ARDINGLY Reservoir Sunday 3rd May 2015
Considering the conditions we had an amazing record turnout for the first Best All Rounder race of 2015. 21 competitors took on the course at Ardingly, 16 for the short course and 5 for the long course.
But first I must offer huge thanks to my marshals, who happily gave up their Sunday morning to stand or sit in driving rain and gusting winds to make sure the rest of us had a good race. Loz and Tim did the timekeeping, Pete Harris directed everyone onto College Road and Mark Jordan and Emma Alden made sure no-one went wrong on the run course. Dean Allen, Jason Cole and David Ricketts (before going on to do the Haywards Heath marathon weekend day 2) dropped by to cheer everyone on.
It is fair to say that this was not going to be a day for PBs. Most people know the run course and it is what I would term as semi-cross country. It is a rough path interspersed with mud and large puddles, with gates and dead turns. As expected James Dear shot off, with Barry not far behind, with Liane trying hard to keep him in her sights. Both Mike Jaffe and Jim and Helen Graham had run the London Marathon just 7 days ago so they were all a bit jaded on the run but still posted highly respectable times for the conditions.
The bike course is always fairly hard as it is quite undulating, alright - hilly. With the added interest of gusty cross winds, driving rain, recently dressed roads with loose gravel in abundance and a healthy increase in the number of potholes, the course was positively challenging. Apart from James blitzing the course in 44 minutes, and Barry in 52 minutes, the most impressive ride came from Lucy with a sub 58 minute split on her training bike. Jim Graham unfortunately went wrong at the Dukes Head roundabout, not because he didn't know the course, but being tired, with steamed up glasses, in awful conditions just led to an error. At least he could finish though. It wasn't the same for Kevin James. He had ridden over to the start and was a bit cold before the race started, but was just getting into his stride on the bike when a broken wheel spoke ended his race.
The second run was understandably slower paced. The conditions were taking their toll, although 4 athletes managed the 5.2km run in under 12 minutes, Barry, James, Liane and Jo. It was good to see some more recent members racing - so well done to Jo, as well as Paul and Sam who ran the race as a relay. It was also great to see another step in Brad's multisport comeback, following years of foot trouble with some quite fast running and the 3rd fastest bike split.
There are 2 people who deserve specific mentions for fantastic efforts in their respective races. First is Helen Graham. After beating Margaret Hollamby's club marathon record (held since 2008) last week, she came to race the duathlon having virtually not touched her bike for years. With no bike fitness and a lack of bike handling skills, this was a seriously tough thing to attempt, but she just didn't give up and earned a huge cheer when she finished.
Second special mention must go to Jean Fish. She was the only female athlete to attempt the long course, but like Helen, she just stuck at it. When she came through T2, Loz ran the final 5k with her, and I believe the rain finally stopped and she finished to rousing cheers.
The biggest winner from today's race is the club spirit. I know that I felt really part of a group all pulling together and supporting each other and welcoming athletes of all abilities, and overcoming tough conditions. On top of that we raised more than £250 for the club charity which is quite impressive. Everyone was cheerful and positive throughout, and a special mention for extended cheerfulness must go to the tea lady at the sailing centre afterwards!
The results are available on the Duathlon event page.