Race Reports

Challenge Roth 2012 - In a nut-shell

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This is an initial overview of the day a more in--depth report to follow

Weather and conditions

Water temperature 22.9 degrees. At 23.0 degrees they would have banned wetsuits apparently. Forecast light wind and cloudy skies with sunny intervals plus rain in the afternoon. In fact, it was windy for the cycle but stayed dry all day. It was roasting hot for the run so atheletes stuffed wet sponges under their tri-suits to keep cool.


Inevitably, one mulls over the seconds and minutes squandered with errors and misfortune. Over the coming months we will all calculate how much smaller our finish time could be next time. 

Jamie is a modest uncomplaining fellow but must have been very disappointed to find his Spinergy front wheel was not Roth-legal. He had to make do with my spare wheel that he had never used before.  This replacement wheel rode a bit lumpy and the brake surface was uneven apparently. An amateur debut Iron-distance sub-11 hour finish is almost unheard of, so Jamie is very worthy of his best-in-club performance in this race. 

Jim(yours truly) wasted time by going astray and nearly missing the swim exit. Should have done the homework.

Storming bike. A dream-like cycling experience with glorious surface and beautiful terrain plus thousands of adoring supporters. Bike performed brilliantly. Wish I had a helmet-cam so I could watch it over-and-over again for spin sessions.

Got severe abdominal pains and diarrhea throughout the run. Maybe just too many gels and probably too many of the caffeinated variety. Did most of the run with heart-rate in zone1, trying to get digestion sorted. This had the benefit of avoiding dehydration and exhaustion, so it was a strong enjoyable finish. This run time was 46 minutes slower than standalone marathon time, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, well pleased with a sub-11 hour finish. 

Anthony displayed enormous grit and determination to finish a few seconds under 12 hours. This brave effort was rewarded with an intravenous drip.

Anthony was hugely disadvantaged by starting in the final wave with all the slow athletes. This meant a bike racking location far away from the swim exit, so T1 was always going to be slow. Lack of good swimmers to draft off meant a slow swim time.

Ant's cycle was excellent with a sub-6 hour time for the 112 miles. That new bike was worth every penny.

A decent run despite hot weather and digestion troubles.

A sub-12 hour finish for a debut Iron-distance race is awesome for anyone who is not an ex-pro cyclist channel swimmer from Australia. A good day at the office.

John had a solid swim in approximately his target time, 1:13. His day was messed-up by a puncture early in the cycle that de-railed his effort to go sub-11 hours. The pit-stop puncture repair failed and the tyre change ran into problems that exhausted John's CO2 supply and he did most of the ride on a semi-flat.

Despite the bad luck, John's 6:31 cycle and 4:30 run resulted in a fast finish time of 12:22.

Steve Mac was immense in the swim and was the only "purple-head" I noticed overtake me. He started the cycle with a 20-minute lead on me and many other "black-heads" from my wave. These are the swim hat colours, by the way.

Steve's cycle was excellent despite severe low blood sugars. But for that set-back, his cycle time could have been exceptional.

The run was a disappointment for Steve because of serious nutrition and digestion issues. This prevented him achieving his goal finish time by a very large margin. Nevertheless, this short-12hour finish is really good.

Steve B did a fast swim as expected, 1:08. This was followed by a fast ride of 6:04, which presumably he thoroughly enjoyed.

All nicely poised for a great finish time, but things went less well on the run which took at least an hour longer than planned.

Nevertheless, this was long-12 hour finish that many triathletes could only dream of. Considering the terrible stress and worry caused by an RTA a few days earlier, this is a result to be proud of.

Claire did a good swim of 1:20 and completed all but the last few kilometers of the cycle. The cycle had become really tough for Claire because of a nasty soft-tissue strain/tear/injury of the leg. Claire would have made the cut-off time for the cycle completion but there was no way she could have run with that leg problem.

Claire had no choice but to withdraw from the race. She had nothing to prove, having previously completed an Ironman. Best to get the injury healed and compete another day. Commiserations. Rotten bad luck that could have happened to any one of us. 

Beyond the Race

Those of us competing are so lucky to have had the opportunity, thanks to the great support of family, friends and our hosts at the terrific accommodation. Well done to several people at MSTC who put in a lot of effort to make all this happen.

Biggest thanks go to my lovely wife, Helen, for giving me her blessing to do this event.


place AG place name Swim Trans 1 Bike Trans 2 Run Total
855 187 Goodhead, Jamie (GBR) 01:06:40 00:02:40 05:33:30 00:02:50 04:08:19 10:53:58
904 115 Dr. Graham, James (GBR) 01:16:59 00:03:06 05:37:03 00:02:58 03:57:06 10:57:11
1633 381 Grey, Anthony (GBR) 01:17:06 00:06:27 05:57:50 00:04:18 04:33:54 11:59:34
1817 332 Webster, Jonathan (GBR) 01:13:00 00:03:18 06:31:36 00:03:42 04:30:48 12:22:21
1869 340 Mcmenamin, Steve (IRL) 01:00:05 00:03:37 06:12:00 00:03:33 05:09:47 12:29:00
2043 438 Birchall, Stephen (GBR) 01:08:08 00:04:55 06:04:56 00:03:17 05:31:34 12:52:48
0 0 Cresswell, Claire (ENG) 01:20:44 00:04:40




Race Reportby Jim Graham


Sussex Triathlon - Sprint distance

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Race day dawned and after driving home late the night before in the torrential rain through flooded roads and with only four hours sleep I was less than enthusiastic when I set off, a feeling which seemed to be reflected by Rob when I picked him up and told him that the website recommended grippy shoes to run on the very muddy course.  However, when we arrived the skies looked a bit bluer and it was dry so our spirits were lifted.  As the race was quite close to home Colin managed to arrive with time to spare so he decided to have a picnic in transition before the race. 

Start time arrived and we all got in the water between two buoys, there were a lot of people and not much space so I decided to be brave and get to the front of the swim and try not to think too much about all the horror stories of people swimming over you.  I set off as quickly as I could on Rob's feet to try to avoid the hoard of swimmers coming in from the right towards the first buoy.  The good thing about a sprint distance is that you only have 750m to swim which meant  the other five buoys came round quickly and it was time to negotiate the giant step out of the lake.  As I ran the distance into transition I could see Colin ahead of me, Rob and his bike had left transition by the time I got there.

swim times being: Rob 13.39, Colin 14.41, Rachel 14.49.

As I set off on the bike I could just about see Colin but being a proper cyclist he soon disappeared and I set about chasing down as many of the people ahead of me as I could.  I passed three women quite early on and a fair few men but the course was very lumpy and there were a lot of blind corners, so with the rain and my usual cautious cycling I was doing my usual job of being overtaken on the downhills and bends and having to work twice as hard to catch up on the flats and uphills.  Rob said after that he didn't particularly like the bike due to the blind corners but the thought of how much more I would hate it kept him amused.  Coming down the last downhill I was caught by two ladies who were much braver than me, I managed to go back past them on the climb afterwards but coming into transition we were all very close together. 

Bike splits were: Rob 40.35, Colin 40.41, Rachel 42.53.

I managed to get out of transition as the first lady but was overtaken by one lady quite quickly, I hadn't studied the run route and there was a small loop where the out and back overlapped and Rob suddenly appeared coming the other way and was leading the race, then not far behind was Colin.  There was one horrendous hill which was very muddy and slippery both on the way up and down.  I really struggled to run up this and that was when I was overtaken by another lady which was quite disappointing but I ran as fast as I could to the end and was delighted to be third lady.  Rob was delighted to be second male overall after being overtaken on the run by an athlete that was not only a faster runner, but also older than him, a very rare thing indeed! 

Run splits: Rob 21.07, Colin 23.29, Rachel 24.44.

I need also to point out that in contrast to our recent Olympic race at Northampton where Colin beat Rob on the bike and in transition Rob has taken the time to do some transition practice and took great pleasure in pointing out to Colin that he also managed to beat him in T1 and T2.  As Colin pointed out to me, Rob had said after Northampton that a few transition seconds weren't really important but when Rob was the quickest at them they suddenly became crucial.  We stayed at the end for the presentations as Rob was really looking forward to his moment on the podium and despite his request to make a speech which was ignored he will really be pleased to see his moment of fame on the website.

 Overall times: Rob 1.16.43 (2nd), Colin 1.20.30 (10th), Rachel 1.23.58 (21st). 

Rachel Baker


Outlaw 2012

I woke up at 4am and although I had the usual pre race nerves, I was actually quite calm and looking forward to race (very different to last year when I was terrified).  This year felt very different in many ways as I was doing the same race purely with the intention of beating last years time (14.02) and with the huge pirate presence I knew it would be a fantastic day.  But in some ways I felt I had more pressure this year to succeed.  Last years goal was to survive, no pressure of times but just to finish... this year I didn't want to just finish, I wanted to race, and I wanted a sub 14.  I knew I was stronger and fitter than last year, I had put in a lot of training for this, and now it boiled down to this one day to prove what I was capable of, the day to lay it all down.  I felt I had a lot to prove to myself.  I was worried about things out of my control, mainly a mechanical/puncture on the bike, getting a cold/bug before the race or getting an upset stomach from the water, but I knew ultimately that worrying about these things were a pointless waste of energy, what will be will be.  All I could concentrate on was the hard training I had put in during the year- marathons, including a massive p.b, a 60 mile ultra run, and the tough 114 mile 9000ft ascent King of the Downs bike ride that was 9 hours in the saddle.  I had put the hard work in and I really wanted that reward, bring on the sub 14, I was ready to race! 

So 4am I forced some food down (this never gets easier), got ready and made my way down to the start.  Another beautiful morning with clear blue skies was waiting for the 1000 people toeing the start line to try and become Outlaws.  

Swim  1.19.39  

Now to say I hadn't trained enough for the swim was an understatement, looking back on training I had done an average of just  40 lengths per week this year, and 2 open water swims.  This was the one area where I just hadn't got the training in.  I am confident in the water and knew I could just 'get round' but had no idea in what time.  I hadn't even done the distance in training, let alone timed myself.  I started at the back of pen 1, in the hope that the fast swimmers would go ahead and I would be left in clear water, I much prefer clear water to following feet and getting kicked.  Anyway, that didn't happen, pens 2-4 all grouped together and proceeded to swim over me...literally!  Now I've had the usual kicks, punches, people not sighting and swimming into you etc, and I'm happy to hold my own in those situations...but people literally mounting me from behind...that's a new one on me!!  This was people literally swimming over me from behind, arms either side of my body basically trying to drown me... a swift sharp kick to whichever bodily part I made contact with seemed to have the desired effect of them moving away!  The turnaround point came fast and with it the sight of Mum and Jess the pirate dog on the banks waiting for me, a joy to see them amongst the madness of the swim.  The headwind caused a few waves for the return leg, and I think a few people swallowed water.  I really quite enjoyed the swim and being amongst the thick of the pack for a change.  Out of the water in 1.19.39 and into T1... 

T1  5.21  

Special mention to T1 as all I could think about was Steve A who would not have been impressed with my faffing!!!  I tried my best to be fast, but after hopping about trying to remove wetsuit, throwing on some P20 to attempt to protect my delicate 'english rose' skin from any more dodgy tan lines, I had no change of clothes & ran from the tent to my bike but still only managed a 5.21 transition.  Sorry Steve...next year I'll manage a sub 3! 

Bike  6.44.35

Now where do I start with this... an emotional rollercoaster is probably the best way to describe it.  Maybe my memory of how brilliant the ride was last year affected how I 'thought' I would feel this time around, where as I should have treated this is a completely new race, as indeed it was.  Not only had the bike route been changed, but the weather conditions were much different from the calm sunny day the year before.  The start of the ride was absolutely fantastic and I loved doing the northern loop (same as last years route), I was down on the tri bars and pushing hard, enjoying 20+ mph riding and was way above my expected average.  This put me in great spirits as not only was I faster, but the new southern loop that we were to ride twice was promised by the organisers and many people who recce'd the course to be much faster.  Stupidly I started dreaming of possible bike spilt times.  We had been warned that although the southern loop was fast, it was very open to wind, should there be any on the day.  I think the forecasts that morning were for 30-35 mph gusts, oh dear!  The loops although circular seemed to be a constant head wind, and where I should have been hitting 20mph I was struggling to stay at 13mph!  It was hard work, and the two downpours didn't help to lift peoples spirits.  Unfortunately I have to admit I hit a bad patch and was pretty angry out on the bike from about 80+ miles, my spirits only being lifted when I got to see my Mum and Dad, and the pirate feed station who never failed to make me laugh & give me a boost.  Looking back I'm pleased with my bike time, but knowing I should have been at least 20 mins faster had just made me frustrated.  Someone said to me that everyone was in the same position, but I wasn't there to race others, I was there to race myself and be the best I could be.  This was the best I could be that day, and I don't think I could have gone any faster without sacrificing the run.  And if there is one thing I've learnt is that in my opinion, the run is just as an important part of the ironman as the ride.  It amazes me how much time you can lose, and just how many people walk the marathon after a strong bike leg.  To get a good time you've got to have packed your running legs... 

T2 4.23 

Not sure how this took so long, change of socks and trainers, knee support on and talked to a lady who was feeling sick and I was off... (sorry again Steve!) 

Run  4.25.26

I felt so happy to eventually finish the ride and hand my bike over that I was elated to get out running.  If I had been invited on a bike ride by Chrissie Wellington herself right there and then I would have told her to get stuffed (she was supporting at IM Austria the same day...the chances were slim).  This was my discipline, the thing I had really worked hard on, and the proof of how much training I had really done.  There were no excuses now, I hadn't got a cold or stomach bug, I hadn't had any mechanical faults on the bike, now it was me against the course, and I was in my element.  It really hurt, but I wasn't going to let it beat me, this is my favourite part!!  The crowds, Mum, Dad, Pirates, all there, all shouting and cheering, willing us all forward, to do well, to finish, is what I love!  Out on the course I run by feel, I always run by feel, never by what a watch or monitor tells me to do... I check my pace- 8.30 min miles hmmm this is fast, the sun is back out and shining again and all I can think is 'make hay while the sun shines' so this is what I did.  I knew I would slow at some point, but I might as well make the most of being able to run whilst I could, first 10k was comfortably under an hour, lots of loud music as I passed Notts Forest ground made me run faster every time I passed it.  Pirates everywhere on the course and supporting, and although we couldn't always muster words or high 5's, there were always grins and thumbs up (well from most anyway).  Walking only through the aid stations for crisps, coke, oranges, bananas etc I was quickly back to running again, this generally varied from between 9-11 min miles depending on how I felt and wind direction!  The run course is three out and back loops along a river and then around the lake we swam in to the finishing chute.  Running past the finish chute (to set off on another loop) always made me smile seeing peoples joy as they finished!  I was so close to getting on TV (they were filming for channel 4) as the motorbike camera crew following me on the final mile to the finish they asked if I was coming in to finish (big camera poised on back ready for action) and I had to tell them I still had one loop to go... I was tempted to say yes, run down the finish chute for a stupidly fast fake finish time and then carry on and do another loop!  Darn my honesty!  With that they drove off to film someone else's special finishing moment.  Now I had promised myself that if I ran the first two loops I could walk a little on the third loop, but as what always happens with me is when I realise I am close to finishing a race (I say close, I still had 8 miles to run!) my legs start to perk up and I feel stronger.  This mental recharge I get must be the buzz that gets me returning to these daft events, as it seems to happen every time, and I forget the pain of the past few hours and press on.  The thoughts of walking were no longer there, and I can see my Dad is amazed too.  He could see earlier that I was struggling and really fighting with myself to keep up my pace, but I assured him I was feeling good and he cheered me on!  Mum of course was shouting, cheering and filming all of the days events with her usual vigour and seems to have endless confidence in my ability.  I knew I was on for a sub 14 and knew I had a comfortable 2 hour window to complete my final 8 miles.  It's a long day out there and I use a different watch for swimming, and had reset my garmin after my bike to run, so working out the complete time that had lapsed was hard, especially in my oxygen depleted and exhausted brain.  All I knew was I wanted to finish before 8pm.  With approx 4 miles to go the man running behind me had the ingenious idea of asking a spectator what the time was (this idea had genuinely not crossed my mind!) and he replied with 'just gone 6pm'... what?!?!  I was beating my target, and not by a little, I was smashing it!  I picked up my pace (it's amazing what a possibility of a sub 13 can do) and as I rounded the lake for the last time my Dad told me it was 6.10, woohoo, less than 3 miles to go!  I ran straight past the last two aid stations knowing I had no need to waste any further time getting any food or drink from them and carried on running.  Now I felt like I was flying, in reality I was only doing 10 min miles, but I felt on top of the world.  Final mile with the headwind down to the finish I could hardly feel the headwind, and as I saw the finish line approach I started to well up, I honestly didn't know how I had managed to stay strong enough for a sub 4.30 marathon and I was so so happy to be finishing.  As I start running down the finishing chute I'm scanning the crowd for Mum and Dad and I see them, I stop and give them both a big hug and kiss (and have a little cry.. what a girl!) and then carry on to my finish line moment.

 Finish Time 12.39.26 

That feeling couldn't get much better.  I exceeded all of my expectations, had the most wonderful weekend with family and friends, and learnt that I'm stronger than I ever imagined.  Life is truly what you make of it, and what you make happen, and I look forward to more adventures in the future.  Will there be any more Ironman events... of course (Dad, you were right as always), but I won't be doing this particular event again, I can hang my hat up on this race for good...I'm an Outlaw and I'm proud.  Thank you Mum and Dad for your endless love, support and encouragement, it means the world to me.  Now on to some new adventures!

Stats for anyone interested in that kind of thing...

Overall position- 397th out of 782

Female position- 33rd out of 106

Age Group Position- 5th 

Swim- 484th (57th female)

For Steve A- T1- 181st!! (19th female)

Bike- 583rd (50th female)

Run- 258th (18th female)

ETU Championship 2012


Over 3,200 individual participants and 650 relay teams from 62 nations will take part in the "best old race". They will be cheered on by 180,000 spectators along the course and at the Triathlon Stadium. The race starts at 6.30am with the 3.8km swim in the Main-Donau-Canal, and continues with a 180km bike and the final 42.2km marathon run. 

You can follow there day at: http://www.challenge-roth.com/en/index.html 

The Challenge Family app is available for free download by searching for "Challenge Family" at either http://play.google.com for Android phones or from the Apple App Store through iTunes for iPhones. 

Live race updates, athlete tracking, race maps, results and images are all at your finger tips and any number of athletes can be added to the watch-list function to quickly check for current standings split times and even where to be to support them out on the course. 

There is also a cool app on Facebook that when the athlete signs up to it their splits will automatically be written to their wall.

Number                                                           Start

853      Cresswell, Claire (ENG)              W35      06:45

1482     Goodhead, Jamie (GBR)            M40      07:10

1737     Dr. Graham, James (GBR)         M45      07:15

1941     Webster, Jonathan (GBR)          M45      07:20

2350     Mcmenamin, Steve (IRL)            M45      07:30

2747     Birchall, Stephen (GBR)             M35      07:35

3124     Grey, Anthony (GBR)                 M40      07:45

Ant is raising money for Sussex Autism Support through Kangaroos. He would be really grateful if you were able to sponsor me for this event. Donation link is: www.JustGiving.com/AnthonyGrey


Dambuster Triathlon 2012


This year's Dambuster promised to be an exciting gladiatorial fight where worthy opponents slugged it out for a place at the World champs in NZ. For a club triathlete such as myself it was a bit like playing with the English National Orchestra on open strings but in which other sport can the humble part-timer rub shoulders with some seriously fit athletes J?  Although going solo for the girls we had two seasoned MSTC guys Phil Couch and Jon Webster and the newly joined but equally experienced and high performing Neil Giles.

Registration on the previous evening proved to be a test of character in itself. High winds and low temperatures rendered Rutland water a danger zone and we were warned that the swim may be cancelled and the event become a duathlon. Dambuster shambuster! Welcome to the world of hardcore.we were here to race and race we would. If we couldn't swim we would run and if we couldn't run we would crawl (possibly straight back home in my case).

I understand the theory of duathlon but had only completed one in my entire life (6 weeks ago), at a fraction of the distance. I was woefully underprepared  and called home for some sage words of encouragement.  In a strange  way that answerphone message  came straight from the universe.you're on your own lady it said to me. So as I clutched my T-shirt I knew that I would have to face my greatest fear. yes, being ridiculed by my fellow club members if I wimped out, it looked like I would have to race.

That night I slept fitfully reciting the undertrained triathlete's prayer.'Please let them cancel the whole dam thing.'

I rose early and wended my way back to Rutland Water which even on a dark foreboding Saturday morning is still incredibly beautiful. Some good news awaited, the swim was on but had to be shortened by 500m. No such luck with the bike and run.

To avoid hypothermia we were allowed a quick warm up in the water but then had to come ashore ready for a walk/run start. This was a first for me and any tips would be most welcome although somewhat completely useless now. In my mind's eye I entered the water in a kind of balletic synchronised swimmer's dive, all pointy toes and aesthetic lines. In reality I minced in, trod on a really sharp stone and crashed into the water face first like a heffalump. My race had begun.

The guys, as is the convention had a head start to avoid the humiliation of being chicked but our boys did us proud with astonishing swim times of 13:23 (Neil)  14:53 (Phil) & 17:30 (Jon).....I like to think I held my end up (or was it my wetsuit doing that for me) with a respectable 20:10 minutes.

The boys were in and out of T1 in the blink of an eye.actually in Jon's case it was more of a catnap (2:35 haha)  but since I was trussed up like a Christmas turkey (thank you Phil) and freezing cold I managed the shocking time of 3:13.(yes Steve Alden I know it was 2 minutes 30 secs  too long!)

Out on the bike the wind was gusty and the course hilly. After a cracking swim, disaster struck when Neil had a flat. sadly, game over. Phil and Jon returned with impressive times of 1:14:01 and 1:16:32 respectively, but I'm afraid self-preservation kicked in and I only managed a disappointing 1:42:16.

A less embarrassing T2 time and then out on the run. Through woodland and then skirting the reservoir with sheep grazing the scene belied the hotly contested  qualifying places. Jon christened his brand new trainers in a freshly laid cowpat ensuring they would definitely be spending the night outside of his tent. The lads stormed home with run times of 38:03 (Phil) and 40:05 (Jon). With Phil finishing in an overall time of 2:09:10 and overall position of 125 and Jon 2:18:14 - congratulations for two  outstanding  performances and commiserations to Neil after such an amazing start.

The field was thinning but I felt no shame in bringing up the rear. I managed to claw back a few places and after a 55 minute run bumbled over the finish line in 3:02:51 to the welcome sight and cheers of Jon Webster. We may have been thin on the ground but we made a lot of noise. One advantage of getting older is that I came 12th in my age group and no I am not saying how many took part but I wasn't last!

First male finished in 1:47:29 and first female in 2:04:59! Wow!


Julie Williams