery. A combination of road running, trails, marshland and woods saw us gain third position. We knew that if we were to have a ‘strength’ on the day it would be our run so we were relieved to be moving in the right direction. I got a little carried away at this point and started talking bronze medals, but Andy brought me crashing down pointing out that the team behind were better swimmers and our next swim was a further 2.2K!
The second of the swims saw us return to the lake where we had exited, and had to swim the section in reverse. First and second place were probably only 150 metres ahead, but in swimming terms this equated to a couple of minutes in trainers. This swim was uneventful, but did see us hold on to third position in the overall standings. We now had the small matter of the Snowdon ascent to contend with, and capitalising on our strength the run.
I recall the Snowdon climb in three uphill sections; returning to PenyPass to collect our safety kit, PenyPass to the Glaslyn (just before starting the main climb) and the climb. From the lake to PenyPass we could see the competition. All competitors wore a fluorescent vest on top of their wetsuits so they were easy to spot in the Welsh countryside. They were marked men! Andy and I took off the top half of our wetsuits (for those who have not seen, a Swim Run wetsuit has zips front and back) and set off in pursuit of a silver medal. This entire section to PenyPass was climbing off road, and navigating our way over cattle grids, over styles and through streams. We could see that second place, in front, were fading and were opting to walk some steeper sections. This only spurred us on and by the time we reached PenyPass we were sat in second place.
Having picked up our mountain bag we then made a swift start trying to ‘reel in’ the top spot. We were pinching ourselves a little, more in shock than disbelief. We could see in the distance (first place were probably only 500m ahead) that we were making time on first place. I was champing at the bit, wanting to rundown the lead immediately, but the experienced head of Morgan masterminded a slower, sustained effort that would ensure we did not ‘burn our matches’. This, for me was the favourite part of the race. It was a section of undulating climbs (past Llyn Lydaw) before starting the main climb. We could see that we were gaining on the pair who were in first position. As we approached the start of the main climb (just before we got to Glaslyn) we took first position and the scenery at this point was spectacular. We were on a real high and there was no better place to be feeling this jubilation. I was worried that Andy had cursed us as he smugly posed for a selfie on the main climb, luckily it was not a bad omen as we were first to the summit and never looked back from this point on. It was also at this point in the race where we could see other teams and we knew Nick and Will (#TeamWest) had also been moving up the overall standings and were in hot pursuit of us.
As you can from the above picture, conditions on the day were magnificent. We were extremely lucky as long range forecasts prior to the race outlined that we may not be so fortunate. What this did; however, mean was that the main climb was very busy. The volume of ‘traffic’ meant that were not ever really able to make good time, but we knew the race was now effectively ‘ours to lose’. The climb was a combination of walking and scrambling. There were sections where we had to stop and wait as the passes were too narrow for people to move in both directions. Trying to climb Snowdon wearing a wetsuit also meant that temperature conditions and appropriate dress was difficult. Once at the top of the climb visibility was poor so we were not really able to see what sort of lead we had. We got to the checkpoint at the summit and then commenced the descent towards LLanberis. It was here when we saw that Nick and Will had taken second place. We know they are unbelievably tough athletes so had our work cut out if we were going to hold on. I would estimate we were roughly half way through this particular section at this point, 6 miles in with another 6 remaining.
We continued to make reasonable time on the descent, but in my attempts to put the pressure on the rest of the field and pick up speed, I lost my footing and did a full ActionManesque roll. I was incredibly lucky not to do more damage than cuts, bruises and rips to my wetsuit. I wouldn’t really recommend going out and running in a wetsuit, but if you do, you have a great piece of kit to make a fall in! After dusting myself off I was running on adrenalin for a short while. We completed this overall run section of 12 miles in a time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Given that included climbing Snowdon, we were happy with that effort :)
We were now into the final third of the race where we had multiple swims and runs in and around LLanberis. This started with a 1.5K effort the length of the lake. I have never been a top swimmer, more so leading a chasing pack so we experienced the luxury of having a kayak leadout. This made sighting very easy and generally for a pleasurable swim… Until cramps set in. Half way into this swim I was screaming into the water. There is not really a lot you can do at this point as you don’t really have an option of rolling over and stretching out. Teamwork ruled and Andy opted to lead the remainder of this swim whilst I fought cramps. We exited the water and as we looked back we could see another kayak, and assumed this was leading out the ‘the chasers’. We decided not to stop and stretch and I would attempt to ‘run it off’. We only had a short run, before another short swim.
There was then two short swims and two short runs in quick succession. Not a lot to report here, other than Andy and I were getting a bit twitchy knowing we were so close to the finish and could almost taste victory. We were a little frenetic and it wasn’t helped by us being Guinea pigs for the marshals. The race organiser was literally a few minutes ahead of us putting down the final markings and some were not that easy to see or follow. There were points where we had to backtrack and shout to marshals to get clarification on the course. It was the inaugural year of running this event so they cannot be blamed, but you had two very victoryhungry, fatigued men who had indecision at certain points and did not want to throw it all away with a wrong turn.
During the race briefing we had been promised a surprise in this section of the race. That surprise did not disappoint, it was a short dip in Vivian quarry in LLanberis. There are no real words I can use to do this part justice (hopefully some of you reading this will know of the location). Ice cold, crystal clear waters in beautiful scenery. Upon entering, the water took your breath away as it was so cold, but this only added the adventure of the entire event.
Once we exited the quarry we knew there was one final, grueling run section around the quarry area. I am reliably informed (I have not done the race myself) that the Slateman triathlon also uses some of this part of the course, so again some of you may recall. We had to navigate our way up 300 slate steps on almost vertical climbs. I have not referenced my Garmin here, but remember it feeling like a brick wall. Not really what the body wanted or needed roughly 6 hours into an event that had already seen us run up Snowdon!
Leaving the area we were able to checkin with a race marshall who confirmed that we had plenty of time on second place. We had a short run, one final swim and then a final climb to the finish line. We knew we were closing in on our first win together, not only as training partners but best friends, we felt like world beaters!
I will use this video to help capture what we had done: https://www.facebook.com/swimrunuk/videos/628925787278401/
Nicely narrated by Alan the race organiser.
Andy and I were the winners of the inaugural Llyn I Lyln Swim Run Snowdonia race. We had embarked on a journey not really knowing what we had let ourselves in for, but finished knowing that we had experienced a real adventure as a team and as part of an amazing group of athletes and friends from their triathlon club.
The nature of the race, starting and finishing in different locations meant that we were never really sure of the progress of team mates but Andy and I were lucky enough to watch a second and third place sprint finish between Nick and Will and another team. The best for me, from here, was then watching every other team from the club come in and finish the event. It was only now that I started to reflect upon the quality of friendships at the club, greeting one another at the end of an epic event. The club had four pairs in the top ten and it was a really proud moment for all of us. We sat in the sunshine together sharing stories of the day and the smiles that everyone was wearing were beaming… a victory for teamwork.
After the event, that evening, we all regrouped for the awards ceremony which many of us featured in. We then went out and celebrated as we know best…
I have been asked whether I will return next year to attempt to defend the title. For now I am very much enjoying ‘taking a break’ from competition, but I am sure someone/something may be able to tempt me out of race retirement :)
Outlaw – Lee Hinton
My goal was to finish and feel I had done my training and fitness justice, and hearing the words: YOU ARE AN OUTLAW was absolutely amazing.
Pre swim we had to position ourselves based on estimated swim time and then there was a mass start.
I stood next to my long term friend Josie Hunsdon, whom was also doing the event for the first time, having missed Justin Watkins at the beginning.
The atmosphere on the water side was amazing, people spectating and the organisers and helpers were in good spirits ready to get us on our way as were the rest of the athletes whom all decked out in black wetsuits reminded me of a David Attenborough documentary on seals.
I will admit I felt nervous and intimidated as well as looking forward to the challenge.
We were asked to get into the water and we awaited the off. I started at the back of my pen and was surprised that within a couple of strokes I found my rhythm only to have my worst nightmare happen “The Washing Machine”.
I had completely forgotten about the other pen to my right, and got hit, slapped, punched, kicked and dunked more times than I could imagine.
I went to breast stroke and cut a path to the edge of the lake where I held onto the side wall and considered giving up.
I looked around and saw people still swimming past and decided that after a good 3-5 mins I was not going to be beaten. I started off on my 2.4mile swim with the image of “Catherine Leather” shouting in my ear, “It’s not a race, pace yourself”, and to my surprise I started catching and passing people. The turn came and went and I kept a steady pace back to the swim exit, sighting and humming “just keep swimming”, I exited the water in 1:25 to the cheers of the OSB staff.
In T1 I bundled the wet suit into my bag, grabbed my Bike Helmet and shoes and plodded on to find my bike.
The Bike route was on both closed and open roads and I found myself keeping a steady pace. The feed stations came and went on the first loop and I made sure I was hydrated.
Then during the Second part of the cycle (The Northern Loop) I was hit and stung by a bee which had got caught in my bike helmet after bouncing off my sun glasses. To say this was an unpleasant feeling is an understatement, as I could feel the area swelling under the bike helmet.
Luck was on my side as a feed station was only a few miles down the road, where I whipped off the helmet grabbed a bottle of water and poured the lot over my now swollen head. I asked one of the volunteers if they had anti histamine and luckily she did.
So again faced with a do I stop or continue I replaced the Helmet and head down started my return to the southern loop, Josie & Justin came and went on the bike route which with the banter and friendly faces helped a lot. I was frustrated to be honest and this was my undoing as near the end of the second time round the southern loop with 9 miles to go to start the run I pulled my hamstring by being impatient on a short climb.
As I rode into transition, the marshal smiled and said those fatal words. “Can you get off the bike or do you need help?” “I got this” said I…….
That was when the world started to go sideways J
“Let me hold the bike for you” I heard “Thank you” was my only reply.
So with 2 parts of the Outlaw down, I limped into T2 to get my running shoes on and ditch the bike helmet and cycle shoes.
The first loop was an ordeal, I was informed by my partner that it had taken me 3hrs to complete it.
I decided that I was not going to give up and started to jog/limp slowly. I fell into a rhythm that was comfortable and manageable. Chatting with others and giving and receiving encouragement helped me forget my hamstring, knowing that I was near the end of a mile stone made me more determined.
Second loop completed and I knew I only had to get round the lake one more time to finish.
Teaming up with another soon to be Outlaw we decided to run 250m and walk 250m and repeated this around the lake until we saw the sign that said 500m to go where we decided it was now or never to run into the finish.
Crossing the line to the “You are an Outlaw” being shouted out was an amazing and emotional feeling.
I learnt many things about myself during this event, and I am pleased to say that I will be doing it all again in 2017.
The people who have helped me on this journey are too many to mention,
They have seen me sad, happy and scared. The two clubs I belong to have some amazing athletes and coaches within their ranks, but they also have some amazing people who are willing to share knowledge and dedicate time to help others.
For all those who think that things are impossible, Never give up, keep moving forward.
Tri2o Club Championships – Round 2, Marlow Triathlon
From Runner to Triathlete – Ian Giggs
In summer 2013 after having been a runner for many years, I decided to take up swimming to add variety to my fitness. I did swim occasionally but did not have any technique. Someone who I have known for a long to takes group adult lessons and booked a lesson. I started on how to breathe properly and then progressed from there.
In October 2014 I joined Tri2O to attend the swimming sessions and practice my technique. Over the past 3 year my times have come down. My 1500m winter swim time went from 40:45 to 33:18 in 2 years. The sessions are high intensity but a good workout.
At the beginning of 2015, a few people suggested I should try a triathlon. However I never learnt to ride a bike and was not interested when I was a child so was not keen at first. After doing some research into adult cycle lessons, Wokingham borough offer them in Woodley on Saturdays. A couple of emails later, a lesson was booked.
So in April 2015, I borrowed my Dad’s bike and went along to my first lesson. Even at the end of the hour long session, I could not ride 10 metres across the playground and was scooting around with 1 foot on the pedal and 1 foot on the ground and trying to balance. It took a couple more sessions before I got my balance to cycle from one end of the playground to the other. I went to another couple of sessions to practice in a safe environment.
From there I went with my Dad and cycled around Suttons Business Park. Apart from a few wobbles it was went well. After that I decided to buy myself a Hybrid bike. With some help I did a few rides around Green Park to gain confidence in riding with hardly any cars and increased my mileage a bit. A couple of minor falls but nothing too serious
At the end of January 2016 I went to Club La Santa with a couple of friends. Not anything specific, just to have a good time. I thought the weekly mini triathlon would be a good event to do my first triathlon. It was low key, not many people or cars about and the week before I did my longest bike ride of 9 miles.
On the first morning I wanted to test out the course and spoke to the people in the bike centre and explained the situation that I have not been cycling for long and wanted to use a mountain bike for the event but was not allowed. So I took a road bike to see how well I coped and did 2 laps around the car park with no problem. From there, the 3 of us went out of the complex and down a hill. I was going a bit too fast and lost control, pressed the front brake by mistake as was panicking and hit the ground quite hard. We walked back to the complex to get cleaned up and saw a doctor. I needed 6 stitches in my left elbow. For the rest of the week I was unable to swim which was frustrating but could still run and play racket sports using 1 arm as the other did not have full range of movement but got better as the week went on.
It was not until April that I got back on by bike and did about 10 miles which included some traffic. After that ride I entered my first triathlon at Dorney Lake. A flat traffic free course and choose the sprint distance. A month later I went for a longer ride of about 15 miles and was tiring towards the end. In the 2 weeks before race day I did 2 bike/swim/bike sessions and 1 bike/run session. Up to this point my lifetime total mileage on a bike was just under 100 miles as a guess.
17th July was race day. My parents and a friend came to support and got there in plenty of time to get everything ready and watch the previous race. My wave was the sprint distance in the 18-39 male category. First up was the 750m swim the lake which went well and was about halfway coming out of the water. Next up was the 19.2k cycle on my hybrid bike. There were a few others on mountain bikes but neatly everyone else had either road or time trial bikes. As I was on my Hybrid bike and not had much experience, everyone else was whizzing past me but finished without any problems. Lastly was the 5k run. My legs were aching a bit after the bike but were ok. As this was my strongest discipline I was able to overtake some people before I finished.
Overall I came 50th out of 57 finishers and took 1:36:19.
Leeds Castle – Standard distance triathlon, 26 June 2016 – Sally Waterman
Leeds Castle is a stunning location for a triathlon and Triathlon England and their partners did a superb job making it a great event. The race was exceptionally well-organised with plenty of marshals who seemed well-briefed, and excellent signage.
The swim is in the moat and goes through the arches that link parts of the castle. The water is fairly shallow but was weed free and the buoys were well-positioned. Having watched the sprint distance race the day before, in which Sean Stewart and Colin Wilson competed, I knew that the swim start and exit was over a short gravel beach which I wasn’t looking forward to as I am a wimp about bare feet on stones! However, I didn’t notice them and was pleased to get a series of race photos showing how I manged to get my wetsuit undone and down to my waist before I’d even hit the grassy run into transition – textbook! I knew that the next wave would be overtaking me during the swim and had mentally prepared myself for being jostled or even swum over. About half way round the 2nd swim lap I heard them coming and the remainder of my swim was in less calm water but there was plenty of space so no scary moments.
The bike course was undulating with a couple of longer hills but nothing extreme. It was an out-and-back route on main roads and potentially very fast – part of it is used for time trials – but the increasingly strong headwind on the ride back meant my time was slower than I’d hoped for. The route back into the castle grounds was lovely and involved a few technical turns before heading uphill to the dismount line. It had rained before the race so I was cautious running down the now muddy grass into transition. My running shoes were very wet and didn’t go on as easily as usual – I made a mental note to cover them with my helmet next time I raced in the rain.
The run route was almost all off-road and mainly on grass with a few truly brutal hills, both up and down. It started with a loop uphill towards the finish line, which was great for spectators, before heading into the open countryside of the castle grounds. It was also good for the competitors as we were able to hear the shouts of encouragement before we started the second lap – after experiencing the hills on the first lap it was something I really appreciated. Walking the steepest hills was a strategy adopted by many – some probably deliberately to conserve their legs and breath for a push on the flatter sections and others, like me, through necessity! I was regretting not having done any specific hill-training. At one point there was a breath-taking view of the castle as we turned to descend from one of the steepest climbs.
I was pleased with being 4th female over 50 in a pretty competitive field (two in my AG were amongst the top four women overall). It was my first standard distance race and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make up sufficient time on the bike and run over this distance to compensate for my chronically slow swim – getting faster having alluded me for yet another year.
Race to the Stones – Kirsty Simpson
Saturday was a beautiful day and I started out really well and really enjoying it, there were a lot more runners than at the last race and the atmosphere was brilliant, there’s some cool drone film on the race to the stones facebook page if anyone’s interested. It was so much fun running through Nuffield and South Stoke, Goring and Streatley, running along the river by the regatta which was on. I did a 26.2mile marathon pb hitting it at almost exactly 5 hours knocking nearly 30 minutes off the marathon time in race to the king three weeks ago, and I felt strong I had so much energy I was sure at 21 miles that I was going to do a sub 12 hour race. Unfortunately a niggling pain in my hip that had started about 15 miles in kept getting worse, strangely it was worst going downhill, it had me walking out of Streatley, and again under the A34 but I was pushing through and kept hoping I would run it off. I stopped to stretch twice and each time I thought I’d hit it and I gritted my teeth and got my 5 hour marathon, something I really wanted, and I tried so hard to keep running, by 27 miles the pain was all the way down my right leg and it wasn’t just going downhill that hurt, it was any slight depression in the track, I was crying my eyes out and it took me nearly 2 hours to get the 5 miles to the halfway point. But this is why I love long distance runners, not one person ran past me without stopping to check I was ok, one gent gave me two of his cocodamol and told me I was a super hero! Another told me he’d carry me if he possibly could but stopped and walked with me keeping me going for a whole km. And finally another runner’s wife who was waiting to cheer her friends on left her spot and walked me all the way to 20m from the finish line at half way so that I could try to run over it and save my pride.
The medics at the halfway point tried to get me back running they were great but in the end the physio told me not to continue and I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed, but with another 50km still to go it was the right decision although I’m still questioning if I couldn’t just have sucked it up a bit longer. The organisers were brilliant, as I was standing with my parents who’d driven to come and pick me up, over the tannoy they announced ‘Well done Kirsty, don’t forget to come and pick up your medal for completing the first day’ which I think when you’ve 2000 runners is lovely, I’ll definitely be back next year.
The Slateman Savage 2016 – Exactly what it says on the tin! – Clare Fox
Saturday – Sprint 400m swim, 20k bike, 6k run (competing from Tri2o, myself, Christina Demetriou, Gavin Smith, Vicky Chandler and the boys relay team of Damian Ward, Nick Lees and Phil Wood).
After a restless night’s sleep the weather seemed better than it had the previous evening (at least the wind had died down a bit!) after a hasty breakfast it was time to head down the pass into Llanberis (we got very well acquainted with that pass). We got ourselves sorted in transition and after a quite lengthy safety briefing it was time to head down to the start after being assured the water temperature was 13.95 (I’m not convinced!). After the elite men started it was time for the women! Having taken Damian’s advice I went further over to the right between the two starting buoys and had clear water to the first buoy, despite this I felt absolutely rubbish on the swim and I remember pulling myself out of the water at the end of the 400m thinking how on earth was I going to swim double that plus some the next day. Continuing on from what felt like a terrible swim I got my many swim caps off (I’d heard the stories from the previous year about how cold that swim could get!) and while ‘running’ down the field to transition, struggling with my wetsuit I was passed by a cheery Christina, it was then into transition to the cheers of the many tri2oers who were supporting us.
After far too much faffing I was out on the bike course in the rain. The sprint bike course was an out and back, up the pass to the youth hostel down the other side to the junction and back again. After a fast escape from Llanberis you soon hit the closed road section and started climbing up the pass which felt like it went on and on and on! It wasn’t long before the first bloke from the first wave came tearing down the pass in the opposition direction which looked nothing short of terrifying in the wet conditions. Continuing on I finally reached the top of the pass and could catch my breath on the short descent down to the turning point, which included a very hairy left hand turn. Just before reaching that turning point I saw Gavin and then Christina who had just made the turn. Of course after turning round you then had to slog back up to the youth hostel before descending back down the pass to Llanberis, which turned out to be less terrifying than I had imagined, possibly because I was thinking more about how much rain hurts when it hits cold skin!
Getting back to Llanberis and nearly falling over getting my trainers on cold feet it was off on the run which very quickly hits the hills again. When I say run, almost the entire up was a walk and then after emerging from trees to some fantastic views it was back down again, some like myself took this quite gingerly over the wet rocks and mud while others seem to fly down, how they didn’t fall over I don’t know!! After emerging from the forest it was down to the finish to the fantastic tri2o cheers!
Of course because we were doing the savage Christina and I decided we needed to use the recovery tubs – 3 minutes in the ice bath followed by 5 minutes in the hot tub – glorious!
While the supporters headed off in search of food, Vicky and I headed back to the youth hostel to get a shower and warm clothes and put all our wet kit in the drying room, at least that was the plan! Arriving back at the top of the pass we were told by the oh so lovely guy at the car park that it was full and despite explaining what we had done and asking if we could hang around for few minutes to see if anyone left we were told to be on our way! So it was back down the pass to join up with everyone else for some hot food and a large mug of coffee. An hour or so later we headed back to the youth hostel where we pretended we were a mini bus and parked in the car park and finally managed to get that shower!!
Sunday – Full 1000m swim, 51k bike, 11k run (competing from Tri2o, myself, Christina Demetriou, Tasha Skidmore, Unity Speakman, Heather Phillips, Mike Busher, Damian Ward, Nick Lees and Phil Wood).
After a slightly more restful night’s sleep it was time to tackle the full distance. We got up in the morning to glorious sunshine, oh how we were fooled! No sooner had I racked my bike and sorted all my stuff out than the drizzle started, by the time we’d had the safety briefing and were down at the swim start it was full on chucking it down! Well, we were in Wales.
Again taking Damian’s advice and going over to the far side of the start, Christina, Tasha, Heather and I had our own mini Tri2o ladies wave! The swim felt much better than the day before and I soon hit my rhythm, again with clear water to the first buoy.
Getting out the lake I managed the run to transition much better than the day before and was soon out on the bike in the pouring rain.
The first part of the full distance bike course was the same as the sprint – out of Llanberis and up over the pass. I was still feeling great despite the horrible weather and passed Phil on the climb up (not that I realised until afterwards – sorry Phil!), I reached the youth hostel at the top and then headed off down the short descent to the junction where we had turned around the day before. Then disaster struck! I went over something (I think a rock but I’m not sure) that jarred the bike, I rounded the corner and my front wheel was flat. I pulled over to the side of the road and had a 30 second strop at my bike then told myself to stop being stupid and sort it out! Not long after Christina came round the corner, saw me and stopped to help. I have a strong feeling I might have DNF’d if she hadn’t so THANK YOU CHRISTINA. Thankfully Christina had some CO2 so I could get my tyre back up to pressure without having to use a hand pump. Christina headed off while I faffed around getting my wheel back on bike and getting my chain on which had come off at some point. By this point I had lost about 10 mins, I was covered in dirt from my bike, I was soaking wet and freezing cold. Needless to say I was in a pretty dark place! I got myself back on my bike, thanked the marshal who had come to check I was ok and I was off again trying desperately to warm up. Eventually the rain stopped and I could see the sun come out on the hills ahead and I started to feel a bit better. I caught back up with Christina as the sun came out and I was starting to enjoy being on the bike again! Then it was back round to Llanberis to more tri2o cheers and into transition.
Off on the run, about 2k in and I was convinced there was something in my trainer, I stopped pulled it off, nothing, turned out it was just the feeling come back in my foot! After 3k you hit the infamous Quarryman section, 1 mile of switchbacks up through the slate quarry. At this point Christina caught up with me and as we were both suffering a bit by this point we stuck together and walked most the way up (except when there was a camera man when of course we ran!) After reaching the top we continued on at an easy pace being overtaken first by Mike and then a bit later on by Damian and a fair number of TVT! The course joined up with the sprint course from the day before and it was back down through the forest. We weren’t far out from the finish line when Heather appeared over our shoulder and three of us crossed the finish line together!
Christina and I had survived the Savage (and we’ve got the t-shirt to prove it!)……..Of course I will have to come back next year to complete that bike course without a puncture (I hope!)
Llandudno sea triathlon, ITU sprint qualifying race – Clare Fox
My preparation for this race had been less than ideal having got ill 3 weeks before and not managing to fully shake it off and feel completely right until the week leading up to it so I was feeling overly confident in my chances of qualifying. Mum and I were staying at a b&b who decided to be very inflexible about breakfast so we had to make do with a banana and cereal bars in our room. We got down to transition just a 5 minute walk from where we were staying as it opened and got ourselves sorted out only to be told no-one was allowed any towels in transition (poor mum had bought a bright pink towel to help her find her bike after the swim!). After finding Iain Gerrard and Jon Gubb for a quick hello and good luck and the safety briefing that seemed to go on forever it was time for the off.
The swim start was a tad confusing and I ended up slightly further out than I would have preferred and suddenly with no countdown at all the horn was blasted and we were off. The swim felt like a bit of struggle the whole way round, people after were talking about jellyfish that were in the sea, I was concentrating so much on just getting round I thankfully wasn’t aware of them! Getting out the sea (I have a horrific photo of this if you need a good laugh!) it was run past transition before going in and heading out on the bike.
This was a new experience for me, a draft legal race. I’d had an uneventful, stress free transition but as I was taking my bike off the racking, the girl next to me had been stopped by an official as she still had tri-bars on her bike (how I don’t know as all the bikes were checked going into transition) however this didn’t seem to deter her as 10 minutes later she shot past me and ended up winning her age category! Straight out of transition was uphill and I could see a group of girls up ahead of me but for the life of me I couldn’t catch up with them. That seemed to be the story of the bike leg either being unable to keep up with girls overtaking me or them being unable to keep up with me. It was a tough bike course which consisted of two laps of climbing up one side of the Great Orme followed by hurtling down the sketchy descent on the other side.
The run was a simple out and back, flat along the promenade for 2k, up a cheeky hill then turn around and back again, it should have been a fairly easy run except for that hill, instead I struggled from the start and found it really tough. (More brick sessions required me thinks!!)It was good to get a little boost as Jon ran past me up the hill with some words of encouragement. After the turn around, coming back down the hill I saw mum going up – oh no, she was less than a kilometre behind me, that was catchable distance! Going back down the promenade I was convinced that mum was right on my shoulder about to overtake me, roughly a kilometre out I saw Iain heading out on his run and with the finish gantry in sight I didn’t dare even look over my shoulder I just dug in and got over that line (I’m surprised my finish line photo doesn’t look like I’m about to puke!) I then hear the announcer comment on a pair of Foxes crossing the finish line – mum had finished 14 secs behind me!! With mum coming 1st in age category and me 3rd in mine, much to I think both of our disbelief, we had secured our places on the GB age group team to Mexico!
Worcester Marathon – Martin Cook
I’d entered the race with the intention of achieving a “good for (old) age” time for the London Marathon. 3.20 was the qualifying time, 3.15 the target. A similar plan to the Bournemouth marathon which had been successfully implemented only for me to miss the London entry date and for the qualifying time to lapse.
I had entered the Stratford Marathon which was a few weeks prior to this race only to then book on Clive’s Tri camp without bothering to consult the calendar.
Start time was 8.30 but due to some people not getting out of bed nice and early it was delayed by 20 minutes or so.
It’s a combined event with 2 laps for the marathon and one for the ½. The route is entirely through the countryside so it is very picturesque.
There were about 1,000 people across the two distances so not a huge event. We were herded into starting pens then walked en-mass to the start.
Finally the gun went off and I went to hit my pace but in fact I felt really good so bounded along at a faster pace than was planned. Why did I not know better than to make this stupid mistake? I’ve done enough races to know better but why not have a plan and then throw it out of the window after the first few steps? What could go wrong?
The first lap was pretty good with lots of other runners around. At around 12 miles when I had been bowling along at just over 3 hour pace my right quad started hurting which had never happened before. It could have been the stupid pace but surely not. 13 miles in and the left one joined in. I decided to slow down.
There followed the most painful 13 miles of running that I have ever encountered. Both quads feeling like they were being stabbed each time my leg hit the ground. Going downhill was of course the worst part. At least I had plenty of time in reserve to make the 3.20.
During the first lap there had been lots of spectators handing out jelly babies etc.. They had vanished by the time us poor unfortunate souls were on our second lap. There were some on the floor that had been dropped – a bit past the 5 second rule but would they be ok? I decided against it. So I had to survive on gels. Yummy!
The second half of this marathon is a bit of a lonely experience. Most of the time I could see maybe 4 or 5 other runners so you need to have good motivation to keep going. There are no crowds of people willing you on.
In spite of the pain I knew that I had enough time in hand to get home and I crossed the line in 3.15.0 something so got the qualifying time. I also achieved a new pb by a whole 2 seconds (i.e. 2 seconds faster than the only other stand-alone marathon that I’ve done).
My usual support crew (my wife in this case as this was not Hawaii and therefore the kids were not keen) was away in Middlesbrough so I was by myself. Getting back into the car after the race was a challenge. Every time I tried I cramped up. Eventually by moving the seat back all of the way I managed to get myself in and could then drive home.
I didn’t hang around after the event but later in the week an envelope arrived containing £20 for being 1st in the over 55’s. A very nice surprise.
So if you want a marathon with a bit of a difference, i.e. not based in a town centre but through lovely countryside, then this is the one for you. But be prepared for lots of lonely miles.
South Downs Ultra Marathon -Kirsty Simpson
It started off in glorious sunshine, approximately 630 runners enjoying the beautiful views, I was worrying about my pace because I’m way too competitive. I needn’t have worried because then I hit a hill, and I realised the elevation profile didn’t look like a serial killer’s saw blade because of ‘vertical exaggeration due to the long distance on the x-axis’ but because ‘rolling’ is not the description I’ll ever use again for the South Downs! But I was determined to stick to my plan regular hydration and calorie intake and it was all going pretty well… until suddenly it was like being back running in Trinidad, the heavens opened! Luckily I was nearly at half way and there was a cup of hot soup waiting for me. I’d done the first half in five and a half hours, slower than I would have liked but the conditions and the climbs forced it on me and I really just wanted to make sure I could get to the end. So I forced myself to stop and properly hydrate and take on food, losing half an hour in the timings and three places but it was worth it because I wasn’t physically able to take on more food or gels in the second half so I ran on that and cups of coke and jelly sweets at the pit-stops for the second half, all 27 miles of it!
The second half is definitely where I found out what I am made of (mainly pain and dodgy knees if I remember rightly) there were more ridiculous hills (was it really necessary to put one in that was 1.5 miles of continuous climb?!), there was more torrential rain, I ran in a stream, I got so muddy you couldn’t tell where my shoes ended and my legs began, I laughed, I cried (twice), I met fantastic people who kept me going or I kept going (it’s so strange to become best buddies and confidantes with someone for 16 miles yet know you’ll never see them again), and finally it was the first time I’ve ever been so happy to see a cathedral!
I finished in 12:26:22, 178 out of 630 runners, 35th out of 211 women, 16th out of 87 Senior women (i.e. 20-39 years old).
Apparently I’m doing another one in less than three weeks! I can’t wait!
World Duathlon Championships, Avilés, Spain – 5 June 2016 – Sally Waterman
Spain seems to be making a habit of hosting major Duathlon championships with this being the third time we’ve competed here in the last 3 years. This time the weather was kind to us and whilst the sun got hotter and the wind stronger in the early afternoon for the standard distance race, neither were extreme. The local support was incredible with thousands of people on the streets for the opening ceremony and the racing. Avilés has a delightful old historic centre but the race started at the large modern cultural centre nearby and next to the cruise ship dock. The run routes took us alongside the river estuary so were flat and fast. The bike was 2.5 laps, mostly on main roads in and around the industrial area with the giant steel works as the backdrop. The route had a couple of moderate hills, two dead turns and a few roundabouts so was a good mix and we got to use all of our gears.
GB and Spain between them won the vast majority of the medals for both sprint and standard distances but as usual the Americans dominated in the 70 years and older categories. The oldest competitor in the standard distance was a very spritely Spaniard in the 80-84 age group – he deservedly got the biggest cheer of the night at the medal ceremony. There were three Tri2O club members racing, all doing the standard distance – Sean Stewart, Gavin Spiers and me. Sean was determined not to be last Brit, which was a possibility as he was the last person to qualify on the roll down in his age group. Spurred on by this goal he achieved his best championships race yet and was 6th Brit (of 12) and 15th (of 53) in his age group. Gavin had been struggling to recover from illness for several weeks and was not feeling ready to race – he finished but in a time that doesn’t reflect his usual strong run and fast bike times.
I set myself the goal of being 3rd Brit, knowing there were two who would be 15-20 min ahead of me that, barring them not finishing, I could not beat. I managed to hit my goal pace on the 10k run and worked hard on the bike and had just enough left to gain a position on the final run. However, I had missed one of the Brits I had wanted to beat passing me on the bike and, although she was much slower on the run, she finished just over a minute ahead of me. I sat on the ground just after crossing the finish line unable to stand or speak for a while so I don’t think I could have given more but, needless to say, I felt a bit deflated. Once the results were posted it was clear that it was my cycling that let me down – something I need to focus on over the coming months as it was once my best discipline.
As usual, being part of the GB team was a great experience and after several years of competing at both duathlon and triathlon world championships, Sean and I are considered ‘old hands’ and are sought out to give advice to new members, just as we were supported when we were new to the team. We met yet more awesome athletes and made some new friends.
Immortal Mega Sprint, Stourton, near Warminster, Wiltshire – 14 May 2016
Immortal Sport organise two different distances of triathlons both of which start in the beautiful Stourhead Gardens, which are owned by the National Trust. On 14 May there was the ‘mega’ sprint, which was a 900m swim, 32k bike and 7.5k run, and on 15 May a half-distance race with a 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21km run. Sean Stewart and I competed in the mega sprint and Dom Dos Remedios, Martin Jeffery and Andrew Morando in the half distance. Aside from the beautiful setting I chose the race as I want to step-up from sprint to Olympic distance triathlon this year and because the route passes some of the pubs in which I misspent my teenage years.
The swim is in the ornamental lake which is quite shallow and with thick slimy mud on the bottom a high elbow catch is needed to avoid stirring it up. As one of the swimmers at the back of the pack I ended up swimming in a black soup, which was initially a little unnerving. Once out of the lake one of the toughest parts of the race began – an 800m uphill run with our wetsuits on (as we were not permitted to remove them at the swim exit) across grass onto the road which then climbed very steeply to transition. The bike route was a single loop of rolling roads with very little flat on mainly good tarmac – the race organisation and instructions were excellent and we were forewarned where the rough sections were. There were a couple of steep hills which enabled me to see how my new Giant Liv Envie would perform – I passed a lot of people, mainly men, so felt very pleased with my purchase. The ride back into transition took in the upper part of the hill we’d run up and then the run took us out across a field onto a narrow road which seemingly climbed forever (about 3k) before we turned onto a flat section. We eventually headed back downhill on good cross country trails through beautiful woodland and the landscaped gardens. When we got to the lake we knew we were nearly finished – just another 1000m of steep uphill to go (the finish line being beyond transition)!
The race started at 17:00 once the gardens were closed to the public but there were a lot of people at the finish line enjoying the evening sunshine. Sean Stewart and I were both happy to have successfully completed our first triathlon of the year – we were both third in our age groups. This was a very well-organised race with an excellent course and I recommend it to anyone looking for an early season open-water swim event next year. The medal doubles as a bottle opener and the T-shirt was well-made and, for once, there were women-specific sizes and I got one that fitted!
Windsor Duathlon, 3 April 2016
Windsor Great Park was a fantastic venue for this inaugural duathlon event in early April which included both sprint and standard distance races. It was organised by the BTF who had been promoting it heavily as a race for both novices and seasoned athletes since the start of the year. The standard distance was both the British championships and the last of three qualification races for the duathlon world championships. There was a good turnout from Tri2O with some trying duathlon for the first time. Tri2O members included Ellie Gosling, Cindy Goslar, Ed Dodswell and Guy Jackson doing the sprint and Lou Gubb, Gavin Spiers, Sean Stewart and me doing the standard distance.
Sean and I left home very early which turned out to be fortunate as we did not get stuck in the traffic queues that delayed the start of the races and lead to Gavin having no time to recce transition before the race. We were able to park on tarmac and thus avoided being towed out of the sloping muddy carpark after the race – it was so bad that later arrivals even had to be towed into the carpark! The first of a few issues the organisers need to resolve for next time. The transition area was also on wet grass and soon became a quagmire. Unfortunately, the in/out for the runs necessitated circumnavigation of transition area which became very slippery very quickly so there were a few fallers and a lot of lost shoes. The bike in/out was also over grass so the option was to put wet muddy socks into bike shoes or risk mud-caked cleats slipping off the pedals. To make the bike out more challenging the exit up to and beyond the mount line was very narrow for about 600m most of which was also uphill so more experienced/faster athletes were unable to pass the slower/novice athletes – stressful when a few seconds could mean the difference between qualifying or not.
The first (10k) run was on a mix of tarmac and sandy trails through woodland and quite enjoyable. The bike involved multiple laps of Windsor Great Park, including a section not usually open to the public. There were a couple of flat fast sections but otherwise it was an undulating course. There were a lot of competitors on it at the same time and some of the novices were regrettably shouted at for being in the way by some competitors. Some people, including me, had to stop for a few minutes on the bike course to let the Queen and Prince Phillip drive back from church – we had been forewarned and the instructions on what we had to do and how the clock would stop for our race time were clearly explained in the race briefing. The final run (5k) was a couple of laps on the arrow straight and aptly for some, named ‘Long Walk’ towards Windsor Castle and back – it was a brutal slog on hot tarmac but a chance to see where you were relative to others in your age group and offer encouragement to club members on their way to the finish line.
All the Tri2O women were on the podium with 3rd places for Ellie, Cindy and me in our age groups; Ed was also third in his age group. Sean got his qualification slot for the standard distance race at the Duathlon World Championships (Gavin and me having already qualified at earlier races – Ed had also already qualified for the standard distance). Lou also earnt herself a slot at the Duathlon World Championships but was not able to take up her place due to a family holiday and the triathlon European World Championships (where she was 4th in her age group) being just the weekend before the duathlon championships. To have so many podium places and qualifications at a large and high profile event really demonstrated the strength of our wonderful club.
Race review Scilly Isles OtillO – Jim Bryce
If you take a place that can only be described as paradise, and into it put two examples of physical perfection such as Lord Harper and myself, what could possibly go wrong?
Saturday, in near perfect conditions, we started the Scilly Isles OtillO; 40km race of which 8km was swimming, the remainder trail running. Swims broken down into various lengths but finished off with the 2.4km sea crossing sandwiched between two 7km runs.
There is little point in a detailed race review; just the distances coupled with choppy cold sea swims and tough trail runs should tell their own tale. So how does this create a race in which you spend most of it inanely grinning to yourself as you wonder how that grain of sand can be rubbing your lunch box quite so aggressively, running through wild honeysuckle and to be greeted by Lord Harper smiling at the end of one swim with the words ‘did you see that dog fish?’ Well, its just that its bloody gorgeous; the end of the swims were either on rock or you found yourself jogging up a pure white beach to be greeted by a handful of enthusiastic locals.
Plus beer the night before the race, and beer after. Lots.
86 teams started, 70 finished, we came 44th.
Should you enter? No, because if you do it will hamper the chance of us getting another place next year. And you have to be educated, open minded mature individuals to appreciate paradise which rules most of you out.
Eton Dorney Sprint Qualifier – Tom Nash
On Sunday the 22nd May, it was the first event weekend at Eton Dorney this year, this was a sprint event, and it also was a BTF qualifier for the World Championship Finals in Cozumel in September.
I arrived at Dorney for 8:30 am thinking that my wave time was at 9:50 however only when I got there did I find out that my wave was in-fact at 1:50pm! This put my pre race plan out of the window.
However this did mean that I could now be the official photographer for the morning session whilst catching some rays by the side of the bike course. Watching some fantastic athletes race in the morning was inspiring for my race in the afternoon.
By the time my wave finally came around, 5 hours after arriving, the midday sun was beating down, and I was ready for my race.
The swim went as well as planned despite suffering for having a free coffee (which I was obliged to have) that I was offered only minutes before the start of the race!
On the bike I knew I would have to give everything to get near the time posted by my Father in the morning, as it turned out this was a bad plan as it meant that I had no legs left for the run which (in my humble opinion) was a very demoralizing 5km run straight up and back down the lake. As a result of “giving it a go” on the bike my run time was a rather disappointing 22:50.
On a side note it was a bit disappointing we did not get mandatory race tee shirt after the race however I think it was made up for, by the amount of free coconut water and Erdinger, which I was given that should last me the rest of the season!
There was a good turnout from the club with following Tri20’ers posting some very respectable times all around:
Sean Stewart – 1:09:37
Paco Fritzen – 1:13:14
Ian Gerrard – 1:15:07
Jonathan Gubb – 1:16:15
Mike Nash – 1:19:48
Colin Wilson – 1:24:02
Tom Nash – 1:25:01
Looking forward to my next event which is also my first half iron man, the Cotswold 113.
Paris Marathon – Andrew Barrett
13:45 train from Reading to Paddington. I actually got to the station early, yes me, early by 15 minutes!!! First shock! £32.90 for a return from Reading to Kings Cross St Pancreas!!! Still no nerves but a slight twinge to the right knee while overloaded with bags, do I go for the duct tape and strap up? Yes, I have duct tape with me!!! Hypochondria perhaps???
Having not pre prepared my route across to St Pancreas or from Paris Gare du Nord to my apartment near the Champs de losers maybe I should take a look! Have to rely on myself to get to these foreign parts! Main thing is, I have English T bags with me!
15:00 At Kings Cross St Pancreas in the departure lounge. Now I remember why I hate travel unless I’m driving!
16:15 On the train, oh it pays to upgrade.
No WIFI! ? Must be the French doing the catering! Really small portions but very nice, tea awful!
20:50 Arrived at the apartment, very nice too. Stones throw from the arc de triomphe
08:30 Went walk about and found some nice cafe’s and a superb patisserie! The French aren’t bad at the old Croissant lark! Why can’t we have such good pastries? Butter not salted…….what’s that all about? We do better butter.
Went for another mooch about and registered and picked up bibs for the run and look at the exhibition hall……had to buy at T shirt then off to a cafe for hours with fellow Tri2O Olivier (he’s French) and Jessica (she’s German……….who’d have thought it 😉 ).
Note to self. Before a Marathon, don’t walk till your legs ache! Time to relax
Day 3 – Race Day!
08:00 Terrible nights sleep AGAIN but porridge, honey and banana to get me going!
Faffed around as usual and went to the start…..21 degrees already……..still not nervous except the dread I’d forgotten something!
Outside there were blue skies and a buzz of people and runners everywhere! Everywhere I looked I was thinking oh they all look better than me (mostly true!). Then ewwww my hamstrings feel really tight! Ewww my Achilles, but all were fine……..till my knee felt odd! Ignore it I thought! And all was good. Met Olivier at the start and we ran together for about 12km’s till I needed a wee. Needed a wee since the beginning but refused to us an open air urinal with supporters just the other side………I think only the French use these, and yes, Olivier did. Caught up with him soon after as he was finding it hard with the heat too. Slapped his backside and he immediately started running again 😉 soon after I left him as I was feeling strong and keeping my pace, although at 13km’s I felt a blister coming on my right foot which was previously never an issue! Got to the half Marathon stage feeling strong (2hrs12) still but by 27km’s I was starting to cramp! I was originally hoping for 5hrs but I was next to the 4:30 pacers flag but caught up with it so a bit faster! A slight cockiness in my mind till legs started to lock up! I was getting cramp in both shins, calves, quads and hamstrings!!! I didn’t know what to do with my legs!!! I’d taken a lot of electrolytes and did everything to avoid it but the heat was so intense! The day before was cloudy and overcast but today was superb! A lovely day to see all the sights but not for running in as I’m useless in the heat! It was my worst run, even worse than any training run beyond a half Marathon! A mixture of walk, jogging and stopping to stretch for most of the rest of the journey! So disappointed but at the same time it would be my longest run and it was such an amazing event it was worth it!! The last 2 Km’s were so painful with cramp but decided I had to run it! At this moment I wanted EPO and anything Lance Armstrong had taken! 😉 hobbled the last 1km over the line very happy!
Then straight to meet Olivier and Jessica for a couple of pints!
Olivier made it in 4:59 and a few seconds and I was 5:36.09. Both slower than we wished but with the heat we can’t complain as my Garmin registered a max temperature of 34 degrees in the sun, I was so dehydrated even though I drank at every water stop!!!!! Both very happy to finish!
Olivier running for MS and myself for the Lindsay Hospice for Paul a colleague at work who finally succumbed to cancer. One picture shows my sun burn!
￼Oh and big thanks to Callum Hughes for his tip to put gaffe or duct tape into my trainers to stop blisters!!!!! Worked for my problematic left foot but should have done both!
Exmoor Coastal Marathon – Jim Bryce
Newbury Duathlon – Nick Silcox
Competed in the Newbury duathlon yesterday which also happens to be my first at this type of event and thought I’d give a brief report of my efforts.
5k run, 25k bike, 5k run, both runs were off road on a lumpy muddy course and the bike route seemed to have more ups than downs plus the second half the roads were pretty dirty and had a fair few potholes to dodge.
I got off to a good start on the run and finished it in 18.28 for 5th position.
Rode the bike as hard as I could which wasn’t easy after the run and knew I’d have a job on my hands keeping some of the proper cyclist from catching me.
Sure enough I was caught by a couple at about half way, I upped my game and the three of us battled it out for some time.
I was overtaken by three in the end but managed to keep them in sight…just. Bike leg 44.32.
On to the 2nd run with my legs feeling as heavy as lead I still managed to pull off a decent run as this is by far my strongest discipline and gradually picked off the three cyclists. The last one proving a tough nut to crack with only about 800 to go I passed him and made a real surge to make sure it stayed that way.
I finished the 2nd run in 19.26 which gave me 5th overall and 2nd vet, but 1st vet won so now I’m 1st vet by default. Yay!!!
I thought having no swim, which quite frankly I’m crap at, would make this easier as I wouldn’t need to make up so much time on the bike and run but I found this a tough, tough sport on the legs and heart and (almost) makes a triathlon feel leisurely.
I’m sure I’ll change my mind on that last statement when I compete in Outlaw in July!
Human Race Winter Duathlon Series – Andrew Morgan
It was that time of year again, the end of the triathlon season had gone, the post-season blow outs and my 40th Birthday celebrations had left my body feeling soft. Three A races in the season had left my mind and focus feeling frazzled. It had been a great running and triathlon season, with two Marathon PB’s, a Half Marathon PB along with an Iron distance PB at Roth, but at this time of year thoughts of blistering hot days on the continent were dwindling along with the outside temperatures. Where was the next challenge?
On the morning of Wildman I was cursing; clearing out the back of my van trying to make space for the mountain bikes and wondering why I was putting myself through the misery of this cold, wet November morning. Why didn’t I just stay in bed? Then, into the driveway pulls Alex, wearing his bright orange hoody and knitted bobble hat, smiling from ear to ear and struggling to contain his excitement. I then think how lucky I am to have such an enthusiastic best mate.
So here we were again, trundling along on our way to my 4th consecutive Wildman. Before we knew it we were jumping up and down nervously at the start line. Alex’s smile had gone and the serious race face was on!
Within seconds of setting off the cold air was burning my lungs, scrambling for footing amongst the tree roots and mud. I frustratingly watched the front pack edge away and excepted I was settling in for two hours of pain!
Halfway through the first run I was checking over my shoulder trying to see where Big Will was. He was a bit of an unknown quantity on this terrain. I knew he was pretty decent on a MTB and for a big guy he can’t half run! The scariest thing about Will though is the fact he is an unbreakable force of nature; both mentally and physically! I couldn’t see him anywhere. Then a voice said “you can’t miss those trainers can you?” Shit! He’d been in my blind spot the whole time. Time to up the pace! I didn’t look back and just ploughed on through until I hit T1.
I was fumbling around with freezing hands trying to put my cycling shoes on, cursing for forgetting my gloves. I left T1 looking around for Will. He was storming up behind and came flying up the inside of me, not realising the sharp corner ahead and totally overcooked it. Ha-ha I nipped in on the inside grinning and never saw him again. I knew he was on the wrong bike and he would struggle on a fast open course. The Duathlon series is definitely suited to a 29er! The rest of the bike was pretty lonely. I love the fast descents and the long climbs but it’s the most unprotected course and is open to the elements. Thankfully the rain had stopped and the sun was out. That said, the wind was brutal and I was glad to get onto T2.
My hands were now feeling like ice blocks and from previous experiences I knew this race was about to get tougher. The last 5k resembles more of an army assault course, climbing on hands and knees and running through bogs. If you suffer from cramp this is where it’s going to get you. By now I was feeling it and longing for the end. My mind was getting softer and any fight I had left was leaking out. The finish was in sight but the dominant feeling was of relief not joy. I could hear footsteps from behind getting louder, someone was running me down; I had a quick check to make sure it wasn’t Will and then let him pass. I no longer cared, just wanting to get over that finish line. As I crossed the line it was great to see friendly faces. Alex and Callum were always there for a team photo. I always look terrible with a bright red face compared to those two, who have had 15mins to compose themselves before facing the camera. Alex was over the moon and deservedly so; he’d beaten Callum and came 6th overall, achieving the fastest 5k split of the day.
The van journey home was a happy one with the heaters blowing and already reminiscing over the mornings racing. I couldn’t help being quietly disappointed with myself though; it was my worst placing ever and mentally I’d given up in the race. I was telling myself to go easy and give myself a break but to rub salt in the wound the guy that past me in the final 20m was from TVT and, to squeeze lemon on it, he was in my running group at Reading Roadrunners!!! The only saving grace was that I’d found out he was doing the series. This would be my new focus. This was my new Nick Parris. He didn’t know it yet but this turkey was going to be toast 🙂
It was the same scenario as before, franticly clearing out the back of my van, freezing cold temperatures and questions about why we were putting ourselves through it again. Alex resembled an excited puppy dog waiting to go on a walk and we were off in the van again, pondering thoughts of what fate had in store for us today!
It was a different atmosphere on the journey to Iceman. I could tell Alex was feeling the pressure of beating Callum in the previous race; the expectation had grown. I also had to deliver, to beat my new nemesis (and I knew Big Will would be gunning for me). I was feeling confident! I had put the effort in over the previous weeks and created a local, off road, running circuit with plenty of nasty hills, I had been running it 3 times a week and I had consistently got out on the road bike. My mind felt much sharper and I felt like I had regained some focus.
We were parked up, registered and prepared our bikes, sticking race numbers in every conceivable place when Will pulled in behind us. He was beaming from ear to ear. I thought he was just pleased to see us but then he popped the boot and pulled out an awesome looking, full carbon 29er Hard Tail. I recognised it straight away. Mr Parris had kindly lent it in an attempt to aid Will to take Team East down. Panic alerts were sounding, “SHIT! My bike advantage had gone!” We all racked our bikes together, Callum also sporting a gleaming new bike provided by his new sponsor and employer. He was looking pretty focused too (he was the reigning series champ after all) and there was no way he was going to take defeat lying down. Alex was going to have his work cut out!
I was looking around for TVT man, where was he? I had looked him up on RunBritain and this guy was no slouch. He had a 76min Half Marathon to his name; quick by anyone’s standards! There he was, running into transition late from registration; his feathers were ruffled as he rushed, trying to organise his kit. We exchanged niceties in a gentlemanly manner but we both knew we would be locking horns later in the race.
We were at the start line fidgeting impatiently. I remember looking longingly at another athlete’s GBR tri suit and I was also trying to place Will. I didn’t want to lose sight of him this time. We we’re off! Will and I were running side by side, TVT man was edging ahead and Alex and Callum were disappearing into the distance. The first mile or so of Iceman leads you into a false sense of security, gently descending through the forest. It’s quite pleasant! I warned Will of the torture that lay ahead and he replied, “what goes down must go up I guess?” I smiled to myself and thought it was best to say nothing. The next set of hills can only be described as someone’s idea of a joke; you feel like a yoyo going up and down, up and down! You can’t help but feel someone is hiding in the trees laughing at you. I’m tracking back looking out for Will and was relieved to see he had dropped back. He was blowing hard and I had created enough of a gap to turn my focus to the challenge ahead. By this point TVT man was out of sight but it didn’t mean he was far in front. Iceman is a tight and twisty course; the hills are steep but short. In my head I had to catch TVT before the end of the second bike lap which should give me enough time to hold him off for the final 5k run. The end of the second lap was nearing but he was nowhere to be seen. Where was he? I felt like I was flying; why hadn’t I caught him? There was a technical section ahead and it was becoming more challenging due to the track becoming congested with people on their first bike lap. Through the traffic I spotted him, he was stuck at the top of a sharp ascent with his chain jammed and franticly trying to free it. I couldn’t help but let out a laugh. Immediately I felt bad and offered support (I had no intention of giving it or even slowing down but offered it as a token gesture anyway).
This was the time to nail it! There is always a point in every race where it’s crucial to put a stint in and it’s rarely in the last 100m. I knew TVT man would be livid with himself for changing down to his small chain ring too late and causing the jam. He was going to be adrenalin-fuelled and in hot pursuit, but I was loving it! I finished the bike and flew through T2, pounding through the forest and relishing the challenge of taking the hills on for the third time that day. I was going to laugh in the face of these relentless climbs!…Five minutes later I was gasping for breath, snot dribbling from my nose, sure I could taste lactic acid pouring out the top of my threshold; but there was light at the end of the tunnel and incentives out front! Sponsor clad trisuits and the sight of GBR stash were all I needed. Time to go barbaric. The red mist had fallen! Pain didn’t seem to matter anymore; the pickings were too rich. I was going to slay these warriors on my path to victory! In reality I just said “come on mate you’re nearly there” (ha-ha that’s probably the most patronising thing I could have said especially when you’re wearing a GBR tri suit but I didn’t care), I was a warrior, a weekend warrior, but a warrior none the less. I crossed the line feeling like William Wallace! I’d finished 11th overall, which was my highest placing in any of the duathlon series events, I’d beaten Will and TVT man. I was a happy man!
There were hugs all around from Callum and Alex. They had battled it out but Callum had come back fighting. His MTB skills, and resultant time differences, were too much for Alex to claw back on the final run. However he had set the fastest final 5K of the day again, which shows what a tenacious athlete Alex is. It was 1-1 with Alex and Callum and it was 1-1 with TVT man and me. It was all going to be down to Mudman.
This had to be the coldest morning yet. Temperatures were only just hovering above zero degrees and there was even a chance of snow during the race. Amazingly, on this occasion, I had cleared the van the night before and my bike was already loaded. Alex arrived as usual and we were off on time without delay. It was sad news to hear Callum wasn’t going to be racing. We joked about him being under the thumb or that his lack of current form was his reasoning for bailing but we both knew this wasn’t really the case. His performance last year on this course was phenomenal. I felt for him not being able to defend his title but sometimes other things just take priority. Alex’s new focus for the race was a series podium finishes, and mine was obviously to take the overall victory against TVT man. His name is actually Richard Usher and he’s a really nice guy but for the purpose of motivation he was TVT man! We arrived and walked down, orange hoodies on and jackets over the top; it was bitterly cold. It was great to see Jason Nash from Probikefit, he was going to give it a go and my mate James Mackinder was back after missing Iceman. As we were on the way back to van, laden with more stickers, we saw TVT man assembling his bike. We strolled over trying to look very relaxed. He was very chirpy, even jovial. He starting talking about all the trail run training he’d done and how great he was feeling. We just nodded saying, great, fantastic, amazing. We wished him good luck and walked towards my van. When we were out of ear shot Alex turned to me and said, “He was bloody confident wasn’t he?”
“I know” I said. “Shit I could be in trouble here”.
Alex and I had both sustained running injuries around Christmas time so we’d only been doing light running for the last couple of months. This was not the course to ease yourself back from injury. The terrain is almost rocky in places and not comfortable underfoot. For me this is the toughest course out of the three; a few think Iceman is (but the majority would agree with me). The distances are divided differently to the others. This was to be a 7.5K run 15K bike and then the same 7.5K run to finish. It’s the only course I have to get off my bike at points to push up the hills and the only course where I am forced to walk. It’s Brutal!
We racked our bikes in the rocky transition area and headed back to the van once more. We had decided it was too cold to walk down in our race gear but in the excitement we didn’t realise how far away the van actually was.
We were now pushed for time, faffing about trying to punch holes in race belt numbers and starting to panic. This is a common occurrence for us two (probably more Alex than I but he drags me down with himJ). It was pretty much a sprint to the start line, which wasn’t a bad thing, at least we’d warmed up a bit. We had to push our way through to the front but made it just in time. The race briefing was coming to an end and everyone was there, all present and correct. We were off, the final race was underway!
The first part is flat and fast and we were all holding a decent pace, TVT man was just in front and Will was alongside me as usual. We turned a corner and I instantly remembered where we were from last year; just up ahead lay a water trap which the army use for testing their tanks. Usually this is quite a novelty but with today’s freezing temperatures it was going to be a Baltic experience. It’s about 100m long, or at least it seems it. I’d already said goodbye to the feeling in my feet but I was actually enjoying sprinting through the icy water. Because of our running injuries Alex had introduced me to strength training and it was certainly paying off here. I passed TVT man like I was auditioning for an aerobic workout DVD, arms and knees pumping high; it was great! The novelty didn’t last long and upon leaving the water trap my feet felt like frozen blocks of lead. The next section was full of stinking mud; why it smells so bad I don’t know (and probably don’t want to). It’s a slippery, nasty little section and I was very glad to get through it.
My lead over TVT man was short lived and as he edged in front again I wanted to stick with him but my instinct was telling me, “be patient. This is a gruelling course and this is not the time to bury yourself.” The course undulates for a bit and then you turn the corner and there before you lies the first terrifying hill. It’s got to be at least a 35 degree incline. My steps get shorter and my breaths get deeper. I can see Alex descending on the other side and so we exchanged bicep flexes and offers of encouragement. It soon becomes a decision whether to walk and keep your upper body weight low swinging your arms like a monkey or to try to keep running with mini footsteps. I don’t think it makes too much difference so go for a combination of both. I’m still thinking of pacing myself for the duration of the race. The descents are just as hard with a real danger of building up too much speed for your legs to keep up! I don’t know whether it’s the impact of my feet landing or the speed itself but water is building up in my eyes and I’m struggling to see where I’m going. These hills seem to go on forever in a repeating s shape.
The course finally leaves the sandy tank tracks and heads through the forest. It’s flat for a bit so time to try and regain control over my heart which is beating ferociously out of control. It’s not long before the track narrows and another set of technical single track ascents and descents approach. There is a real danger here of losing footing as the racing is fierce, I’m in a pack and it’s difficult to see your line in front of you. I’m losing composure here and
I’m descending out of control! My foot slips into a crevice and my bodyweight shifts, my ankle gives way with my full body weight over it. The pain shoots up my leg and I can’t help but let out a yelp. I am now hopping down this technical descent at speed trying not to fall flat on my face. I’d had a motorbike accident in my early 20’s and undergone surgery on my foot which had left my ankle weak. It’s never really recovered fully. It didn’t give way regularly but it has happened on a few occasions and these were extreme conditions. I managed to get to the bottom without falling over. The guy behind me said “Shit, that looked nasty mate are you” he’d already gone. I thought of my false gesture to TVT man at Iceman… This guy had no real concern he was just happy to gain the place. This is fierce racing!
Adrenaline was pouring into my bloodstream to try and compensate for the pain; initial thoughts were would I be
able to continue. I thought just get these last couple of hills done and make it to T1 and then I could recover on
the bike. I’d lost three more places but I was managing to run. T1 couldn’t come soon enough. Lap 1 past quickly on the bike and I was starting get into a rhythm. I was picking people off and had regained all the places I’d lost. I was on the hunt now and I knew I had to catch TVT man before half way on the second lap. I was approaching the water trap for the second time on the bike and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I could see him up ahead. This was my crucial point in the race. This was time to bury myself. One massive show of force here would crush him mentally. I was ahead of schedule and he would have known that. This was the ideal time to pass, once in the water trap he wouldn’t be able to react. I felt like Mark Cavendish during a sprint finish at The Tour de France. I was pushing so hard I thought the bike was aquaplaning above the water. As I approached behind him I shouted “COME ON RICHARD” It wasn’t said for encouragement, I was throwing down a challenge to him. I passed him like he was stood still, once you’ve lost speed in the water trap it’s impossible to regain so I just pushed as hard as I could. My power must have been through the roof and my quads were feeling like they were going to burst at any point, I had to push on. I couldn’t afford to let him back in, I’d have to nail the technical section through the stinky mud and only allow myself to recover when out of sight. I was on fire and the next section is my favourite on the bike course. It’s so fast and with loose gravel under tyre you feel like you’re drifting cutting racing lines, powering down the descent to give you enough inertia to carry the ascents without losing speed. It’s electrifying! It doesn’t last long and before you know it you’re climbing the same steep hill as on the run course. I dismount the bike and push it up this relentless hill. I’m still digging deep to try to pass as many people who are on their first lap. The more people I can get between myself and TVT man the better. This would give me even more of an advantage as the next section narrowed to a single track which would make it difficult for him to get through the traffic. The rest of the bike split passed without drama, all I needed to do was run my heart out.
Thoughts return to my ankle as I approached T2, was it going to hold out? Running out of T2 my feet felt like they had no shoes on. The wet and cold had made them sensitive and the ground was so rough. One more time through the water trap and on to the hills, my ankle was holding out and I was feeling good. The first hill section is a good gauge for who is in front or behind you. I was only descending the first hill and I caught sight of TVT man. He was just about to start his first climb. I didn’t think he had seen me and I was anxious to get out of sight as I didn’t want to give him any hope. My Bright red top would have been like dangling a carrot in front of him and may have given him the encouragement he needed. I thought of discarding my top to try and disguise myself but it was a Salomon X-lab top and I’d grown quite fond of it. Every ascent I was forced to walk but I thought he would be running and making ground so I’d break into tinny running footsteps. Come On! I was nearly there this is not the time to be weak.
I was onto the final section of single track hills and I was proceeding with caution as I passed the point I’d previously gone over on my ankle. The home straight was near. I caught sight of Will who was a few hills back, he shouted “great race mate” He is such a gent. My heart is filling up with warm fluffy feelings, I’ve met so many people through the club who are now great friends. We’ve formed a great gang who willingly take chunks out of one another on a weekly bases. You’ve got to be tough to survive in it. You’ve got to be able to give banter (and back it up), but more importantly take the banter back. I love it and we are all likeminded. The only person who rose above the banter in our group was Katie, all the testosterone fuelled stuff went over her head. She loved the racing though and buried herself along with the rest of our Sunday gang. After a bit of persuasion she entered Widman last year. No-one wanted to take responsibility for her entry as we were all sure she would injure herself. We thought it best to take her to Swinley Forest for some practice. It was hilarious. The forest was filled with sounds more accustom to Thorpe Park. Whoops and screams all morning long. She nailed Widman like every other race she entered. We were all relieved though when she finished. We miss her so much. There’s not a ride that goes by without me thinking of her at some point. She was such an amazing girl.
My thoughts then led to how lucky I was to be here, appreciating the diversity of the seasons this beautiful country has to offer, why would I want to be wrapped up in bed when I could be out on this beautiful, yet freezing day, pushing myself to the limits with my mates? I thought of a quote I’d read earlier in the year by Albert Camus it read “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer”. It struck a chord.
Alex was there to greet me at the finish line he’d placed high enough to secure 3rd place in the overall series. What an amazing achievement; he’d only bought a mountain bike for the first time last year. I’d secured 7th overall and Will had managed 15th. What a great showing from Tri2o. Richard Usher came over to congratulate me and we compared spilt times on our paper print outs. He was looking for my second run time – it was quicker than his. My mind games had worked! He walked away shoulders dropped while Alex and I were grinning like Cheshire Cats performing mini fist pumps behind his back. The van heaters were blowing hard on the way home. My van cockpit was a very happy place. We were very happy boys indeed.
Dorset Marathon, Winter 2016
The annual pilgrimage to the toughest race of the year was once again pre-empted by a small bike ride, with the chosen destination a cider farm in Dorset. Lord Harper led the charge with 2 pints of prime Dorset Scrumpy; that’s serious carb loading.
The obligatory barrel of Piddle bitter, some red wine and a general passing out.
This year saw some enter the 16 mile ½ Marathon and three young bucks attempt the Manathon; 27 miles of off road Dorset coast trail.
Conditions this year were…brutal. Storm Desmond brought winds which blew you backwards on the coastal track; running in places impossible. We were real men, the Bear Grylls of trail running.
The results; the ½ this year won by Ru Haynes having led Mike Stroud down the wrong path and then doubling back without telling him. Devious but there are no rules here.
Ru Haynes; 3 hrs 6 mins
Mike Stroud 3 hrs 9 mins
Ceri Philpott 3 hrs 23 mins
Nick ‘our friend from Andover Tri’ Wall; 3 hrs 39 mins
Chairman Stroud; 3 hrs 45 mins
For a change, and the very first time, Ceri actually enjoyed the run this year and temporarily forgot his normal morose ambience.
The Manathon also experienced its under hand behaviour with Lord Harper tripping Jim Bryce not once, but twice and Gooch moaning like an old woman prior to the start before disappearing like a mountain goat.
Jim Bryce; 5 hours 1 min
Gooch; 5 hrs 22 min
Lord Harper; 5 hrs 35 mins
To be fair to Gooch, he completed this quicker than the swim section of IM Wales. Lord Harper was aiming for 5 hrs 30 min so must be congratulated on fine pacing but needs to learn to overtake ladies running in tight lycra tights.
And much respect for Coach Dom Dos for clobbering out 27 miles of the Ultra. Real man stuff.
We left Dorset, hungover, vowing to be back next year. And Tim Challinor promising to actually start the race next year instead of drinking too excess, opting to swim in a warm pool in Dorchester and breakfasting in some posh Italian joint.
Yet more orange on display, this time from Tasha Skidmore, Nick Lees, Clare Fox, Gareth Sylvester-Bradley, Jason Barrett and Andrew Barrett.
Tony Walker smashed his first Ironman in 12:20, well done you deserve that medal.
Gareth Sylvester-Bradley rolled in 2nd overall making a team with a couple of other guys, great result!!
World Triathlon Championships, Chicago, September 2015
Seven club members qualified to represent Team GB across both sprint and standard distances this year, and what a great time we all had! We also had a Tri2Oer competing for New Zealand, but we forgive her.
Sean Stewart – 2nd GB and 20th in AG (Sprint)
Kirsty Johnston-Cox – Bronze in aquathlon, 6th in AG (Standard)
Ironman Wales, Tenby, 14-Sep-15
A close race for the very strong Tri2O contingent at the notoriously tough IM Wales
Mike Busher 13:01
Mark Gorst 12:58
Jonathan Gubb 12:45
Robert Harper 12:44
Scott Maguire 12:34
Great times guys on a very difficult course, well done!!
Great Tri2O performances at the middle distance race by Andrew Morando and Richard Coates (69th overall).
Harriet Chettleburgh came in 2nd female, giving the lads Jason Barrett, Mark Astbury and Nick Lees a run for their money.
70.3 World Championships, Zell am See, Austria – 30-Aug-15
Edwina McDowall in only her 2nd (we think?!) race at this distance, came a stonking 11th in AG, 2nd Brit, with a time of 5:27. Our relentlessly successful Clive Alderson came in 18th in AG with a time of 5:12. Callum Hughes and Clare Lait also represented GB and overcame significant illness and physical problems to finish nonetheless – true grit, endurance and determination. Callum came in with a time of 5:00:27, and Clare 6:10:39, and no doubt will come back fighting next year!
Cotswold Classic middle distance race, 24-Aug-15
Eweshot TT, Reading Cycle Club 11-Aug-15
Another good showing from the Tri2O clan at tonight’s Ewshot TT occupying 3rd to 6th. Not the best conditions but a great race #SmashFest
Alex Warner flying the flag for Tri2O in the Midlands. Applying what he’s learnt in Reading back on boyhood stomping grounds. Some good competition out there, and rightly should be happy with those amazing times.
Bognor Regis Standard Triathlon 9-Aug-2015
Gavin Spiers came 1st overall. He thinks he still has work to do on the swim; Tri2O thinks that’s a pretty good result regardless!
Outstanding performances by Harriet Chettleburgh (2nd in AG) and Martin Cook (3rd in AG) who both qualified for the IM World Championships in Kona in October – bring it on! Callum Hughes also came a brilliant 14th in AG and Neil Sparkes completed his first Ironman race. Awesome work guys!
Great showing from the ladies at Dorney Lake. 100 entrants: Overall positions Catherine Leather- 41st, Amanda Sheridan-45th, Elizabeth Ganpatsingh – 46th, Tina Wilson – 58th. Amanda and Tina – AG winners. Claire Seymour tackled the 1500M swim.
Bustin Skins middle distance triathlon 12-Jul-15
Five Tri2o guys took part in the choppy sea swim with jelly fish the size of dust bins, hilly first 30mile of the bike followed by wind and rain in the face on the return and a gentle hilly run to finish. Great event, friendly organisers and marshals around the course, would recommend to any one.
Andrew Morando 5:47:53
Mark Gorst 5:39:38
Scott Maguire 5:32:36
Jonathan Gubb 5:22:02
Robert Harper 5:14:44
Well done all
In a hugely emotional race, wearing special edition trisuits in memory of Katie Henderson, four guys really smashed it: Andrew Morgan 10.14.38. Will Headland 10.18.13. Nick Parris 10.34.43. Alex Warner 10.39.43.
Oli Williams also smashed his PBs in all three disciplines with a fantastic time of 11.40.
Georgia Jackson came 2nd female despite nasty wet conditions and a crash on the bike, also beating the course record (along with the 1st female, obviously!).
The evening of Katie’s funeral, Georgia Jackson was first female in the Half Moon Swim, a very emotional win, for Katie.
Wimbleball 70.3 28-Jun-15
Callum Hughes won his AG and came 5th overall on this notoriously tough half-iron distance race on Exmoor. A particularly poignant win as this was the race in which Katie Henderson qualified for the Worlds the year before, smashing the
field both age groupers and pros. Jason Barrett also raced and was pleasantly surprised (his words!) with a top half finish.
Katie was due to race this year for her team Tri Training Harder, and in her memory a Tri2O relay team, together with Katie’s best friend Emma – completed the race in her name, finishing in a brilliant time of 5:03:48. Well done guys – a very very tough day.
Grafman middle distance triathlon 28-Jun-15
Stephen Ridley came 11th in AG with a great time of 4:41:25, well done!