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2011 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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Streatham Common Cross Country champs

Lisa10.4km / 6.5 miles

Report by Lisa Collins

I’m surprised I’ve never heard of this race before and there wasn’t the usual mass CPT contingent for a good local race, so may I be the first to recommend it. It’s brilliant!

Hosted by Herne Hill Harriers, it’s advertised as 6 miles but is actually 6.5 miles (believe me, you really feel that extra half) of four undulating laps of Streatham Common.

Starting halfway down Streatham Common North you turn along the bottom of the common, then uphill along Streatham Common South, over the top where the race sponsor Nando’s chicken man conveniently stands in the way of the water station, and into the woods.

As I ran up this incline on the first lap I thought, ‘I’ve got 3 more of these to go, better go steady on the first two’ - a wise decision. In the woods it feels more like an assault course; two sharp, steep descents followed immediately by an equally long and steep ascent in and out of trees, and jumping over roots, which took its toll on the legs by laps 3 & 4. Many people walked this part.

Switching gear so suddenly was a bit of a shock to the system. I was still getting used to my new trainers which I’ve only raced in twice and not off-road, but they were fine.

Due to weekly interval training on the track which I’ve recently started I was able to pull out a sprint finish and finish 36th (5th female), and the next day my legs didn’t ache at all, which is a first. It was really good prep for the Dulwich and Dartford 10ks. Still, I couldn’t quite stomach a greasy Nando’s after all that but John and Bernie seemed keen. It must be a guy thing.

I thought the course was challenging, the terrain made it fun and interesting and it certainly keeps you on your toes (pardon the pun). I hope to see a few more CPTers there next time.



Scotland race report

KeithReport by Keith Brewster

A few weeks ago Kirsten, Selwyn, Beth and I travelled up to Fort William, I have only just recovered (and dried off) enough to write this report!  They weren’t joking when they billed it as the UK's toughest tri.

I promised not to mention Selwyn’s hilarious series of organisational blunders that saw us stuck in Glasgow and then settling in to someone else’s holiday cottage, so I won't, wouldn’t want to embarrass him...  Anyway we eventually arrived at Fort Bill and found the cottage we were meant to be in and it wasn’t raining for a few hours!

Ben Nevis swimI did the Big Ben Nevis tri on Saturday (middle distance off road) and had no idea what to expect other than a bloody cold swim in Loch Linnhe.  I put off getting in the water until what I thought was the last minute and even then only knee deep.  When the organiser announced three minutes to go there was a lot of moaning and I thought about trying to get back out, my feet were freezing already.

Ben Nevis T1T1 was the most casual transition ever.  My record slow time of over 10 minutes was mostly due to my hands not working but I saw others enjoying a hot cuppa before setting off on the bike! 

The bike course was four laps of 13.5 miles mtb around Glen Nevis, fairly hilly, one nice fast singletrack descent, one fairly treacherous steep, rooty descent that had most people off their bikes (one way or another!)  I was enjoying myself and by the time I got to T2 had worked my way up to 4th place. 

Ben Nevis runNow it was just a case of running up Britain's highest mountain, with already knackered legs.  Hmmm.

I’ve not done a lot of fell running and my plan was really just to try and finish.  I was doing OK on the way up, Beth had climbed just under half way up to cheer me on but soon after that the weather turned really nasty and I ran out of energy.  Luckily I’d followed their instructions and had a jacket in my bum bag (along with hat, gloves, whistle, food and drink etc.)  but nearer the top I was getting really cold and a bit wobbly!  All the walkers I passed were in full on mountaineering gear, I was quite jealous in my skimpy shorts and knew if I stopped I’d be in trouble quite quickly so had to keep pushing on. 

Ben Nevis runThe marshal at the summit said I was 4th still, I thought I’d lost a few places but it turns out there were some runners doing the 3 Peak Challenge.  My legs felt like jelly on the way down and I couldn’t face some of the more direct steeper sections that saved the experienced fell runners a huge amount of time.  A bit of pork pie, an orange segment and slice of mars bar at the bottom perked me up and got me to the finish line, very relieved to make it in one piece after a few hairy moments and dead happy with 6th place. 

The toughest triathlon in the UK?  I don’t know, I’ve not done an “iron” distance race here but it was the hardest race I’ve ever done.  How hard?  A sub 9 hour time put you in the top ten, at a middle distance race!

Sunday morning was Kirsten and Selwyn's turn, they did the Highland Warrior, Scotland's middle distance championship race and the weather got even worse for them!  Loads of people were coming back from their bike section in a bad way, I was happy to be watching in full waterproofs.

Kirsten and Selwyn at the Highland Warrier


IM Wales - Race report

DawnReport by Dawn Haines

IM WalesArrived in Tenby on Friday to be greeted by lots of rain and gale force winds, and rumours that the swim was going to be moved to a different beach due to concerns over safety. This didn't bode well! Later at the safety briefing this was confirmed along with information on how the transition would now work. The change meant that all athletes had to now run about a 1km through the town, but that they would shorten the marathon to compensate, the shortening of the marathon pleased me immensely.

Dawn & ChrisOn the morning of the race Chris and I made our way down to the beach, with Riaz - chief supporter, photographer, carrier of bags/stuff etc etc accompanying us. We also spotted Haydn who gave us a big wave.

Before we knew it the claxon went off and into the water we ran. The swim was VERY choppy which I quite enjoyed and luckily no jellyfish or the need for the RNLI's services this time. The run from the sea to transition was great as the streets were lined with hundreds of people cheering us on. 

DawnAs soon as a I got on the bike I knew I was in trouble, the wind was so strong and my legs just weren't feeling it at all, it was like I had nothing in the tank - very disappointing. Oh well only 112 miles to go of being blown around like a rag doll! Despite the hills and the wind the support from the locals was amazing, they were sooo noisy and cheered everyone on. Plus the forecast rain had not yet appeared so it could have been a lot worse. Top marks to Haydn who had chalked Go CPT along with Lauren's, Chris and my name on the road. It was also great to see Riaz, along with two of my friends on the bike course at three different locations - very impressive!

ChrisThe last 10 miles of the bike were really tough... I'll be honest I did have a little cry on the last hill, but again the support was so good that I had a word with myself and remembered that no one was forcing me to do this race and I should be enjoying it. Some of you will remember I was, let's say a little bit miserable when I got to the run section of IM Nice a few years ago. Lessons learned. I was determined to smile all the way through Wales... and other than aforementioned incident I kept smiling throughout.

LaurenI knew that Chris was not too far in front of me... and had a good idea Lauren was WAY in front of me, but only saw her once the whole day- not surprising as she finished about four hours in front of me! Two laps into the run it was like de ja vu of Nice all over again (well except the bloody big hills on the run and rain and wind) as I caught Chris up and we began to run together. Well, I say run, it was more like walk up the hills, shuffle for a bit until we got to the next hill. To be honest I have never seen so many people walking an IM marathon, the bike course had taken its toll on a lot of people that day.

DawnThe wheels really came off for me about 15 miles in when my dreaded ITB injury flared up, just to make the marathon even more difficult. I can't describe how much pain I was in (but still smiling). Anyway, eventually Chris and I split up on the run as I had to make a call of nature and after that I didn't see him again. The last lap was in complete darkness and I was really cold and wet by now. But the support in the town section was still amazing- although I had cow bells ringing in my ears for days after.

ChrisThe last two miles were tough as the wind had really picked up. Riaz ran alongside me for this last section  and although I was still smiling (just) I think I may have been moaning about how bloody hungry I was, not helped by the smell of fish and chips being eaten in the town. Next thing I know Riaz (hero) had sprinted off and then reappeared two minutes later with a portion of chips - it was like having a carrot dangled from a stick. I sped up and finally got to the finish chute. I nearly missed getting my medal because all I could think about was how hungry I was and made a beeline for Riaz and got a few funny looks as I stuffed some chips into my mouth.

Dawn Job done I'd finished! It had been a long day and it hadn't gone as well as I had planned, but there was nothing more I could have done on the day and so 15.01 will do for me.

Later on that evening I found out Lauren won her age group and qualified for Kona - what a legend!  And Chris got his revenge and beat me this time, so now it's 1-1 in the Hall-Rahman series. Although he may have to wait a while for a re-match as I am retiring from long distance for a few years (yes honest - you have it in writing). 

Wales - tough course but great support. I have a feeling it's going to become a popular race.


Monster Middle Distance Triathlon - 21 August

KatieReport by Katie Crowe

I only chose to race this a couple of weeks ago, just to see where my fitness was.  Come race morning I was seriously starting to wonder what I had been thinking, especially following a night under canvas – I got enough sleep, but everything seemed to ache.  Not a great start.   The bonus was a relative lie in (5am) and a short walk to transition to set up. 

It’s a river swim.  You start the day with a 2km walk along the River Ely to get to the start (worth noting if you do this race to allow more than your average prep time to register and get to the start).  It’s a lovely walk actually, Ely is very pretty. 

They had an ‘elite’ start at the front for anyone who could swim under 29 mins so I plonked myself at the front of the ‘mass’ and hoped for the best.  I thought the swim would be pretty straightforward – one direction, keep swimming.  But actually, it’s not a straight river, and there were boats moored along the route so you do have to sight regularly.  It was an upstream swim, although it was pretty calm most of the time and I got a good draft a couple of times when we were funnelled through narrow bridges.

Katie setting out on her bikeHaving only used my TT bike for short distance tris and 25 mile TTs, it was going to be interesting (note painful) to see how I faired on a ‘fast’ (read flat) course for anything up to 3 hours.  And then have to run.  It’s not the most scenic of routes, just endless miles of flat road with flat fields at the side.  Luckily for us, the wind wasn’t as strong as I’m sure it can be around there.  There were quite a few packs of cheating drafters.  Hopefully the organisers will provide draft busters next time (they had been promised this year but I didn’t see a single one).

Katie crossing the Finish lineAn out and back – following NCN 11, part of it along the river, then along a track and some country lanes.  I really quite enjoyed it and felt surprisingly strong, despite having spent the previous 2.45 hrs folded in said TT position.  It gets even better once you can see people coming back the other way, although I really struggled for the last 4 miles with an ongoing foot issue. I clocked it at about half a mile short.  Which I definitely am not complaining about.

Other things to note:

  • Transition was in a field – would probably be a bit miserable in the wet.
  • Organisation – surprisingly very good for a first event.  Plenty of friendly marshalls
  • A great mix of competitors.  The top two female places were taken by pros.  And the last finisher took just under 8 hours.  They also allow relays.
  • They put on a hog roast and bar afterwards which adds to the atmosphere (As usual I had post-race lack of appetite so I can’t vouch for the quality.  And I was keen to get packed up and homeward bound)

Would I do it again?  Maybe.  I can’t say I enjoyed it that much until the run – I’d prefer a more challenging route than just hurting out a fast 70.3.  But now I’m starting to think I might be able to find that 4 mins from somewhere.....

And it would be a lot more fun if there were a group of CPTers racing.

Photos by StuWeb Timing.


Phil Pearson 25 mile time trial

KarenReport by Karen Ayers

Gary, who is also a member of the Old Portilians Cycling Club, had promised the best bacon butties in the South to anyone taking part in the Phil Pearson 25 mile time trial. I tried drumming up some CPT support and was pleased that it wasn't just going to be Bruce and I. We asked Phil for some hints and tips, to which he advised 'it's going to hurt!'.

We had a very early start to get to the HQ for the G25/45 course, meeting at the Broadbridge Heath Village Hall (on the way to Southwater). We collected our numbers and prepared for the 20 minute cycle to the start. Unfortunately Audrey discovered that she had left her cycling shoes at home. She did ask in the Village Hall if anyone had a pair she could borrow but she was out of luck. Voy's size 13s just wouldn't stay on.

Bruce in the Phil Pearson 25 mile TTBruce and I set off for the start. It was almost 5 miles away and was mostly uphill. After taking a wrong turn on a roundabout we eventually found the start, as directed in Marches Road, opposite 6-bar gate with red caution sign attached, approximately 600 yards west of Kingsfold! Bruce had missed his 07:04 start time. The time keeper agreed to let him start, gave him a 10 second warning (with Bruce facing the wrong way down the road), so after a quick turn, reclipping his feet and some button pressing on his Garmin, he was off. I had about 20 minutes to cycle up and down the country lane before my start time.

I made sure I was lining up just in advance of my start. The starter held my bike and started the 30 second countdown. I was more nervous than I've been at a triathlon start, apart from Ironman. Then, with a big push, I was off. It was slightly uphill to start, but most of the course was indulating, rather than hilly.

Karen in the Phil Pearson 25 mile TTRiders are set off a minute apart and it was only about three minutes into the ride before the 65 year old man starting behind me overtook and disappeared into the distance. About five minutes into my ride the next man overtook me. I stayed down on my tri-bars and kept pedalling. I wasn't overtaken again until 32 minutes into the ride. We were cheered on by Voy, who was marshalling one of the roundabouts, and Audrey and Martin stayed to take photos.

The finish wasn't very obvious, just a marshal with a clipboard in a layby. I wasn't sure I'd even finished. I made my way back to the Village Hall with very shaky legs and managed to dismount without collapsing completely. Then it was into the Village Hall for the promised bacon buttie and a strong cup of tea.

Anna had also missed her start time but had been allowed to start. Grant had missed a left turn on the route and had headed down a dual carriageway before realising his mistake. He cycled an extra 3k before carrying his bike across the carriageway and getting back on to the right road!

Although it was hard work, I'd be keen to do another, not sure Bruce or Anna will be coming along next time, but Audrey definitely will.

Vets are given a standard time for their age. Mine was 1:16:03. Check the results to see if I managed to break it.


The Great Shakespeare Ride

On 7 August, Dawn did the Great Shakespeare Ride, a 100 mile sportive.

DawnReport by Dawn Rahman

I signed up for a 100 mile sportif last minute and started along with 800 riders and a police escort for the first few miles which was nice. The route was split into a 20 mile leisure ride, 100km and 100 mile sportif, it was all for a local hospice so a lot of people had turned out to support the ride.

I knew it was going to be tough as it took in a lot of the Cotswolds which is very hilly. There were six 'cols', three of which were 17% climbs that each went on for 1/4 mile. Lots of people got off and walked, but I managed to stay seated on my bike for all of them.

Dawn cyclingThere were three great feed stations with homemade cakes, pork pies, sandwiches and tea... none of which I made any use of as was trying to get a good time. With hindsight I wish I'd stuffed my face now as the 103 miles (it wasnt 100 after all) took me 7hrs 20ish which is a lot slower than I was planning.

The results are all messed up though as a lot of people signed up for the 100 miles but then switched to the shorter distance and so there was no way of telling who had done which course, or how my time compared to everyone else. However looking at the times from last year the fastest time was 5hrs 45 and nobody got a 'gold' standard which shows how hard it was. Plus quite a few people took 8-9hrs, so all in all it probably wasn't that terrible a time.

Dawn cyclingAlthough it was tough there was a free BBQ at the end so it wasn't all bad. Would definitely recommend it to anyone for next year though if you fancy a challenge or just a good feed!

Photos: Sportive Photo

jun 27

The Bridge Triathlon, race report

JamesBy James Ripley

On Sunday 26 June, 31 CPT members were entered for the Standard Distance Triathlon race organised by The Bridge Tri at Dartford Bridge.

My preparation for it had begun soon after completing my first (sprint) triathlon last May at Crystal Palace when I decided to train for a standard distance. I wasn’t sure which one to enter, but speaking to some other Club members and specifically Kati Pusey, the Dartford race was recommended for beginners as it was flat. 

I trained throughout the winter at Crystal Palace running track, Trinity School pool, Herne Hill Velodrome, Richmond Park and Hillingdon Cycle Circuit, Minet Park mostly in parallel with my two children at the excellent junior sessions run by the Club.

However having bought my first wetsuit in December it wasn't until Easter that I was able to try it out. I tried it in the sea in Dorset, but forgot a hat and found I became dizzy and my head was too cold to swim any distance. Not being a BTF member meant I had to wait until Tooting Lido opened to the Public (on 28th May) to try again. When I did I found I wasn’t able to swim in it without getting acute feelings of claustrophobia, short of breath and finally panic. Consequently a week before the race I was looking at having to pull out because I couldn’t face the swim. Luckily we have some excellent coaches at the Club and I consulted Jon Horsman and he explained it is not uncommon for this to happen when you first wear a wetsuit and get into cold water. He offered to meet me at the Lido to give me some tips to overcome it. I jumped at his offer and managed to swim three x 91m lengths without stopping,  but then I began to shiver and he suggested I get out to warm up. It was now only five days before the race and I still hadn’t covered even a quarter of the race distance in cold water without stopping. Luckily my children don’t suffer with this anxiety and on the Thursday before the race I was back at the Lido and with their support I managed to swim the whole distance without stopping.

The Lake at the BridgeI rose at 4am on 26 June not having got to sleep until midnight, because of all the thoughts going round in my head, mostly tips from the coaches and what I had learnt in training. I tried to keep them all positive, but it wasn’t easy.

Luckily I had the pleasure of Jon’s and my two children’s company on the journey to Dartford, which was a great way to prevent dwelling on negative thoughts before the race.

James in the lake at The BridgeWhen we arrived the sky was overcast, but the forecast was for a very hot (29˚C) sunny day. We parked beside the lake and could see the buoys marking the course. We made our way round to where all the tents marked registration and after a short wait in the queue I had my pack and goody bag. There were no changing facilities as the race is basically just some tents set up on an industrial estate beside the Thames, but changing al fresco all adds to the experience. It was reassuring to see so many other CPT members milling around and it wasn’t very long before the announcer called our (3rd) wave to the swim start.

James exiting the swim at the BridgeRemembering what Jon had suggested, I got in the lake and did my pre-race activities. We were soon started and after only about 300m I was cut up by a swimmer going to the wrong buoy who shoved me into another one who whacked my goggles with her hand. I moved to the back and followed another CPT member, Bruce for the rest of the race keeping out of the way of other swimmers.

James on his bike at The Bridge TriathlonThe bike leg was OK, but I found that taking gels caused a stomach ache and after 25km I started getting some calf cramp and back ache which made me slow down for the rest of the 42.5km bike section.

The run went well and was uneventful, but still painful, as both my calfs were getting stiff and sore, but I finished the three lap course without stopping. On the last lap one of the many friendly marshals shouted, “when are you going to stop smiling” and I realised I had been smiling  the whole way round, which just shows that I must have really been enjoying the pain, something that epitomises so many triathletes and what makes us carry on doing this high adrenaline sport.

James crossing the Finish line at The Bridge TriathlonWe didn’t get any medals for finishing, but CPT members did win trophys for their placings, so very well done to them (see results section of the website). For me just finishing my first open water standard distance triathlon without stopping was more than sufficient reward.

I’d like to thank CPT for providing all the support needed to complete the challenge that is triathlon, and also my family for all the support they have given me.

Photos taken by Sam Singer-Ripley and Emily Singer-Ripley.

jun 8-

Megeve Time Sportive

MarkBy Mark Thomas

You watch the pros effortlessly glide up the great cols of the Alps and the Pyrenees and think.....'that looks like nice scenery and I do a bit of cycling so how hard can it be?'

MarkOff we set for a weekend of good company and a few kms of riding.  Myself (Garmin Cervelo/Leopard Trek depending on which kit is in the wash), Richard (Saxo Bank) Lewey and Peter (No label) Mack.

It was a long drive via the Eurotunnel but we did it in one and got there thanks largely to a medley of 80s pop. The main feature of the weekend being the Time Megeve Sportive

Day 1 Col des Saisies
Day 2 Col d'Aravis where we watched the Dauphine Libere come over the top with Wiggo in yellow (I am sure you know that he won overall; fighting off a challenge from the wasp chewing Cadel)
PeterDay 3 The Megeve Time sportive. Three distances were on offer of 85 (wimp two cols), 105 (think your are hard three cols) and 145 (you are hard four cols) kms.

We thought we were hard. The 105 km route took in the Col de la Colombiere (from the much tougher side) then the Col de la Croix Fry and finally Aravis. Our plan to 'ride together' fell apart almost immediately such is the competitive nature of the average middle aged triathlete.

Day 4 Smug feeling of accomplishment and gentle swim (run if you wear
armbands) to wash the remains of the lactate out.

RichardThe organisation was excellent with more than 2000 riders to cater for and lots of refreshment was on offer on top of each col. The 40 euro entry fee included an event limited edition cycle top (conveniently in CPT colours) and a rabbit stew at the finish with a glass of red wine and pudding (or two if you ride for Saxo bank).

Time is immaterial as I seem to remember we agreed at the start (guess who came in third) .........

How about a club outing next year? I have some friends with a couple of flats in our building. We could hire a mini bus. There is a great lake in Sallanches. I am getting carried away.

A bientot mes amis.

jun 04

Long Course Weekend - Seaside Rescue (long report coming up - sorry!)

By Dawn Rahman

DawnAs I have signed up for IM Wales in September, I persuaded Riaz to drive me to the Long Course Weekend in Tenby which allows you to test out the course over three separate days. Initially I had signed up for the 3.8km swim, a 72 mile bike (which missed off the repeat second loop of the IM bike course) and a half marathon. As I'm still nursing a running injury I'd already decided not to do the run. Riaz decided to do the 1.9km swim and the 72 mile bike.

I was really looking forward to the swim as I had a new wetsuit to try out, and although the sea was freezing (12 degrees) it looked pretty calm. It was a two lap course, (one lap for the 1.9km swim). I wished Riaz good luck and the claxon went off and in we ran.

TenbyAs I got to the first buoy it was absolute carnage... I had to tread water for a couple of minutes as about 50 swimmers tried to go around it. I had my goggles knocked off and got kicked a few times but once I was around it I managed to get clear water and finally got into my stroke. To my horror there were lots of jelly fish in the sea that day and 30 minutes into the swim I got stung right on the nose by one. The pain was quite intense so I stopped and one of the lifeguards on a surfboard stopped to let me rest for a minute whilst I sorted myself out. Once I'd got over the initial shock I kept swimming. Despite the fact I kept sighting it took me about 20 minutes to work out I had suddenly drifted way off course. I looked around and lots of Tenby south beachswimmers were treading water trying to work out what was happening. I kept trying to swim, and did so for another 20 minutes at least and was still going further out. I was actually starting to get a bit scared as I was so far away from the buoys and the sea was starting to get a bit choppy by now. After an hour and half of getting nowhere I, along with eight others in close proximity, got picked up by the RNLI and taken back to shore. Looking back from the boat it was carnage. Hundreds of swimmers had got caught in a rip tide and were drifting further and further out. Many swimmers (the clever ones) let themselves drift right across to the other side of the beach then sprinted 400 metres back to the finish line!

I was a bit worried about Riaz as this was his first open water swim, but luckily he'd been picked up by a lifeboat too and was already on shore. Turned out he got stung in the face by a jelly  fish too! Lots of people DNF'd and were pretty upset, not to mentioned terrified of what would happen for the IM course in September as apparently the conditions are always like that. To say it knocked my confidence is an understatement as had swam for an hour and a half and didn't even finish one 1.9km loop! There are some reports that they may have to rethink the swim course due to the majority of those taking part not finishing, and also due to how dangerous it actually was. The guys in the canoes and on surf boards could not cope with the huge numbers of people drifting off course and if it had not been for the RNLI there could have been serious trouble.

Tenby - Start of the marathon practise runLuckily the next day we both redeemed ourself on the bike course - which to put it mildly was brutal. I thought the IM Nice course was tough but I think this one is going to be even worse. The scenery was amazing but it was relentless - hill after hill after hill, and no major flat or downhill sections to recover on. It also included a 16% climb at mile 68 and for those doing the full course at mile 108, that will be interesting come September. That said, I really enjoyed it, and was amazed at the chivalry of the guys I was riding with when we went through some of the town sections, as they all took it upon Tenby - Run finishthemselves to shield me from the traffic. I didn't have the heart to tell them I commute in London so the few cars there were in Welsh villages weren't really what I would call 'traffic!'. I finished in 4 hours 20 and Riaz was not too far behind, and for once was actually smiling as he crossed the finish line and really enjoyed it despite how hot and tough a ride it had been. I have utmost respect for those who did the 112 mile ride and were tackling the marathon the next day (again a very hilly course).

So I now have about 98 days to IM Wales and will need to learn how to swim against a current (if anyone has any tips please let me know) and also get riding up as many hills as possible...oh and then there is the marathon bit isn't there? hmmm not going to think about that one for now!

may 29

Speedy Beaver - 29 May

CPT at BelvoirBy Sally Kidson

The Speedy Beaver – a race to entice the youngest pups through to the oldest dogs (who really should know better!). CPT was represented across the board on 29 May at what were also the British Sprint Championships and a qualifier for the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Europeans.

Belvoir CastleBelvoir (but you say bee-ver?) Castle is an imposing residence in the heart of huntin’ shootin’ and fishin’ country. We camped under the beady eye of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland (and their son, the Marquis of Granby) with pheasants flapping in the coppice behind us, the hounds baying from the kennels in the next covert and the stables handily placed next to transition.

SheilaThe fishin’ was mildly disturbed by five waves of a hundred swimmers plunging (or in some cases hopping) through the chilly lake early on Sunday morning (while the Rutlands were no doubt jigging away over their toast to the faint thump of garage music ascending to the turrets). I am not sure what the water equivalent of a dust storm is - but we swam through one!

The bracing waters were soon history after a long trot uphill to transition before launching into a strong headwind and the magnificent, rolling Belvoir countryside.  Surrounded by Sally on her bikevillages such as Branston, Stilton and Melton Mowbray the mouth watering bike ride was spiced by a steep climb and a heart stopping plummet back to the estate. 

We were all given plenty of encouragement by our faithful and emphatic ‘roadies’ – many thanks to Alice, Elle and Harry for making the out and back run just about bearable. The herd of Herefords, and their eighteen calves, had been moved to make way for us the day before and CPT ladies at the Speedy Beaverthe run route did give a stunning view over the lake (now a mud bath) to the castle.

This was a seriously full-on event – very well-organised, great course, fab camping – highly recommended for everybody from the speediest beaver to the steadiest vole.

Joe on the podium at Speedy Beaver / Jon & Joe

aPr 10

Brighton Marathon reportReport by Richard Hamstead

RichardMy second Brighton Marathon, and third in all – again trying to get under the 4hr mark for the first time. Not to be unfortunately, the sun beat down and took its toll.

Probably the first time I have really hit the wall and to rub it in they actually build one over the course at Brighton at about mile 23 and making matters worse, that was the precise point that the 4hr pace man eased past me and left me behind.

The WallThe last five miles were very hard, but I was pleased to finish, 4:02 oh so close, oh so far.

I would recommend the Brighton Marathon, it's well organised from my experience; it's a pay and go event, my number has always turned up, I haven’t got lost yet on the course and there has always been space on route to run the pace you want. Entries are open for next year, just hoping for a cooler one.....

Brighton Marathon reportby Fintan Culwin

FintanOn Sunday 10 April I completed the Brighton marathon in a frankly disappointing 5h22min. I am still not sure exactly what happened. I was hoping for about 4h30min but things did not go at all well in the second half and I ended up walking for about four or five miles; the first time in 19 marathons I have had to do this. 

Surprise donationOne amazing thing did happen, at about 17 miles a stranger from the crowd run out and pressed a 20 pound note into my hand saying "That is for your sponsorship". I was so amazed, and starting to struggle with the running, that I did not stop to find out more. Almost as amazingly the event was photographed and posted onto flicker. Read my full narrative and view photos

Next Sunday I shall be running my 20th ever marathon and my 10th consecutive London marathon. I am not planning a fast time as I am running with my partner, Maria.

I am sure you know the reason why I am supporting St Thomas' Lupus Trust; but just in case the reason is here on Seana's Page. Details of all of my existing 19 marathons are on my running page.

There is still no cure for Lupus but there are some very promising new drugs which may treat it. The money you donate will be used to fund research into treating, and someday possibly curing, Lupus.

You can sponsor me via my JustGiving page. Thank you.

Mar 12

Abu Dhabi International Triathlon - Sprint

MarkReport by Mark Thomas

Yes it is very extravagant. I know but please indulge me. Several mitigating factors aligned: I had some air miles to use, I needed a motivator to get me back to some sort of race form, I have an incredibly generous natured wife and I am a spoilt brat.

So off I went half way round the world for a long weekend. 36 degrees in the shade. Clear blue waters of 21 degrees and dolphins jumping clear of the water on the practice swim. It was all coming good. They like their races long over there. There were three distances of pain on offer. The long course (3/200/20), short (1.5/100/10) or sprint (0.75/50/5). Needless to say, I went for the ‘sprint’. I may be extravagant but I am not mad.

Checking out the course in Abu Dhabi

The long course had all the top names in ultra tri racing for the 50,000 top prize money. The sprint had a mixture of first timers and old timers as well as some young pretenders. It was quite a thrill on the bike to be overhauled by the pros on their second lap. I like to think I gave them a run for their 50K.

Mark on the bike in Abu Dhabi - Marathon PhotosAnyway back to my race where the real action was of course. The swim went well with 11.20 on the clock (good for me) then onto the scorchio bike ride. Lots of ‘keep left !’ as I picked my way through the previous wave’s tail enders. Out along the Corniche then along the motorway. All closed roads and as smooth as Jon H on the dance floor.

Now here comes the tricky bit……the race guide said turn at the ‘short course’ turn but that would have been way too short so I (along with almost all the rest of the field) went to the next turn. The marshal assured me (and those that followed) that this was the sprint turn. So, round I went. It came in at about 46 km. There was another turn about 2 km further on which some went on to. Luckily most of the fast boys took this option.

Mark on the run in Abu Dhabi - Marathon PhotosAnyway, let’s not dwell on details. Suffice it to say that I got back to T2 in reasonable shape. I was cheered through and set off on the furnace run course. How the pros managed 20k in that heat I do not know. Anyway, I pushed on and crossed the line in about 1.58. The distances are odd so I didn’t know whether this was any good. 

To cut a long story (and a ‘sprint’ course) short: I won (in CPT kit)!

Race photographs from Marathon Photos.

Feb 14

Portugal running reportBy Dawn Rahman

DawnIt was a moment of impulse whilst looking out the window at the snow in December that I decided it was time to get away for an early training week somewhere in the sun. Well that and I still had another 10 days of leave to take before the end of March (there are still some perks working for a council!)

After a quick google search I came across an Embrace Sports running holiday in Portugal being held in early February. As I had signed up for an April marathon I thought this would be perfect to finally get me over my 'fear' of running. I appreciate it's an irrational fear for a triathlete but after 4-5 years of struggling to run due to ITB problems (I know I did an Ironman but believe me the run wasn’t pretty) and being terrified to run down the smallest of hills without screaming and waving my arms around- this year I decided I was going to do a Forest Gump and just run, run, run.

Dawn in PortugalThe information I got from Embrace said that there would be two runs a day, plus options to do some cycling and swimming too. So of course I felt it would be rude not to take my wetsuit and bike. I'd already decided that I'd probably only do one run a day but apparently that wasn't an option!

After being picked up at the airport it turned out it would be a small group of seven others plus Neil and Graeme who were running the holiday. On arrival at the villa, we were fed immediately (this was a good start) and shown the plan for the next six days - yikes! As mentioned we tended to run twice a day and did a mixture of coastal paths, forest trails and some road running. By the end of the week I had run 100km…including lots of downhills! And I didn’t scream once. More importantly despite a couple of niggles mid week (and a quick trip to a local physio) I didn't actually feel that broken either.

Dawn in PortugalPlus, the weather was perfect, I was kept well fed and watered (including some lovely local wines which I thought it would be rude not to try), met a great bunch of people on the trip and Neil and Graeme were brilliant hosts (I have to be nice as they will be reading this!). They were also annoyingly fast - on the last day we did an 18 mile run and Neil had already finished it when the rest of us were only at about mile 13 - oh well!

I also got to start the day most mornings with a swim in the sea which was amazing. Plus the guys took me out cycling three times as well, and luckily took pity on me and waited for me at the top of the hills. Oh and the roads in Portugal are perfect to cycle on - no pot holes and hardly any cars!

Dawn in PortugalAll in all it was a great training week and I would highly recommend it to all. It was great not having to think about any logistics, you literally just turn up and they do everything else - except the bit where you have to train of course. They've currently got some space on two of their triathlon specific holidays. I'd be there in a shot if it wasn't for already being booked up for other races around those dates.

Triathlon General / Advanced Holiday: 7 Nights, 2nd - 9th April
Pyrenees Triathlon Training Week:
5th - 12th May 2011

So have I conquered my fear of running yet?  I'm definitely getting there….

Feb 06

Dorney Sprint Duathlon KarinReport by Karin Courtman

I've just done the Votwo Dorney Sprint Duathlon. This was my first time on a proper racing bike and my first time in a cycle race. I borrowed a bike and got up extra early to make sure I was there before the car park opened. It was very, very windy. I had been going to wear cycling shorts over my running tights, but the weight loss meant that the pad was hanging down and was obstructing my walking, so I ditched the shorts at the last minute.

I let everyone go in front of me when the horn to start the race went off. People seemed to be running quite fast, but since I was nervous about cycling, I kept to just under 13 min miling. It was two out and back laps between the two lakes for the first 5K run. At the end of the first out and back I was disappointed to see that the runners who were by now slowing down ahead and getting close, weren't doing the Sprint, they were doing the Super Sprint, so they peeled off to get on their bikes. The second out and back went fine....why can't I run any faster?..... nearly everyone else was on their bikes by now.

I passed the 'RUN IN' sign into transition and swiped the timing dongle. I put my helmet on extra tight, as I thought the odds of me falling off were quite high, as the wind had been blowing me sideways when I was just running. I then grabbed the bike, swiped the dongle again and headed out. First problem was getting my feet in the toe clips. I wobbled. I eventually got them in and then put the bike in a low gear so that I could keep the revolutions high as instructed. (A bit of a problem that I didn't properly understand the gears.)

I seemed to be going fast - faster than I ever have before...17mph with the wind behind me, sometimes just 10mph when there was a head wind, but mostly between 13-14mph. What was terrifying was not the wind or the other cyclists, but the tight corners. Once I took my foot out of the cycle clips because I thought I was going to crash, then couldn't get it back in for five minutes. I thought I was going to come off at every tight corner. I started to copy how other people did it, and then it was less bad. My brother passed me and told me to remember there was still a run ahead. There was a problem that the running shoes were too broad and sometimes they clipped the big nut that holds the stems that hold the pedals. It might be worth changing out of the running shoes another time.

For the Sprint I had to cycle six laps (20K). By lap four I thought I was the only one still cycling, then I saw my sister-in-law. I had gained ground on her. Cycling back to transition, the cars were leaving the car park. I couldn't remember what to do to make it easier to run after you cycle. It was shocking that I could hardly walk when I dismounted. My legs were like jelly. The cycling had not felt as bad as the running. During the cycle, however, I had been breathing hard and I saw my HR was high at 168, so although I did not feel hot or tired, I guess my legs were. I stuffed jelly babies in my mouth in the hope that might help. I had been too scared to try to cycle with one hand in that wind, so hadn't had my energy drink.

I racked the bike and ran out to two more there and back laps next to the rowing lake. People were encouraging me. At first my running was stiff and I could only make small steps, but the jelly legs wore off and I ran the second two out and backs faster than the first run leg. I came in last. I am still over the moon about my performance though. It was great fun and I learned something. It was my running that made my time so slow. The cycling was quite good, especially since the bike wasn't quite right and I've hardly done any cycling before. When I finished my brother and his wife showed me where they do the triathlons at Dorney. They reckon they are even more fun!

Jan 22

Cold water swimming championshipsCathieReport by Cathie Greasley

Picture the scene… cosy night in the pub at the end of the summer… beers flowing, yummy bar food, Selwyn telling all his best gags and generally clowning around (it was his birthday after all).

The B TeamSo after several pints, out pops Selwyn’s crazy idea to enter a relay team (there were mutterings that this was going to be called the ‘A Team’ and he was being very cocky about the whole thing, I blame the beer) into the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships at Tooting Lido. That meant plunging headlong into near-freezing water in a race for glory. Brrrrhhhh!!!

Not wanting Selwyn to have all the fun (!?) or the limelight Mat rallied the troops and mustered up some competition… I think that we had lost control of our faculties by this time! And so he didn’t have any problems finding some gullible recruits (Anna Jackson, Rob Parry and I) to partake in the debauchery!

Tooting Bec LidoAs always, Selwyn the buffoon had the last laugh. After all his spiel about winning this and winning that, he failed to enter, leaving the unsuspecting ‘B Team’ to brave the freezing cold conditions on our own (he didn’t even come along to cheer us on in the end!) Not cricket in my book. Oooooops, sorry Mat, did I mention cricket!? Barmy (that's us mad!) Army (Swimming Soldiers!) All relevant to the report!  : )

Rob on his bikeI didn’t have a clue what I’d signed myself up for, none of us did. First of all I thought it was a length, only to realise that it was a width. We were also advised by our team captain (ahem! antipodeans!) that it was breaststroke, only moments before our race to find out that it was front crawl. This meant we had to put our faces into the icy water! What a diligent, polished, experienced group of triathletes we are!

Mat on his bikeTemperatures in the pool can fall to three degrees or less and Margy Sullivan of South London Swimming Club, organisers of the championships, says, "Standard survival time in water less than five degrees is only a matter of minutes. For most people, swimming in less than 10 degrees for any length of time is difficult. Swimming at lower temperatures becomes more challenging with each degree less. The muscles chill very quickly and movement slows and it feels as if the water is becoming Cathie preparing!heavy. Once it gets down to five degrees, the extremities, fingers and toes, become very cold and hurt like mad even after less than a minute. It's like hitting your fingers with a hammer."
With this in mind, I wore the brightest, summery swimming costume that I could find – it was like Baywatch without the babe and the sun – mind over matter I thought, mind over matter!  Donning our fishy hats we limbered up to the start. Fishes out of water Annamight have been more appropriate, as our fellow teams chattered about ice swims (yep, as it says on the tin; literally breaking the ice and going for a dip! Barking!), acclimatizing and their meticulous preparation over the winter months!  The only person that had acclimatized himself was Rob and his idea of this was turning the Cathiesetting to cold on the shower for as long as he could stand it! Hardly rocket science.

After a short, sharp shock it was all over so fast that I didn’t have time to think about the cold/the madness/or anything else for that matter – it was almost too short as you didn’t get the chance to settle into the swim. I loved it and wanted more and it was certainly one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. The boys enjoyed it, too. Anna hated it. Then again, I love a super-fast sprint and I’m not sure how I ever got into this triathlon Matmalarkey with minimum swims being 400m. It was right up my street. And we managed second in our heat!  Hurrah!

Afterwards you could warm up in the hot tub and sauna and we all rewarded ourselves with a hearty hog roast, only to get the blood reflowing to the surface, of course. And Mat and Rob even had the energy, or maybe they still felt cold and wanted to warm up, to do a spot of cycling, the power generated meant that we could all enjoy a film in the marque.

RobOn a serious note, please try and support this event! It was a great carnival atmosphere all put on by South London Swimming Club and I think that we would all recommend it. A lovely lady from the club was telling us that they operate the event at a loss, but continue to run it to publicise and protect the future of the Lido. So tell your friends to come and cheer on (or heckle) Selwyn who The team and their certificateswe’ll be entering for an individual race. Oh and it’ll be in Latvia next year… so only a few degrees colder, better get out that whale grease! On your marks, Selwyn!

You can see more photos and information on the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships Facebook page.


Jan 16

Pustertaler Ski Marathon weekend 16-17 JanuaryHaydnReport by Haydn Whitmore

Pustertaler Ski Marathon

Two days, two races, with a difference.  The first, 28km skating style on skinny Nordic cross country skis, the second 42km classic style. Both races started in Dobbiaco, in the Italian Dolomites and as I joined hundreds of lycra suited racers on the grid I was doubting whether a few sessions roller skiing in Hyde Park and a weeks training in Obertilliach was really going to get me through.

Ski marathon startThe weather had been rather too warm all week but it was fantastic to be skiing in the sun with clear blue skies which held up for the races as well. Snow and air temperature determine what wax to put on the skis, get it wrong and you will really struggle to get anywhere. Fortunately our instructor for the week provided the expertise each night to both select and apply the wax. So we were in good shape.

Hot air balloon eventYou start lined up in tracks and I made sure I was at the back as I didn’t fancy getting trampled. I was quite pleased with my skating at the start especially once I discovered there were some slower than me, at least I wouldn’t be last. I was really excited!

I spent the first 10k learning how to overtake, use the tracks and find a steady rhythm. The scenery was awesome as the trail wound its way down the valley along rivers, lakes and through forests with the mountains towering above. At one point we passed a spectacular hot air balloon event.

Haydn on skisDeciding to kick on a bit I started to reel in one skier at a time. Some of the downhill sections were really fast and you have to step the skis around corners as they don’t turn like Alpine downhill skis which is really tricky. With just a few falls by the time I crossed the finish line I’d had a fantastic time and was grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the day.

I finished in a time of 2:09:12 and placed 392nd out of 442. I was second out of our group of seven,  which I was really pleased with as most have been doing it for years.

Haydn and his medalI hadn’t really planned to do the Sunday Marathon but after Saturday couldn’t help myself and found myself on the grid again but this time on classic skis which I had only had one day on and the skis I was using were of a different type. I again started pretty much at the back alongside Jo Davies who was in our group (Atlantic Rower – yes I did say Atlantic - and trans Greeland skier) and planned to try and stay with her. This time things didn’t go so well at the start and the few that were behind streamed past. I just couldn’t get the skis to work – basically it’s quite technical and if you don’t get it right your skis slip and your arms do all the work. That’s a lot of work on a hilly course.  Fortunately the weather was good the scenery was tremendous and it was warm, a nice day for a tour. I managed to stay with Jo somehow with my Lats and shoulders screaming as they were doing all the work – fortunately I was quicker on the down hill sections (Jo’s ski’s were slower than mine) so what she gained on the up hill sections I clawed back going down.

A snowy sceneMiraculously at about 25km I finally started to get something out of my skis and was able to use my legs and give my arms a bit of a rest. I started to catch people and by the finish was going quite well – for me anyway. It felt good to finish and despite stopping at the frequent aid stations and  to take a few photos on the way round I managed a time of 4:05:44 and placed 521nd out of 536 proving that a few hours practice really wasn’t enough, but at least I wasn’t  last and had a great time.

Haydn crossing the finish lineI should say the organization was brilliant. Printed bibs, changing facilities, chip timing, post race clothes bag transfer, track preparation, medals, iron man class food tent after each race and coach transfer from the finish back to town. All for 70 Euros for both races!

Must go faster next year so that I can target a winter triathlon which I’ve fancied doing for some time.  Any takers out there?

Jan 12

Winter Tanners 30KatieReport by Katie Crowe

This was to be my first ‘ultra’ distance event, but my second LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) event.  The LDWA conjures up images of beards, long socks and cardigans (in some cases, you wouldn’t be far wrong, but I need to work on my beard), but it really is a mix of ages, abilities and ‘type’.  Runners are welcome to join these non-competitive ‘challenge’ events that are typically around the 30 mile mark (although they do offer shorter 20, and sometimes 12 mile options), they cost anything from £2 to a massive £10 to enter and for that you get a route description, refreshments at each checkpoint (usually tea, squash and biscuits although I have seen full-on buffets at one event!) and sometimes you get a meal at the end too.  You could say they offer pretty good value for money.

We were lucky with the weather.  Despite the persistent rain of the week before it started out cold, but dry and even sunny at times.  The going underfoot was very muddy at times (I did nearly lose my shoes in the mud a few times).  The route started in a car park (no swanky HQ for these events) in Leatherhead.  Due to flooding on the River Mole the first couple of miles were a slightly uninspiring trek along the side of the A24 but we were soon into lovely countryside and once we left the A24 I don’t think I saw another car until we came back in to Leatherhead some 6 hours later.

There were three major climbs on the route - Box Hill, Leith Hill, Steers Field (it was a field, but on a massive hill!), plus a good few other ‘inclines’ and some lovely steps (both up and down, just in case your quads weren’t already shattered) which the route description helpfully warns you of – ‘the ascent includes 20 steps (ahd over wide TK) + 51 steps’ which roughly translates as ’71 steps straight up’ was one such gem at about 23 miles.

I only got lost once – I got distracted talking to someone and we must have missed a turn.  Stupidly rather than retrace our steps we decided to try to cut off a corner.  The result?  An extra two miles (yes, two) added.  Oh well, just 30 miles is for wimps anyway.  I think my final time was just under 6.5 hours which suits me. 

I would recommend these events to anyone wanting a bit of a challenge in a totally non-competitive environment.  You meet some lovely people and the navigation really isn’t that hard (as long as you concentrate!).  And you don’t have to grow a beard.

Jan 08

Light Entertainment - Kent County XC Champs... 8K run - Saturday 8 January

Report by Ruki Sidhwa

RukiWith the intention of starting the New Year being good, I had said 'Yes' to the XC captain at my other club, Dulwich Runners recent email about entering this event - but hadn't really taken in what it was! I just thought it was one of the regular XC races where it's good to have as many DR representatives out there as possible. I thought maybe it was part of a County Champs series or something - and with Tadworth 10 the week before, thought this would be fine - I clearly wasn't concentrating!

For when I arrived, immediately seeing that two car parks were already full and the third nearly so - even though I was over an hour early - I suddenly thought that maybe this event was serious!

And sure enough as well as the Senior men, there was just three of the fastest DR ladies AND me! I must admit at first I was tempted to hide and go home on discovering it was THE County Champs - just on this one day!

Female start

Once we started though the race was OK and apart from having to watch the boggy patches - the mud nicely churned up by the Juniors and Senior men before us, the course was actually quite nice. And what kept me amused was the fact that I haven't run in a County XC Championship since I was at school - aged 12!! - so who'd have thought I'd be doing it now! (I still have my medals for 1st & 2nd Team Event 1977 and 78!!) ... So I was quite pleased with myself for taking part! And what was better was that I wasn't last - or that near to the back as I had dreaded... but there is a lesson to be learnt - always know what you are signing up for!

Ruki - 43:22 (53rd out of 68 women- could have been worse!!). Full results.

Jan 01

Brown Willy - New Year's DayReport by Keith Brewster

KeithWhat better way to celebrate New Year's Day than running up a mountain?  This is what I convinced my (not in anyway a runner) brother in law, so that’s exactly what we did and headed for the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor for the “Brown Willy run”.  Not sure if the Brown Willy is technically a mountain but it is the highest point in Cornwall and it’s certainly mountainous!

Brown Willy, CornwallLuckily the start time was a civilised 11am and we weren’t suffering too much, New Year's Eve hadn’t been too boozy.  Even so I still managed my usual trick of not being ready OR at the start line at 10:59.  I joined Ben with seconds to spare behind a few hundred strong field, he commented about how everyone was thinner than him (I probably can’t repeat exactly what he said here!) and we were off.  We ran together for a bit until I could no longer contain my competitiveness!

The route is about seven miles and it’s a proper fell run, pretty much uphill all the way to the peak then turn round and come back down with just a short one way section for the summit.  It starts on tarmac then turns to a track, muddy moors then finishes with a steep rocky climb which had everyone I could see slowed down to a hike.  Apparently the fastest few would skip up it but I don’t know how.  Quickly take in the view at the top then start the crazy View from the summit of Brown Willydescent.  As I stepped carefully down the steep, slippery rocks (like a pansy) the locals I’d breezed past on the way up showed how it’s done (engage legs disengage brain!?)  So once we got back on the muddy, rutted grass I ran as fast as I could, it was an accident waiting to happen!  I saw so many people slip, tumble or lose a shoe to the sticky bits (I’d learnt that lesson about not using elastic laces at an off road race last year!)  Anyway I somehow made it back to the pub in one piece and with a big smile, much more fun than any road race.

Ben finished a while later, still running and keen to make it a tradition.  He paid for it the next day though because he could hardly walk!

The Brown Willy run is organised by Truro Runners and is free to enter. There are no results as it isn't classed as a race.  1st place is recognised and everyone else is joint loser!

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