Race Reports

BRAT Birmingham Triathlon

/media/26274/Birmingham Triathlon.jpeg

Now having historically spent a fortune on pre-race hotels and then arriving "in the nick of time" to rack my bike in the morning, I observed that many triathlons have adjoining campsites, and thought this could reduce stress levels on the day. So three weeks before the race found me walking around camping shops looking at tents, discarding any that did not have enough room inside them for my bike, an exercise mat, sufficient storage space for race stuff, space for a large inflatable mattress, oh, and sleeping/living space for my long suffering wife.

After identifying the object I required, 3 days of watching and waiting on E-bay boiled down to an electronic game of chicken with my winning bid arriving 2 seconds before the auction ended. 1 x Outwell Montana 6 tent is now in my possession. Phase one of my plan was complete, phase two (going racing) could now commence.

After a leisurely drive to Tamworth, we arrived at the West Midlands Water centre in plenty of time to register on the Saturday, pitched our tent, sat back and waited 26mins for the kettle to boil via the 12v power supply. Our next door neighbours then arrived with their "charming" children, and promptly started having a domestic before striking camp and arguing about which car the kids would travel in for the journey home (and which one of them would therefore have to "put up with them").

The allure of camping was becoming clear to me.

Once they left however, things started looking up as other triathletes started arriving and comparing bikes. Take-away was planned, purchased, and consumed - and I retired to my bed which was kitted out with feather pillows and a duck down duvet (my wife does not do sleeping bags).

I awoke at 5:30am to force down my pre-race breakfast of oat bars, bananas, and fluid. By 06:10the bike was racked and I had achieved a PB in the porta-loo.

Now, whilst it is great to be on-site with zero stress, I now had everything ready with 1hr 20mins until race start. An unprecedented level of organisation for me.

Race brief followed, with a small panic when I noticed that no-one else had the same colour swim hat as me - it appears the BTF were using this event to get rid of their odd stock, and the colour bore no relation to my wave. Wetsuits were optional at 19.5 deg, but as I sink like a stone without one, I opted to keep mine on.

Everyone appeared to be organising themselves according to the swim lanes at the Dolphin, so I joined my fellow "athletes" on the far left and we got given the horn. Off I went drafting where I could and for once steering a pretty good course to the 750m buoy. Downhill to the finish line and out the water in an uneventful 27mins, but just to stop me getting too cocky, my tri suit zipper tag got caught in my wetsuit zip, and my first flap of the day began in earnest.

Problem solved in the 150m run to the bike, and my T1 began properly. Drills were OK, and another 100m run with the bike put me at the mount line.

So excited was I to be racing, I had gone about two miles before I realised my Garmin 310 was still showing timing for "T1" - so accurate pacing of my bike effort was going to be down to judgement rather than data. After about 10mins, I realised I had a shadow, and I spent the next 55mins swapping places with my new "friend" exchanging a bit of good natured banter each time. Nutrition worked well, with gels and water going down at a well-judged 15mins before the bike element ended.

The bike course itself was great with two loops of a course that has a couple of hills, but nothing too challenging. There was a very tight 90deg left hander which one guy screwed up taking out a Volvo coming the opposite way. He ended up with a dislocated shoulder, but the Volvo will need a new wing, bonnet, windscreen, and roof, as he managed to dent to break all of these on his way to the other side of the road.

Anyway, into T2 (slick drills on removing feet from shoes), and out onto the run pausing only to take on more fluid.

My biking buddy (Stuart) put on a spurt and came past me as we came out of T2, and we started our four lap run at about 7:30 pace. Each lap took us up and over a huge earth berm (about 80foot tall and 600ft long), and after the first lap I succeeded in getting ahead of Stuart. I then spent the next two laps overtaking another racer only for him to take offense and put in a spurt, so after wearing him out a bit by doing it a few times deliberately, I put in a big push and dropped him (heh, heh, heh). One more lap and we reached the finish. Big sprint, great finish, and then heard my new PB time over the tannoy - 2:22:17 - oh yes, who's the daddy.

Grabbed some water, and turned to shout encouragement for Stuart as he came into the finishing straight - I had a great race with him, and he with me.

The event was superb, the marshalls excellent, and I made some new friends - it kind of sums up triathlons.

Looking forward to racing again on the 22nd September at the Portsmouth Triathlon - closed road racing should make for a fast race! Our campsite in Southsea has already been identified - but I will be buying a kettle that boils quickly.


Andrew Lennox

Ironman Zurich 2013

/media/26251/Jim Zurich.png

I trained diligently for Ironman Zurich but the non-neoprene swim drained the energy reserves and also piled on the minutes.

I only took up swimming to do triathlon and I have only ever really been interested in wet-suit outdoor races. Hence, an effective leg-kick has not been developed. Lack of wetsuit did not seem to bother the top swimmers as they don't need the buoyancy.

The cycle went perfectly to plan with average pace of 20mph and heart rate average below 140 (only crept up to 145 very briefly on a couple of occasions). Terrific bike course with several spectacularly scenic sections. Combination of flats, hills and some sharp turns. Maximum speed 47 mph. This is the part that made it all worthwhile.

The run pace was conservative due to the conditions and resignation that the poor swim had destroyed Kona aspirations. Nevertheless, by mile 15 there was nothing left in the tank.

Personal best cycle of 5:31 (beating my Challenge Roth 2012 effort by 6 mins)

Worst ever swim of 1:55 (45 mins slower than expected)

Worst ever run of 5:43 (did London Marathon 3 months ago in 2:56)

Slowest ever overall finish time of 13:18


(These sentences are taken from an email sent to finishers after the event).

This year´s race goes down as the hardest competition ever realized in Zurich. Not only because of the heat but also because of the non-wetsuit swim which was an additional challenge for many athletes."



Ironman Switzerland is a good race that is highly recommended (Challenge Roth by contrast is a great race...just a bit better in all ways, especially crowd-support and race management).

Lake Zurich is beautiful with clean water. Probably a very pleasant swim under normal conditions.

The cycle is terrific but has a few sharp turns combined with steep descents that could prove tricky in the wet (and it often does rain in Zurich). Lots of rules and novel ways to get in the penalty box (such as non-aerobar sections and  no-overtaking sections).

The run has several underpasses and switch-backs but lots of crowd support and feed-stations.

Jim Graham

Rachel Breaks a Club Record

/media/26118/RB timetrial2.jpg

Rachel Baker, Ant Grey, Rob Hoodless & Martin Shoesmith rode the Crawley Wheelers evening 10 last week (11th July).

Rachel set a new club record for a 10 mile time trial. Taking 23.44 to complete the challenging G10/58 course (which runs along the A24 between Rusper and Southwater), she broke through the coveted 25mph barrier for the first time. Her speed was an amazing 25.28mph average over the 10 miles.

Rachel rode over from Haywards Heath with Ant and Martin, an excellent warm up before the main event, then broke the club record and her PB, by over a minute.

Rachel said she had a perfect ride, and was absolutely delighted with her performance. Conditions were ideal, a still and warm evening and with competitors leaving at 30sec intervals, it made for exciting racing.well as exciting as times trials ever get!

If you wish to set your own 10 PB, join the MSTC team, who leave at 6.50pm from the Ship Pub car park, Cuckfield. Race entries are accepted on the night, £4 for non Crawley Wheeler members.


Crawley Wheelers Club 10 Mile Time Trial 11th July G10/58    

Top 10 riders  

1.                   Stuart Nisbett                     21.23

2.                   Paul Byford                        21.26

3.                   Rupert Robinson                    21.53

4.                   Ant Grey                           23.23

5.                   Robert Hoodless                    23.29

6.                   Martin Shoesmith                   23.36

7.                   Mark Penfold                       23.43

8.                   Rachel Baker                       23.44 (L) PB

9.                   Mike Oliver                        24.32

10                   Iain Scott                          24.42


Club records are held here if you think you have one please email through the site. The only proviso is that you have to have been a member at the time of setting the record.





1st place at Seaford Olympic

After a positive showing at Worthing in the sprint triathlon the weekend before where I finished 4th, I was mostly looking forward to my first Olympic distance event of the year down in Seaford. My friend had kindly lent me his TT bike after I had somehow managed to crack the top tube on my own bike a couple of weeks before - a super slick machine with a Zipp disc wheel at the back. Only problem was I am 6 ft tall and my friend is about 5'6" so every time I rode the bike my knees would bang into my elbows.

On Saturday the weather was gorgeous: no wind, no waves, sunny and warm. At the best of times my swimming resembles a drowning man and this race was not much different although I guess I managed to drown with at least "some" style coming out of the water in 11th place and sprinting up the steep shingle into T1. Aaaargh, Idiot! Having mounted my tri shoes on the bike I had forgotten to open up the straps on the shoes so I wobbled my way down the first 50m of the bike course getting my feet in. Right, time to monster. Seaford is a pan flat bike along the prom so it was relatively uneventful. The biggest challenge is counting 12 laps and avoid being taken out on the 22 180 degree turns you have to make but I survived intact and could see that I had made some gains on the cycle leg. A quick T2 and out onto the run. Where is everyone and who is the guy on the bike in front of me? It took me a good 30 seconds to realise I'd run out first. This was a unique experience for me and I spent the next 9.75km torturing myself with the thought that someone was going to run past me. My paranoia definitely helped me step on the gas and I managed to hang on to cross the line in 1st place, very proudly wearing my MSTC tri suit, of course! The last time I did this race in 2005 took me nearly 3 hours so pretty happy with that improvement!

Swim 30:18

Bike 1:03:26

Run 40:49

Total 2:14:33


Graeme Jeffery

Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Festival



This was a massive challenge for Helen, who is a keen runner but relatively new to triathlon (previous experience limited to a couple of sprint triathlons). Pippa, Steve and Jim are
seasoned long distance triathletes.

Helen's preparation was severely limited, initially by other commitments and then by a cycling accident. Practically all Helen's swimming and cycling training was to be done in the
fortnight before the race, but the first cycle training session on Preston Park Cycle Track ended in severe cuts and bruises when a dog ran into her front wheel at 20mph. The broken skin and limb pains had just 10 days to recover before the race.


The venue and course

Very good value for money. About a third the cost of official ironman. Free camping next to swim start and/or cheap rooms provided on-site.


The Avon Tyrell Estate hosts the annual Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Festival, with half, single and double iron-distance races plus a 100-mile ultramarathon occurring simultaneously on the same course. Great atmosphere in a picturesque setting. The previous couple of years have seen very wet and windy weather. This year, the conditions were perfect with sunshine and dry roads/paths.


Everything is on one site, so you can walk to the race briefing and transition etc. Nice lake swim with repeated laps of just a few hundred metres each.


Great cycle through the New Forest with all left turns and not much traffic. Repeated 1.1 mile run laps through the grounds of the estate, on dirt tracks and paths.


The race

A relatively small field of competitors with a friendly atmosphere.



The women's swim start was 90 mins before the men's. Steve and Jim cheered on Pippa and Helen as they completed their swim. Pippa was one of the first out of the water as expected. Helen had a massive smile as she finished the swim far quicker than she believed possible. Steve's swim was close to the fastest of the day and Jim was middle of the pack as usual. 


An enjoyable safe ride on decent surfaces with only left turns and hardly any traffic. A mixture of flat, hilly, straight and technical sections (but nothing very challenging). Not a fast course, as it is longer than the usual middle distance cycle plus there are several slow passes of the Avon Tyrell courtyard fuelling station. Jim had raced this course previously
and this helped him secure the fastest cycle time. All four from MSTC completed the cycle without incident (major result for Helen).



Challenging run up and down dirt paths within the Estate. Passed the courtyard fuelling station every 1.1 miles to get drinks, gels and cheers from supporters.

Speeding past tired athletes, who were doing longer distance events on the same course, helped to keep our spirits up.

Enduroman tradition dictates that one completes the final run lap in reverse direction, in order to high-five everyone still out on the course. Jim was pleasantly surprised to find he finished his penultimate run lap without seeing anybody running in the opposite direction (never been in the lead before and never previously won a race).

Steve and Pippa completed their runs with good form to produced fast finish times (17th male and 9th female respectively). Helen saved her best for last and she was the 7th fastest female runner (11th fastest female overall).

Name Overall Pos Overall Time Swim Bike Run
Graham, James 1. 05:25:46 0:38:40 02:59:10 1:36:05
Birchall, Steve 17. 07:20:43 0:35:12 03:44:47 2:43:27
Crouch, Pips 9 08:19:31 0:40:53 04:31:20 3:07:17
Graham, Helen 11 09:21:35 0:58:06 05:51:34 2:31:54