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Lee Valley Velodrome

Lee Valley Velodrome

MSTC night out at Lee Valley VeloPark

MSTC triathletes tested their track cycling skills at the Olympic Velodrome, Lee Valley VeloPark, last Friday, February 14th. The daring group of 16 willingly swapped the romance of Valentine's Day for the allure of an introduction to the art of track cycling and coaching in the use of a fixed wheel bike at the indoor velodrome, the fastest track in the world. They quickly realised that riding a bike with no brakes or gears, on a track with steeply sloping sides means the only option is to go fast. Except when you want to stop, where the challenge becomes even greater.

They set off, gingerly to begin with on the flat, graduating to the "cote d'azur" (the light blue section which separates the flat from the banked track). Only when they'd got up some speed were they finally let loose on the apparently impossibly high slopes, but, once speed and centrifugal force worked their magic they found themselves flying round. The session finished with timed circuits of the velodrome track in which several of the women, led by Hannah Droschler, managed comfortably to get close to the top target speed of 20 seconds a lap with a very impressive 20.104. Esther Williams and Liane Davids achieved equally impressive speeds of 20.353 and 20.867 respectively. The men's race was won by Doug McTaggart in 17.864 seconds, a spectacular race which finished with an object lesson in what happens when you have no brakes but try to stop pedalling! Doug's cycling shorts will never be the same again. Let's hope his skin grows back quickly. Other very impressive men's speeds were achieved by Barry Davids (18.674), Kevan Nicholson (18.864), Jo Fleming (19.327), Mike Jaffe (19.525) and Steve Alden (19.774).

The trip was a first for the club. A fantastic introduction to the world of track cycling. Thank you to Callum Murray for organising it and when can we go again?

Ironman Arizona 2019

Helen Graham completes two Ironman Triathlons within 9 weeks

Helen Bike

Background

Tempe in Arizona delivers a mostly-flat, fast, and spectator-friendly course that brings urban charms and desert vistas together. The deep lake water tends to be rather cold despite the potentially warm race conditions. Headwinds on the cycle can be more of a challenge than the significant inclines.

Pre race

Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon a year ahead because this race sells out rapidly. Helen completed Ironman Italy 9 weeks earlier. Jim broke his hip during Ironman Italy so he switched from racing to supporting for Arizona.

Swim

64 Fahrenheit water and some currents lead to many athletes getting hypothermic and withdrawing of getting slow times. Helen was 16 minutes longer in the water at Arizona compared to Italy. The 0.4 mile jog from the swim exit to T1 made transition times longer than usual.

Bike

The sun did not emerge from clouds until around midday. The first 20 miles were uphill into a headwind so Helen was averaging around 11mph when she needed an average of nearly 15mph to make the cut-off times. Prospects looked bleak but Helen dug-deep and she avoided use of brakes downhill plus she pedalled like fury. Helen's speeds steadily rose through the 3-lap course and she did make the final cut-off time by just 2 minutes 50 seconds.

Run

Helen is a great runner with more than 50 marathons completed. She ran steadily and strongly to beat the final cut-of time by nearly an hour, overtaking vast numbers of other athletes as she went.

Post race

The subdued celebrations of Italy were compensated for by jubilation in Arizona.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

The 16:10 finish time at Arizona was 27 mins slower than the Italy finish time, but many more All World Athlete (AWA) points were awarded to Helen for this Arizona race. This reflects tougher race conditions on the day at Arizona. These two races give Helen an age group world ranking of 17th in GBR and 254th in the World. Some of those ranked higher will have gained points from 3 races rather than just 2.
The support of family and friends following progress on the Ironman App was much appreciated. The MSTC training sessions, advice and comradeship has been hugely important to Helen as she has progressed from complete novice to accomplished triathlete.

Helen Medal

Ironman Emilia-Romagna 2019

Doug and Helen successfully complete this wonderful race but Jim DNFs with a broken hip

Doug And Helen IM Italy Finish

Background

The ancient fishing village of Cervia hosts a spectacular race that takes place along the coastal Emilia-Romagna region flanked by the Adriatic Sea. Italian village vibe and historic scenery plus very hospitable local people. The biggest ironman event currently, with approximately 3,000 participants.

Pre race

Doug, Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon. Doug's wife, Carol came along to provide essential support.

Swim

Relatively fast sea swim with pleasant temperature but not too hot for wetsuits. Doug, Helen and Jim completed the swim near to personal best times despite significant currents and a lot of contacts due to the large number of swimmers.

Bike

A fast 2-loop closed road cycle that is mostly flat except for one sharp hill climb and descent that is the same for each loop. Doug and Helen managed near personal best bike splits. Jim was matching his 2015 lifetime best Ironman race for both swim and cycle pace when he suffered a front wheel puncture at 25 mph at mile 60. Jim lost control of his bike due to the puncture and sustained a broken hip when he crashed.

Run

Doug and Helen finished strongly with good running. Doug got a new personal best time for this distance in a shade over 12 hours. Helen was just a couple of minutes slower than her personal best in 15:43. Jim was achieved terrific speed in the ambulance on his way to one of Italy's top trauma centres.

Post race

Carol deduced that Jim was in trouble and with perseverance she found Jim in a hospital many miles from the race venue. Helen and Doug's celebrations were bit subdued due to Jim's crash.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

There was one digit wrong with Carol's phone number written on the back of Jim's bib number so the messages left for Carol were sadly useless. Ironman staff had been told by roadside officials that the injury was a grazed elbow and they had not been told where the ambulance had gone to. It was amazing that Carol managed to track Jim down in an orthopaedic ward with a broken hip in order to provide much needed emotional support. Jim had blown his chance to compete with Alistair Brownlee at Ironman Kona 3 weeks later. Jim had completed 99th marathons prior to this race and the 100th could be many months away now.

IM Italy Crutches

Sun shines for Mid Sussex Sprint Triathlon

More than 260 athletes took part in Mid Sussex Triathlon Club's annual sprint triathlon on Sunday 9th June, held at the Triangle Leisure Centre in Burgess Hill.

This year's sunny event attracted 85 female and 175 male competitors, ranging in age from 15 to 70. Competitors were mostly from other clubs in Brighton, Horsham, Crawley, Steyning, Crowborough and East Grinstead, but a few came from much further afield, including Ashford, Ealing and Devon. About a third of the athletes were beginners taking part in their first triathlon.

The sprint triathlon involves a 400m pool swim, a 25km bike ride through country lanes in Wineham and Twineham, and a 5km run in Burgess Hill. Fifteen competitors took part in the Aquabike event, involving just the swim and cycle, and there were also four relay teams, each with three athletes completing one discipline each.

The winner of the women's event was Sally Bliss in a time of 1.16.59, with Harriet Cunningham of Brighton Tri Club second in 1.17.01. Georgina Tasker of the Mid Sussex Tri Club was third in 1.19.53. Hannah Droscher was the second Mid Sussex Club member to finish in 1.30.40, followed by Sally Gardner in 1.32.30.

Mid Sussex Tri Members Dan Anniston, Lucy Rowe, Sally Gardner & Hannah Droscher.jpg

The winner of the men's event was Mik Onions of Brighton Tri Club in 1.03.46, with Jon Salisbury of Horsham Amphibians second in 1.06.36. Charlie Mactear was third in 1.06.43. The first Mid Sussex Tri Club member to finish was Dan Anniston in 1.10.31, followed by Luc Berthouze in 1.13.34 and Tom Spensley in 1.17.05.

Winner Mik Onions of Brighton Tri Club.jpg

There were several age group prizes, as well as an award for the Spirit of Triathlon, plus many spot prizes and a race number raffle. Each participant also received a goodie bag. The prizes were donated by local organisations including Hurstpierpoint College, Dinnages, CAE Simulation, Piople for Places, Tesco and Waitrose in Burgess Hill, Wisdom Sports, The Perrymount Clinic, Hassocks Opticians, Swim Secure, The Tri Store in Eastbourne, The Chia Co. Chia Seeds  and Mint-Ease. Charlie Langhorne from exhibition organiser Wild in Art was also a much-appreciated sponsor and also marshalled at the event wearing a bear suit, which won him the Best Marshal prize.

Finish.jpg

This triathlon has a reputation as a very welcoming event and is ideal for beginners, as well as experienced triathletes. It is marshalled by members of Mid Sussex Triathlon Club, who this year received many compliments from competitors on the club's Facebook page about their friendliness and encouragement.

Race Director Jo Fleming, in his first year in this position, was very pleased with the successful outcome of the event.

Race Director Jo Fleming at Prize Giving.jpg

Ironman World Championship Kona 13th October 2018

Background

Kona Jim MedalThe inaugural Ironman Triathlon race was held in 1978 and in 1981, the race moved from the tranquil shores of Waikiki to the barren lava fields of Kona on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Along the Kona Coast, black lava rock dominates the panorama, and athletes battle the "ho'omumuku" crosswinds of 45 mph, 95-degree temperatures, 90% humidity and a scorching sun.

Just 15 people came to Waikiki to take on the first Ironman race in 1978. For this the 40th anniversary race in 2018 there were 2,400 competitors who represented the top 1-2% in their age groups, having gained qualification with fast finish times in one of 42 qualifying races throughout the world.

My Journey

It took a huge effort for me to gain qualification for this race because 10 years of Ironman racing has shown that even on a good day I do not tend to finish within the top 2%.
Beyond the usual high volume of training, I raised my game by traveling alone to Colorado in June 2018 to stay at altitude in the Rocky Mountains in an out of season ski-resort airbnb rental. This altitude adaptation was successful and allowed me to clinch 1st place (by just one minute) in the 55-59 age group at the 5,000 foot elevation of Ironman Boulder, Colorado just 10 days after arriving in USA. I got a welcome boost during that run at Boulder when resident professional, Tim Don, cheered me on from the crowd with "Go Mid Sussex!" having read the lettering on my tri-vest.

A burst appendix (with post-operative infection) 7 weeks before this Ironman World Championship in Kona abruptly halted all training for three weeks at a critical time and threatened to cause my withdrawal from the race completely. The target for race day at Kona became simply to finish within the 17 hours cut-off time. I hoped to do a fast cycle but not over-exert myself on the swim or the run.

Swim

Sea conditions were perfect and Great Britain's Lucy Charles broke the female swim course record by completing the 2.4 miles in just 48 minutes, on her way to finishing second overall.

I placed myself at the back of the mass start of swimmers to keep out of trouble and I completed in 1:39, which was almost the slowest in my age group. I was placed 124th in age group at the end of the swim.

Kona Start

Cycle

The winds were gentler than usual, which may explain why both the male and female cycle course records were broken by professionals in 4:09 and 4:26 respectively. My cycle of 4:58 (average speed 22.6 mph) was one of the fastest in my age group so I advanced to 44th place in age group.

Kona Jim Bike

Run

Kona Jim RunDespite temperatures being a little cooler than previous years, the heat and humidity was brutal. By half-way there were many athletes walking and some were in distress with nausea and exhaustion. Some of the professionals had slow runs, including Tim Don and Lionel Sanders.

I made full use of the copious amounts of water, salt, energy gels and ice provided at each of the 26 feed stations. Surprisingly, I felt fine throughout and maintained a steady pace for the the entire run, even in the dreaded natural energy lab section.

My marathon run time of 3:51 was comparatively fast so I advanced to 24th in age group. My wife Helen was volunteering at the finish line and I gratefully fell into her arms to complete a wonderful race experience.

Reflections

Kona Jim FinishMy finish time of 10:36 is one of my fastest for an Ironman race, despite it starting with a swim that was 27 minutes slower than my previous best. I think I have only ever gone faster at the famously fast Ironman Barcelona course. This result was an hour or two quicker than I had expected at the start of the day. Germany's Patrick Lange took 9 minutes off his own course record then (on one knee) proposed marriage to his girlfriend (in English) at the finish line. Switzerland's Daniela Ryf broke the previous course record and was 24 minutes faster than her 2017 winning time despite a jelly-fish sting at the beginning of the swim that slowed her progress and almost made her quit the race. That jelly-fish sting seemed to unleash astonishing powers to enable Daniela to overhaul Lucy Charles's substantial lead, whilst breaking the female cycle course record.

I am so lucky to have the support of family and friends to allow me to participate in such a terrific sporting event. The many NHS staff that got me through appendicitis gave me first rate care and literally saved my life. Ironman Kona is a very special event and it has been a privilege to participate alongside wonderful volunteers and world class athletes.

Oh, yes…… and the annual Kona race-week charity "Underpants Run" plus the "Parade of Nations" were a fun traditions not to be missed.

Kona Pants

Kona Team GB