2009 Race Reports

CPT in action

 

If you've competed in a race and want to write a report, even if it's only describing the course for people who might consider doing the event in future, please do.

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Ironman Western Australia |
ITU World Championships, Gold Coast
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OneLastTri
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Ironman France
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Gran Fondo 2009
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Beaver Fest
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Caledonia Etape
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New Forest Triathlon
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Tonbridge Sprint Triathlon
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London Marathon - how it all began
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Sydney Water Challenge Triathlon
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Bookham 10k
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The Hell of Ashdown
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Box Hill Fell Race
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Tadworth 10
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Knacker Cracker

Ironman Western Australia

Report by Lauren Whitmore

Even 36 hours on, race day is beginning to seem like a blur.  In summary it was a really tough day, best described as ‘bloody hot’ (Aussie speak!) It got up to 44 degrees at one point – not ideal conditions for a ‘pom’, especially one as pale as me! Even making it to the finish was an achievement, with the highest drop out rate ever for this race; 12% of those who started pulled out somewhere along the way. I finished in 11.00.21, a massive PB from my last attempt in Austria, placing me 31st female (including pros) and 7th in my age group.

Swim startThe swim is a simple out and back, around the jetty, which stretches 1.8km from the shore. The start wasn’t too rough, although there was a bit of congestion about 400m in where I had my goggles kicked off. Eventually the field started to spread out and I had enough space to swim without worrying about being whacked over the head every 5 seconds. The water was crystal clear and surprisingly calm for a sea swim. Towards the end of the jetty it got a bit choppy, but I was so glad to be turning round to head back to the beach it didn’t bother me. I even started to enjoy myself a bit! My official time for the swim was 55.03, nearly five minutes faster than Austria last year. I started to feel like this could be a good day!

Lauren exitingIn the transition tent, two volunteers helped me get my wetsuit off and covered me in sunscreen – they could obviously see I wasn’t used to the climate! Starting the bike leg, which consisted of 3 super flat, fast (hopefully!) laps, I settled into my rhythm, holding a steady pace but not pushing too hard. I was passed by a constant stream of disc wheels and aero helmets, but I tried to ignore them and concentrate on getting enough to drink and making sure I didn’t get carried away and take off too fast. My support crew, Roy and my Dad were waiting for me about 20 minutes in and gave me a massive cheer as I rode past. The first lap was fun, although it was frustrating to be passed so much (guess I’ll just have to get faster!) I held an average speed of just over 33kph to complete the first 60km in about 1hr 48, on track for my 5hr 30 target. The second lap was tougher, as the wind picked up and it started to get warm. In some ways the flat course is deceptively hard because you can sit in your TT position for the whole race, with no respite for your legs at all – you just have to keep hammering away!

Lauren on her bikeRoy and my Dad popped up randomly along the course and seemed to get more excited every time I saw them. First my Dad ran along the road beside me, waving a massive Union Jack, the next time Roy was running along, screaming ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’, and coming back into town on the main highway they were driving along the other carriageway beeping the horn, hanging out the window and screaming encouragement. It was awesome to have such amazing support, and definitely made me dig a bit deeper as I started my last lap. By now, it was getting really hot, so as well as picking up energy drink from the aid stations, I started to grab water to chuck over my head and back, in an attempt to keep cool. One particular section through Port Geographe (sounds nice, but is really just an undeveloped swamp) felt like cycling head on into a hairdryer! I came off the bike in 5.37.34, nearly an hour faster than Austria!

Lauren on the runSitting down in the transition tent, the volunteers once again covered me in sunscreen. I chucked on my trainers and stood up, ready for the marathon. Or not. I started to run, and my legs felt like lead. I suddenly realized just how hot it was and slowed to a walk. I remembered something I’d read about Ironman being 90% mental and realized I needed to get my head together. I wasn’t here for a 42.2km death march! I decided that the best tactic would be to run/jog/shuffle between the aid stations, then walk through, making sure I picked up everything I wanted. I refined my aid station strategy as I went, until I had a polished routine; two cups of ice, one down the front of my top, one down the back; a cup of water to drink, another to dump on my head; a cup of cola; another water; and a final cup of ice which I emptied into my hands so I could rub it onto my arms, face and neck.

Lauren crossing the Finish lineI didn’t see Roy and my Dad for quite a while, but they reappeared on the second lap, just at the right time. The locals get really into the race, and there was a lot of support around the course and Roy got them all shouting and cheering for me. He’d also picked up a pressure spray from somewhere and was enjoying himself spraying the competitors to keep them cool, telling those who were walking that they needed some of his magic ‘running juice’! It seemed to be getting even hotter, and waves of heat were radiating from the pavement. So many fit looking people were walking, several were vomiting by the side of the road, in other words complete carnage! All I could think about was getting to the next aid station to find some more ice. The kms ticked by, and somehow I made it to the 40km mark. I started to try to calculate how much time had elapsed since the start and somehow landed on about 11hr 15; if I was going to go under 11hr 30 I needed to get a move on! Lauren and her bikeWhen I finally reached the finishing chute I looked up at the clock and was surprised to see a time staring with 10! I realized I was sprinting for sub-11hrs, rather than 11hr 30 as I’d thought. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite quick enough to bag my dream time of 10hr 59, but I was only 21 seconds short, 10hr+ will have to wait until next year!

Ironman WA is a great race, and Busselton (Roy’s home town) is a fantastic host. The swim in particular is really special and it’s a great course for those with an aversion to hills! I’ll definitely be going back next year and hoping for a slightly cooler day!

View larger images.

ITU World Championships, Gold Coast

Report by Haydn Whitmore

ITU World Championships banner

The Gold Coast, AustraliaThis is the final leg of the flight home to London so it seems a good time to put some thoughts together about the whole experience of training, qualifying for and competing in the World Age Group Championships on the Gold Coast, Australia.

It all started two years ago when I was fortunate enough to gain a place in the GB Sprint Team in Hamburg which was an incredible experience in my first triathlon season. At the Expo I picked up a leaflet for the 2009 World Championships from the Australian Tri stand. Qualifying for the Olympic distance became my goal for Haydnthe next two years and I knew anything less then 100% commitment would not be good enough as I was moving toward the top of my age group and each year the competition got stronger.

In 2008 IronMan Austria became my focus along with 22 other CPT members and I became accustomed to being more systematic with my training in preparation for the event which I ultimately enjoyed more than any other.

Ready to swimThis year five CPT triathletes qualified for the worlds as part of the GB Team, Richard Lewey, Mark Thomas, Ross Calder, Roy McGregor and myself. Each of us made it to the Championships in our own way and my journey started back in October 2008 with the first of three training phases which didn't exactly go to plan. 

The Qualifiers for 2009 were in May and July and I decided to go for the early one in the hope of being able to do a base phase and two complete build phases, one for qualification and one for the event Ready to swimin September. A fairly miserable Beaver Castle first qualifier meant that I had to qualify at Bedford in July and ditch the idea of two separate build phases which would have me some rest in between.

Jon Horsman did a great job holding it all together so that I qualified at Bedford and was well prepared for the Championships. It did however make it a very long season and incredibly hard work at times.

Already tingling with excitement as we departed for Australia, arriving at Surfers Paradise late on the Tuesday evening and taking an early morning run along the sea front lifted the level ten fold. 6:30 in the morning there were already so many people about, biking, running, walking, surfing in the chill air with the rising sun warming the skin.

RossI'd entered the aquathlon for that afternoon, a 2.5km run, 1kswim and 2.5kmrun. It meant a frantic couple of hours trying to familiarise myself with the course, where to start, transition, registration. It turned out to be a non-wetsuit swim and running down the beach into the swim felt strange after the first run, not as strange as the swim though which seemed to be never ending. The return leg of the swim was into the sun making the course markers invisible so it was really a case of following the widely dispersed group in front. Having been overtaken by what seemed like most of the field on the swim I restored a bit of pride on the run gaining a respectable number of places back. It had been a baptism of fire but I was glad to have the session under my belt for the main event.

I now had two days to complete final preparations for the race on Saturday which proved busier than I'd anticipated and for which I was to pay heavily.

RichardThe opening ceremony was inspiring with over a thousand athletes parading to a stadium at one end of the Tri Park which was to be the age group transition area.

Race morning meant an early start although I had a start time of 9:10 which meant it would be getting pretty hot for both the bike and run legs. Fortunately for me the water temperature had dropped to 21 degrees so it was a wetsuit optional race which would help me considerably.

The start was a run down the beach which is a great way to start any race and certainly adds to the excitement. I had the best swim ever - 25 minutes - and felt great approaching the beach for the run to transition with hundreds of spectators lining the course and cheering wildly.

RoyA good transition and bike mount (practicing on the hotel balcony obviously paid off) was interrupted by cramp firstly in my right quad and then the left which forced me slow for a couple of minutes while they relaxed. Not good as I was aiming for an average of 205watts and of more concern as I'd never had this before and bikes were streaming past. I picked the pace up slowly but was struggling to maintain my target power level, made worse by the fact that I'd programmed my Garmin to bleep if power dropped below 200watts. It hardly stopped throughout the race and drove me crazy. Practically flat the bike should have been really quick but it soon got really hot and the legs just weren't performing, every km demanding immense effort to maintain the pace for a time 1hr 7mins, not a complete disaster. That happened on the run.

Haydn and RichardTransition went well again but my legs felt like lead and every step was a huge effort. I maintained my target pace for the first of two laps but then suffered badly on the second completing the run in 47mins compared to my target of 42min. My overall time was 2hr 23min and I finished 64th out of 98 in my age group. Not bad but I feel I should have gone better and must have got something wrong with those final couple of days before the race, probably not resting up enough, but as tough as the race was it was great fun and an experience I'll never forget. The Aussies put on a fantastic event and the next hosts have a lot to live up to.

You can find more photographs on sportingimages.com.au.

OneLastTri

Report by Dawn

OneLastTri – New Forest Middle Distance
Due to problems with weed in the river we were supposed to be swimming in, they had to change the swim to a nearby lake. This meant a spilt transition and all competitors were put in a coach to the first transition. This also meant we had to hang around from 05:30 until we started at 07:30. My feet were blue and I don’t think they warmed up until the run. The swim was also shortened by 600m due to the air temperature being too cold. Clearly as one of the clubs better swimmers (ahem!) I was gutted by this decision. Managed to get a good position and got out of the lake in just over 24 mins, without any scrapes.

As it was pretty chilly I quickly put on a couple of layers for the bike and set off on my way. The bike course was beautiful. No major hills but there were some long flat stretches that went on for miles. However the headwinds were pretty strong so this made it tough. Due to the cold my achilles started playing up on the second lap but I decide to ignore it and push on. Managed to complete the bike in about 3.20 so was relatively happy although I completely messed up my nutrition and didn’t eat enough. I blame this on the evil powerbar gels which made me feel sick on the second lap and then I couldn’t force much else down. The second transition was huge and you had to run for ages in your bike shoes before you could get to the tent where the run bags were.

I started the run in high spirits, waving to Riaz as I started the run. I made pretty good time on the first 4 miles and was running up all the hills where others were walking and then it all went wrong. I could feel the dreaded twinge in my right knee starting (an injury that has plagued me for about 4 years now, but I’d thought I got it beat after Nice). I tried to ignore it but the hillyness of the course was not helping. I walked and stretched a bit to no avail and by mile 6 I was in agony as my achilles was also killing me. At this point I could see Riaz cycling down the hill towards me on the other side of the road, seeing I was in a bit of a state he cycled alongside me for the remaining 5 and bit miles.

The run was actually only 11.2 miles, but the organiser had warned us it would feel like 14 due to the hilly nature of it. He wasn’t wrong. By mile 10 I started walking again and I finally started seeing the funny side when one of the marshals pointed out to me that it would be quicker if I ran. Talk about stating the obvious…anyway at this point I knew the pain would soon be over and I started running the last bit. About 500m from the end the left knee also went and it all proved too much for me, I crossed the line a blubbering wreck to the bemusement of the crowd who were gathered at the finish line. I was quickly surrounded by concerned paramedics and the race organisers…however assured them that now I had stopped running I would be fine.

I then crawled over to grab a free packet of crisps that they were handing out at the end… plumping for a packet of prawn cocktail. Bizarrely I stopped for a moment when I realised they were a ‘big eat’ packet but then thought sod it (!) it won't hurt. All in all – despite the painfulness of the run it was a beautiful course and I would highly recommend any of their series.

Ironman France

Dawn looking happy!So - Air Lingus lost Simon’s bike and Glyn lost (or forgot!) his socks (and flip-flops for the beach landing… ouch!); Phil doesn’t actually say whether he stopped for a wee tipple and James obviously didn’t stop for anything; Cathie did a lot of weeing and Mat didn’t do any pooing; Now that he’s home, Scott needs to visit the dentist and Tim is still trying to get home after breaking down in his Aussie-style camper van; Emily couldn’t stop smiling and David was grimacing and could have had swine flu (he had a sore throat, but it sounded more dramatic); Dawn declined to comment, but according to very reliable sources, had a face-like-thunder and did a sprint finish in the closing stages of the marathon, leaving poor Chris (who had been her wing-man throughout) to tough it out on his own. Just call her Theresa.

Here are a few tit-bits from Ironman France.

Cathie on the runFavourite memories/good bits
“The stunning bike course. Oh and doing a massive breaststroke kick and winding a male swimmer who had deliberately tried to take me out! Revenge is so, so sweet ; - ).” (Cathie)
“Riding through one of the small villages with people offering cups of hydration, of the alcoholic variety.” (Phil)
“The hair-raising descents on the bike… just like the Tour de France.” (Glyn)
“Overtaking rich people on Cervelos on the climbs. All that money, and no talent. Plus the last 50km on the bike all down hill and really fast. Loads of sweeping bends put a big smile on my face. And of course, running across the finish line with Vicki.” (Scott)

Phil being overtaken on the bikeWorst memories/bad bits
“Peeing on the bike, and because I held it for too long - I literally filled my cycling shoes! Poor Bloke that was behind me! That’ll teach him to draft. Yuk!” (Cathie)
“Everyone passing me up the 7km hill as my legs cramped up.” (Phil)
“Realising when I started the bike I had a piece of glass in my foot and still had a bike ride and a run to do.” (Glyn)
“Getting kicked in the face on the swim, right in the eye!” (Scott)

Ironman tips
“Eat, eat, and eat - both before, during and after the race. I think it also helped that my bike computer didn't work - that way I didn't (or couldn’t) obsess about speed or time.” (Cathie)
Glyn running without socks!“Don't draft me in the swim if you want to finish!” (Phil)
“Always remember your socks.” (Glyn)
“Flat coke on the bike, it got rid of my stomach cramps and gave me my second wind, I'll worry about rotting my teeth later.” (Scott)
“Stash a few Imodium pills in your T2 bag ready for the run! They work a dream!” (Mat)

Nutrition of choice
“Cheese baguettes - how very French!” (Cathie)
“Coffee and Walnut cake with clotted cream.” (Phil)
“Go easy on the gels in the heat.” (Glyn)
“McDonalds. Loads of calories just waiting to be burnt off.” (Scott)

We are Ironmen!Next Ironman?
“Ask me after I've had a few drinks!” (Cathie)
“Mexico, Lanzarote, Frankfurt, etc - I'll never learn!” (Phil)
????? (Glyn)
“Never, ever, ever again! Well...” (Scott)

Note: The others failed to comment!

Thanks to Riaz for the great photos. View all pictures.

View IM France 2009 photos

15th annual Gran Fondo Sportful race report

Report by Roy McGregor

Gran Fondo 2009‘The hardest marathon race in Europe… Only for real cyclists” This sounded like the perfect course of rehabilitation to Lauren back in October 2008, three months prior to her ACL reconstruction; and so on Sunday 21 June we found ourselves in the small town of Feltre, Northern Italy, waiting to start the 15th annual Gran Fondo Sportful.

Our training had been far from focussed, but I took the typical Aussie view of ‘she’ll be alright mate’, and confidently predicted that I would maintain an average of 30kmph over the 212km course. That should be a piece of cake… if it wasn’t for the bloody hills, which added a total of 5500m climbing into the mix, more on that later…

Although Lauren had done well to progress from a long ride of three minutes in February (on the turbo as she couldn’t actually turn the pedals at that point) to complete a few 3-4 hour rides, she sensibly decided that she would be unlikely to survive the long route, so instead opted for the ‘Medio Fondo’ course (122km with 3500m of climbing).

The start was incredible. 4000 toned, tanned, lycra-clad, and extremely fast-looking Italians crammed onto the cobbled streets of Feltre. Lauren (and the other 300 women competitors) had been ushered to the ‘primo’ pen, right behind the male professionals, and was absolutely terrified that she would be run over by hoards of testosterone-fuelled cyclists. In contrast, I was trying to figure out how I could get past Mario, Toni and Luigi and closer to the front!

Gran Fondo 2009There was a count-down in Italian over the PA system and we were off. The first 20km had a couple of lumps, but nothing too major, and I was spot on my goal of 30kmph for the first 17km. Meanwhile, Lauren had escaped unscathed from the start, but her tactic of riding on the other side of the road to the main race meant she wasn’t able to take advantage of the huge draft from the group.

After about an hour, we started to go up. The first climb was about 20km long at a steady 7-10% gradient. There was then a short descent to where the course split, with the Medio Fondo riders going left to start their second climb and the Gran Fondo riders going right, continuing downhill for another 5km.

Somewhere after this I realised that my pre-race time prediction was slightly off the mark, when this yank bloke informed me that we were going at a great pace to come in at about 10 hours. What the?!!! For the next couple of hours I kept plugging away up the hills in my smallest gear (39-27) and then belting back down them trying to eat as much as possible to give my stomach a chance to digest while my legs weren’t working so much.

The descents were absolutely amazing and by far the best part of the race. Accelerating up to 70+km/h and hitting the brakes hard as the switch back approached, then back out of the seat for a couple of hard pedal strokes to accelerate back up to break neck speed. This would continue all the way down the mountain sometime with 15 to 20 consecutive corners, any of which could leave you seriously hurt if something goes wrong. This is what it’s all about.

Gran Fondo 2009The biggest climb of the day was the Passo Valles, a 20km incline which took us from 773m altitude to 2032m. When I got to the top I was shattered, I could not stay on the bike any longer, and got off to raid the food station and have a sit down. Five minutes later, mildly recovered, I descended with a mouthful of tart and coke wrestling with bike and brakes at every turn! After resting my legs down the long 40km descent I started to feel a bit better, and ready to tackle the final climb, the Croce d’Aune.

The Medio and Gran Fondo courses rejoined one another at the bottom of the Croce d’Aune. This was again about 20km long and started deceptively gently, before kicking up for the last 8km. Lauren had grabbed some coke (secret rocket fuel!) from the last feed station, and felt really strong, passing tens of people who were beginning to struggle; I was finally starting to feel some strength return to my legs, 195km and 8.5 hours into it, and as this was the last climb I was ready to take some risks on the descent.

The last 15km was an extremely fast downhill, apart from the final 500m, which snaked through the cobble streets to the finishing line in the main square. With music blaring and crowds lining the streets cheering, Lauren finished in 5 hours 49 minutes, and was pleased to beat her pre-race estimate of six hours. She came 76th out of 125 women finishing the Medio Fondo, which was a good result (particularly considering the speed, or not, of her descending!). Less then fours hours later I rolled across the line absolutely pumped despite spending just under 9.5 hours in the saddle. The final result was 556th out of nearly 1600 finishers and even more starters. The sheer size and quality of the field, the mass start and the incredible scenery make the Gran Fondo Sportful an absolute must. If you liked Ironman… try this!

Beaver Fest - Race report

Report from our roving reporter, Cathie Greasley:

Belvoir CastleI headed home to Leicestershire to take part in the middle distance triathlon at The Beaver Fest at the weekend. No, nothing to do with small, fury creatures - they aren’t native to Leicestershire – and sorry boys, nothing to do with the misogynistic banter to be found in certain lad’s mags - rather named after the spectacular stately home, Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver) where the event was hosted.

The Beaver swimAlarm bells should have started ringing at registration. Along with my race number and timing chip, I was presented with an enormous bumper pack of High Five paraphernalia and a rather lurid T-shirt. In hindsight, the energy bars and gels were to keep me going, on what turned out to be one of the toughest races I’ve ever taken part in and the fluorescent orange T-shirt obviously given to each and every competitor for health and safety reasons, as I’m sure that there must have been loads of people still trudging round the course well after the sun went down!

Run to transitionThere was lots of friendly banter and a few “me duck” greetings. Momentarily, I felt happy and reassured to be back on home turf! That was until I realised how hilly my home turf was! The bike course comprised three and a bit laps around the Vale of Belvoir and contained a mishmash of climbs, descents and flat road, with a few gusty head winds thrown in for good measure. And the run bit involved a horrific traipse up to the castle and back. I saw Ross beforehand (he had done the Little Beaver) and he had warned me about the unsympathetic, winding hill, but it was much worse than he described! Apparently ‘Belvoir’ is French for ‘beautiful view’; although the only views I saw were grown men doubled over in agony – not pleasant!

On the bikeThe hill was bad enough the first time, but after doing it three times my legs were shot – beavers are rodents, which mean vermin in my book, and this one had a nasty sting (or slap) in it’s tail! It would have been nice if there had been a bit of applause from the duke and duchess after reaching the summit – funnily enough they (and no one else for that matter) were anywhere to be seen! Even the swim was capped with a cheeky 500 metre run uphill to transition – they couldn’t get enough of them in!

On the runI think that the swim (which was cold, dark and filthy!) was the only part of the race that I enjoyed! That involved a bit of argy-bargy with a girl I’d befriended in transition. She soon became the enemy as she kept swimming in ‘my line’ and nearly took my goggles off. I had the last laugh though, neatly tucking in behind her and drafting her practically all the way round the last lap.

Halfway through the run, myself and a fellow competitor had the usual “why?” conversation and decided that we were going take up a more sedate sport. In the end we decided on darts and went our separate ways.

The runI’m not sure that I enjoyed the race, but it served its purpose as a good pre-Ironman warm up and a chance for me to test out my kit, nutrition and equipment. A lunchtime kick-off made a welcome change to the crack of dawn starts and also provided a useful opportunity to race in the heat. Just need a double top now… (Whoops wrong sport, that’s darts) or rather to double the distance in Nice in less than five weeks time! Body double required. Apply here.

See how Cathie got on in the Beaver and how the other CPT members did in the Little Beaver.

Caledonia Etape - 17 May 2009

Report by Cathie Greasley

Audrey, Glyn, Phil, Dawn & CathieDawn, Riaz, Chris H, Audrey, Kirsten, Selwyn, Phil, Glyn and I made national news at the weekend when we were caught up in the commotion at The Caledonian Etape. I’m sure that you’ve all seen the reports, for those that haven’t, some nutter decided to sabotage the race by scattering carpet tacks on the course! I always thought the stereotype of Scottish people being tight was harsh, but this was doing nothing for Anglo-Scottish relations! Loving a bit of drama, I thought that this might have been a modern day Robert the Bruce, trying to ward off the dozens of English men and women that had made the pilgrimage and headed north of the border for the only closed road, 81 mile epic to be held in the UK. Much to my disappointment, it was merely a disgruntled local - upset that they couldn’t attend church and get a Sunday morning paper because of the closures!

I’d never seen so many people puncturing simultaneously – the road was littered with casualties of the ‘Etape Tack Attack’. I’m good at geography but for a moment wondered whether we had crossed out of Perthshire into Flintshire and that it might have been something to do with the road surface/topography! I quickly gathered myself and realised that Flintshire was in fact in Wales and that something else must have been occurring.

I found myself held at the top of the course’s climb section, until the Police and organisers were happy that it was safe for the race to continue. Here I met up with Dawn, Chris H, Selwyn and Phil who had all punctured, too. I felt smug that I had got away with it, only then to check my tyres and find a foreign body lodged in my Continentals! Of course, as soon as I removed it – down it went!

Riaz celebrating with ice cream!Most people were in good spirits despite being shocked and frustrated by the emerging news. Frankly, I was quite relieved to have a rest (and a pee!) Others were diverted or turned back. Some people were apparently given the option of being bussed back. Oh and Audrey was miffed that she’d missed the opportunity to bag a few free inner tubes which were being handed out!

Thankfully we all made it back in one piece. A special thanks goes to Chris H, who was my wing man on the final leg. He escorted me back to the finish as I was riding on my final inner tube.

Despite the stoppages and mishaps - I think we all thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Despite the chilly, gloomy weather, the atmosphere was cheery and the scenery was spectacular, with some lively pockets of support along the way.

Phil, Glyn and the van!Previous to the race, the weekend turned out to be a challenge before it even started! Our very own train expert/extraordinaire, Dawn managed to book myself, Riaz and Audrey onto a direct train – what a coup I thought! The downside was that national Express couldn’t guarantee a place for our beloved bikes! Check the organisation – on their part, not Dawn’s!

So we made our own contingency plans, which involved Glyn and Phil driving a van load of bikes up to Pitlochry. Unfortunately for them, the wretched van had a 50mph speed limiter on it, so what would have been a long trip, turned out to be an even longer trip of driving through the night and enduring the embarrassment of being overtaken by articulated lorries!

In hindsight, it was really quite comical and the bizarre happenings gave us lots to talk about. Glyn likened the whole affair to a Dennis the Menace plot! Personally I think that the culprit was Phil who was trying to slow down Dawn as she breezed through the race…ooops sorry, it’s not a race… I mean sportif!

“What else could possibly go wrong” to coin one of Phil’s favourite phrases? Well Dennis the Menace struck again and Phil and Glyn were stranded in the van for a while after… ahem… puncturing!

Still not sure what time they finally got home. Next year anyone?

Selwyn has added the following:

"It was quite upsetting seeing hoards of cyclists on the side of the road fixing their punctures as I cycled through. No joke, I would say over 500 cyclists got punctures, was like cycling through a battle field with wounded soldiers tending to their fallen comrades! I couldn’t believe my luck but as I jumped off my bike after crossing the finish line as if on cue, my front tyre deflated with a puncture! Kirsten’s dad made it all the way through without puncturing but everyone else I spoke to had a puncture!

I think the times are pretty weird and no idea how they were calculated! I started at 7:30, crossed the finish line at 12:27 (just under 5 hours) and my time is 5h 15 mins odd! Plus we were stopped close to an hour! Kirsten also started same time as me and finished five minutes after so no idea how they worked out the times.
But that’s what the website says so don’t think you can deny Kirsten her moment of glory!"

New Forest Triathlon - 4 May 2009

Haydn has written a race report from last weekend's New Forest Triathlon.

New forest swimAudrey, Simon, Bev and myself found ourselves in the New Forest for a short Olympic distance tri, 1100m swim, 36km bike and 10km run and thankfully the sun was breaking through the clouds as the start approached. Unfortunately that was the last we saw of each other as the start, finish, refreshments area and parking are all quite some distance apart and we hadn't been sharp enough to agree a meeting place.

Haydn exiting waterThe first lake swim of the season is always met with some trepidation but fortunately the water was really quite suprisingly warm (Audrey would beg to differ!) and sparkling clear. That didn't stop me having difficulties breathing on the first leg of the swim despite a good warm up. Lesson 1 - make sure you get some lake swimming in if you can before your first event. The second half I was flying and felt great but ended up with a time of 26mins. Not a good start.

New Forest poniesThrough transition and it was out onto the New Forest roads which were undulating and pretty traffic free and with a few new sparkly bits on my bike. The road surface was good with only a few rutted sections and no pot holes which is a welcome relief from my training routes. Wild horses and donkeys lined the route but were very well behaved not like a great black and white wooley bull that ambled across the road right in front of me forcing me to come to a complete stand still. The new sparkly bits were also playing up and I had to stop twice to stop my brakes from rubbing despite having tested it immediately before the race.

Haydn runningThe run was a mix of on and off road, more off than on and it started with a long up hill section that slowed progress. 46 minutes wasn't good but not a disaster.

The finish was some way from the start so the logistics of being able to benefit from the showers and changing meant we wandered back to the hotel to change after spending some time trying to find the others.

Overall the event was well organised and the New Forest at this time of year is really nice so one to keep in mind for next year, just try to get a lake swim in before hand though.

Tonbridge Sprint Triathlon - 4 May 2009

Dave has written the following report on the Tonbridge Sprint Triathlon:

A nice early season sprint offering the opportunity to occasional cyclists like myself to get the bike/run legs co-ordinated, and working in perfect harmony for the coming season. The weather conditions were excellent, bright sunshine, but not too warm. On arrival the car parking and registration were well organised and I soon had my bike racked for a 7.25am start. Start times were flexible, I got pool-side a few minutes early, and was directed to a lane straight away. I think the clock was started prior to entering the water which is unusual. I’m sure I was counted out two lengths short, so I will not be claiming a massive improvement in my swim time. Any time gained in the swim was quickly lost when I turned left instead of right out of the school grounds on my bike. This was despite two policemen guiding me in the correct direction. I blame the early start. Anyway, a quick U-turn and I was on my way. The bike course is OK, a few uphills for the first part, and a very steep downhill section later on. The run is around the school grounds, on grass, with a two lap finish on the running track. Changing facilities are excellent, and tea and bacon rolls are available. No T shirt to the finishers, only a medal but definitely recommended.

London Marathon - how it all began

DerekThe London Marathon on Sunday 26 April made Derek look back to the first London in 1981 and prompted him to write the following:

At the time I was working as an architect with Lloyds Bank in Croydon High Street (what is now Yates wine bar). In 1976 we were relocated to a building still known as Ibex House in the Minories, near Tower Hill tube station. Alongside Tower Hill tube is the City of London Poly. On the top floor they had a gym. As the whole of that area was just derelict warehouses all the way down to the Isle of Dogs, the only thing to do lunch times was to make use of the gym.

I was still dabbling with decathlon, pole vaulting and throwing events so was ideal for me. The gym group became a mixture of joggers and GB international runners. I gradually got sucked into road running and the groups started getting into quality sessions with four main routes.

1. 6m - Over Tower Bridge down Jamaica Road to Southwark Park, loop around the park and back to Tower Hill.
2. 8m – Tower Hill down The Highway to Narrow Street, which as the name suggests, was just about a cars width and was the only road onto the Isle of Dogs and back to Tower Hill.
3. Tower Hill down The Highway to the King Edward Memorial Park and then reps around the park (approx 1000m loop).
4. Every Thursday would be an eyeballs out session/race from Tower Hill down The Highway to Commercial Road, turn left into Cable Street and back to the Royal Mint building at Tower Hill. These were great sessions as you could gauge how fit you were by how sick you were at the end and move up into the faster groups when you felt confident.

When Chris Brasher started getting London set up, some of the top guys from these groups were in the Brasher ‘loop’ and advised on possible routes. We were delighted when the first London got the go-ahead and the course was using a good section of our training routes.

Although I had completed by first marathon in 1980, the 1st Peoples Marathon at Chelmsley Wood in Solihull (4:29:55), come the day of the first London, we really did not know what to expect as this was on a far bigger scale than any previous race.

The day did not start well as it was pouring with rain and lasted all through the day and quite cold towards the end. Plenty of spectators at the start but thinned out as we got closer to Wapping. Coming down Jamaica Road towards the Tower did give us a boost as we knew this road very well but was hard turning from the Tower and going down The Highway away from the direction of the finish to go to the Isle of Dogs. Very few spectators on the Isle of Dogs and this was the most depressing part of the course, as the area was derelict and run down. It was a big slog getting back to Tower Hill with a detour through Wapping High Street, again, very depressing as this was also a very run down area. Going over the cobbles inside the Tower grounds with no matting was a nightmare and wrecked the legs ready for the gradient of Upper Thames Street.

The last three miles were agony and probably the fact we did not have gels/sports bars to use but just water or Gatorade was a big factor. Jelly babies were a luxury from the spectators. The finish outside Buckingham Palace did make up for the rough patches of the race and was very emotional. The whole event was declared a massive success and the rest is history!

The following years they started developing the whole area from Tower Hill, Wapping and Docklands. They also started constructing the Docklands Railway and we had to adjust our Thursday sessions around the building work down Cable Street but as areas were completed we had a much more varied selection of routes to train around. It was during this time the riots at Wapping related to the newspaper industry were taking place and our lunchtime runs were quite interesting, dodging the bricks/missiles being thrown at the police by the protestors.

We now had the marathon bug and our aim was to break the magical three hours. One of my regular training mates was a Dave Grant and we trained hard to crack the three hours on the 3rd London. Dave went on to finish in 3:02 but I struggled from 21 miles, finishing with 3:13 and feeling dreadful. The next day I went down with German measles and this could be why I felt rough! I had obviously picked this up from my daughter some weeks before the race without realising. Dave went on to get the great time of 2:48 some time later. I went on to compete in various races over the following years – the Poly Marathon (from Windsor to Chiswick), Harlow and Stockholm to name a few, but never cracked the three hours. However, my best times were always at London and I think the most enjoyable.

Interestingly, I bumped into Dave a few years ago at a triathlon where he was doing his first race under the colours of South London Harriers Tri Club. I had not seen Dave since the Bank moved us from London in the late 80s. He has now got the tri bug. Small world!

The London will always hold a special place for me and I would urge anyone who has not indulged – do it! The day is a wonderful celebration although painful, but as the celebrities stated between their tears at the finish on Sunday, there is something deep and spiritual about the London, a special journey.

Well done to all who competed this year.

Year

Offical time

Time to start gate

Actual running time

Finishers

1981

3:46:28

4:15

3:42:13

7200

1982

3:35:44

6:22

3:29:22

15000

1983

3:22:34

9:15

3:13:19

20000

Sydney Water Challenge Triathlon - 8 March 2009

Cathie is currently in Australia doing some cycle training for Ironman France. She competed in the Sydney Water Challenge Olympic distance triathlon on 8 March and sent the following race report and photos.

CronullaSwells of up to two metres and messy surf saw the 1500-metre swim leg off Wanda Beach, Cronulla, slightly shortened and relocated 800-metres up the beach to ensure a safe environment. Coupled with a flurry of recent shark attacks, to say I was nervous - was an understatement. The organisers had also already decided to move the start time, as all of the attacks had occurred at dawn or dusk. This is when they like to feed apparently - great I thought... bet they'd love a bit of fresh blood - a nice tasty pomme.

CathieOnce in the water, it wasn't so much the surf, but the swell. As soon as I got over, or should I say under the waves, and started to swim I felt nauseous. I never believed John P when he said you get sick sea swimming - I was now experiencing it first hand. I suppose the clue should have been in the name, it all became obvious why this race was called The Sydney Water Challenge.

My plan was to try and stay with the pack. I figured safety in numbers when it came to the sharks, although that plan was quickly scuppered, as the surf and swell simply scattered us like pigeons. It was still dark and gloomy and I must have resembled a blubbery seal Cathie on the beachin my wetsuit as I tried to accommodate the waves. I swam as fast as I could and was happy to be back on terra firma, despite having to run a kilometre back to transition.

Apart from a steep hill at the turnaround point, the bike course was flat and fast, comprising two laps. That said, I was faced with strong, blustery head winds. Luckily for me, this was no problem for a Pinerello Paris, kindly lent to me by Rochelle Gilmore. Rochelle is ranked in the top 20 in the world when it comes to road cycling, so I had to try to do this bike justice. More importantly this was my chance to do a decent time - like when do I ever get the chance to ride a 5 grand bike? I wanted to make the most of it!

Cathie on her bikeThere were a few welcome rain showers on the bike leg - whilst most of the riders were being cautious and slowing down - I took everything in my stride - I mean us Brits are used to rain, right? One of the girls almost did a track-stand on one of the descents... (Don't laugh Phil and Brian!) and this was in a no-passing zone. Great, I was stuck behind a learner-rider!

Cathie runningFinally, the run course was 3-laps along the seafront. This was more challenging than I thought as the 10k included a number of hills in Lucas Reserve neatly tucked away from the promenade.

The fastest male home was Charlie Boyle in a time of 1hr, 50min 58sec. And for the ladies, Melissa Vandewater produced a dominant performance to record a time of 01:58:53. The 30-year-old from Balgowlah on Sydney's northern beaches found the tough conditions to her liking.

With a field of more than 700 in the Olympic distance race, this was a slick and well-organised race in a spectacular location. One criticism: I thought that the support on the course was subdued and non existent in places. I heard one competitor on the bike course jeer the crowd shouting, 'come on guys, where's the support?' I'm not sure that us Brits can teach the Aussies much when it comes to sport. However, perhaps the crowd should come to the CPT triathlon and see how the support is really done - loud and proud, and full volume!

Oh, and for those who are interested my results are:

Swim: 23.29 - place 11
Bike: 1.09.04 - place 4
Run: 50.45 - place 13

Total: 2.23.18

Place 10/30 - category 30-34 age group.

Bookham 10k (or was it?) - 8 February 2009

Bookham 10kDave has written a report of the Bookham 10k on Sunday 8 February.

Dave at BookhamKaren, Ruki, Haydn and myself, four of the hardier members of CPT, scraped the ice off our trainers and braved the conditions to take part in the Bookham 10k.

Race HQ was in a school hall, where tea and cakes had thoughtfully been laid on by the organisers. Luckily for us Haydn’s analytical mind had worked out the cake/competitor ratio and he had the foresight to buy the cakes prior to the race, thus ensuring our post race snack.

Karen and Ruki at BookhamAt the starting point a half hearted attempt at singing the national anthem, raised (?) everyone’s spirit, and then it was off in glorious sunshine, straight through shin deep ice cold puddles.

As it turns out, running socks function in the same way as wetsuits and my toes soon returned to a warm and cosy feeling. It was no day for PBs as the course consisted of four things, snow, ice, mud and uphill.

Karen at BookhamHaydn’s sat nav watch (whatever next…a man on the moon?) recorded the distance at 11.4k which we all agreed was much more consistent with our times, so that’s what we’re going for.

All finishers received a very nice tee shirt, and we had our cakes, when everyone else had to make do with crisps. All in all, an excellent event. Thoroughly recommended.

Our times can be found on the results page ...

CPT at Bookham

The Hell of Ashdown - 1 February 2009

Dawn has written a report on the Hell of Ashdown on Sunday… which, she says, was interesting!

Dawn in the snowWell the clue is indeed in the name – Hell – although in all it wasn’t actually as bad as I was expecting. With it being so early in the season and the obvious weather reports suggesting snow and ice I decided that this was a ride that I had an excuse to take it easy on. I had already decided that if it looked too treacherous I would just turn around and head home at any point of the ride.

ChrisAfter managing to blag a ride with Chris Hall we set off together about 08:45, but he soon sped off into the distance and I decided not to try and keep up so pootled along at my own pace.

The Cudham tester helped warm me up and woke up the legs… and at the top I was assured by the marshals that it was all downhill from there. They were clearly lying.

JimAbout 18 miles in there was some confusion over the route as I came across about 18 riders looking at their maps and trying to work out which way to go – as the arrows had disappeared. After much discussion we continued on our way. The next thing I know Chris Hall was overtaking me again… we weren’t sure whether I’d taken a mile shortcut or he had done an extra mile (!) as they had mentioned at the start that due to ice the route was being changed in places.

ChrisAnyway we continued to ride together for a bit. Chris then scared the life out of me when he started veering off the road into the verge as he had hit a patch of ice…. luckily his handling was superb and he somehow managed to stay upright. At this point I decided that I was going to go down the hills even slower than normal – so Chris zoomed off again.

GaryThe remainder of the race was less dramatic, and the roads seemed pretty clear of ice so I started relaxing and dare I say it actually enjoying myself. Then it started snowing as I was climbing Ide Hill. Luckily as I was so wrapped up I didn’t mind and to be honest it did look really pretty.

The last hour or so was pretty heavy snow so by the time I got to Star Hill I was looking forward to finishing and getting a nice warm cup of tea down me. I managed to negotiate the rest of the route with no mishaps and crossed the finish line in one piece – just under 5 hours.

LauraI then caught back up with Chris, Glyn and Richard L (who hadn’t managed to get a place on the ride but rode it anyway) and we made our way to the canteen for a well deserved bite to eat. Jim joined us a bit later although apparently didn’t enjoy himself too much – and kept muttering something about hills and it being cold!

A number of members had said they would be doing the ride but aren't listed in the results so guess they opted for a warm duvet instead! A few also appear to have done the shorter route, 50k instead of 110k and made their way back early for the hot tea and refreshments!

See how they all got on ...

Gary says that due to his innate lack of direction he managed to get himself lost and only completed around 45k of the 50k route as he didn't manage to find the turn around point!

Photographs taken by Sportivephoto.

Box Hill Fell Race - 17 January 2009

Thanks to Mark and Tim Thomas for reporting on their first experience of fell running after completing an extremely tough and energy sapping 7.5 miles, with a combination of running and in parts walking up steep muddy paths, climbing over styles and crawling under a fallen tree!

In a mad moment and because a mate suggested it, Tim and I (no relation!) entered the Box Hill fell run which we completed last weekend.

This was the first time either of us had done a fell run. I read an inspirational book about fell running last year titled 'Feet in the Clouds' by Richard Asquith and thought this would be a good soft southerner's intro to this mad pursuit. I understand this is the only fell run not organised north of Watford.

Many grizzly and wirey runners, most with Yorkshire accents, were at registration but we were encouraged by the sunshine and so did not back out even at this late stage.

Quite a few Thames Turbo triathletes were there as were a team from Dulwich Runnners. There were also two other CPT members competing, although Katie was running for Serpentine. We were informed that conditions were 'sticky'. As it turned out, sticky is fell-speak for gloopy clods of mud and treacherous lumps of south down chalk concealed in innocent looking bundles of grass.

The course is a 7.5 mile round trip with 1700ft climbing of what felt like the equivalent of five climbs of Box Hill thrown in (Tim says it was actually only three!). The flats and even the climbs are fine (as soon as you accept that speed walking is all you can manage up some of the slopes). However there is a lot of ground to be gained, it seems, by flinging yourself off the top of the hill in 4-5 metre bounds and relying on the terrain flattening out at some indeterminate point below. These people are MAD and I was overtaken by pretty well everyone that I caught on the flats and climbs. The real pros run in Walsh studs or similar, which are the kit of choice, if you need an excuse to buy yet another piece of footwear. I ran in trail shoes but many were in normal trainers. Tim thinks he might have done better if he had been wearing his old rugby boots!

For Mark, the end came in about 73 mins. Tim had been chasing Mark’s red shirt all the way round but never seemed to get closer and he finished in 74 minutes, confident that losing a shoe in the mud had cost him that extra minute! Although there were no medals or race mementos, just pride and muddy kit, Tim and I congratulated ourselves on yet another milestone and the fact that we had escaped uninjured. However this proved premature as both our respective pairs of legs felt very much post-marathon for the next three days with every descent of the stairs requiring heavy use of the bannisters.

I think we would both do it again so long as we did a lot more hill training beforehand.

If you fancy a grass roots event, only £5 to enter, and a lightly eccentric atmosphere give it a go!

Visit the results page to see how all four members got on.

Tadworth 10 - 5 January 2009

13 CPT members (including one racing for Serpentine and one for Dulwich Runners!) completed the Tadworth 10 on Sunday 5 January. It was a very cold morning and the ground was frozen solid, with a couple of icy patches to contend with on the downhill roads! Some were racing the hilly and challenging course for the first time and others were returning for more torture!

There were PBs for Ewan, Peter, Suse, Robin and Berit. Results can be found on the January results page. Although I was 10 minutes slower than last year, I was just happy to finish as I wasn't sure I'd actually be able to run 10 miles. I didn't enjoy running with frozen hair though and wished I'd worn a hat!

Thanks to Cathy, Mitch, Charlie and William and to Greg (who just did one lap as a training session) for their cheering and support. Bruce was there to shout abuse at the finish line and to hand out home-made muffins.

A few of us then made our way to The Chequers for some lunch and warm drinks.

The readers of Runner's World have just placed the Tadworth 10 at number 33 in their top 50 races of 2008.

Photographs were taken by Graham Russell.

CPT at the Tadworth 10

Box Hill Knacker Cracker

Jason, WWI figher aceJason completed the New Year's Day Box Hill Knacker Cracker, reputedly the toughest 10k in Britain, dressed as a WWI fighter ace.

Jason thoroughly enjoyed the race, on a cold, overcast day, and will definitely do it again, perhaps even making it an annual thing. Although next time he'll make sure he has trail shoes, as four times up and down Box Hill on stony and muddy ground was made extra hard in ordinary trainers.

Jason climbing Box HillFancy dress isn't compulsory for the event but is definitely encouraged. Jason's WWI fighter ace costume was all home made and he enjoyed saluting the marshals and saying 'tally ho!' as he went by. Other outfits included a guy dressed as Mr T, another in just a loincloth and tribal paint (plus spear) and the entire cast of the Wizard of Oz.

Although the hills were a killer, Jason didn't feel like giving up as he knew he'd make it eventually. Everyone was very encouraging and the marshals were great too. Jason was also supported by his wife and daughter, who braved the cold to cheer him on. Getting to the top of the last hill was the highlight of the race for Jason, as he knew it was all downhill from there.

The race was well organised with really great goodies - an ace medal, usable long sleeve hi-viz running top with competitors names on and a mug.

Race goodiesJason celebrated New Year with a couple of glasses of champagne, but made sure he was hangover-free next morning. He didn't make up for it with his post-race treats either as he celebrated with a cup of hot soup and a rest!

Although he was over 20 minutes slower than his 10k PB on a tough course, Jason says "it was one of the most enjoyable I've done. It was more about fun than serious running for most entrants (I'd guess) and I certainly wasn't worrying about a time on this one".


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