Race Reports

Member's Summer Activities

Carl & Caroline At Coniston

Here is some news of the range of activities of Mid Sussex Triathlon Club Members through the summer.

8th August Goodwood Ultra Triathlon

Stewart Conway placed an impressive 7th in the inaugural 255 Triathlon at Goodwood in 12.38.35. This is the world's longest single day Triathlon which involves a 5km swim, 200km bike ride and 50km run. The swim is in Westhampnett Lake whilst the bike ride and run are on the traffic free motor circuit. Competitors must complete the event in 18 hours. Despite the wind and rain, Stewart described it as a great day out.

21st/22nd August Seaford, Uckfield and Ripon

Liz Griffin Hind, who is a very experienced swimmer, completed her first triathlon at Seaford (750m sea swim, 20km bike ride, 5km run) in 1.36.51.

Carlos Castro went all the way to Ripon to compete in the Dalesman Triathlon, his first long distance ironman triathlon (3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, 42.2km run) in just over 12 hrs.

Meanwhile Zoe Deeley and Jon Clarke stayed local, competing in the Uckfield Standard Triathlon (600m swim, 22km bike ride, 5.25km run) finishing in 1.53.18 (11th woman) and 1.28.14 (22nd man), respectively.

4th September Aquasphere Chillswim 5.25 mile Lake Coniston End to End

After much training at Ardingly Reservoir through the summer Caroline Ray and Carl Clarke travelled to the Lake District on Saturday 4th September for the very popular 5.25 mile Lake Coniston swim, finishing in 3hrs 6min and 3hr 19 min respectively.

Mid Sussex Triathlon Club W/E 4th July 2021

Stewart Conway At Bolton Ironman

Ironman Uk at Bolton

While many in the country were still in bed, the competitors of Ironman UK 2021 were setting off on a daunting physical test in Bolton. Athletes began early in the morning with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride around the town, before running a full marathon, all in the pouring train, making the bike run treacherous.

Stewart Conway and Doug MacTaggart were keen to take part as the event had to be postponed last year due to Covid. Stewart completed the course in a respectable 11hr 42 mins 10 secs giving him 12th place in his age group and  97th place overall. Doug, who specialises in Ultra Marathons and who was competing in his 16th Ironman, finished in 15.46.18 to place 1012th in this very popular event.

Outlaw Holkham Half Ironman

Outlaw Half Holkham is known as one of the UK’s most beautiful triathlon events with the 18th century Holkham Hall providing an inspiring backdrop to the swim. Luc Berthouse competing in his first Half Ironman was delighted to come 7th in his age group with a good time of 4.57.42. This also placed him 117th out of 1125 competitors.

Hever Castle Long Aquathlon

This event is part of the Festival of Endurance and comprises a lengthy 3,800m swim followed by a 21km run. Adam Bryant came 2nd in his age group for the second time, and 8th overall in what he described as probably the hardest race he’d ever done.

Ardingly Reservoir Open Water Swimming

Meanwhile the club’s open water swimming continues at Ardingly on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings. This is the club’s most popular activity with 39 swimmers on Saturday.

Ironman Arizona 2019

Helenbike 500X375

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 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


 

Ironman Haugesund Norway 2018

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Background

The inaugural full ironman in Norway took place on 1st July during unusually hot dry sunny conditions. There were less than 600 athletes doing the full 140.6 mile race which occurred simultaneously with the 70.3 race. At the start of the year, this Norway race had been my main target to win an Ironman Kona slot, with Ironman Boulder in Colorado three weeks earlier as the tune-up race. I was fortunate enough to get a Kona slot at Boulder so this visit to Norway became the tune-up race for the ITU World Championship in Denmark two weeks afterwards.

Swim

The lake swim at Haugesund was a relatively cool 18 degrees and produced a surprisingly frequent number of contacts with other swimmers despite the rolling start and small starter list. The swim was well organised with a novel system of swim lanes within the lake so it was impossible to go off course by very much. My 1:28 swim was typical of recent times and one of the slowest in age group.

Cycle

This is possibly my best ever cycling experience and a top personal performance. The conditions were perfect with closed dry roads on a breathtakingly beautiful but challenging hilly technical single loop 112 mile course with constant turns and switch-backs. If I had previously cycled the course, I could have cycled 10 minutes quicker because of less braking and choosing better lines to take corners at speed. Several sections were like a roller-coaster ride with 40mph descents approaching bends in the road then steep climbs that momentum could carry you up if you held your nerve.

My 5:33 cycle was 22 minutes faster than the next best in my age group, but I had no notion of this when I started the run.

Run

I had no idea that I was in the lead for most of the run and I frittered away a 13 minute advantage by failing to dig deep in the second half. My 4:07 run was 15 minutes slower than my typical Ironman run and I finished 2nd in age group having been beaten by 4 minutes 31 seconds.

Reflections

JimNorway2018.jpgIt was a very pleasant surprise to appear on an Ironman podium for the second time within 3 weeks. My overall finish time of 11:18:03 is not particularly fast but the challenging bike course and the hot conditions for the run caused everyone to slow down. 

Having been middle of the pack for most of the other 20 Ironman races since my first one in 2009, this 2nd place in age group at Ironman Norway is more than I could have hoped for.

That altitude training in Colorado a few weeks earlier seems to have worked but sadly it will just be a temporary effect. Lack of mental strength may have cost me 1st place in age group in this race as a little voice in my head may have been telling me to save something for the ITU Long Distance World Championship in Denmark two weeks after.