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Monthly archive for September 2011

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

 A fabulous Finnish finish

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be on the start line  of the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships wearing a GBR tri-suit I would have told you that you may have overdosed on performance enhancing but brain befuddling "supplements". But there I was, feeling something of an imposter, amongst Europe's finest age group and pro athletes, pondering quite how deep the "deep water" start was going to be and if someone was suddenly going to let me know my selection was an unfortunate clerical oversight.

 

When I was offered a place on the team in February (you get a "Congratulations you have been selected e-mail") I looked up the weather in Tampere, Finland, where the race was to be held. -20c by day didn't look great and the 160cm of ice on the lake seemed to suggest skating drills should replace swimming ones.

 

Luckily there was no ice to break as the starter ordered us into the water. Whilst the balmy water temperature (19.6c) was comforting, the thought of a 4km out and back swim was rather scary to a landlubber like myself. When the team GBR race recce took place the team manager pointed out into the far distance beyond the horizon line.. "and somewhere out there is the turn buoy". Luckily my customary swim start tactics left me with plenty of feet (well all of them actually) to follow. I managed to find some kind of rhythm and sensed I was heading in the right kind of direction. This was confirmed as the leading age group ladies caught up and swam over the top of me.

 

Whilst the woman on top wearing rubber water play fantasy may be some people's idea of fun I didn't take too well to this assault. My survival instincts must have kicked in and I swallowed several gallons of Finland's finest lake water to act as ballast and enable me to remain submerged whilst the girls tap danced on my head.

 

I must have swum round the buoy at some stage as I could see the footbridge near the Olympic Stadium HQ where transition was. With great relief I hauled myself unglamorously out of the water happy to be alive and not experiencing the dreaded cramps that have reduced me to tears in the past. I was further uplifted by the cheers of support from team Wintergold (Daisy, Daniel, Alice and her parents had all come out too).

 

The bike leg was a confusing 6 lap effort that included lots of well marshalled roads, a section of motorway and a scalextric style cross over where you went from being on the left side of the road to the right with on-coming riders doing the opposite.

 

I was making quite good progress but couldn't push too hard or drink as my stomach was complaining about the small pond ingested during my encounter with the fast ladies. By lap 3 this pond was trying to make a bid for freedom sometimes up, sometimes down and sometimes both. Not wanting to break the strict ETU rules on revealing various bits of anatomy and not wanting to soil my new trisuit I skidded (no, not that kind of skid) to a halt outside the stadium. "Where's the loo?" I shouted at the congregated mass of spectators and officials. Various shrugs and looks of confusion suggested that my lack of Finnish ("missa on vessa", if you ever need to know) and coherency made me look rather

 

I decided to head into the stadium and search the myriad of corridors for the room I was increasingly desperate to locate. The combination of shiny floors and cycling cleats is not good. Add in a dose of panic and the dramatic backflip with double twist was inevitable. Picking myself from the floor I spied the facilities required and some 7 minutes later I emerged from the stygian gloom to remount my bike several kilos lighter. The next 3 laps were more comfortable in spite of the rising wind and the continuing game of Russian roulette at Scalextric corner.

 

Going into T2 it was lovely to hear "Go Daddy go" as the Wintergold cheerleaders made their presence heard. A leisurely transition (not forgetting a handful of chocolate éclairs for comfort and energy) and it was off on the scenic 4 lap lakeside run. It was quickly apparent that I had forgotten to pack my running legs so I settled into a 7'50 mile plod and cheered the other GBR athletes as we crossed paths (but not in the Scalextric manner of the bike course thankfully). The pro athletes were simply amazing and were already approaching the last of their 20 miles at a pace I could only dream of.

 

Every lap the family fan club gave me a boost as I tried to keep the numbers of people passing me level with the numbers of people I passed. A helpful Finnish age grouper swapped an éclair for details of the (totally unmarked and off course) loos. The slightly lighter load meant I picked up to a heady 7'49 mile pace and rewarded his kindness by overtaking him with a mile to go.

 

It was a really special to finish (and not in last place as I had feared) in an Olympic stadium in front of your own family.

 

A lovely holiday followed where I could spend some quality time with them and not my wetsuit. The lakes and sea were fabulous as were the Spy Museum and the Viking Feast. A better post race celebration would have been hard to find.

 

So for any of you dreaming of wearing GBR on your front I say keep on trying and keep on training - eventually you will be so old that you will get there!

 

Event details:

4k swim, 125k bike, 20.5k run

Drinks - 900ml High 5 and 3000ml lake water

Food - 3 High 5 gels and 4 eclairs

Fans - 5

Blisters - 0

 

Training details

3 key sessions a week for 18 weeks

 

Result details

Time 6.53.01 (1.09 swim, 2.00 T1, 3.13 bike, 1.30 T2, 2.28 run)

6th in age group

2nd Brit over 45 (would have been first without unfortunate loo incident)

61st overall including pros and all age groups

 

Number of medals I would have won in other age groups = Bronze 25-29, Gold under 20, Silver 50-54, Gold 55-59 (if only I were older or younger!)

 

 

Author:   Loz Wintergold

Bala Standard Tri Wales - 11th Sept 2011

Bala Standard Tri Wales - 11th Sept 2011

Hi guys 
  
After a 5 hour drive I arrived at registration on Saturday in the pouring hard rain and wind!!! Welcome to Wales!!! Once i had registered i thought i would check out the swim course. Standing looking at this huge expanse of water, which resembled the Atlantic Ocean with white horses everywhere, i asked the guy next to me " where is the lake we will be swimming in?" He looked at me and laughed and said, "that's it there!" Oh shit, i thought let's hope the weather changes by tomorrow!!! Well it did!

Sunday morning arrived and the weather had changed, but for the worse, more rain and stronger winds!!! At  09.30hrs i watched the first wave go off and within a few minutes people were being pulled out of the water, very encouraging!!!! The next few waves were the same as swimmers were struggling against the elements!! Now it was time for my wave, with my heart in my boots, well in my feet, i made my way down the slippery slope and into the freezing cold water!! The first 750 metres was going to be out against the wind and some guy stood next to me said," you will need to swim fast otherwise you will make no headway". "Thanks mate", I said, " but i don't do fast swimming!" "Oh well, best of luck then", he said. By now the wind was so strong the waves looked like the side of houses and you could hardly see the marker buoys and i was bloody freezing!! 10.00hrs and  the hooter goes and we are off. Trying to get into some sort of rhythm i found almost impossible due to the waves, every time i tried to sight i was smacked in the face with what i saw was a huge wall of water!! Eventually after what felt like hours i made it to what i thought was the turnround buoy, only to be told by one of the rescue boats that it wasn't!!! I had to dig really deep at this point as i was feeling very cold and i knew i was struggling. From somewhere i found the self motivation to crack on and eventually i reached the REAL turnround bouy!!! I thought the 750 metre swim back was going to be easier with the wind behind but i found i was still struggling against the elements! After what felt like hours i could see the finish of the swim and remembered that we had been warned of the very rocky approach to the slipway. Suddenly a very friendly arm pulled me up out of the water and said " well done mate", i then managed a sort of run into T1 and was cheered on by the crowd and i heard the race commentator say i had taken 52 mins but i had done it!!!! I then had problems getting my wet suit off as i was so cold but at least the rain had stopped. After about 6 mins i was ready to leave transition. The bike leg was an undulating out and back course, on closed roads, and the first 12.5 miles was against the wind which was so strong that it was like cycling against a brick wall!!! By the time i had got to the turnround point i had overhauled several riders and on the return leg was able to make up more ground with the wind behind me. Arriving in T2 i decided to shed my thin long sleeve top i had put on for the bike as the sun, yes the SUN, was breaking through the clouds!!After 1min 35secs in T2 i was off on the run which was a 10k out and back undulating course on closed roads and, although the first half was against the still strong wind, i managed to overtake a few more and eventually crossed the finish line!!!

My Results:

 

SWIM: 1500m

52 mins 1 sec

T1

6 mins 16 secs

Bike: 40K

1 hr 20 mins 14 secs

T2

1 min 35 secs

Run: 10K

55 mins 9 secs

 

 

Overall time:

3 hrs 15 mins 17 secs

 

                              

Overall position: 461st out of 492 finishers [47 failed to finish and 28 of those were pulled out of the water!!]

Overall male position:                   374th

Age group position [over 60's]:   7th

 

I was trying to qualify to represent GB next year but due to the adverse weather conditions, which really affected my swim, i failed!!! But I have entered next year's race, so hopefully the weather won't be any worse and maybe I might JUST qualify for 2013 !!!!!

          

One consolation i suppose if I survived THAT SWIM I can at least call myself a swimmer!!!

 

 

Author: Del Hastings

 

   

Cow Man British Half Ironman Championships - 3 July 2011

Cow Man British Half Ironman Championships - 3 July 2011

It was only a training event and I had been feeling a bit poorly for the last week so it took a bit of cajoling to make me put the bike and wetsuit into the car as we went to see my folks in London. An enjoyable and late evening did little to enhance my enthusiasm as the alarm went off at 4am. Knowing that this was probably my best chance to test my equipment and body before my "A" race (the European Long Distance Championships) I reluctantly ate some toast and marmalade as I made my way along the M25 and M1 to a gravel pit in Milton Keynes.

 

Arriving at the venue I sensed that this is one well organised event and at a venue more attractive than I had anticipated. There was plenty of parking and plenty of loos. Massage tents, sponsor signs and transition areas were well marked out. Best of all were the giant (at least 20 feet high!) inflatable runner and cyclist that signal the way out of transition.

 

As the sun started to warm the air the first wave of 350 were under way. Being either a lady or an old git meant I had an extra 30 mins to decide what excuses I had either not to start or pack early on. Failing to think of anything I joined the 350 other athletes in my wave to waddle through the goose poo to the start area. The starter waited until I was facing the wrong way clearing my goggles to sound the start hooter. The water was surprisingly warm and unsurprisingly busy. I do not enjoy mass starts and took my customary place near the back and way off course. This would not usually have been a problem but the dry weather meant that my belly grounded several times and I had a bit of a tussle with some reeds.

 

Transition was a lame affair and poor Steve would be turning in his grave were he not alive and kicking. The bike course was a mix of delightful single carriageway and slightly less pleasant (but quite quick) dual carriageway. There were 2 and a ½ undulating laps were I managed to overhaul most of the fast swimmers.

 

Making sure I took a handful of chocolate éclairs - my current favourite energy source - I exited transition in an equally poor fashion to be astounded by the fact I could run. I mean proper running and not the Ironman plod I had been expecting. The run course was 4 laps of a mostly off road circuit with a couple of hills. Had I known it I was in Gold medal position coming off the bike (for my age group) but I am not sure I could have matched the 1.25 the eventual winner managed. I am also not sure if the accidental filling extraction hindered or helped me but I have made a note to go for something less toffee based next time. Still I was delighted with the 1.30 I did.

 

Through the finish area I found plenty of fruit, energy gels and water. By now it had become quite hot so I joined an increasing number of overcooked competitors in the lake to reflect on a great morning out.

 

It is a pity the other 2 Mid-Sussex crew did not make it as this is a super half. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to do a well organised but not overly challenging event.

 

Final score:

British Championship Bronze medal in age group

44th overall (out of 700ish)

4.35.07

Winner 4.04.57

 

 

A Finnish finish - proving I made it to the end in the European Long Course Championships in Finland and was 6th in age group. I would have won gold with my time in several of the younger age groups and all of the older ones! A full report to follow.

 

?Author: Lawrence Wintergold

 

Bar Race Middle Dist 28th Aug 2011

Bar Race Middle Dist 28th Aug 2011

33 athletes took part in our second Middle Distance Race, which was 8 up on last year. Race conditions were almost perfect with the threatened early heavy rain not arriving. We had the usual melee of getting transition erected, preparing to race etc. in little more than an hour. But life is never straightforward and our specially prepared racking did not fit properly. Luckily Del came to the rescue, whipping out his tool in no time for a quick bodge!

The second problem was a distinct lack of timekeepers, after the 2 volunteers had to pull out. David Ricketts had put himself down to swim and do timing - all on Monday. Unfortunately the race was on Sunday! It was his son's special 18th birthday lunch on the same day. Brad came and started the timing but had a late offer to go to Old Trafford for the football which I am sure made Rachel's husband Paul very jealous. At the last second Tim Cresswell stepped in and took it over, doing an excellent job in spite of being given a watch that could only time up to one hour!!

 

Eventually we had the race briefing. Pippa had to chuckle whenever she heard the word 'mount' so I am not sure what sort of race she had in mind, and Ant Grey was already prophetically planning an exit strategy! Then 25 athletes jumped into the lake. It was our first opportunity test out the new bouys. What a difference! Sighting was a doddle. That was money very well spent.

 

At Brad's signal the race started. Mat Record stormed off as expected. The swim course is probably longer than 1900m, the consensus was nearer 2100m in the end. Mat swam it in 34m15s, almost 4 minutes clear! He even had time to stop at the pontoon to ask 'Where is everybody?'

 

The chasing pack was led home by Mark Jordan and Dave Lashbrook, but also included Colin Chambers and Steve Alden, who were as surprised to be there as Mark and Dave were seeing them. Vaughan was not far behind. He was in the pack but went wide at the far end and the other four cut in with a better line and he then couldn't get back on their feet.

 

Pipaa was out first for the women in 40m49s with Hazel about 22 seconds down with Rachel only 22 seconds minutes behind her. Nikki was 2 minutes behind Rachel and guest Bethan 90 seconds further back.

 

Through T1 and out onto the bike. Dave Lashbrook has clearly been listening to Steve always talking about transition times as he blitzed through ahead of the others. As expected though, the fastest bike split went to James. His 2h22m04s (including transitions) was more than 14 minutes faster than anyone except for Rob Hoodless who was only doing the bike leg. It shows how tough this bike course is that only Rob and James broke 2h30m, and only 4 others even broke 2h40m.

 

There was plenty going on out on the course though. Vaughan didn't fancy the direction he was going so he turned round and was seen riding in the opposite direction.

Mark and Steve were having a good battle when Mark got stung by a wasp after Balcombe on the first lap. Knowing he has potential anaphylaxis problems he stopped to take some antihistamines, then quite rightly stayed with Steve for the remainder of the ride, before pulling out of the race in T2, when he didn't feel at all well. His actual ride time of about 2h36m was astonishing in the circumstances, and he was 24 minutes faster by T2 compared to last year.

 

Ant Grey was trying some new techniques on the bike circuit. As it was hilly he decided to shed some unnecessary components. He started by losing his saddle, then his front wheel, and finally one pedal. The weight saving strategy did not help, so he had to limp the bike home via a shortened route. Paul Wills was also struggling after coming out of the swim a bit disorientated. He gamely carried on although he did need some advice on what to wear on the bike. Like Ant and Mark though, he pulled out at T2.

 

The women were far more sensible. Rachel quickly overtook Hazel on her way to a bike split that was 20 minutes faster than any of the others. Bethan, Hazel and Nikki all completed the bike within seven minutes of each other and Hazel headed out on the run with a 10 minute advantage over Bethan and Nikki. Jade decided to do a single lap of both the bike and run, but it is only a few weeks since her very impressive Ironman performance.

 

Although it is essentially flat on the run, it is not an easy course. There are 5 dead turns, 14 gates to negotiate, a very uneven surface, some short but marked inclines and lots of walkers, dogs and mud.

 

James started the run with a 9 minute lead over Dave and 12 minutes over Steve, who managed to bring the deficit down to 5m39s by the end, and was delighted with a finish time under 5 hours, more than 13 minutes faster than last year. Dave eventually finished 4th as his legs were in trouble, but only finished 2 minutes down on last year and he was overtaken by Vaughan who was running strongly. Pete tried to get a pace man to help him. His son did a fine job and will probably be a good runner like his dad in the future. Colin Chambers was clearly struggling on the run, with leg problems. Stoically he put on a brave face and pushed on, and gave everyone a good laugh at the finish when he stopped, laid down and rolled over the finish line.

 

Del Hastings put in another splendid performance to improve his last year's time by more than 15 minutes.

 

 

Rachel was able to cruise round the run with such a healthy lead, but it was Bethan who was making the effort, and managed to overturn the 10 minute deficit on Hazel into a 6 minute advantage, to finish just outside 6 hours. That was a great run. Fastest woman however was Fiona in the relay with a 1h43m04s time.

 

11 people took part in the relay, with David and Rob's team not having a runner, which was a shame as they were comfortably in the lead at that point. In the end the honours went to Mat, Phil and Richard with a time of 5h24m, with the all ladies team of Pippa, Sharon and Kay just 7 minutes behind. There were some superb individual performances in the relay with Mat being the fastest swimmer, Rob - second quickest cyclist and Fiona second quickest runner overall.

 

The performance of the day has to go to Trevor though. He was going nicely until mid way through the run when his knees started to give out. He could only walk and jog. He had the option to pull out after 2 laps of the run, but carried on in a lot of trouble. He easily got the biggest ovation of the day when he finished, and the emotion of it was clearly on his face. But it was an amazing effort.

 

And when everyone had finished there was the picnic going on. It was fabulous that people like Phil Couch and Rupert Robinson who were desperate to race themselves, but could not because of injury, still turned up to be there and cheer everyone on. Lots of people brought their families and there may well have been more than a hundred people present altogether.

 

It was nice to have some guests racing, who I am certain will be future members of the club. Good Luck to Charlie and Bethan in their big race - Ironman Wales in a fortnight.

 

In the end it was a great day for everyone! Well Done

Author: Steve Alden