Her first triathlon, East Grinstead last year, was a DNF because of a puncture, but on Sunday Fiona confirmed her potential by winning the senior women's category in atrocious weather at the inaugural Haywards Heath triathlon, staged by Hedgehog Tri.
Fiona's win was underpinned by an impressive 11thplace overall in the run category in 22.17 - and all on the eve of her birthday. What a way to celebrate!
It wasn't an easy race in which to score your first victory, with the wild wind and squally rain making for a perilous bike ride in particular and (look away Steve Alden) some lengthy transitions as competitors struggled to find the right combination of clothes to beat the weather.
James Dear, who joined the club as a cyclist, also based his second place on a storming run, a 20.23, the fastest of the day. Lawrence deserves a special mention for his seventh place, including coming fourth overall on the bike, despite his recent health problems. Just think what he can do when he's fully recovered.
Lawrencewas just one place and 43 seconds ahead of Phil, who, in his customary style took first place overall in the swim with a time of just 5.23 for the rather unusual distance of 384 metres. Barely time for a warm-up there, Phil.
Two places back, in tenth, was Ant, showing that all those death rides and the Wimereux trip haven't been wasted as he scored an eighth place overall on the bike leg, with an impressive 50.17.
Then came Martin Shoesmith, Mike and Steve Crocker, separated by less than a minute in 18th, 19thand 20thplaces: superb results for three relative newcomers to the sport/club. Mike's wife Emma was fifth out of 23 in the novice race, her first ever triathlon. We expect to see her application to join the club imminently.
Fiona was in 36thposition and then came a bit of a gap before Callum in 49thposition with a decent bike leg, a slightly disappointing run and his usual disaster in the pool.
Tim had an excellent swim in 84th place and Angela was delighted to finish her second sprint triathlon ever three minutes faster than her first, East Grinstead last year, coming in comfortably under the two-hour mark in 1.56.09.
The real heroes/heroines of the day were the marshals, though. Respect, thanks and a warming cup of coffee to Mark, Rose, Ian, Claire Cresswell, Jon Webster, Jools, Hazel, Roger, Sharon and anyone else I've forgotten. Not only did you make the race possible for the rest of us, you also helped to forge even closer bonds between our club and Hedgehog Tri.
The race was held
on Sunday 29th, at the Dolphin Leisure Centre Haywards Heath and
MSTC were well represented with 12 competitors. Club members did
fantastically well, with Fiona Bussell winning the Women's event
and James Dear coming second in the Men's. With Ant Grey's 10th,
Phil Couch's 8th and Lawence Wintergold's 7th, MSTC took 4 of the
top 10 places. Competitors were greeted with strong winds and
heavy rain, and this was the first time I have laid my kit out in
the pouring rain! The bike was getting soaked and I carefully laid
my kit out in a giant Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Carrier bag.
As I left it, secured by my front wheel, I wondered which end of
the car park I might find it when I emerged from the pool. This was
my 3rd Tri and I looked on at my more experienced competitors, with
their heavy duty water tight giant tupperware boxes, grinning at me
whilst they put their gear in. Not to worry, the smiles and support
from the fantastic MSTC marshals restored my confidence. The pre
race briefing was excellent and we were told we had three
policemen, with marshals, patrolling the 3 right hand turns on the
bike course, with a "foot-down" instruction at the mini roundabout
right turn by the Dolphin pub.
I noted 96 competitors made it to the start, from an original starting line up of 131, which goes to prove that not all tri-athletes are daft. In the pool we had the luxury of a 32m length, just 12 lengths for a total swim of just under 400m. Oddly we entered at the opposite end from the pool emergency exit, which meant a 32m "walk" down the pool length before exiting. Running poolside was band, so competitors had to walk. I watched in amusement as early competitors tried to get away with "lifting" , the incidence of which increased with the increasing competitor number. I did try and "feel" the water in my swim as "Coach Jones" tells me, but the water was having none of it, so I fought it all the way. Out of the pool I gave an outrageous demonstration of "lifting" , got away with it, but on exit I was totally disorientated by all the bike park, the layout looked very different from the pool exit. I spotted my giant blue carrier bag, which to my relief was still on the floor and not up a tree, and it was sitting by my bike which looked a lot cleaner than when I last saw it.
The bike routed took us around the Sainsbury's one way system and you were then soon warmed up going up Paddockhall, the foot-down was very sensible at The Dolphin mini roundabout and a massive 25mph NE wind then rocketed you along the A272 and down the Cuckfield bypass. There was a lot of debris on the road and a sapling tree down just south of Ansty, there were very strong cross winds here and I held on to the tri bars like never before. We then knew what was coming.... a turn North into Issacs Lane and a massive head wind to fight. Fortunately there were always lots of cyclist to chase down here, but as we all crawled along, catching them was sometimes impossible. At the top of Issacs, you had to dodge the road works barriers which were now half way over the road, and for me a Crocodile Dundee hat, which blew off a marshals head as I passed. A left turn, for another roller coaster ride on the Cuckfield Bypass, Ansty, Burgess Hill, Issacs lane circuit, before heading back to the Dolphin. I mad dash down Paddockhall before a dismount, and another scan for my bag, still doggedly standing where I had last left it.
The run exited the centre left, up the tiny Pasture Hill Road, left up Harlands Rd and once you had got to the top and would have a reasonable flat run, you turned left and down the very steep Lucasters Rd. Up the other side of Lucasters and once you were almost at the top, a left turn into a footpath, for a steep decent back down to the centre and around the back. You then played a bit of dodgems with the bikers coming back, and had 4 loops of this 1.25km roller coaster of a run! I had a bit of an issue with my number, I had lost the front number pinned to my cycle top, so I had to rotate my cycle top 180 degrees, to get the number on the right way around. This of course meant my top was on the wrong way around, I must have looked rather odd, especially as my neck zip was undone pretty much all the way down to the bottom of my back. The nice point about a small loop is you get to see all your team mates, especially when you run as slow as me. I was undertaken by Mike Jaffe, looking fresh after his impressive 3.14 in the Brighton marathon, Fiona Bussell on her way to her historic victory, James Dear overtook me several times, Ant overtook me and put his arm around me offering support, either that or he was trying to slow himself down going down Lucasters.
The presentation followed soon after the race, I cheered very loudly to the thank you to the Marshalls, many of whom were MSTC members and did a fantastic job in the wind and pouring rain, and an even loader cheer for Fiona's first place, congratulations to her. I will be back for more next year.
2nd 1:11:16 115 James Dear, Mid Sussex Tri Club 6:36,:44:17, 20:23
7th 01:16:52 106 Lawrence Wintergold, 07:07, 46:58 22:47
8th 01:17:35 125 Phil Couch ,05:23, 51:08, 21:04
10th 1:21:03 105 Anthony Grey, 7:13, 50:17, 23:33
18th 1:26:16 82 Martin Shoesmith 7:25, 53:11, 25:40
19th 1:26:41 68 Mike Jaffe, 8:17, 56:42, 21:42
20th 1:27:13 55 Steve Crocker, 08.10, 55:33, 23:30
36th 01:31:52 49 Fiona Bussell, 8:20, 1:01:15, 22:17 (1st Lady)
49th 01:34:32 24 Callum Murray, 9:28, 58:56, 26:08
84th 01:53:10 74 Tim Cresswell, 07:21, 1.08.54, 36:55
86th 01:56:09, Angela Murray, 11:31, 1:14:52, 29:46