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Report by Emanuele Vignoli
I decided to finish my first season in triathlon with a sprint race in Lerici (La Spezia, coastal town in the North west of Italy), the city where I was born and lived until I moved to London in 1998. I went with a friend from London (Matt Hobbs from the Kingfisher tri club) and stayed at my parents' place. The preparation was great fun with the usual and predictable banter from my good friend... things such as do I need to add some extra sessions on my training schedule i.e train to pose with my sunglasses on during transition, snatch handbags during the bike ride and wave 'ciao' to everybody?
The location is great and the weather could not have been better, I took Matt for a test ride and some sightseeing on the Saturday and then we went for registration in the evening. We met a few other Brits (Londoners and Scots) who regularly holiday in the area and had decided to go back for this race. Matt pointed out that most of the competitors looked 'red hot ' (I think this is what he said... I kind of switched to Italian at that stage) but I reassured him by saying not to worry as it is typical for Italians to look good and buy the latest gear even if they are crap... what I failed to tell him (I had only just found out during registration) is that this was a national championship sprint distance race!
On the Sunday it was race day, great course, sea swim, very hilly and technical bike (Matt who apparently considers himself an expert by having done Vitruvian, Dambaster and toured the Pyrenees) said that it was the most technically challenging (despite the short distance) course that he has ever raced.
We completed with faster times than our PBs but in line with what we expected for this type of course (Matt in 1.11 and I finished in 1.23). The male winner finished in 59 mins with a bike time of 32mins which means he managed to swim and run pretty quickly and the fastest woman in 1.09 (I saw her flying past me on the run!!). I was 26th out of 60 male amateurs and 234th out of 350 overall. My only decent discipline is the run which I did in 20:40 and still came 170th overall for the run leg. We quickly checked the history for the top four finishers and they were either part of the ITU World Duathlon, ETU Cross tri circuits or ex Olympic medalist in the 3000m track run... so that made us feel a bit better!
The best part of it was at the end where we were welcomed by market type stalls with an enormous variety of free food ranging from freshly cooked pasta, cakes, quiches, fruit and much more!
Anyway really happy with my first season in triathlon, I have managed to improve my PB by 12 mins from my first race last year thanks to your support and Jon's training plans. So very grateful and many thanks!
PS: the local triathlon team were interested in coming to London to do a race over here in 2011 plus they'd be more than happy to have many of you at next year's event.
Result: Swim 17:27, Bike 1:23:00, Run 43:11, Total: 1:23:14
By Cathie Greasley
Anna and Emily dusted down their bikes and eased themselves back into cycling at the weekend for Evans Cycles, Ride It! They opted for the short route (30 miles) and Haydn, Mat, Selwyn, Pete and I decided to do the medium route (56 miles). There was also a long option (86 miles), but Selwyn had been out on the lash the night before (Marcel’s name got mentioned, can't imagine why?) and the rest of us, well, we just didn’t fancy going long.
According to their website, Evans Ride It! events are great for novice riders just getting started, or experienced riders looking for a challenge. Saturdays are for mud worshippers with a mountain bike ride and Sundays are for Tarmac lovers with a sportive road ride.
Full marks go to Selwyn. He ‘worshipped the mud’ and ‘loved the tarmac’ with a double whammy of cycling, completing both the Saturday and Sunday rides. I’ve never considered 'loving' tarmac before, but when you come across a lovely smooth stretch of road you really do appreciate it and can 'feel the love!" The lanes around Kent are largely still riddled with gaping pot holes, and it became a treacherous challenge in itself dodging the pesky things!
As well as pot holes to contend with, we braved the wind, rain and cold (And respect to the Aussie for 'manning-up' to the British weather and cycling without gloves!) Oh, and the hills – and I had forgotten how brutal some of them are.
I have a sad fascination with maps (it’s the geographer in me) but have you ever noticed that every other place on the Ordnance Survey map around the Kent Downs is succeeded by the word ‘hill’? If you are sad or geeky enough, have a look: there’s Faulkner's, Tandridge, Watts, Dry, Betsom’s to name a few. But my favourite is the aptly named, Pains Hill! And after Toy’s (the steepest way) and Crockham and Hosey, not once but twice - I was in pain! I told Keith that Evans should rename the ride: Hill It!
Seeing the boys disappear into the distance, as they effortlessly breezed up anything with a slight gradient was disheartening and I tried in vain to get dropped several times. But they were like little cling-on limpets waiting for me at the top of each and every climb! So I was very thankful when Mat had a mechanical (in the form of a wobbly seat!). I always welcome a little mechanical to take a proper breather! Don't I, Noel?
Anyway that's enough… I’ll keep this report short and sweet. Luckily, I got in first. You nearly had Selwyn writing this and had that been the case you would still be reading this from now until Christmas! (yawn).
Special thanks go to Keith for looking after us all so well and keeping Mat and Selwyn well fed with, ahem… meat pies. Yep, we are talking plural here. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and the event itself was well-organised and well-signposted. There are a couple more events that are fairly local, so see the Evans website for more details if you are interested (that’s a tenner for the plug, Keith).
Times haven't been published yet but will be added as soon as.
By Selwyn Smith
‘Best’ time at Bedford
Bedford Olympic is one of our favourite triathlons so even though it 'clashed' (sorry!) weekends with the Greenwich Tritons Aquathon, we still competed. It also happened to be a 2010 British Championship race so competition was stiff!
It’s a fun, fast 'accurate(ish) course with a great comedy value swim as you can't swim for weeds! Every stroke your arm appears out of the water with clumps of weed attached and sighting is interesting with a monobrow of green slime dangling over your goggles.
It's a straight up and down swim with no real current, then out to T1, removing wetsuit plus green weeded wig and beard.
Bike is a fast flattish ride around the Bedfordshire countryside - to our surprise a change in road course due to road works adding another 1.5km from last year (so we're led to/like to believe!) making a PB more challenging.
Being older and wiser this year, I was 'promoted' to the next age group so I had a five minutes head start on Rob as he was in the following younger wave. Don't know if you've heard but Rob's pretty nifty on the bike going by last week's London results, so I knew it was only a matter of time before I’d see him in my wing mirrors!
Towards the end of bike course - I heard the noise of road runner’s ‘beep beep’ passing me at great speed. Rob retired 'after' T2 - obviously the Clash Aquathon and Bedford back to back was too much for the fella..... oh and the fact that he can hardly walk with a leg injury might have had something to do with it. He loved his aqua-bike race and is keen to take them up full time, us too but unfortunately not today.
Still had the run to go - I was keen for a PB so had a near 40 minute 10km(ish) ahead of me (running off the bike isn't my strong point!). Luckily, the run is three loops along the river so flat and fast. I caught Kirsten in the last 200m and we sped to the finish line. Both clocking in our fastest Olympic times to date (excluding Dartford!!!). I was very pleased, hence the race report and Kirsten, well she was more chuffed with no drafting penalty this year - handy having a familiar face from the club as a race referee!!! It was great having Chris Hall in his bright orange referee jacket keeping an eye on us in Transition!
Update from Rob: I was so annoyed with my DNF as I felt super fresh going into T2, and was going to struggle through the run, but the minute I put my feet on the floor my right leg sent a jolt of white hot pain which seemed to be saying "stop ignoring me! No more running starting from now!".
Photographs from Bedford can be seen on the Sussex Sport Photography website.
By Selwyn Smith
Sorry guys, I got a bit carried away with my race report! I just loved my IM experience so much that I wanted to share the whole journey with you! It actually takes longer to read than complete an IM! Those who don’t have time for an extended coffee break, go to paragraph five where the race kicks off. Enjoy!
It seemed like an age ago when Marcel sent the 'Who's in for IM Switzerland 2010' email but here we were, a week before race day. Kirsten and I were heading back from my parents' 'last supper' before IM in our car which was going to be our transport to Lake Zurich. Just approaching Tower Bridge, there was an almighty bang, hiss followed by steam and black smoke coming out of the bonnet. My immediate thought was, 'Great, we don't have to do Ironman', but then my instincts kicked in and shouted, 'Kirsten, run for cover', as we sprinted from an exploding car.
OK, car wasn't engulfed in flames but it wasn’t going to take us anywhere soon! That's when a light bulb appeared above my head with John Petrides' initials flashing away. First thing next morning, I got the car towed to JP's garage. He ummed and arghed at the damage then in true IM spirit said, 'Whatever it takes, we'll get this fixed to take you to Switzerland!' So on went the A-Team theme tune over the garage Tannoy (ok, this didn't really happen!) and John and his mechanics commenced performing a miracle!
36 arduous and inventive hours by The JP-team (nervous by Smith team) later, we got the call saying, 'come pick her up!' I had visions of a pimped up motor resprayed in CPT colours and 'go faster' stripes to match.
Setting off a day later than planned we drove from London to Zurich in one day meeting up with Keith and his partner Beth half way who had stayed in the Champagne region (for pre-IM training) as pre-planned.
Dizzy and exhausted, we arrived at the 'IM campsite' Wednesday evening only to be told there was 'No room in the Inn'. A blessing really as there was a lot of IM testosterone wandering about. We found another quieter campsite 10 minutes down the road. Anyhow, Thursday we checked out the IM village and registered noticing the lake temperature was 24.4 degrees Celsius - wetsuit ban 25.5 degrees!!! Wind up or not, we went for a dip in the lake in our togs – it was like a hot bath. A certain Scottish person loved the idea of a non-wetsuit swim and took some persuading that wearing one if possible was the best option!
Our concern about a wetsuit ban was soon diminished as it rained solidly for the next three days - nice camping weather! Only good thing was that we certainly rested up before the race!
We moved to a hotel on Friday as planned for some proper nights sleep before the race. Friday was IM pasta party night, a mighty fine five-course banquet whilst watching IM 2009 on the large screen to get us fired up.
Saturday we racked bikes - lots of eye candy (bikes I'm talking about here!) - reckon a few £million sitting in transition over night.
Saturday night we had our CPT pasta party. Us competitors busily discussed tactics whilst supporters Beth, Beverley and Clare busily talked about shopping (and a bit about supporting!). It was good to have banter with the experienced Ironmen - Simon and Marcel. They have 6 or 7 IM between them (OK, not doing Simon justice here as Marcel has done one but from his times, you wouldn’t argue that Marcel also knows what he's talking about!). They both agreed a glass of red wine was the key to a good race - we didn't need telling twice.
So we're finally here - race day. Alarm call was 4am, scoff as much as your stomach can digest before the event - I had my Weetabix and a couple of bananas (whoopee me!). We decided against running to the start from our hotel as a warm up as it was 10km, so went for the taxi option! I would try to jazz up my report saying we arrived at the tranquil lake, with rising sun shimmering on the water but it was pitch black and none of us had a torch! We found our way to transition which was thankfully glowing with spot lights. We fine tuned our bikes, kit, nutrition and off we went to the swim start.
I’d heard how daunting an IM mass start is but we didn't have much time to think as we were soon in the water and competitors started heading off to the distant buoy. We guess it had started (didn’t hear a gun!) so a quick ‘man hug’ with Keith and we were off!
We're used to nice cold water to shock the brain into gear but the lake was still warm - no worries, I got a lung full of garlic breath from a too close competitor which had the same effect!
Aim out wide was Keith and my tactics for a quieter swim - might bump into Kirsten as she was in the ladies area which was separated from the men by a jetty! We almost got on first name terms with the canoeist we were so wide, shame it wasn't with the lead canoe!
Swim was two laps - at the end of the first lap we had to run across a little island then back in the water for the second lap. But to get on the island, you were funnelled through a narrow channel which brought the 2200 competitors together again - reminiscent of a CPT Xmas water polo match! Marcel had someone try and pull his hat and goggles off - sorry about that Marcel, I would have done anything to beat you in the swim!
On the island a few of us looked at our watches and were shocked at how slow our times were - had far too much fun on the first lap so took the second lap a bit more seriously. We all loved the swim, I was keen to stay in the lake for a few more laps rather than take to the bike - it totally relaxed us in preparation for the little cycle ahead of us!
So up the slippery slope and the Swim ticked off the list!
Us ‘Iron maidens’ took our time in T1 but wished I'd listened to Simon saying to treat transition as free minutes and race through it. Simon and I had similar swim times but he was long gone by the time I had dried myself off, talc-ed my toes and checked my hair in the mirror!
So finally off out on the bike, two laps, then it was the run – sorry, I’m also getting bored… promise to speed up, as I did on the bike!
The first 30km on the bike was fast and furious flat road. 'Try not to over cook the flat’ seasoned IM Swiss competitors had told me - forget that, let’s push this bike to its limits! Yeah, I should have saved some for the climbs, especially The Beast which didn’t disappoint. At least the views across the lake were amazing as you climbed it - 'almost' forgot you were on a hill! There was a fantastic descent back to the lake where most people get their PB mph (JP). Kirsten had issues with her speedometer that even the roaming mechanics had trouble fixing. I was like ‘yeah yeah, excuses, excuses’ until I read her max speed which no joke read 100km per hour – definitely something wrong with her speedo I then thought!!!
A final ascent at the end of the lap was aptly named Heartbreak Hill. One of the prime supporter spots where there's bands, DJs and huge cow bells happening! It was a fantastic climb with the supporters funnelling you up the hill. The buzz just picks you up and carries you to the summit – emotional! Hairs are rising on the back of my neck just writing about it! Our support crew were there in full effect, great seeing familiar friendly faces! We reloaded with goodies from them and off again for the second lap of 90kms!
This is where I thought, ‘prefer middle distance’ – I obviously hadn’t kept my powder dry! So a lot slower lap later it was T2 and bike ticked off! I parked bike, helmet off and just had a wee lie down to gather my thoughts which were, ‘those trainers aren’t going to run that marathon themselves!’
Run was four loops – nice as I thought of it as four times Olympic tri runs plus a bit more!
I think we were all hoping for a sub 4-hour marathon – some (me) more wishful than others. So 1-hour laps here we come! We all made sub 1-hour first laps, some way under. But that was my lot – the infamous IM shuffle took over and getting to the finish line before nightfall was my new goal!
I think we would all agree, the feed stations were our saviour and counting laps had changed to ‘just making it to the next feed station alive’. And they certainly know how to stock a feed station in Switzerland – each station was like going to the food court at Westfields! They had everything going, your expected gels, bars, coke, water – but Red bull, fruit, crisps, bread and soup aka Bouillon. Simon said the Bouillon got him around the marathon! I believe him as someone crawled past me shouting ‘Bouillon’ as if they were his last dying words! A quick sip of the magical soup and he was gone for dust! Whereas Marcel traded in his fav pastime of puffing, to sucking on salty pretzel sticks (and the re-useable wet sponges - nice!)!
Me, well as I don’t like to miss out, I tried a bit of everything at each banquet of a feed station! Choice was run or eat, so went for the latter option!
The run was quite technical as in running over bridges, underpasses and out and backs so it kept your mind off your burning legs. And you would cross paths with the others (but hopefully not overtaken!). So it was massive smiles and high 5s when I saw fellow CPTers - it gave you a sense of ‘suffering’ the run together and motivated you to push yourself (then when they were out of sight I would walk again – kidding!).
You would get a bright coloured hair bobble per lap and think we all found running with three hair bobbles the hardest! Then we received the red bobble, on the final lap – never thought one could get so emotional from receiving such a hair accessory. It meant under 30 minutes to finish line, yippee!
And then there it was, the finish funnel…. hang on, forgot one vital bit of my story!
So picture this: there I was on the final lap, 10 mins from the end of this year-long amazing IM journey – everything hurting (wasn’t that bad really). But obviously I wasn’t in enough pain as a killer bee decided to sting me! I screamed like a girl and supporters’ cheery faces turned to concern! I ran over to a Swiss guy and gave a charade winning performance of being stung by a bee and pointed to my neck! His eyes lit up as he pulled out this almighty bee sting and held it high! The audience gave a loud cheer and I was on my way nursing it with wet sponges!
And then there was the finish shoot. As I crossed the line, I tried to beat Bruce’s club record high jump to no avail – the end… almost!
They put on a great feast of recovery food – more pasta and loads of naughties to refuel with. Hoovered as much down as I could before ‘hobbling’ out to see Kirsten finish!
Kirsten decided the best way to take her mind off the run, was to go to a ‘happy place’ where she would plan and practise her finish line dance! From the perfection of her little routine with a new friend, it looked well rehearsed!!!
So much so, to our amusement (not Kirsten’s), she was up on the big screen at the post-IM Breakfast where they showed the best bits of the race! Apparently, the best ‘finishers finish’ – gets a free entry to the next year's IM – watch this space!!!!
So Kirsten had finished and the guys and supporters couldn’t be more helpful. There was concern about how to get us and our bikes into taxis as thought trains might have stopped (very quiet city so we thought it might have shut down past 8pm!!!).
Clare offered to cycle Kirsten’s bike so she could get a taxi. Luckily, the trains and trams were running so we were soon in bed for one of the best nights sleep this year!
Yes I did get some war wounds – saddle sore and a stabbed toe but this was from celebrating on the way home in the Champagne region! We hired bikes and cycled to a little village aptly called ‘Bouzy’ where we deservedly drank copious amounts of fizz!
So would you do another one? I gave it my all, luckily had no real dramas and was very chuffed with my time! So would I go through all that training again just to shave 10 minutes (transition) off my time, more likely end up with a slower overall time as conditions were close to perfect in 2010… probably!!! Well in fact definitely, as of time going to press – I have signed up as have several other CPTers! It’s a fabulous journey that every triathlete can and should experience! As per Lauren’s email, it’ll be ‘even more fun’ if we get a big CPT contingent happening!
IM Switzerland 10 July 2011 – see you there!
By Karen Ayers
Conversation with a colleague at work:
‘Did you have a nice holiday?’
‘Yes, thank you. I went to Austria to do an Ironman.’
‘What does that involve?’
‘A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle followed by a 26.2 mile run.’
‘Why? Are you mad? Can’t you just sunbathe, read a book and get drunk like the rest of us?!’
Not everyone’s idea of a holiday but Austria was a fantastic experience, so much better than IMUK in 2005. I’m glad I did it, even though I’m disappointed with my time.
Klagenfurt am Wörthersee is beautiful. The first sight of the lake takes your breath away. It is absolutely stunning, with crystal clear turquoise water and snow capped mountains in the distance. I had no idea it could get so hot and humid with temperatures reaching 38 degrees on race day and rain/thunderstorms most days, including an electric storm while we were out on our bikes!
We stayed at the Hotel Gasthof Jerolitsch, which is the regular resting place for CPT members doing IM Austria. The hotel is about 25 minutes walk from the Ironman Expo, transition and the swim start. A good job it’s not much further because Bruce forgot his mobile phone was still on UK time, not European time, and set the alarm for 03:30 on race morning, only to discover it was really 04:30 and we should have had breakfast half an hour ago! The hotel laid on a full breakfast service, including waitress, which was lucky as there was a problem with the electricity and she was busily changing bulbs while we went into breakfast in the dark!
After a more hurrid breakfast than planned, we set off for transition, our bikes had already been racked the day before, along with our bike and run bags, we just had to get ourselves and our wetsuits safely to the start. We stopped, briefly, to admire the artwork and words of encouragement written on the run route but arrived in plenty of time for our last minute preparations, including pumping up our tyres. It was recommended that these were let down overnight, just in case.
I pumped up my tyres while Bruce was sorting out his various drinking bottles. As I removed the pump from my rear tyre the valve came off with it. There was a large hiss of air and a very loud expletive from me before I burst into tears! A lovely Welsh lady two bikes away shouted at the top of her voice 'Can anyone help this lady‘ and within seconds one of her club mates appeared and changed the tube for me, otherwise i would have missed the swim start.
I was still shaky and in tears when we made our way to the beach for a quick dip before the start. As the start is divided between two pontoons it didn’t look too crowded but there were a lot of nervous looking people standing around waiting. There were helicopters, a hot air balloon and a spectacular firework at the start, then it was time to wish Bruce good luck before a short run into the water and off.
View a fantastic 360 degree panoramic image of the swim start via this link.
It was fairly chaotic at first but not too bad, although it did get busier as the two starts came together and then around each of the buoys. The water was lovely to swim in, warm and clear, so you could see the hands and feet bashing you! The swim is approximately 3k in the lake before heading up a narrow canal for the last 800m. The water in the canal was fairly shallow and quickly got churned up and murky. It was also quite hard to find space in the narrow channel with so many people swimming in the same direction. I was trying to keep to the right, where the water was slightly deeper, but it felt as though I was swimming uphill!
The swim exit soon appeared and I was out of the water in just over 1:15, exactly to plan. I spotted Mum and Ruki near the run into transition. I did a quick change into my cycling shorts, collected my bike and was off.
The bike exit was lined with supporters and wobbly triathletes struggling to get their feet into shoes and straps done up on the move. They could do with attending one of Jon’s transition training sessions! The first part of the cycle route alongside the lake is undulating and fast, after that it’s hillier than I had been led to believe! The support on the hills was fantastic, with several people deep, loud music playing, cheering, clapping and shouting, it really helps you up. There were supporters out in most of the villages and even people sitting by the roadside at the more remote houses on the route, with their deckchairs, drinks and snacks.
Unfortunately we had an electric storm, with thunder, lightening and torrential rain which meant that most of the supporters gave up which made the second lap harder. The rain was so heavy I couldn’t see out of my glasses and had to slow considerably as water was cascading over the road and making the downhills very dangerous. Once the rain stopped you could see steam coming off the hot tarmac and off our wet clothes! I heard Mum, Phil and Ruki at the turnaround point and gave them a wave. Later on the second lap I had to stop to remove one of my socks as it was so wet it was causing a blister on my toes!
About an hour into the bike I started to get really bad stomach cramps. I managed to eat and drink most of the way round the first lap but could hardly eat anything (except banana) during the second lap. I knew I was going to suffer on the run if I couldn‘t follow my nutrition plan but my stomach just wasn’t cooperating. The bike was quite a bit slower than I’d hoped, 6:53, but I was still hoping I’d be able to do a reasonable marathon. (The winning male pro had crossed the finish line before I'd even started running!)
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be! It reached 38 degrees early on in the run and there was very little shade as I jogged along holding my stomach. I managed a couple of gels early on in the run but started retching so survived mainly on water. I soon ran out of energy and had to resort to a quick march. Bruce overtook me at 22k. He walked with me for a while but I didn’t want to spoil his race so he ran on. I managed to jog occasionally but towards the end just couldn’t pick up the pace, although my speed walking was much faster than a lot of people’s running! I saw Nicola and Stuart, Phil, Ruki, Mum and Amy (Bevan’s wife) out on the run. Bevan and Chris also offered words of encouragement as they made their way, painfully, around the course.
The blister from my wet cycling socks was getting worse, as was my right ITB and my left Achilles. I’d tried to avoid the kind people with their hose pipes but had used the sponges to cool myself down. This made my trishorts permanently wet which caused the seams on the padding to rub and cause more sores, as well as making my dry running socks wet! Just a warning for anyone else doing IM soon!
I surprised myself by managing to ring the charity bell in the town square on my second lap, more in anger than in the spirit of being charitable! I walked with a nice man from Leamington Spa for a while but he stopped at a feed station so I kept on marching.
There were times when I really wanted to stop but I hadn’t done all those months of training for nothing, even if I wasn’t going to get my dream goal, my realistic goal or my two hours quicker than last time goal, I was determined to finish. The music and cheering get louder and louder as you get nearer to the Finish and this spurred me on to jog from the turn to the Finish and up the Finishing shute, to the awaiting catchers (Mum, Audrey, Martin, Ruki, and Phil). Bruce was also there waiting for me. I wasn’t in a very good mood after a very slow 5:57 marathon. I wish I could have seen Bruce cross the Finish line, I don't know where he got the energy from for one of the best IM finisher photos I've ever seen!
I finished the whole Ironman in 14:25 (30 minutes behind Bruce). It was much, much slower than I was hoping for, but an hour and 15 minutes quicker than IMUK, so I really shouldn’t be too disappointed!
The man who did my post-race massage told me that everyone he had massaged that evening was complaining about stomach cramps. It might have been something in the lake or canal or perhaps at one of the early feed stations that had caused the problem, but I felt slightly reassured that I wasn’t just being a wimp and making excuses and that others had suffered too!
I’m not going to do another Ironman (I know I said that before, but I mean it this time). It’s hard work and very disappointing when something goes wrong on the day that you have no control over!. Bruce, on the other hand, is very happy, and wants to do another one, even though he’s lost four toenails!!! I’m going to be number one supporter and cheerleader!
If I had attended the Awards ceremony, with 450 Euros in cash, I could have got a roll-down place for the World Ironman Championship in Hawaii. None of the finishers in my age group took-up the place so it went to an Austrian who was on the start list but didn’t even compete! The downside, of course, would have been completing another Ironman, but what an experience it could have been!
Thanks to Jon for coaching us and getting us to the start, to Mum, Ruki, Phil, Audrey and Martin, Nicola and Stuart for your support, carrying our bags, collecting our bikes, feeding us and putting up with my post-race sulks! It was great to have you with us. What a shame we aren’t all off to Hawaii in October.
Never mind, at least I can look forward to sunbathing and reading books in Spain in September!
View Karen's IM Austria photos
View Ruki's IM Austria photos
You can view brief video clips of our swim exits and us crossing the Finish line on the Marathon-Photos.com website (unfortunately the bike clips are the same for us both and neither shows us!). See Bruce's clips and Karen's clips.
A slightly belated report from Lauren. As you will see from her report, she has a very good reason.
By Lauren Whitmore
Having been convinced by last year's CPT participants that the bike course wasn’t really that hard (it was!), a much smaller CPT contingent headed to Nice for the 2010 edition of Ironman France. I was joined by my Dad, who really loved his first Ironman in Austria in 2008 and Roy, who only entered because he didn’t want to spectate for 11+ hours! As always, race day came around very quickly, and the usual nerves and self doubt were very much in evidence.
Roy and I decided to start in the sub-55 minute starting pen for the swim, but towards the back which was a big mistake. The first 400m involved less swimming and more boxing and I got punched, kicked and smacked over the head repeatedly. I lost Roy immediately, though he claims he was shielding me from attack (or was it him attacking me?!) until he had his goggles kicked off. Despite a desperate attempt to save them he ended up swimming almost the whole 3.8km blind (and probably a few bonus metres too, given he can’t swim in a straight line with goggles).
The Nice course requires you to exit the water at the end of the first 2.4km lap and run over a timing mat before re-entering for the last 1.4km. It was great to hear the crowd cheering and the music; all these people up before 7am to support us! After the chaos of the first lap, I suddenly found myself completely on my own. I could see a big group to my left, but felt sure they were swimming off course. Panic! I hoped that if I was swimming in completely the wrong direction someone would come and get me, so continued on alone! This proved to be the right strategy (phew!) and I beat the group to the turn and caught another group ahead.
The way back was fairly uneventful, though the waves were getting bigger and bigger due to the helicopters overhead, luckily my much-derided straight armed windmill stroke is perfect for those conditions! Entering transition I saw 57ish minutes on the clock. I grabbed my bike and just as I mounted was passed by Tine Deckers who went on to win the race and break her own course record. I realized then that my swim must have been fairly good, and I was actually first female age-grouper and only got beaten by three of the pros!
Roy came out of the water in 1.03, a great time considering he didn’t have goggles (I would have stopped!). My Dad did 1.17, having never managed to find any clear water to swim in.
The IM Nice bike course is known for its climbs (and descents), but the first 20k is flat and fast. As I settled down onto my tri bars I was suffering with an uncomfortable stomach cramp that made it difficult for me to get any gels down. Supporters alongside the road were shouting out my position in the race, and I was surprised to find out that I was 5th female. Awesome! Unsurprisingly the rest of the women’s pro field quickly caught and passed me, but it was still exciting to be so high up in the race.
When the road does start to go up, it does so in style, with a sudden steep incline of around 10% up to the town of Gattieres. I was panting away at the top (about 45 minutes into the ride) when Roy caught me. He explained about his goggles (excuses, excuses) but seemed in very good spirits, evidenced by the fact that he actually stopped to talk instead of just ignoring me! He didn’t hang around too long though and with depressing ease accelerated off into the distance.
I felt I was going okay and only a couple of age group girls had passed me. I was even enjoying the sections of descent. After about 50km you reach Pont du Loup and begin the main 20km climb to Col de L’Ecre. Although the gradient is not too bad (between 5-7%) it’s a long slog, though the stunning views are a good distraction. Although there were fewer spectators in the mountains, the male competitors were obviously getting quite bored, and a female rider in their midst was something of a novelty so I got plenty of encouragement and attention. I passed one guy, who obviously did not want to get chicked and immediately sped up, I laughed out loud which seemed to upset him even more and he rode off ahead. 10 minutes later I passed him again and this time he just stuck his tongue out at me and let me go!
After we made it to the summit of Col de L’Ecre there was a long descent to be ‘enjoyed’. I thought that my ‘safety first’ approach would see me being overtaken by the world and his granny, but I surprised myself by not losing too many positions. The final climb of the day was relatively short, but with tired legs seemed to go on forever. We’d reccied the course in the car two days earlier, so I knew that once we reached Cote du Broc (about 135km) it was downhill all the way. I finished the bike in 6:00:13, which I was more than happy with (though it would have been nice to go under 6 hours!) Roy stormed the bike in 5.35, although a review of the splits post race shows I was actually quicker than him over the last 35km (he claims he wasn’t pedalling!) My Dad had a good ride too, finishing with a split of 6.14.
Once off the bike I was forced to walk through transition as my stomach was too painful to do anything else. Out on the course I tried a kind of walk-shuffle-jog but I felt like I was being stabbed every time my right foot hit the ground. This continued for the first 2km, when I remembered the super aspirin tablets I had stashed in my race belt (aspirin, paracetamol and caffeine in a single pill!). I popped some pills, gritted my teeth and started to jog again.
About 3km in I saw Roy, who gave me a yell and wave and got a really attractive grimace in return. Shortly after, I spotted my Dad coming in off the bike; at the rate I was moving I expected to see him again quite soon! The first 5km was a bit of a suffer fest, but by the time I reached the airport for the first time the pain in my stomach had eased off, (or I was ignoring it more successfully).
Lap 2 was all about getting into a groove; run to the aid station, walk, have a drink, try to eat something. Repeat. I saw Roy again and asked him if he was on his last lap, and was surprised when he told me he was on the same lap as me (albeit about 6km ahead of me). That gave me another incentive to keep moving, don’t get lapped!
After another couple of km I saw my Dad, walking and looking pained (he was suffering from cramps, probably due to the 30 degree heat!) 20km done and I still felt okay, my stomach was still giving me grief, but I was at least managing to drink some energy drink as well as some gel. Knowing the 3rd lap would be the hardest (mentally at least) I concentrated on keeping the same pace. I must have been concentrating quite hard, because I somehow managed to miss everyone else on this lap and managed to convince myself they had overtaken me on one of my numerous visits to the portaloo!
Less than 1km into the last lap I saw Roy, all smiles, making his final run for home to bring him in 10:23 with a marathon time of 3:35. A brilliant time in his first Ironman.
The last few km were painful, but you can see the finish chute all the way so I just to tried to focus on that and ignore my screaming legs and stomach. Before the race I was determined that for the first time I would enjoy the finish line properly, and I was really excited about taking my time, high 5’ing everyone, and generally having a bit of fun. But with about 100m to go to the start of the chute I saw one of the girls in my age group just ahead and decided to try a little sprint to see if I could get past. I did, but as I crossed the finish line, I saw another girl in our age-group who had finished just six seconds before me in 3rd place. Very frustrating, but at least I was 4th instead of 5th! I was really pleased with my final time of 11:18:23. My Dad wasn’t able to shake off his cramp and was disappointed with his 4.35 marathon, but still finished in a very respectable 12:19:52.
Post race I was expecting aching and sore legs for a few days, but unfortunately the stomach cramps that I’d been suffering with during the race turned out to be a severe kidney infection. When we arrived back in the UK I went straight to Kingston Hospital A&E, with a temperature of 41 degrees and resting heart rate over 100! They kept me in for five days and pumped me full of antibiotics and fluid to rehydrate me, as well as giving me oxygen because at times I was struggling to breathe. Not an enjoyable post-race celebration, but luckily no permanent damage done and I’m now on the road to recovery.
Bruce and I went out to Spain in October 2009 to do a recce to see whether a Club training camp would be feasible at our house near Huercal Overa in southern Spain. The weather was awful so we spent the whole time driving the various routes and wondering how hard the climbs would be on bikes, without an engine and a handbrake!
An email went out in early November inviting anyone interested to sign-up for the spring training camp. Within days the places were filled and Bruce and I started panicking about whether it would really work out, whether we had enough beds and whether everyone would enjoy the rides.
In April, we flew out a few days ahead of everyone else to move furniture, prepare bedrooms, clean the swimming pool and to do a considerable number of other jobs required to host 12 keen triathletes and their early season training.
We had to employ a neighbour to help with the airport pick-up, as the two of us couldn’t drive the three vehicles required to get everyone, their luggage and their bikes back to the house!
On arrival day, the weather was glorious and once everyone had enjoyed their welcome lunch, put their bikes together, it was time for the first ride out on the Spanish roads, which were virtually traffic-free for the whole week!
We split up into various groups as there were a lot of different standards but everyone got a good workout and with the minibus on standby anyone wanting a shorter ride could hitch a lift part way, or all the way with or without their bikes.
The rides varied in length, duration and number of coffee stops, depending on who was leading them! All rides involved hills, with the ups seeming so much longer than the downs! It’s a gradual climb from the town all the way back to Las Piedras, about 12k of gradual slog. The swimming pool acted as a very useful post-ride plunge pool to help rejuvenate tired legs!
We cycled to the castle at Velez Blanco, which was about 20 miles of climbing, but at least it was a fast ride back again! There were some amazing switchbacks on most of the climbs with fantastic countryside and sea views.
The second time we cycled towards Velez Blanco the wind was really strong with a few people deciding to stay put or go for a run instead, others made it to the highest point (just over 1000 metres above sea level), battling on every bend to make any headway before heading back and having to pedal hard even on the downhills.
It was very windy again the next day when we cycled to Taberno. We had to split up as it was too dangerous to ride in a close group as we were getting blown into each other.
Bruce, Phil and I did a 100 miler, along the undulating coast road from San Juan to Garrucha. We had to have a short stop as Bruce had a few technical problems with his bike. It was a hilly ride but enjoyable and made us feel more confident about our forthcoming Ironman. We cycled back to Huercal Overa where we stopped for coffees while waiting for Peter to pick us up in the minibus.
The day after our long ride Bruce and I got a day off, so we took the minibus down to the beach at San Juan to meet everyone who had cycled. It was a glorious sunny day and there was a long beachside stop for beers and ice creams. Cathy and Richard even had a race from the beach into the sea and had a bit of cool down swim.
We had two trips to the newly opened indoor swimming pool and virtually had the place to ourselves. The local rambla (dried up river bed) was a great running route, which was slightly flatter than the road but still meant working hard in one direction or another as nowhere in the area is flat!
Everyone took it in turns shopping, cooking, washing up and hanging up washing (which Pete and Mitch were particulary good at!). There was plenty of alcohol consumed but that didn’t stop anyone from riding the next day! I was also completely amazed by the amount of food which was eaten by 14 hungry triathletes!
On the last night, which was also Martin’s 50th birthday we went into Mojacar for a delicious steak meal and pudding in the ice cream parlour.
Everyone agreed the cycling had been great, the Spanish roads in much better condition than the British, the Spanish drivers few and far between, and those we did encounter were much more considerate of cyclists, leaving plenty of room and even sitting patiently behind, without beeping, for miles on the uphills!
Once everyone had packed up and gone, Bruce and I had two days to wash all the sheets, towels, replace all the furniture and close the house up again until our next visit in September.
We enjoyed having everyone to stay and feedback was pretty positive. So if we still own the house next Spring perhaps we’ll do the same again! Anyone interested?!
There will be more photos to follow.
The big event of the weekend, 6 June, was the club championship middle distance race at Weymouth.
Report by Karen
Bruce and I registered on Saturday afternoon, bumping into other CPT members and buying last minute gels, saddles(!) etc. We found our B&B then went for a walk down to the transition area and the swim in and out. I dipped my toes in and was pleasantly surprised by the water temperature.
Most of us met up for dinner at Prezzos in the evening, taking over the restaurant! We then took a leisurely walk back along the beach to meet up with Jon and Sheila, to hand over their race numbers etc. James decided to get his remote control motor boat out for a spin with Daniel following him into the water, fully clothed, shoes as well! Then it was back to the B&B for an early night and hopefully a good sleep.
The alarm clock went off at 5am and it was down to the kitchen for some porridge. We walked from the B&B to transition, for once with plenty of time to spare and no panic.
Bruce heard a tyre go pop then realised it was his! He calmly changed the inner tube only to discover that the side of his (new) tyre had an enormous slice in it and there was no where to buy another tyre. A lady in transition gave him a puncture patch and he and Jon set to work on fixing the tyre, hoping that it would hold up even though he couldn't get the full amount of pressure in the tyre. Emma and I left them to it as we headed off for our swim start.
We had time for a short dip to get used to the water temperature, which wasn't as cold as previous years, then it was off. The water was very shallow for a long way, so we walked, swam then walked again before swimming out to the first buoy. At the second buoy I realised I was swimming alongside Dawn and was determined to get out of the water ahead of her! (The picture on the left shows me standing and Dawn swimming just behind). I was also hoping that Jon wouldn't overtake me on the beach again!
Then it was up the beach, up the stairs and into transition. A quick change and then we carried our bikes up more steps out on the road, with Dawn just ahead of me.
The sun was coming out and the temperature was very pleasant until we got to the first turnaround where the wind suddenly became apparent and the downhill wasn't as quick or as easy as it should have been! Instead of overtaking me on the beach Jon passed me on the bike about 40 minutes into the ride, so that was quite satisfying! I also caught Emma at about 45 minutes and we then played cat and mouse for the rest of the ride, with her beating the traffic queue back into transition. I didn't see her again! I did see Suse walking along the dual carriageway pushing her bike. She had a puncture, which she fixed, but then her pump broke and she was unable to continue. I also saw Dave off his bike but thought he'd just stopped for a comfort break, but he was also out.
Then the run! By this time it was really hot and there didn't seem to be any breeze on the course, just a much longer hill than I remembered! Marcel overtook me exiting transition and Emma disappeared into the distance. The first lap went quite well, with Jon passing me about half a mile from the end of the lap so he was amongst the crowd cheering me on to the next lap. Unfortunately I slowed considerably on the second lap, with nearly all the CPTers overtaking me. I knew Charles and Bruce hadn't come past so just kept plodding on hoping I'd get to the Finish before they appeared. I spotted CPT kit ahead and realised it was Richard walking. He didn't give me the satisfaction of saying I'd beaten him, instead of walking across the finish line he DNFd! Charles had also pulled out at the end of the first lap so no wonder he didn't pass me! Bruce came across the finish line a few minutes later, looking very strong.
A post-race massage and a shower back at the B&B made us feel human again. Then we met up for fish and chips on the beach, kayaking, sun-bathing, and in Daniel's case some sleeping! A text from Jon and Sheila let me know that I'd won the Super-Vets category (although I was the only one!). Jon won the Vets and Sheila won the Vets prize in the Sprint. Kirsten, Emma and Dawn won the Ladies team prize, so a good day for CPT.
Those of us staying another night met up for a celebratory dinner and a few glasses of wine (Suse, sorry for knocking my red wine over you). Another successful weekend in Weymouth. There was talk of chosing a different venue for next year's middle distance race, watch this space!
Thanks to Riaz for the race photographs.
You can see who's won what in the Club Championships so far.
By Lauren Whitmore
In preparation for Ironman France at the end of June, Roy, my Dad and myself were looking for a hilly middle distance race. The Outrageous Half in Leybourne, part of the new 'Tri Grand Prix' series, seemed to fit the bill. The only drawback was the £150 entry fee, ouch! Initial impressions weren't good; after parting with my cash, I didn't receive as much as a "thank you for entering" email (or any other direct communication from the organisers). Race info was put up on the website only six days before the race, including notification that competitors needed to register and rack bikes on Saturday, rather than Sunday. Due to wind and rain (not surprising in the UK in May I would have thought!) the organisers decided at the last minute to move registration to a hotel, two more junctions down the M20, but crucially, didn't actually tell competitors, or leave anyone at the original registration site to send people the right way! All this confusion didn't bode well for the following day!
However, apart from the complete lack of portaloos and a 30 minute delay to the race start, the race itself was quite good! It was a small field (about 90), and it seemed that the majority were pros. Lining up next to Stephen Bayliss, Leanda Cave and Jo Lawn was cool, but also quite intimidating. The swim course was a single lap around Leybourne Lake. I was excited to find myself leading the 3rd pack of pros (well, excited for about 5 mins when I began to wish they'd come through and do some work!) I came out of the water with Eva Ledesma who went on to take 3rd in the women's race. As I sat down to put my socks on, she legged it out of transition, never to be seen again! I ran into transition, grabbed my bike, and was pleased to notice Roy's bike still on the rack!
The bike course was tough, with nearly 1000m of climbing, but there were also some flattish sections on A roads; not very scenic but good for my average speed! The steepest section of the course, the 'Birling Beast' was about 5km in. I got passed by a few pro girls, who zoomed past like they hadn't even noticed the incline. After about 20 minutes Roy caught and passed me as well. The out and back route meant you could see where you were in relation to the rest of the field, and also allowed me to watch some of the pro race unfold, watch Roy battling with some of the top girls, trying not to get chicked, and watch my Dad trying to catch me!
The run course was described as fast and flat. The course maps on the website were pretty confusing, and I didn't really have a clue where I was going. The first couple of km were in the country park, but then we hit the streets for a lap of the industrial park, then out onto the main roads. I couldn't tell you where we went, but it certainly wasn't flat, with several long uphill drags to contend with, as well as twice over the M20 overpass. Not the most inspiring of run courses, surprising since the country park would have made for a great multi-lap course where spectators could have enjoyed the battles between the lead pros. The marshals were great though, and the aid stations well stocked with powerbar goodies (though strangely for me I was having a hard time getting my nutrition down). I was running scared, as I knew my Dad would be chasing, but I didn't see him until I had 2k left to run when I could see the gap was too big for him to close.
I was pleased to cross the line in 5.20, a new middle distance PB by over an hour (my last attempt was pretty bad!) and also a new half marathon PB. Roy was pleased to beat all the girls in the bike leg, and finish his first half marathon without walking (running a super fast 1.23). My Dad finished just behind me and just missed out on qualifying for the age group long distance worlds. CPT's other starter, Bevan, unfortunately crashed out on the bike; hopefully he was not too badly injured.
There was massage and pizza at the finish, and rather than a medal finishers were given a gilet. Overall I enjoyed the race, but don't think I'd pay £150 to enter again. The Tri Grand Prix slogan is "Serious about athlete care", and unfortunately I think the athlete care provided by most other organisers (of small and large events) is much better. Given the incredibly high standard of the field it certainly wasn't a confidence building race, but it was great training for France, which is now only 25 days away!
Photographs © Sussex Sport Photography
By James Ripley
I have been preparing mentally and physically for my first Tri since deciding to enter one last February 2009. I didn't manage it last year because all my efforts became directed at finding sponsors for, and supporting my daughter, Emily in doing the London Triathlon Youth Super Sprint in aid of our Scouts Pack Minibus appeal. It was due to Emily's enthusiasm, having completed this event, that meant she asked me to drive her to Crystal Palace Juniors training sessions, because having already been coached by Jon elsewhere she realised what an amazingly good coach he is.
After taking Emily for a couple of weeks, my son Sam decided he didn't want to be left out and so started coming along as well. I was also invited to join in the training sessions (by Shiela Horsman) which was a real bonus, as it was already starting to get pretty cold during last November.
We all trained regularly over the cold, cold winter, but this didn't put any of the coaches off, they kept us motivated with their great enthusiasm and encouragement and varied, interesting sessions.
We all joined the CPT club for 2010 and decided to enter the CPT race to give us a goal to aim for. No one told us that the course wasn't the easiest for first timers, (or should I say old timers like me, who was put into the super veterans class!).
And so soon the CPT race weekend was upon us. Having attended an excellent Tri skills day run by Jon Horsman, helped set out the course on Saturday, and studied all the really well compiled information on the CPT website I was quite confident that I knew what to do on race day.
The Sunday race day was a brilliant hot sunny day, as forecast, and all the help, and advice we had been given by the club enabled us to pre-plan and pack everything we needed for all three of us to race. Get up was at 06:15 and Frances (my wife) left the house first in order to get to the venue to help out at registration. We arrived just after 8am and found everything was in place already with competitors arriving all around us and a wonderful atmosphere already pervading everywhere.
I nervously went through the pre-race procedures helped by Sam who seemed to be organising me better than I was doing for myself and Emily was too busy with her own preparations to help me. It took me rather longer than expected to set up in Transition and I had only 7 minutes to get changed and get to poolside!
I pulled on my new CPT Tri suit and made my way to the start.
Seeing the other CPT members suddenly made me feel proud to be part of the club organising this race event, and before I knew it I was ushered into the pool and counted down to start. I completed the race (and as one member had said to me "it'll be a PB"!).
It's a race I shall never forget, the many shouts of encouragement from the marshals round the course proved you were spot on with your advice and help getting us a CPT tri suit (many thanks for that). I couldn't wipe the smile from my face despite it being the hardest effort I have made for many years. It was just fantastic that this encouragement was freely served out on every one of the 9 laps of the bike course and both laps of the run.
Then even after finishing there was more satisfaction to come because I was then able to give back some of that enjoyment to other competitors through helping out at the finish line, giving out their medals and much needed rehydration distribution, (fetching them cold water). Having just completed the same course I was really able to empathise with them, and received many congratulations on behalf of the club for "the best organised race" or "the most friendly marshalls they'd ever seen" etc.
As one club member said to me later that day, "Your now officially a Triathlete and no one can take that away". Well I'm already thinking about which race to enter next, and I don't think I'll be the only family member doing the same thing, so I think I'm hooked.
I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped us, and specifically myself, achieve my goal of finishing my first Tri before my 50th birthday later this year.
Thank You CPT.
Report by Laura Boyd
There was a rule and the rule for Laura was not to enter any event until after the London Marathon but with a week to go before London and Karen’s email of free entry to Goodwood duathlon, the rule was out of the window and I’d said yes please me and ticked the classic challenge box – 10k run, 40k bike, 5k run, without a second thought!
I only doubted my decision when Hans kindly agreed to give me a lift and said 5:30am start!
However when we found ourselves going what seemed like back in time down to Goodwood racecourse, where old fashioned pitstops and lovely artdeco buildings greeted us, the excitement kicked in. As we parked, Hans suffered a surprise l on discovering photo ID was required to collect our race numbers – thankfully a driving license was found and we were ready – though personally now rather nervous! Nerves passed though on finding other CPT duathletes - Steve and Louise in CPT kit and Steve with a nifty new shiny bike.
We started in groups of 15, setting off per minute. First 10k round the actual race courses itself, with small aircraft taking off and landing in the middle so plenty to watch. 4k round, then we doubled back, out onto a road for a couple of km and then back to the racecourse to complete the final kilometre.
Luckily a couple of people had said the bike started with a 2m uphill climb. So bikes ready and prepared in low gears, the course took us out of Goodwood racecourse itself and into stunning countryside. With roads closed to cars, we had two laps of 20k mainly undulating after the hilly start and great downhill finish. Perfect weather for a duathlon – mild, overcast so no sunburn – and thankfully no rain. Clearly marked marshals lined the way congratulating competitors as they went ending the “what if I get lost?” worry!
I completely forgot the golden rule taking my helmet off as soon as I’d got off the bike, soon corrected by the marshal and earning me sympathetic haggling with the marshal from supporters! Last 5k took us back round the racecourse with a final loop to make it 5k. Race results available on the screen at the finish.
Great duathlon, incredibly well organised both pre and during event and one of those friendly, scenic, beautiful come back and do it again events!
Photographs can be seen on the SportCam website.
Report by Lisa Collins
90 or 75 miles
Kirkstone Pass, Red Bank 25%, Blea Tarn 25%, Wrynose Pass 25%, Hardknott Pass 30% (long course), Birker Fell 20%, Stickle Pike 25%, Oxen Park and Bigland Hill 20%
Feed Station Checkpoints
Grasmere (35 miles), Lowick (68 miles)
Course completion time: 08:39:01 (incl. Feed stops and mechanical faults)
Starting in Milnthorpe village at 0800 I knew I had a tough day ahead. Excitement had robbed me of a good night’s sleep. The general vibe at HQ was tense but once on the road the tension eased off. The start of the course was an undulating ride through villages and a good hilly warm up to get the legs spinning and eat up some miles.
The event really got going on the mighty Kirkstone Pass. Riding along 5 miles constant incline of up to 16% took me away from civilisation and into the Cumbrian Mountains - a small taste of the challenges ahead. The landscape became populated by huge, endless hills and I felt very small! The wind picked up and battered the bike constantly, and after a while peddling against it became a demoralising chore. I was happy to come off the pass and down The Struggle into Ambleside, but this was no rest. The descent is 3 miles long and technical with steep, narrow bends. It took all my concentration and handling skills to get down in one piece and my hands were cramping up on the way. There was a brief respite cycling through Grasmere village before turning onto Red Bank – 300m of 25% incline. I reached the checkpoint within my 3hr target (02:44:58) and I was feeling optimistic at this point.
Wrynose Pass A gentle section of The Struggle
It was so tempting to hang around at the feed station! Soup, hot drinks, bananas, gels, fruit loaf, water, and caramel wafers were available. I stocked up with water and refreshments and set off in a buoyant mood.
During the next stage the winds continued to hammer me and I became very cold. Even with an extra layer I was covered in goosebumps and my legs were red raw. My mood took another downturn when, on Wrynose Pass, I paused to have some water and the bottle holder snapped off the bike. Unable to carry the bottle in my jersey pocket, I was now facing three brutal climbs and 30+ miles to checkpoint 2 with only one bottle left. This influenced my decision to divert at the split point after the pass and take the shorter route of 75 miles. I’m glad I did…
Dropping down into Duddon Valley on the shorter course provided me with a respite from the wind and a mental lift. The sun came out and I was enjoying the ride, getting into top gear and bombing along the valley – the fun of cycling returned! But it wasn’t long before the big ascents reappeared and once again I was tackling 20% gradients and getting up into the wind. To make matters worse, my gears stopped working. The cable had come loose. I tried to fix the problem but just couldn’t get it working again. Unable to change my gears on this terrain I knew that I wouldn’t make the next checkpoint in any good time.
Eventually I made it into Lowick and the second feed station. I had been on the road now for about 7 hours! Physically my legs were running out of power, I was dehydrated and I had been exposed to the elements. Mentally I was fed up because of the setbacks with the bike. I had some sweet tea and fruit loaf but I was sick of eating sugary snacks. Fortunately a bike mechanic was there and fixed my gears. Hurrah!
22 miles left to go and I was convinced that I was the last person on the course. Every hill now felt like a vertical wall, both physically and mentally. Seeing Bigland Hill looming up ahead in endless steep twists and turns was a huge blow, but there was no way I’d give up and wait for the sweep van. In small stages, stopping frequently to lean against a wall and get psyched up again, I got to the top. It was a painfully slow effort and I must have been a pitiful sight!
The final miles were an exercise in willpower alone, as my legs were now completely exhausted. I was in my low gears the whole way which was rather depressing. I wanted to get off the bike and into a hot bath.
The punch line is...
I will be returning to do this event again next year. With the knowledge, experience and more training, I would like to complete it in 7hrs. I am really pleased to have done it this year and come back in one piece.
No matter how much you prepare before hand things can (and usually do) go wrong. The shoes I was preparing to run in took three weeks and not the advertised three days to arrive. I took them to a shoe maker/cobbler in Dulwich to have the Velcro stitched on (for the gaiters), earliest they could be done was Wednesday (five days), the day before I fly out. I drive to the cobblers on Wednesday lunchtime and he hasn’t started them. I inform him of the importance and he promises they’ll be done by 4.00pm. On the way to Dulwich in the afternoon, two school boys run into the road throwing stones at car windscreens, the truck in front of me stops, jumps out and starts chasing the boys. He was towing a trailer and hadn’t connected his trailer lights on so by the time I realised he was stopped I went into the back of him. The impact missed my bumper and hit the bonnet causing a right mess of my car. I eventually got to collect my shoes, cost of £35 to stitch Velcro on, and quality was very poor as the stitching used cut into my feet on the inner parts.
I thought things could only get better, and for a while they did.
The preparations up to the last night before the start of the event were good. We were warned not to drink any tap water, stay off the local salads as they would probably have been washed in tap water, brush your teeth using bottled water and use alcohol hand wash before eating or drinking anything. To catch diaharrea or start vomiting would have disastrous consequences.
I woke up for the first day and noticed I had been bitten by something on the back of my left hand. I didn’t know what it was but I wasn’t going to let that stop me, even though my hand had puffed up. Then within minutes out came the immodium as the dreaded diaharrea bug had got me. It was now 90 minutes to the start, and all I wanted to do was get started.
We started a little after 9.00am local time. I took 2x500ml water bottles with nuun and lucazade sport which were to last me until the first check point 13km away. I was going well and was with lots of other competitors. I felt great approaching the first check point. As soon as I stopped to refill my drinks bottles I felt dizzy. I refilled them quick and set off again but the dizziness remained. After approx 16km I sat down on a rock just before a small climb, and the next thing I remember is having water thrown in my face telling me to stay awake. It seems I fainted/blacked out for a short while. The doctors got me going again forcing five salt tablets and lots of water down me. I managed to get up and continue with the event. I finished the first day 30km in approx eight hours. I got back to my tent and started vomiting.
Second day started at 8.30am. I now have excruciating back pain in my lower back and need help in getting up and putting my back pack on. I had an extra bottle 1½ litres of water and I had already decided to take it easy and walk this day as there was a lot of climbing to be done. I got to the first check point with no problems and had only used up ½ of my reserve water. With the amount of climbing I was doing I was using my water quicker than I had anticipated. I could see the second check point at the other end of the valley, my water had almost run out and the temperature was 50+ Celsius. Now I know what they mean by the death march. I met an American en route who had already given up who had a little spare water. This extra water got me to check point 2. I went into the first aid tent and was given diaralyte with my first 1½ litre bottle which had to be finished before setting off to check point 3. I was also given an additional three litres of water with a time penalty and a warning that any additional water would result in me being withdrawn from the event. I got to check point 3, 30km completed only 5km to go. Problem was the last 5km was a mountain and sand dunes, and I’d already used my extra water. To tackle this with only 1½ litres of water was impossible as I was already feeling dehydrated. When I got into the check point first aid tent I was given an additional 5 units of IV.
By the end of day two there were approx 30 withdrawals of which I was now 1 of. The withdrawal rate was approx one in 10 with approx 100 people stopping in total, out of 1000 starters.
The answer to the question, as to if I would try again is maybe, but in four or five years.
Report by Emanuele Vignoli
An interesting start to the tri season in Monmouth. There I was, looking forward to my first sprint tri of the season (third ever) in a beautiful spot in South Wales. The event organiser (Blacksheep) advertised the event very well, with the usual details around goody bags, professionally measured distances and even real time updates on a wide screen!
Well here is the reality... after registration I was given the very exciting goody bag containing a timing chip and my race number! Had a look at the set up and it all looked a bit strange, no allocated position in the transition area, the arrival right in front of the transition area and the start of the run through the car park, but I kept my positive approach and thought, it will all be fine!
Well here is what went wrong... distances were all incorrect, slight difference for the bike (2k) but a 5k run which turned out to be 4k and renamed by the organiser as a 'soft 5k'.
Unfortunately I only set up my watch for the run which I did in about 17.20, so when finished I went to look for the big screen with the results. I ended up talking with a bloke on the back of a white van with a small laptop trying to reconcile the results (bear in mind that we had timing chips), he mentioned that there were some issues but reassured me that full results would be available on the site in the afternoon.
After a great lunch in the Welsh countryside I logged in to check the results... only to notice 'swim times not included due to technical problems but everything else is fine', well I checked my name and apparently I did my bike and run in 2hrs 14mins. That was a another surprise, bearing in mind that I knew that I did the run in 17 mins... it meant that it took me almost 2 hrs to cover 15k on the bike! I know cycling is not my forte but I could probably have walked that distance in less time!
After everybody complaining about the distance of the run the organiser decided to update their website, post the event, showing that it was a 4k race, despite being shown as a 5k in the official Welsh tri website...very dodgy organiser!
Anyway a complete waste of time from a competition perspective but great scenery during the bike ride and I met Tom (little Tom) Roberts from the Welsh tri in transition, very nice and supportive guy who knows many of the Crystal Palace members. Anyway I'm sure the next one will be better!
Report by Lisa Collins
What better way to spend a beautiful spring Sunday morning than to tackle an off-road 10k race? James, Emanuele and I couldn’t think of anything, so off we headed to the National Trust’s Knole Park in Sevenoaks.
484 other folk had the same idea too, but registration was pleasingly fast and the toilets weren’t humming too much.
The route was well signposted and attended by cheering marshals – and that’s where the comforts ended. The course itself was a tough trail incorporating hills and a challenging terrain of mole hills, rutted tracks with complimentary horse-hoof texturing, slippery grass and paths garnished with loose stones. Emanuele and James spotted deer en route. The last 800m had a steep descent through trees – so everyone had the chance to leg it to the finish in style!
We did ourselves and CPT proud, posting times of 46:15 (E), 48:18 (L) and 45:02 (J) respectively.
In summary, a friendly, well organised and challenging 10k with optional wildlife spotting and bananas. Just don’t wear your best trainers (if you are seasoned enough to have more than one pair!)
Thanks to Emanuele’s wife Rachel for the photograph.
Report by Karen Ayers
There was a CPT contingency out for the Surrey Rumble on Sunday 7 March, some doing the 'short' 56 mile route and some going all out for the 'long' 77 mile route.
It was a very cold but beautifully sunny day and once we had got through the very long and slow queue for registration we were warned of ice out on the course.
Bruce, Emma and I cycled together for the whole of the 'long' route. Malcolm, Lisa (and her boyfriend John) started out with us but they opted for the 'short' route so left us en-route. Kirsten and Selwyn planned to do the 'long' route but followed the pack and realised they had taken the 'short' route by mistake. We also saw Fiona out cycling in her Dulwich Paragons kit (boo!).
I don't think 'enjoy' would be a word I'd use to describe how we felt by the time we finished! Yes, the weather was beautiful and the course was lovely but I've never been so cold in my life. It felt much further than 77 miles!
The start of the course was strewn with cyclists and their bikes on the roadside fixing punctures. Unfortunately Dawn was one of these and she and Riaz struggled for about 15 minutes with cold hands to get the tyre off. Luckily my Gatorskins might not be the fastest tyres but they did prove to be puncture proof!
A marshal with a very large red flag was warning about the burst water main which had caused a long icy patch. We all dismounted and walked with our bikes for about 500m. Apparently a lot of riders ignored the advice and came off at this point. Emma and I had to get off and walk several times after this to avoid slippery, icy patches.
We were also held up by two police cars, an ambulance and a car with a smashed back window. It wasn't until we chatted to other cyclists at the end that we discovered the accident had involved one of the sportive cyclists. Apparently the driver got frustrated by two cyclists riding side by side, pulled in front of them and then braked. One of the cyclists went through the back windscreen and broke his jaw and cheekbone. We hope he's OK and that the police take serious action against the driver.
I can never feel my feet after more than hour of riding in the cold but yesterday I couldn't feel my legs! I don't know how I managed to keep turning the pedals. I had trouble with my cleats and pedals every time I unclipped as I couldn't feel anything to get going again! Then my chain came off on the steepest hill. I managed to dismount without falling and Emma managed to wobble her way around me and keep going. I then had to try and walk up the hill on my cleats slipping all over the place! It was much too steep to try and remount.
As we were so cold but so wrapped up we had to stop every time we wanted to eat or drink. There was no way we could negotiate wrappers with gloved hands so wasted an awful lot of time with stops. We also had to stop at two check-in points on the route to get our registration cards stamped.
It was a lovely, undulating route, mainly on quiet country lanes and through deserted villages. There were a couple of big hills but they were very short. The temperature crept up a bit during the morning but cooled down quickly once the wind started blowing. Head-on winds almost brought us to a standsill in places!
The last 10 miles seemed to take forever but luckily there was some cake left when we got back to the Village Hall! Our times were 6:06, but according to Bruce's computer are our actual cycle time was 5:28. Much slower than we'd expected but we hadn't realised how much the cold effects performance.
We didn't expect anyone to wait for our return so were very surprised that Malcolm waited and had a cup of tea with us.
It was the furthest Bruce and Emma have ever cycled. Emma was going straight off to play a badminton match. I hope her legs worked OK!
Mat - thanks for the tip about wrapping my feet in tin foil. Unfortunately it didn't work! My feet still hadn't thawed out by the time we got home, even with the car's heater on full blast! Fell asleep in the car, then after my Dominos pizza and was in bed by 10pm. I couldn't believe it when the alarm went off this morning, I thought I'd been asleep for about two hours!!
Roll on spring and some warmer weather!
Riaz took part in the above duathlon on 21 February. He nominated Dawn to write the report but unfortunately she got struck down by a sickness bug last week hence the delay.
Mud and Mayhem... more like snow joke.
When Riaz said we should go away to celebrate his 30th Birthday I was preparing myself for a nice little cosy get away or perhaps a weekend away in Spain to visit his parents... but no Mr Rahman had entered a mountain bike duathlon in Thetford Forest. That said having never been to that neck of the woods I was pleasantly surprised on the Saturday when we did a reccy of the course on a beautiful blue sky sunny day and discovered it was actually a very picturesque location.
Not to miss out on the action I'd decided to meet Riaz there just before the race started so I could get a little cycle in of my own. So Riaz left in the car on Sunday morning with the plan being I would follow on the bike, have a little jaunt round the forest before turning into his number 1 supporter.
However, literally minutes after he drove off it started snowing. Not to be put off by a bit of snow I changed into my bike gear to look out the window again to discover it was REALLY snowing! By the time I left it had already settled. With no other choice I started cycling along the country lanes to the forest. Only problem was I couldn't actually see much, my glasses filled up with snow as did my brakes, my gloves, shoes, helmet etc etc so I was on a real go slow terrified I might not actually make it to see him start.
Six miles later and it had taken me over 40 minutes to get anywhere. I then turned down the road towards the forest and decided it was probably best to abandon any plans to get a decent ride and in rather let's just see if I can make it to the race start in one piece. And then the bike started going from underneath me and I thought I was going to hit the deck. Luckily I held it together but decided it was best to walk the bike from now on. The walk was beautiful and I even had the company of a monkjack deer at one point. My walk turned to a canter as I realised I had about 10 minutes before the race started.
Luckily I made it with four minutes to spare. As I got there there were only about 40 odd people all looking cold but doing their best to keep warm by jogging up and down the transition area - without slipping on the snow! I quickly gave Riaz some words of encouragement whilst grumbling about my now wet and very cold feet!
It looked like at least half of the field had wimped out at the snow and minus three temperatures. But miraculously as the starter gun went off the snow stopped, but there was already a nice covering on the ground. Enough to make the course interesting.
Riaz's decision to do a race in February surprised me, he doesn't like the cold and tends to turn a blueish tinge on a walk to the shops in the winter! So I wasn't sure how he was going to fair in the race. Combined with the fact that he'd been run down for a couple of months after a bug at Xmas let's say his training regime left a little to be desired. So I was pleasantly surprised to see him return from the first run with a smile on his face when the guy with the microphone wished him a happy birthday. Unfortunately he'd decided last minute to put an extra layer on for the run which meant he was massively overheating but at least he hadn't turned blue - so far.
Off to the bike... two laps of the forest which involved a nice section of singletrack. Unfortunately two laps meant the terrain turned into a bog and riders were coming off left, right and centre. Riaz came off three times (apparently - I was having a cup of tea to warm up back by transition so missed out on all the bike fun!). The snow had now disappeared as quickly as it had arrived!
Riaz was indeed like a pig in mud and enjoyed himself very much on his new bike that he had built the week before. That said he was complaining about his calf as he came into transition. However, off he went for the second run, covered in mud but still just about smiling.
At this point it is worth pointing out just how spread out a field this race was. The first and second place had pretty much finished the whole race before the 5th place person had even started the second run!!!
Anyway, after watching the last few people come off the bike course and start the run I was pleased to see Riaz returning from his, still in one piece and still a good colour.
Despite the small field of competitors taking part it really did look like fun and Riaz definitely enjoyed it and didn't hurt too much considering his lack of training. It also gave him a slight boost that he can definitely improve on his times once he can get back into a more consistent training regime.
Unfortunately, the enjoyment of the race was ruined by someone (hmmm) who managed to smash the car sunscreen whilst closing the boot and resulting in a £500 repair bill (I just don't know my own strength!).
Report by Cathie Greasley, photos by Brian Morris
Team Crystal Palace got their track debut off to a flying start at the weekend by nipping down the M4 and across the Severn Bridge to Newport for an inaugural session at the Wales National Velodrome.
Designed by the man behind the Sydney Olympics, the £7.5m velodrome is the headquarters and jewel in the crown of Welsh cycling and is only the second facility of its kind in the country. Its circular bends have been graced by Welsh wonders Nicole Cooke and Gerraint Thomas, so what better place for a bunch of CPT novices to leave the road behind for the day?
We ‘carbo-loaded’ at a restaurant and the hotel bar the night before – athletes need to eat, hydrate and acclimatise of course. The Holiday Inn where we were staying seemed to come alive in the early hours and we all enjoyed the spectacle of gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies in cocktail dresses, even though it was a bit Gavin and Stacey-esque. Oh and Cathie's shoes provided some light-hearted entertainment. Dawn likened them to shoes a drag queen would wear. She then tried to sound less offensive by correcting this to those that a pole dancer would wear. Follow? Funnily enough, the taxi dropped us right outside a strip joint, so, all in all, the perfect choice of footwear! And a priceless gag!
On Sunday morning, we all arrived at the velodrome feeling somewhat apprehensive, but we soon limbered up and were kitted out with bikes and gear. Our coach for the day was John Capelin from Sports Coaching and his glamourous blonde (Glyn’s words) assistant soon made us feel at ease. Half of us had never ridden a fixed-wheel bike before, never mind on-a-state-of-the-art 250m indoor track. And for those of us who had, our experience was at the antiquated velodrome in Herne Hill, whose aging concrete facilities John likened to a road!
Track bikes differ from road bikes, as there’s just one single fixed gear and no brakes! Reassuring stuff, eh? So the rules were to keep pedalling and if you feel your back wheel going, stamp like mad on the pedals! And when riding in a pack, ride as you would drive on a motorway: mirror, signal, manoeuvre, and always check over your shoulder before moving. As the meerkat would say, simple.
After a quick overview and safety briefing, we were split into two groups and were riding around the track in no time, progressing fairly quickly from the black (at the foot of the track) to the yellow and blue lines (midway up) and then beyond. Soon we were all braving the bankings like pros. Woo hoo! It’s a real optical illusion because the bankings are no steeper at the top than the bottom – the only difference is that you have further to fall.
And fall we did, like dominoes – well Haydn did, breaking the first golden rule, which was to keep pedalling, and taking innocent Chris out at the bottom (and a few spokes on his bike, too). The pristine Siberian pine took a bit of a denting, as did Haydn’s Lycra – and pride. Ouch. Luckily, they were both OK, dusted themselves down and carried on. CPT soldiers they were.
Next, we were riding in formation, playing ‘follow my leader’ (well some of us were; a few of us – mentioning no names – were struggling to keep up with the pace) and doing some basic manoeuvres – zigzagging around the track and coming off the bankings at a diagonal angle to maximise the speed (and the thrill), before hitting the straight. Now the testosterone was sweeping around the track at a rate of knots, with the big boys all giving it some welly – you know who you are! Glyn, our very own powerhouse, was reminiscent of Chris Hoy blasting around the track, and Cathy, a blonde Victoria Pendleton. It makes you a bit dizzy after a while, going round and round and round, and it’s a weird sensation when you have someone literally hovering above and below you, so it all became a red and white blur.
Before returning to London we stopped off just outside Chippenham for lunch – and at every other Harry-Potter-sounding village along the way. Satnavs are reasonably priced these days, but it seemed that Brian Smith was the only person in possession of one of these ingenious contraptions and hence the only person able to find the pub he Googled earlier that day. For the rest of us, trying to find this quaint little pub, in a quaint little Wiltshire village, with quaint little maps, was like trying to find a needle in a blinking haystack.
Chris Hoy in his book Heroes, Villains and Velodromes celebrates the story of track cycling. In our very own Velodrome tale, our heroes were Dawn (accommodation), Brian Smith (organising restaurants) and Glyn (the whole shebang) – so thanks to them. Villains were Haydn for wiping out Chris and apparently Jim for talking all the way to Wales and back. Oh, except for when he nodded off. It was short, it was sweet, but it was bliss. Zzz…zzz…
All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and there’s already chitchat of a further trip to the Manchester velodrome – and the purchase of nippy fixies. Track fans watch this space…
View the photos
Report by Ewan McKay
Saturday 23 January
I know we've already got a race report from last year but having completed the Box Hill Fell Race yesterday for the first time I felt I had to add my own comments. In short, it was absolutely brutal. Knowing that many of you within the Club are up for a challenge then you should put this bad boy on your agenda.
The start commences from the open, North-West facing flank of Box Hill. It's wide open and the gradient isn't too steep so you think that if you take your time and get into a rhythm then the ascent will be fine. Wrong. Instead, you commence laterally across the hill for about 150m and then take a 90 degree turn to the left which takes you up the hill at a much steeper point. The implications of this were that I desperately felt the need to walk instead of run when the race was only two minutes old. Very quickly my legs were packed with lactic acid and my lungs were turning themselves inside out. What I didn't know is that the entire race was going to feel like this. That's why the race is so brutal.
A guy at the start, who I realised later must have been some kind of joker, told me there were only three climbs on the course. After summitting the third uphill section I asked a racer next to me if that was the final climb and he replied in the negative. In hindsight we weren't even half-way at that point and there was plenty more uphill. By the third ascent though everyone was walking and that's pretty much how the ascents continued from then on as your legs never truly recover from that first onslaught.
This was my first fell run and for those who haven't tried one I can relay that it's really something else. "Health and Safety" must not have heard of fell running because the down hill sections have 'twisted ankle' written all over them. The first descent commences from the classic Box Hill view point towards the south and it really is very steep to run down. I didn't see any fallers on this section but I'd put money on it someone went down. Elsewhere the track is populated with major tree roots to trip the foot, downhills laiden with an uneven pebble-like surface to turn the ankle and even a massive fallen tree to climb under. Indeed I did take a tumble en route and when passing under said fallen tree cracked my knee on a stone which hurt loads.
So why wouldn't you want to do this race? I can't think of any decent reason. The views are outstanding throughout and I particularly enjoyed the valley section heading north away from Box Hill onto Headley Heath which is quite beautiful considering how close it is to London. Some of the pathways are single track with Fir tree covering and provide that great sensation of running in the countryside. The finish is symptomatic of the entire race as it's a crazy 250m sprint straight down the face of Box Hill to the point where we started from. You don't want to find yourself in a sprint to the line on this course as your legs will go out from under you. To conclude, if you like a big challenge then you should try this out for size.