Race Reports

City of Bath Sprint Triathlon

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A glorious sunny day started at 5:15am in my own bed. For once the triathlon I was to attempt was within 35mins of my own house. My resident triathlon widow/driver for the day headed for the shower and I headed for the coffee and my oaty based breakfast+banana.

Prior preparation and planning had paid off for once, and though the use of a tri-kit check list developed on my I-pad following bitter experience, the car had been loaded the previous day and all items ticked off. It still didn't stop my pre-race butterflies worrying, but it helped to not do a headless chicken impression on the morning of the race.

The final pre race necessity was completed in the luxury of a non chemical environment and we were off in the car. We promptly became stuck behind the slowest driver in Wiltshire with an unbelievable amount of oncoming traffic preventing an overtake. At that point my butterflies started developing an unhealthy desire to possess and use automatic weapons.

Eventually we got into Bath and headed up the hill to the university. It took about 2mins to drive up the hill at 30mph - I sat contemplating a similar journey scheduled for about 2hrs time to be completed by bicycle, whilst my butterflies further developed an interesting Anglo Saxon vocabulary.

We arrived at the car park to the oh so familiar "pssst" sound of bike tyres being checked - another race season had started and it made me smile.

The car next to us produced a mountain bike accompanied by a beginner triathlete who admitted the bike was her sons, and whilst it had sort-of road tyres, she had not checked them and had never trained on hills. For the uninitiated, the CoB triathlon has 1,005ft of accent in its 23km bike course...

In a fit of decency I pumped her tyres up from 20 to 55psi (max on the tyre wall said 60), and we tried to encourage her to great things. At least I was unlikely to be last now.

Registration was completed, and our labels were a very professional set of bike and helmet stickers from sportstiks.com that included a "supporting 116" sticker for my triathlon widow. She declined to wear it, and I offered her the "bag label" sticker instead - and got "that look".

Bike racking followed, all organised and signposted, and we headed into the Olympic size pool for race briefing. The briefing was good with some humour to keep you awake. One memorable moment was when the race director confirmed that in the pool there would be no diving, bombing, or petting! On the bike briefing, we were told aero bars were prohibited for one of the downhill sections because of a sharp left at the bottom, but I rarely eat chocolate when riding, so ignored that advice.

We were split into groups of 8 for the swim and each group of 8 were given a lane to swim clockwise around until the magic 8 x 50m lengths were complete. Thankfully I was scheduled to be in lane 1 so would have a ladder to get in and out with - those in the middle lanes would have to clamber out over a foot tall diving plinth.

My start time came, the whistle blew, and off I went. I overtook the swimmer in front of me at the end of the first 50m, and at the end of the second 50m I felt a tap as someone wanted to pass me. I let him by at the end of the length, and he promptly went 10m and pulled up completely out of air as he had gone out too hard. Two lengths and two casualties - I am invincible!

One very slow swim later (9+ mins) and I am out and running to T1. All goes well and I am off down the road overtaking a lot of racers as I go. The course is well marshalled and I am working hard to keep the speed up and feeling cocky. The first decent (450ft) cures me of that - it is fearsome. I am doing 30mph and being passed by riders doing 40mph+ but I cannot take my hand off the rear brake as we twist and turn down the hill. At the bottom revenge comes my way as I power up the hill overtaking all the 40mph brigade and a few more for good measure.

Smile for the cameras, around the roundabout, and back the way we came. Down the non aero hill and up the other side overtaking others like the god amongst men I feel I must be. Back towards T2 and they sneak in a final hill I hadn't noticed on the way out which saps your legs just when you need them for running.

T2 goes well, and I perform the triathlete shuffle on shaky legs as I headed through run-out.

Ah yes, the run...

Now if on dating websites curvy=fat, then in triathlon "flat and on good ground" translates as steep accents through soft and occasionally mud filled woodland paths.

I took about a mile before I got into my stride, but once there I felt good and covered the ground well. At the 4km mark I realised it was on for a PB if I got my finger out, and I pushed on. At 100m to go I turned the corner to be faced with a 3m tall ridge we had to run up and across before the finish line would come into view.

Final dash to the line aiming for the photographer, and across we go with a new PB of 1:21:43 and I finished in the top third for a change!

Tea and medals followed with the usual post race bragging with my fellow athletes.

In summary it was a tough sprint race with good marshalling that I would recommend as a warm up for the Dambuster - if only because of the bike course. I even have a new favourite mug from my goody bag.

London Marathon

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Pre-Race:

Exciting build-up to a great race. Huge expectation as Mo Farah prepares for marathon debut against possibly the strongest ever field of runners ever assembled for this distance.

Perfect weather forecasted. Bought loads of race kit at the fantastic expo at the ExCel (kit that could not be used for race because it had not been used for training).

Travelled up to London on race day by train along with thousands of participants and supporters. Great atmosphere.

Jim and Helen wore their legs out the week before at Brighton Marathon. Emma had just recovered from a nasty tummy virus. Mike had no excuses.

Jim and Helen got text messages an hour or two before the start, because TV coverage was showing clips of them filmed at the expo a few days earlier.

 

The Race:

Nearly 36,000 runners and maybe 150,000 supporters in ideal conditions in a well organised big city marathon. Amazing experience. Your name being shouted out by spectators every step of the way. Running across Tower Bridge and past other monuments with no traffic.

Emma, Helen, Mike and Jim were lucky enough to be in good-for-age pens, so everyone running at similar pace and no major bottle-necks.

Emma and Helen ran together for most of the race. Mike and Jim were together until mile 16, when Jim's legs turned to lead.

Emma and Helen ran good fast races and both got close to their personal bests.

Jim slowed progressively in the last 10 miles and was overtaken by an astronaut wearing a massive helmet plus a bride in a wedding dress.

Mike cruised the final mile, knowing he was on target, and savoured every moment as he crossed the line in 2:59. A personal best.

 

Post-Race:

Lots of fun and games trying to all meet up amongst crowds of runners and spectators, without mobile phone coverage because everyone was texting simultaneously.

Mo did a good debut, coming 8th and beat the current Olympic Champion (amongst others) but he was a minute slower than Steve Jones' 30 year old British record of 2:07 (which included a toilet-break incredibly).

The results software is quite sophisticated. Mike finished faster than 96% of the entire field and he overtook 111 runners in the last 5miles. Jim was overtaken by 1,022 runners in the last 5 miles (but he did manage to overtake 9 runners during that time).

It was fantastic to get texts and facebook messages from well-wishers. A big "thank you" to all at MSTC for their support.

 

Place overall

Place gender

Place category

Name

Club

Runner no

Category

HALF

Finish time

7578

1333

180

» Graham, Helen (GBR)

Mid S...

28603

45-49

01:50:22

03:43:47

3493

3145

277

» Graham, James (GBR)

Mid S...

31471

50-54

01:28:07

03:19:47

8724

1678

233

» Jaffe, Emma (GBR)

Mid S...

29219

45-49

01:50:24

03:48:51

1312

1247

158

» Jaffe, Mike (GBR)

Mid S...

29299

45-49

01:28:31

02:59:25

 

Brighton Marathon 2014

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Pre-Race: Weather forecasts predicted heavy rain and high winds, so few people expected fast times. It seemed the end of Brighton's charmed run of consistently great weather for every marathon.

Race-Day: Mild, cloudy weather with moderate wind and sunshine for the finish. Several international athletes graced the start-line and an impressive course record of 2:09:25 was set by William Chebor (despite having to stop mid-race to re-tie a shoe-lace!).

New PB's for Emma, Helen and Jim. Not sure if Anthony, Ben, Robin, Dean and Jean got PB's but the finish times were excellent anyhow.

Thanks to everyone giving support. Such a boost to hear "Go Mid-Sussex".

Helen Graham                                    3:36:04

Emma Goodhead                                3:43:01

Jean Fish                                           5:50:08

Jim Graham                                       2:52:09

Anthony Vince                                    3:20:53

Ben Stepney                                      3:41:26

Robin Monaghan                                3:47:29

Dean Allen                                         4:48:33

Post-Race: Terrific party atmosphere with huge crowds on the beach in sunshine. Music, beer and fast-food. A great advert for the city. Lots of MSTC signed up for Brighton Marathon 2015 already.

 

Jim Graham

 

 

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Spring Time Classic

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I did  this ride last year but opted for the Challenge route 54 miles, so this year I was going for the Classic route of 71 miles!!

At registration I met up with Jeff Woodall, Andy Miles and Graeme Fitzjohn. Jeff and I were doing the long ride and Andy and Graeme were doing the 54 mile route. The ride started at 8.30 am from Burgess Hill, although it is not a race, everyone is timed over their respective course.

 

The weather was kind as well, mild, a bit cloudy with a slight wind.  We all started together but Jeff was after a personal best time and went off like a rocket, not to be seen again til we met up in the food hall at the finish!!!

I stuck with Andy until my chain came off after I went through the ford at Pillow Mounds Hill. I don't know how Graeme and Andy got on during the ride as I never saw either of them again.

The Classic route takes in Ashdown Forest and travels into parts of Kent and Surrey. There are five notable hilly sections on the route with Pillow Mounds Hill being the first, where you have to cross a ford before starting the climb. Once I got my chain back on I got stuck into the climb and completed that without any problems. The miles went by and then it was Kidds Hill, known locally as "the Wall". I have been up here several times but it is still a sit in the saddle and grind away type of hill and kicks again very steeply just before the summit.

By now I was well warmed up and looking forward to the Col du Groombridge [ Groombridge Hill ], this one has no run up and must be shown respect. These hills certainly cut down your average speed!!!Del Kidds Hill.jpg

I arrived at Hever [ which was the timing stop ] in 2hrs 43 mins. had a quick pit stop, picked up a bit of food and was on my way again. As I was leaving the feed station I checked my bike computer but alas it was no longer attached to my bike!!! Obviously I had been travelling so fast that it must have flown off!!! 

Having  made my way back via Hartfield , Forest Row and onto West Hoathly the next thrill to look forward too was looming up, the infamous Cobb Lane!!! It is short but has a 20% gradient and can be a cleat breaker as it's known as "the walk of shame" as many riders are forced to walk it!!! To make matters worse the official photographer is always there to record the " shame or the agony"!!! Well it was not the "walk of shame" for me but it was agony!!! 

Then it was on through Ardingly to what I thought was the final set of hills by the reservoir, short but steep. But there was yet another hill to climb up Deakes Lane into Ansty and then crack on to Burgess Hill to the finish.

               
I met up with Jeff in the food hall and found out that he had problems with his bike at one of the feed stations which delayed him somewhat and that had put paid to him achieving a "Gold Standard".

                                      
Challenge 54 miles

Andy Miles            3hrs 46 mins Silver

Peter Court            3 hrs 51 mins 40secs     Silver

Graeme Fitzjohn    4hrs 7 mins 15 secs       Bronze

Jon Webster            4hrs 27mins 5 secs       Bronze

                                        
Classic 71 miles

Jeff Woodall             5hrs 15 mins 46 secs    Silver

Del Hastings             5hrs 20mins 46 secs     Silver

I've got to say that was one of the toughest rides I have done!!! I have also sent an email to the organisers to ask why the Gold Standard for over 60's was 4hrs 55mins and yet the Gold Standard for the Winter Classic [ which was 77 miles but only an undulating course] for over 60's was 5hrs 30 mins which I completed in 5hrs 15mins. 

 

Del Boy

 

 

Balcombe Bull Run

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Bright sunshine and a crisp wind greeted the 73 entrants in Balcombe's first Bull Run - a circular, 7.3km cross-country run over the fields, lanes, styles and footpaths of our beautiful village.  We even had a bit of hail thrown in to give it that tougher feel!

Dave Jones (an ex-pupil of the school and successful triathete) and I had laid out the course the night before with reflective signs. The day started early with the PTA cooking up bacon sandwiches and refreshments for the gathering runners and supporters. Then we briefed the 18 marshals, who had offered to keep a watchful eye over the runners, and gave the runners a race briefing. Harriet Record got everyone in the mood with a warm-up before I called the runners to the start line.


Looking over to it I could see a wonderful mix of runners - from the young (12) to the older (60+), from the experienced to the fun runner. There was fancy running kit on show and one competitor who I'm sure was wearing surf shorts! It is so rewarding to see people raring to go and getting stuck in. Jackie Stone blew the air horn to start and the race was off. It's amazing that even before they reached the top of Westup Lane the runners were strung out - from the gazelles to the steam engines....

They continued along Rowhill Lane, passed Spicers Farm (where David Vickerstaff had set up a water table) before going onto Postman's Walk and across the fields to Westup Farm and back home. This was a muddy, hilly and tough course - not to mention the added hail. I was astounded at the pace of Rob Watts (mens winner in 28m 14sec), Rachel Baker (ladies winner 36.14), Eleanor Stoner (girls winner 37.15) and James Greetham (boys winner 44.28). Well done to you all.

A big crowd had assembled at the finish and the noise was awesome. Everyone was given a cow bell medal, bananas and water. And the winners got some lovely hats. The cakes and bacon "sardines" (as my Facebook entry said - damn autocorrect!) were laid on by the PTA - perfect recovery food after a race.

My thanks to everyone who ran, helped and supported on the day. We made over £500 for the school and also secured a regular event in Balcombe's diary. Bring on Balcombe Bull Run 2015!

Mat Record