Race Reports

Le Jog Days 5 - 7

Day 5

Runcorn to Kendal 82.61 m. 5h49m14s. Average speed 14.15mph 

Total so far 447.16m 

It was great last night meeting up with Fiona B. who has been working here for the last 2 months. She was happy to show us the giant chimney stack where she works, on our way to Frodsham for an excellent meal. This morning's breakfast however was not so good because the hotel did not get their milk delivery. That didn't affect Churchill or the Saint who missed breakfast altogether but the others had to make do with what they could get. 

Everybody was a bit jaded today. The aches and pains were beginning to catch up with us. Both Brace and the Wobbler now have sore knees, whereas for Churchill and Cling On it is easier to list what doesn't hurt!! It was not hilly today but the wind had turned. The majority of the day was spent riding into a headwind. It was much colder than usual and intermittently there was driving rain. It was much safer getting out of Runcorn than getting in and we soon crossed the Mersey and on through the very busy areas of Widnes, St. Helen's and Ormskirk before heading towards Preston. We cycled through Preston in torrential rain but our Landlady this evening says it is not much better in bright sunshine. 

Churchill was so tired today that when he was cycling along a cycle lane he was totally unaware of his surroundings, and had a near miss with a cyclist coming the other way. They had been approaching each other for at least half a mile but he failed to notice him at all. They missed each other by inches! Did he get away with it - Oh Yes!! 

It was a good to see Lancaster which seems a really nice city, before we crossed into Cumbria and headed towards the lake district. We were still generally at a low ebb, partly because we had been told we had much further to ride than we really did - they just do not put mile markers around here. In desperation Cling On asked at a petrol station and found out that we only had 12 miles to go (about 10 less than we thought) - as we left Brace shouted to the attendant 'I think I love you'  but received a very bemused response. 

We then saw the River Kent and followed it as it gently wound it's way into Kendal. Churchill led them directly to their B&B where we were met by Yvonne, a bubbly German lady who insisted she would have been called Brunhilda except for a quirk of fate!! 

Kendal is a delightful town, and we have just had steaks all round with 3 bottles of wine and desserts for about £60 - astonishing prices once you start getting further north. 

Tomorrow we are looking forward to getting into Scotland but there is the small matter of the Lake District hills to contend with first. 

We are now about half way!!!

 

Day 6.

Kendal to Thornhill 96.72m 6h50m44s  14.13mph average 

Total so far 543.88m 

The Wobbler has been room sharing with Brace and today he let us all know what it was like having a Sikorsky helicopter in his room - not that Brace's snoring was affecting anyone else. Ox's snoring however has been described by Cling On as like an epileptic hippo. 

One thing we cannot generally complain about so far is the weather - and today has been no exception. We awoke to bright sunshine and although it didn't last all day it did least stay fine until we were out of the Lake District. We had one of the monster climbs over Shap Fell and Ox had a mechanical problem halfway. The others had to wait for 10 minutes at the top and got very cold in spite of the sunshine. 

At the bottom on the other side we stopped in Penrith at a Sainsbury's cafe. Brace hobbled across the store which was huge. When he arrived back his knee was quite swollen from his effort. He had walked across the store to find a toilet and came back to find it was in the cafe all the time!! 

The next town was Carlisle which took forever to traverse because we got caught by just about every traffic light. We had a plan to get to Gretna by back roads but it was difficult to find so the Wobbler stopped at a motel to ask. After some trouble we worked out where to go and the receptionist's face lit up when the Wobbler said we had been staying in their motels along the route - travelodge. Unfortunately we were standing in the reception of a Premier Inn!! 

We crossed into Scotland and then headed West to Dumfries - into a howling cold head wind until we finally reached our destination of Thornhill and a welcoming coaching Inn. 

Were we pleased to see it - Oh Yes!!

 

Day 7

Thornhill to Dumbarton 83.9m 6h2m37s 13.89mph average

Total so far 627.78m

WET, WET, WET!!!  is the only way to describe today. Torrential rain all day - until it got really wet! I have been drier swimming in my wetsuit!!

It all started quite positively with the Wobbler getting everybody going with his deadlines to departure then a photo shoot with the Saint (with us sheltering under the tailgate of the van).

The first 20 miles followed the Nith valley which is beautiful even in the rain. It didn't take long to reach our lunch stop in Kilmarnock, but we were already getting a bit cold. We had to cross some verges to get onto the road after checking some directions. I have never seen anyone bunny hop over a foot high railing before. I still haven't!! Ox McQueen tried and failed and ended up in a heap on the grass!! At least he wasn't badly hurt.

We piled into Asda for a bite to eat and basically just dripped everywhere. At least we warmed up a bit after fish and chips all round, and at that moment the Saint appeared with the offer of dry clothes. Cling On and Ox had been riding with shorts and at least Cling On took the chance to dress more warmly and more dry layers were added by several of us. Yet again generous members of the public gave us spontaneous donations to our charity (Help for Heroes).

The afternoon was tricky for lots of reasons - not only was it wet, windy and cold but we were heading for the Erskine Bridge to cross the Clyde. We wanted to avoid going too far into Glasgow itself so we went a scenic route which was harder to find as many junctions were not signposted. This slowed us down so we became wetter and colder still. We finally reached the Bridge when we realised that Lord 'Cling On' Lucan had disappeared. Wobbler and Brace went back to look for him and we had just got the Saint out to help look for him (while Churchill and Ox were sheltering from the rain in a garden centre) when he finally appeared. He had 2 punctures, but with the rain and traffic noise, nobody heard his shout and only realised a little way down the road.

Once we were back together we were freezing cold and shivering and our combined brains had completely turned to mush with the result that we tried to cross the bridge on the main carriageway to the great annoyance of all the drivers. Once the tailback was about a mile (Half way across) we had to carry our bikes over the crash barriers and onto the cycle path (which was officially closed - hence our mistake). It was a lot safer on the path.

With light failing we finally reached our B&B, to find they had a problem with the hot water. Churchill and Cling On ended up with cold showers but at least we were out of the rain. Luckily the limpers (Brace and the Wobbler) managed to sort out their water and later it was available for all!! 

Were we happy to finish today? Oh Yes!!

 

Cast List

Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.

David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!

Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.

Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!

Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!

Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes

 Photos here

LEJOG Sunday Lunch

"We'll be at the Severn Crossing for coffee and cakes at 11am" they said - I foolishly thought they were still working on BST.

 

12:10pm they finally rolled across the bridge claiming strong winds and steep hills, by which time I was already heading towards the lunch rendezvous thinking I had missed them. A quick scout of the pubs in Monmouth brought me to the conclusion that Google recommendations are rubbish, and I quickly changed the venue. If you are contemplating doing LEJOG yourself - I can now highly recommend stopping for lunch at the Robin Hood Pub in Monmouth.

 

The boys rolled into town at 1:45pm with Emma arriving simultaneously in the support wagon, and with the bikes stowed safely in the beer garden, there were instant demands for full fat coke; crisps; and directions to the nearest little boys room.

 

An almost universal vote for steak and ale pie was followed by more coke and sticky toffee pudding (albeit with a loud request for a spotted dick from Steve). All this fuel was washed down with stories of near misses with taxi cabs and high speed tours around the car park in order to take yesterdays daily mileage from 99.6miles to 100. New nicknames have now been endowed on each of them, with Emma being regarded by all as "the Saint".

 

The goal of John'o'Groats draws them ever onwards, and discussion was had as to whether it would be acceptable to fill the very last water bottles with beer so the party could start early on the final day. Once they were suitably fuelled, photographed, and restocked with Snickers bars, we sent them on the way for the final 40miles of the day. It was great to meet up with them all. 

 

Three days in and they are doing well, demonstrating once again that there is nothing a well trained club member cannot do, providing there is a promise of alcoholic oblivion at the end of the journey.

 

Andy Lennox

Ironman Wales

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I'm not sure at any point prior to waking up in race morning, had it actually sunk in what I was about to do, either that or I had selectively blocked it from my mind.

We arrived in Wales on Thursday to register and just have a chance to get used to the strange bed/surroundings etc.

Friday we drove the bike course. Well. I learned from that that the westerly loop was easier than most hills we have around us, but the 2nd loop was going to be hell on earth. The westerly loops was quite good road, little bump hills that didn't take a huge amount of effort to get up and at least 3 spectacular views. In contrast the other loop was quite a stones surface with lots of winding hedge enclosed roads and 3 of the worst hills I have ever seen.  The hill coming up into Narberth started off steep but then eased off a bit but went on forever, the 2nd on the way into Saundersfoot was a 16% straight up Jon, not dissimilar to Kidds Hill and the 3rd, known locally as Heartbreak Hill was of similar percentage but it did a lot of winding. Realisation also dawned that the hill out of Tenby that I had said "oh no, I hope we aren't cycling up here!" about, was in fact the hill we were running up.

Saturday, bike racking day. Took everything down, racked it in my allocated slot and put the cover on, at which point it completely disappeared! I've never seen anything like it, 1500 bikes all racked together in exactly the same place. It was at this point I became quite thankful for the knowledge that I would be far from the first person put the swim so that would make my life a lot easier!  After racking my plastic bags and driving off I suddenly got struck with an immense paranoia that I had somehow forgotten to put my helmet in my bag, even though I knew it had been on my head at the point I racked the bag and wasn't when I left!

Sunday. Race day. 3 alarms went off at 4 just to ensure that none of them spontaneously failed and I woke to have missed race start. 5:10 start making our way over to suddenly realise that I had left the carrier bag with all my drinks in in our room, glad I left early! Upon arrival, Darren dropped me off so that he could go and park the car somewhere and I made my way to transition, still not entirely aware of the magnitude of the situation, to put all my bits on my bike.

Walking down the road to transition (it was still dark at this point) was like a scene from a zombie film, and I thought wow, it's actually happening, the start of a zombie apocalypse! But no, it was just all my fellow competitors slowly walking towards their destiny. Some neoprene clad, others not. Once I'd sorted the bike and got my wetsuit on and everyone else was assembled we started the walk down to the beach. I couldn't stop thinking to myself how far it was and how I was one of the only people I could see wearing flip flops rather than trainers!

As we were nearing the beach it was still dark and I was beginning to wonder if tinted goggles were a bad choice and which point the chap next to me said he was thinking the same thing. Once we had racked our bags on the railings of the ridiculous ramp from the beach to the esplanade we made our way down onto the sand. We were talked through the course which was 2 laps out to one what I thought was a massive buoy, along the back to another, then back in to the beach. The sea was perfectly calm which was nice, seeing as the previous year had caught the tail end of that hurricane, and the sun was just starting to rise behind the clouds.

This is it, no backing out now. I need a pee. It's still dark, where am I going again? Some of the thoughts that went through my mind, then following a rendition of the welsh national anthem we were off. This was it. Sink or swim literally.

Was the little amount of training I had done been enough? I hoped so, I seemed to be able to pull it out the bag in the past, hopefully it would work again this time? Hope so, there's a lot riding on it, not to mention the bits I'd bought at the expo which I would feel unable to wear if I failed!

I decided to hang near the back like usual, let the pros fight it out among themselves. Right, pull pull breathe, pull pull breathe, this is easy, just think of it as the Arun swim that you've done so many times before... Heading out to the first buoy was quite hard going, for a start, despite the thing being about 7-8 feet tall and similarly as wide I just couldn't pick it out, I think it was the plethora or orange lifeboats around that detracted from it... An, there it is, pull pull breath, woohoo I'm there, next! The back straight was fast. That ws probably the quickest side by far but again as the buoy ws even further away this time it was even more difficult to spot so I hoped whoever was leading the back knew where they were going as I'm pretty sure everyone was just following them! After that one, back into the beach sighting on Goskar Rock which is a bike spiky rock that is just off the beach and is somewhat imposing. Go Iron Cops! Said one of the banners that had been strung on it, yeah, go iron cops! you can do it! Running across the beach I stole a glance at my watch, 40 minutes, not bad, just got to do it again. Getting back in almost seemed harder as you felt like "but I've done this already!" but do it again you must, so off we go. The sea had started to get a little choppier at this stage. Still nothing too bad though. Out of the water for the final time, I managed to get straight up with no wobbling at all and made for the ramp. Found my stuff, got my wetsuit off and rinsed myself down with water. Once at the top of the ramp, donned my flip flops and jogged back to the transition with a few people commenting on the fact I was running in flip flops! But that's what I do!

Nothing really of note happened in transition although I did note that I was in and out a lot quicker than some of the people that had been in there before me.

Bike. This is the part I was anxious about since so much could happen that is beyond your control. Quick time check, right I have 8 hours 55 mins to complete it. I can do this. I decided that after the drive on Friday, the best course of action was to do the first loop as fast as I could without compromising energy levels etc to build myself a buffer for the harder loops, so off I went and I actually felt like I was positively flying. I decided to treat it like any other normal Sunday bike ride and break it up into things I knew. The first loop I decided was out to Boxhill and back. Amazingly I didn't even feel like I had done a swim at all and basically felt fresh as a daisy. Legs turning well, past a couple of cleat errors on the first big hill but they seemed ok, come on, grind it up there then you'll be rewarded with a nice downhill. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm liking this, with it being closed road you literally felt like you owned the road, I think this was pretty much every cyclists dream, go as fast as you like with no risk of being hit by cars whilst dodging pot holes etc. I was living the dream! Ok bike, we can do this, just you, me and the open road. If you get me through this I'll buy you some new shoes (tyres) that match your outfit and you'll look really pretty, I'm sorry I didn't get you new shoes before the race, but we all know you shouldn't try out new shoes on race day! And it seemed to work as we were flying round passing various people with mechanical issues on their fancy carbon fiber TT bikes.

The view over the bay that was so spectacular on Friday was less so today, the wind was right up and I was being blown all over the place! Thankfully that stretch is quite small before you started cycling up between some sandy dunes. Made it round the bottom loop, only 2 more to go. The first half of the 2 loop section is fine, if you're ok riding round Sussex then it's nothing new, rubbish road surface, tight turns and the odd bump in the road and incidentally it seems like the primary road kill in Wales is slugs. Heading towards Narberth there were a couple of really long grindy hills then there was the hill into Narberth itself. I could see a couple of people pushing their bikes up ahead but I thought I had to at least try. After the initial ramp it was actually ok, got to the top and it was like the top of a mountain at the TDF there was music, hundreds of people and you could help but grin like an idiot.

Round the whole thing actually the support was fantastic, people all outside their houses cheering you on, I don't think I stopped smiling at all on the first lap round. Then came some hairy descents that I certainly was glad we weren't having to go up before hitting the bottom of the 16% hill. I can only describe it as the top section of Kidds Hill but a little longer. It just goes straight up and the road surface was a little rubbish which didn't help. Managed to puff and blow my way to the top though then after a bit of respite came Heartbreak Hill. Unsure of the % of this one, but it was quite twisty and was again lined with people so stopping wasn't an option then once all the strength in your legs has been taken by those 2 hills you have to do a bit more climbing before finally hitting the descent into Tenby... Before doing it all again! Nothing much different to note about the 2nd loop apart from the fact a head wind had got up and it started raining which pushed away all but the most die hard of supporters so I think my grin may have started slipping that time round! Especially when it got to those 2 hills but with an additional 30 odd miles on your legs since you last did them!

On the final descent into Tenby I had a little cry of happiness as I realised that I was actually going to do it, there was no reason at all now why I couldn't finish. I felt worn but not exhausted or anything, it was actually going to happen, I was going to go home an Ironman!

Got out onto the run pretty quickly and surprisingly my legs actually felt fine, but what wasn't playing ball was my back. That felt stiff as a board and just didn't want to loosen. The run course was 4 loops up a horrible hill then back down and around Tenby itself. Each loops you got a different coloured band so all I could do was look at everyone else bands and decide how far ahead of me they were or whether I was ahead of them etc. first loops went ok. I stuck to my plan of power walking up hills and running back down and it was going well. The support in Tenby was absolutely fantastic with people shouting your name as you went past, again, you couldn't stop the smiles!

By the 2nd loop my stomach was starting to feel really tight, probably as a result of gulping too much air down with my drinks so that wasn't helping the cause, but I was still sticking to the plan, walk up, run down. By the 3rd loop when a lot of people had finished and again the crowds had started dwindling it was starting to get really really tough. I think it was also the hardest because you were sort of in no mans land, you still had to do another loop but you were so so tired and didn't have the motivation that came from being on the home straight.

By the 4th loop I had perked up a little knowing that as soon as I got that beautiful beautiful pink band on my arm that was it, I could finish so I dug deep and ran where I could. I kept telling myself that if i could finish before 23:00 then i would have a 15 something time. Unsurprisingly the only real support now came from some hard core supporters in their gardens/hanging out of windows "come in Sussex!" was the regular cheer I got and it kept making me smile, I made sure I thanked all of them for their support on the last leg as it really was that that gets you through with any hint of a smile by the end.

Back in Tenby the support came from several groups of people gathered outside pubs with their cowbells and high fives and it just felt amazing, the final smile was when I ran past a restaurant and everyone started cheering saying things like "yeah she made it, go on Sussex!" and stuff like that. How many more corners 'til the finish line? Surely I must be nearly there?! Then there it was left for finish, right to go out on the loop again.

I'll take left thank you very much! I wanted to finish strong so I took a hundred meters or so to walk jut to ensure I had enough to power through the finish, then this was it! I'd done it! The moment I'd spent a year preparing(well sort of) for and it was all going to be done in the next 10 seconds! Better still I was going to get 15 something.... Epic!

Once through the line (15:39:26) I got given my medal by the mayor who must have been standing there all day bless him, and a big hug from one of the helpers who said she'd been cheering me on from the swim and was really really pleased for me.

One of the little things that made me smile is they give you the timing chip band which as you can imagine over the last 36 or so (I put it on the minute they gave it to me to avoid losing it!) hours, I had become rather fond of.

Now, sitting here typing this it's all a bit surreal. I know I did it because I have the medal, t-shirt and very very tired feet, but apart from that I don't feel substantially worse than after just an ordinary marathon. Maybe there is a pain saturation point after which it literally can't get any worse? Would I do it again?

Yes, definitely! I'd say to anyone out there, if you want to do one, just do it. If you are determined enough then it will happen. Don't allow self doubt to stand in the way, it really is an incredible feeling that everyone should get to experience.

 

Swim   01:20:44
T1      00:14:42
Bike    08:24:05
T2      00:05:51
Run    05:34:02
Total  15:39:26

Le Jog Days 1 - 4

LeJog Day 1 

Land's End to Okehampton 100.04 miles 6h28m58s average speed 15.51mph.

We started just after 8.30 after the obligatory photos at Land's End. Ian had bought a new bike at 12 days notice when his original Ribble bike (actually hewn from solid rock) had finally died and was deemed beyond repair. He was therefore making adjustments right to the last second. As we started he realised the saddle wasn't right and he had left his glasses behind, so our first pitstop was after less than a mile to get him sorted. The other problem was that he has always used Campag group sets, and the new bike was Shimano which is sufficiently different to cause trouble until he got used to it. So the very first significant hill after 6 miles required a gear that he just couldn't find, the chain came off and jammed and we had another lengthy pit stop!! Remarkably another lad (also riding LeJog) had a chain problem at exactly the same place at the same time so a large group of cyclists were hanging around the roadside.

The only rule we had made before setting off was that everyone should get new tyres to reduce the risk of unnecessary punctures. So guess what? Yes - the only old tyre in the whole group had the only puncture of the day. Mark got it changed quite quickly but it happened on the most exposed part of Bodmin Moor with a howling crosswind so by the time we got going we absolutely freezing.

In spite of taking the most direct route along the A30 it was still a very hilly ride. The 4 mile long hill as we approached Okehampton was expected but still tough. The steepest climb of the day was a mini Cobb Lane in the final half mile to our night stop at the Youth Hostel. At the top we realised we had done 99.6 miles so we cycled round the car park several times to make it 100 miles before we stopped.
Sad - or what?

 

LeJog  Day 2

Okehampton to Burnham on sea 77.50m 5h7m44s average 15.11mph

Total so far 177.53m

There is a cast list at the end of this report so you know who I am talking about.

Day 2 started much brighter than yesterday. The sun was shining and everyone was up in time for an early breakfast sorted for us by the Saint. It turned out that the Tour of Britain was finishing in Okehampton today so there were many cyclists at the Youth Hostel, but there were also road closures in place which fortunately didn't affect us.

Today we kept off the major roads and were rewarded with generally low traffic levels. There was one kamikaze tractor driver who managed a 90 degree left turn into a field at speed while the Ox was trying to draft him on the way to Crediton. Minor roads does of course mean monster hills, and today's special was Cadbury Hill on the way to Tiverton - 3 miles long with a similar incline to Kidds Hill made it quite special, but having a vintage car tour going the opposite way was quite spectacular. There were about 30 or so pre war motors, and most of the drivers gave us a cheery wave. I distinctly heard a young passenger in an old car shout something about old gits on new bikes though.

We stopped in Tiverton town centre for a bite to eat, and received our 3rd spontaneous public donation to the charity ( that is £12 so far). We then took a detour to visit Churchill's sister to find the Saint already there. We were treated to another tea break as well as a delightful ride along the narrow Devon back roads which also included encouragement from the local youngsters. Single track roads with steep descents and climbs to match were about as far away from yesterday's riding as it was possible to get. Only Cling On struggled and came down the hills with his brakes glowing red hot!

We then had a faster ride on into Taunton then Bridgewater where we planned another break. Before we got there though, Brace had another puncture, and we then had the comical scenario of 5 men changing an inner tube. Unfortunately Brace's pump was not suited to the type of valve he had, and after fully pumping it up, twice it released the valve insert and lost all the air. Luckily we had spare pumps and we eventually got it fixed.

After our tea break in Bridgewater, The Wobbler confidently shot off in completely the wrong direction, eventually realising he was heading for Minehead and not Bristol. Once on the correct route though we managed to reach Burnham on Sea for our next stop.


Cast List

Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.

David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!

Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.

Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!

Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!

Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes

 

Le Jog Day 3
Burnham  on Sea to Leominster  100.55 miles 6h22m57s 15.75mph average.

Total so far 278.08m

We stayed at a great B&B which meant a late start as we had to have the full breakfast but it was well worth it. We headed off via Bristol at quite a good pace - only slowed down by 2 huge hills which seemed to go on forever. The first view in Bristol was the magnificent sight of the Clifton suspension bridge over the gorge. We eventually cycled underneath it before heading around the city to the old Severn Bridge which had a cycle path to cross the Severn. Unfortunately we came across literally hundreds of people who were also crossing by the same path. However they appeared to be dressed as dalmation dogs. On closer inspection it turned out they were actually meant to be cows. They were all on a sponsored walk for a local hospice but the connection to cows was never explained!! Because they were going the same way we had to slowly weave our way through dozens of small groups whilst also contending with the powerful cross winds. Cling on clung on to one of the groups by mistake and there was an anxious wait at the other end before he finally emerged unscathed!

We had now crossed our first international border successfully. Only the Wobbler was concerned about the visa requirements for entry to Wales but luckily there was nobody in customs to check and we got in safely.

The Welsh had been warned that we were coming and had resurfaced the entire road network which made a very pleasant change from what we were used to. The road from Chepstow to our lunch stop in Monmouth was delightful following the Wye valley and passing Tintern Abbey.

We met Andy Lennox and his charming wife Helen in Monmouth and put away huge numbers of calories. Of course Churchill could not resist commenting on seeing his desert 'Look at my Spotted Dick'

The final run via Hereford and Leominster was all up and down with the Ox leading the charge up most of the hills including one monster hill. Brace worked hard to keep Cling On going until we finally neared our destination when he started riding like a Cling On posessed.

They all asked Churchill 'Have we done 100 miles'

Oh Yes!!

 

Day 4

Ludlow to Runcorn 86.47m 5h21m27s 16.14mph average 

Total so far 364.55m 

We had a really good meal in plush surroundings last night in Ludlow and also sampled the delights of Butty Back beer, a Wye Valley speciality! It certainly got the Ox thinking so he turned out this morning with his Ann Summer's bib shorts that were completely see through. It was like following a bike rack! I have heard stories about the Ox and the Ass, but not the Ox's ass, and none of us will be able to sample 'Oxtail' soup without remembering! Having a crack at the front has taken on a whole new meaning and in the interests of transparency the story has been told in full! 

Brace really struggled with his knee all morning today and was in a lot of pain, being forced to virtually 'one legged pedal' to get by. Fortunately it settled later in the day but it has been quite worrying. By contrast Cling On shot off like a scalded Cling On and almost had to be restrained until he ran out of steam before lunch by which time he was clinging on!! 

It is always good to see some great views as you cycle. As we approached Shrewsbury the Ox pointed out the hill range named after him The 'Quantox' ( Quantocks). The Wobbler had a near miss when he was so dazzled by the appearance of the Ox in front of him that he almost didn't react to a pothole in the road. However it was he who had to shout Brace! Brace! to announce the only puncture of the day, which he changed in record time.

The team spent a happy few miles counting Churchill's 'bob count' and the record was 141 in a minute. They were all very pleased though, with his route today as it was gently rolling for the most part, and some great views in the Delamere Forest. All was well until we approached Runcorn, which appears to be a series of major roads joined  together by other big roads, and we really felt we were taking our lives in our hands as we switched from one dual carriageway to another. We got there in the end, to a fine hotel under the flight path, next to a railway station in the middle of a motorway network, to be greeted by the Saint, who yet again had checked us all in, organised food, got everyone's bags out and has been completely saintly. 

Have we had a good crack today? 

Oh Yes!!!

 

Photos are uploaded daily here

Bala Standard Distance

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I arrived on the Saturday afternoon to register having travelled for nearly 5hrs and when i looked at THAT lake i said to myself " why the hell are you doing this again" !!! Maybe they will cancel the swim and turn it into a duathlon!  I stopped moaning to myself [something you do when you get older!] and went and found my B & B.

After a very fitful night's sleep i had a bowl of porridge and cycled down to the race start at about 08.00. On arrival in transition i looked out at the "lake" and it was like a mill pond, not a ripple in sight!! No wind, blue sky and reasonably warm. I thought this looks good!!!

By the time the first wave set off at 09.30 the sky had begun to cloud over and the wind had picked up a little and the water was no longer FLAT!! Well by the time my wave, the last, went off the wind was whipping down through the valley and the water was covered in "white horses" and it was really choppy. Within 100m the wind got worse and the waves got bigger!! I thought if i swallow enough water i might just empty the lake and run round the course!!! I continued to struggle through the water and eventually i could see the exit pontoon but the nightmare is not over yet as the last 15 or so metres is so shallow you almost have to crawl as you can't stand and walk because it's really rocky!

With a helping hand i was up onto the pontoon and running into T1 which went without too much trouble. Although it was cloudy it was fairly warm, unlike last year, so i didn't need a long sleeve top on for the ride and i was soon out onto the out and back undulating bike course on closed roads. The first half was into a strong head wind, so it was difficult to get a good speed going but i did manage to overtake a few riders. The return section, although undulating, was a lot faster, so i was soon heading back towards T2.

This transition went without a hitch and i began the run, which is an out and back undulating course on pavements. Although the wind was bad the run went very well and i even managed negative splits. By the time i crossed the finish line the wind was howling and the sky had really darkened but i did manage to return to my B&B before it rained!!

 

                       2012 Result                   2011 Result

swim 1500m   45mins 45 secs              52mins 1 sec
T1                 2mins 59secs                6mins 16secs
bike 40k        1hr 16 mins 43 secs       1hr 20mins 14secs
T2                 1min 11secs                  1min 35secs
run 10k          52mins 31secs             55mins 9secs
 
overall time 2hrs 59mins 11secs        3hrs 15mins 17secs
 

As you can see i improved my time from last year in all three disciplines, so i was really pleased.