Race Reports

Swimming Lake Windermere 3rd Sept 2011

Having developed a passion for open air swimming at Tooting Bec Lido and trained with many swimmers whilst they prepared for long distance events, one big swim had been on their 'rite of passage' - Lake Windermere.  A stretching 10.5 miles in England's longest lake..not to mention the cold factor.  I felt that this was a step up from my Channel relay (2007) - I wasn't to be disappointed.

So training began in earnest with Mid Sussex Marlins.  I upped my usual twice weekly sessions to three at Easter and started sea swimming in mid-May.  The first outing was an 80 minute session in 12 degree water and waves the size of houses.  I knew from then on it would be a tough training regime.  Other swims followed - Shoreham to Brighton (8km), various 5km races, several circular Brighton swims, a 7km session at Pells Pool and a 9.2km session at Tooting Bec Lido.  In August I also started to catch a 5.30am ride up to Tooting Bec to increase my weekday outdoor mileage.  I was starting to get fit!

Race day loomed and I had a mild coronary trying to gather my crew together to row me up the lake - my thanks to many of you who volunteered.  Steve Mac and Tim Creswell signed up with an evening curry to discuss strategy and tactics.  I'm not sure what Steve thought when he asked about my feeding strategy..in honesty I didn't have one!  Thank god Steve knows what he's talking about on sports nutrition matters.

 

So we convened at Euston station before a 4 hour journey took us to the Lake District, our hotel (for blind people!) checked into and off to Bowness for the last supper.  Not sure if the calming Peroni was a good idea but the lasagne was perfect.  Lights out was midnight and I started hearing the rain fall outside at about 4am.  I knew the weather was going to be grim the next day.

 

We convened for breakfast at 6.45am (with a group of very fit looking Irish swimmers) before a taxi to the start line.  Our driver pointed out a few landmarks along the way as the rain teamed down.  We registered, cleverly borrowing some safety gear I'd forgotten from some Windermere veterans, before crews, then swimmers were briefed.  Our old wooden rowing boat was loaded and I made my way to the start recognising a good few people from other swims I'd done...and triathlons!

 

The water was certainly brisk when I lowered myself in from the jetty (16°c) and within 90 seconds the gun went off.  It was 9.25am and we were swimming.  I could see a lead group make quick progress and we rendezvoused with our crews after about ½ a mile.  The rain was coming down and I could see Steve and Tim in their waterproofs.  The 15 mph wind was pushing the boats along quickly and it was a job keeping up with them (or rather them slowing down for me!).  My stroke felt strong and the cold wasn't a noticeable factor.

 

It was shame I couldn't see the mountain tops but I was gradually eating up the shoreline, even starting to recognise a few milestones.  The first feed stop saw my diet of an energy gel, lucozade sport and the odd banana whilst treading water beside the boat - this was tough and I often drifted off.  I fed every 30 minutes and by the end I could hit Steve or Tim with my bottle and empty gel from 10 yards!  After 2 hours I'd reached a childhood landmark and knew I was 6km into the swim.  My stroke still felt good.  The boys were getting damper by the minute and they took turns rowing and feeding me, with Steve urging me to up my stroke...little did he know I was going at the max and couldn't change pace even if a shark had been on my tail!

 

The fun really started at 3 hours.  I knew I was only midway and by this stage Steve had started feeding me 500ml of double strength carbohydrate drink and the odd chocolate roll.  Luckily it was made with warm water as when I stopped I was noticeably shivering.  We picked some choice places to stop - directly in front on the incoming Hawkshead ferry and beside a large, extremely cold stream that was running in to the lake.  The cold was getting to my crew's brains too!

 

The scenery along the length of Windermere is very picturesque.  I had hoped to see the peaks and steep valley sides, watch people on the lake in sailing boats and shirt-sleeves.  All I got was low cloud, incessant rain, moderate wind, a few marshals in ribs and empty water.   It wasn't the prettiest day but we did swim through some lovely water - the group of islands we navigated through, superb clarity of water, some short weedy sections, flat water & wavey water, times when I contoured the shore and saw the bottom.

 

So I ate into the miles and was starting to feel that I would make it.  Truthfully I never had any doubt that I wouldn't but by 4.5 hours I was getting bored and apparently a little blue on the lips/chin and shoulders (didn't feel it though).  I was getting 30 minute reports on how far to go from the marshals who seemed to pay us quite a few visits and at 5.5 hours I could finally see the finish - maybe 8-10 small white houses.  The finish line was near but by now my stroke was feeling a lot more "deconstructed" - it was as though I was swimming catch-up drill and was sitting low in the water. The only thing I knew would correct this was to go hard, so for the next 45 mins I did up my stroke and power.  I had a good line into the finish and, although it did feel as though I swam my slowest single kilometre ever, I could see the jetty and finish. 

 

Suddenly I looked right and saw an umbrella-wielding figure sat on a deckchair on the jetty - she blew a loud blast on her whistle and I was done.  I had reached Waterhead/Ambleside in 6 hours 32 mins and swam the 10.5 miles (17km) from Fell Foot in south Windermere.  I swam 25m to the shore and took a final celebratory pee in the lake.  I staggered over to the admin tent to shelter from the continuing rain and let Steve and Tim get me dressed.  I knew I would be cold and had to warm up fast so we went into the next door pub before I had hot water and hot chocolate.  Once they'd put down their well-earned pints I gave Steve and Tim a huge hug and spoke to Michelle to tell her I'd made it.   Chips, pasties, rum/coke and fine red wine were to follow!

It's only when you stop that you get the chance to rationalise everything.  I'd spent 4 months in training to swim England's longest lake in Speedos.  As I sat in the pub warming up the tears in my eyes were a reflection of the effort a huge team had put in to get me to the finish - my family, the swimming clubs at Haywards Heath and Tooting, the tri club, hardy swimmers I keep in touch with, people I met at events who gave me advice.  Everybody helped and I thank all of them.          

 

Some stat-o type facts:  I consumed 4198 calories but expended 6000+ calories during the swim - probably around 10,000 throughout the day.  I never moved my googles once throughout the swim because they never steamed up.  The winner took 3 hours 50 mins, which was 3 minutes outside the record.  28 swimmers started, 26 finished.  And finally, the only time it stopped raining on the day was when we arrived at the station to go home..

 

Author: Mat Record

Bar Race Middle Dist 28th Aug 2011

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33 athletes took part in our second Middle Distance Race, which was 8 up on last year. Race conditions were almost perfect with the threatened early heavy rain not arriving. We had the usual melee of getting transition erected, preparing to race etc. in little more than an hour. But life is never straightforward and our specially prepared racking did not fit properly. Luckily Del came to the rescue, whipping out his tool in no time for a quick bodge!

The second problem was a distinct lack of timekeepers, after the 2 volunteers had to pull out. David Ricketts had put himself down to swim and do timing - all on Monday. Unfortunately the race was on Sunday! It was his son's special 18th birthday lunch on the same day. Brad came and started the timing but had a late offer to go to Old Trafford for the football which I am sure made Rachel's husband Paul very jealous. At the last second Tim Cresswell stepped in and took it over, doing an excellent job in spite of being given a watch that could only time up to one hour!!

 

Eventually we had the race briefing. Pippa had to chuckle whenever she heard the word 'mount' so I am not sure what sort of race she had in mind, and Ant Grey was already prophetically planning an exit strategy! Then 25 athletes jumped into the lake. It was our first opportunity test out the new bouys. What a difference! Sighting was a doddle. That was money very well spent.

 

At Brad's signal the race started. Mat Record stormed off as expected. The swim course is probably longer than 1900m, the consensus was nearer 2100m in the end. Mat swam it in 34m15s, almost 4 minutes clear! He even had time to stop at the pontoon to ask 'Where is everybody?'

 

The chasing pack was led home by Mark Jordan and Dave Lashbrook, but also included Colin Chambers and Steve Alden, who were as surprised to be there as Mark and Dave were seeing them. Vaughan was not far behind. He was in the pack but went wide at the far end and the other four cut in with a better line and he then couldn't get back on their feet.

 

Pipaa was out first for the women in 40m49s with Hazel about 22 seconds down with Rachel only 22 seconds minutes behind her. Nikki was 2 minutes behind Rachel and guest Bethan 90 seconds further back.

 

Through T1 and out onto the bike. Dave Lashbrook has clearly been listening to Steve always talking about transition times as he blitzed through ahead of the others. As expected though, the fastest bike split went to James. His 2h22m04s (including transitions) was more than 14 minutes faster than anyone except for Rob Hoodless who was only doing the bike leg. It shows how tough this bike course is that only Rob and James broke 2h30m, and only 4 others even broke 2h40m.

 

There was plenty going on out on the course though. Vaughan didn't fancy the direction he was going so he turned round and was seen riding in the opposite direction.

Mark and Steve were having a good battle when Mark got stung by a wasp after Balcombe on the first lap. Knowing he has potential anaphylaxis problems he stopped to take some antihistamines, then quite rightly stayed with Steve for the remainder of the ride, before pulling out of the race in T2, when he didn't feel at all well. His actual ride time of about 2h36m was astonishing in the circumstances, and he was 24 minutes faster by T2 compared to last year.

 

Ant Grey was trying some new techniques on the bike circuit. As it was hilly he decided to shed some unnecessary components. He started by losing his saddle, then his front wheel, and finally one pedal. The weight saving strategy did not help, so he had to limp the bike home via a shortened route. Paul Wills was also struggling after coming out of the swim a bit disorientated. He gamely carried on although he did need some advice on what to wear on the bike. Like Ant and Mark though, he pulled out at T2.

 

The women were far more sensible. Rachel quickly overtook Hazel on her way to a bike split that was 20 minutes faster than any of the others. Bethan, Hazel and Nikki all completed the bike within seven minutes of each other and Hazel headed out on the run with a 10 minute advantage over Bethan and Nikki. Jade decided to do a single lap of both the bike and run, but it is only a few weeks since her very impressive Ironman performance.

 

Although it is essentially flat on the run, it is not an easy course. There are 5 dead turns, 14 gates to negotiate, a very uneven surface, some short but marked inclines and lots of walkers, dogs and mud.

 

James started the run with a 9 minute lead over Dave and 12 minutes over Steve, who managed to bring the deficit down to 5m39s by the end, and was delighted with a finish time under 5 hours, more than 13 minutes faster than last year. Dave eventually finished 4th as his legs were in trouble, but only finished 2 minutes down on last year and he was overtaken by Vaughan who was running strongly. Pete tried to get a pace man to help him. His son did a fine job and will probably be a good runner like his dad in the future. Colin Chambers was clearly struggling on the run, with leg problems. Stoically he put on a brave face and pushed on, and gave everyone a good laugh at the finish when he stopped, laid down and rolled over the finish line.

 

Del Hastings put in another splendid performance to improve his last year's time by more than 15 minutes.

 

 

Rachel was able to cruise round the run with such a healthy lead, but it was Bethan who was making the effort, and managed to overturn the 10 minute deficit on Hazel into a 6 minute advantage, to finish just outside 6 hours. That was a great run. Fastest woman however was Fiona in the relay with a 1h43m04s time.

 

11 people took part in the relay, with David and Rob's team not having a runner, which was a shame as they were comfortably in the lead at that point. In the end the honours went to Mat, Phil and Richard with a time of 5h24m, with the all ladies team of Pippa, Sharon and Kay just 7 minutes behind. There were some superb individual performances in the relay with Mat being the fastest swimmer, Rob - second quickest cyclist and Fiona second quickest runner overall.

 

The performance of the day has to go to Trevor though. He was going nicely until mid way through the run when his knees started to give out. He could only walk and jog. He had the option to pull out after 2 laps of the run, but carried on in a lot of trouble. He easily got the biggest ovation of the day when he finished, and the emotion of it was clearly on his face. But it was an amazing effort.

 

And when everyone had finished there was the picnic going on. It was fabulous that people like Phil Couch and Rupert Robinson who were desperate to race themselves, but could not because of injury, still turned up to be there and cheer everyone on. Lots of people brought their families and there may well have been more than a hundred people present altogether.

 

It was nice to have some guests racing, who I am certain will be future members of the club. Good Luck to Charlie and Bethan in their big race - Ironman Wales in a fortnight.

 

In the end it was a great day for everyone! Well Done

Author: Steve Alden


Mid Sussex Tri Victorious

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After initial banter race heads were put on and we went down to the waters edge for the swim, long (2x500m laps) go first followed by the short after 5 mins. The swim start was unusually sedate with no washing machine as there were only 25 competitors in the whole reservoir for the long and 20 for the short. That said I still had to do battle with one guy who wanted to be where I was. Kay also had to do battle as she and Fiona swam together for the exit another lady decided she wanted Kay's line. I shall run some more open water defence classes if anyone wants them.

 

Short run out to T1 and out onto the run 3 laps or the long and 2 for the short. For me it started good as it was on pavement but quickly went off road through fields so each foot fall had to be carefully placed that said it was still a nice run even with the stiles and gates to climb over.

 

3rd lap and I am still out in the front I was 3rd out of the water which gave me a comfortable lead over the other MSTC members Steve B the closest at 2mins behind and Jon W 1.5 mins behind him I knew it would be hard to hold them off. The last km and there he is, the inevitable Steve has caught up so he trots along side for a bit then disappears into the distance, I am now looking for Jon as we are crossing a field I have a sense that their is someone behind I look back and there is Jon trying to be as quite as possible so I don't notice, I lift my pace but cant shake him, he passes.

 

The finish line, we all congregate there and discover that the unstoppable Fiona won the Short, only 3mins behind the male winner and she had the fastest run of the day. Once she sorts her swim out I think we may have a new Chrissie Wellington. Pippa comes across the line as the first MSTC lady home for the long course. Rupert puts in a sterling effort considering he is carrying a calf injury.

 

There is a club trophy up for winning, the first 3 in for their club will count as the first team in. Needless to say with all the chat we all forgot about this and went for a shower. East Grinstead and a few others waited around to the muttering that they had won it, some chance that honour goes to Mid Sussex Tri Club. Jon and I were in the shower when Pips burst into the changing rooms shouting that we should get out quickly so half dresses we stumbled up to the podium much to the disappointment of the other clubs J

 

 

Overall Pos

Gender Position

 

Swim

Run

Total

7

6

Steve Birchall

19:56

31:35

51:31

8

7

Jon Webster

21:28

30:19

51:47

9

8

Steve McMenamin

17:52

34:08

52:00

13

12

Andrew Jenkins

20:48

36:00

56:48

16

13

Rupert Robinson

21:07

38:53

1:00:00

21

5

Pippa  Crouch

21:03

42:02

1:03:05

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

1

Fiona Bussell

14:48

20:30

35:19

21

5

Kay McMenamin

14:14

27:03

41:17

 

Bar Race 50m TT - 7th Aug 2011

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Only 6 hardy racers started the 50 this time. Dave Jones would have made it 7 but hadn't checked his e-mail and was waiting for a postal notification (which never came). When he saw how windy it was outside he was probably quite pleased.

Being a 2 lap course the race was a game of 2 halves. James Dear sped round the first lap in 59m00s with Lawrence Wintergold in hot pursuit (59m11s). The second half is flatter because it misses out Tollgate Hill, but the fatigue of racing 50 miles starts to creep in and the times drift off. James' second lap was 60m27s, but Loz in his new 'Dear-stalker' hat manged 60m18s, just failing to catch James. However he did have a mechanical incident to blame for it when his chain got jammed and he had to remove the rear wheel to fix it.

 

Further down the field Dave Lashbrook and Rob Hoodless were doing battle. Dave's first lap was 64m38s to Rob's 64m45s. Dave is clearly recovering his fitness properly now because although he lost time on his second lap (66m48s) he had more in the tank then Rob who struggled and faded (68m10s) leaving Dave a clear 90 seconds ahead at the finish.

 

Remarkably there was another close battle going on between Steve Alden and Rachel Baker. First lap times were very close with Rachel edging it. She was 69m30s to Steve's 69m42s. Because Rachel started 9 minutes ahead Steve could see he was in grave danger of being 'chicked' and redoubled his effort on the second lap. He had the most consistent times of the day doing the second lap just 17 seconds slower than the first in 69m59s while Rachel just faded towards the end (71m40s) giving Steve the advantage by about 90 seconds. Rachel was the only one to do a PB though, whilst all the others were several minutes down.

 

 

MEN winner 1h45m20s !!

 

James Dear        1.59.27   13.41%  10points

Loz Wintergold    1.59.29  13.44       9

Dave Lashbrook  2.11.26   24.78      8

Rob Hoodless      2.12.55   26.19      7

Steve Alden        2.19.41   32.61      6

 

 

WOMEN winner 2h11m45s

 

Rachel Baker      2.21.10  7.15%    10pts

 

 Author: Steve Alden

Dextro Energy London Tri - 7th Aug 2011

I was quite excited about this event, taming the Olympic course and mixing with the stars so a couple of days before the event I checked the web sites instructions on getting to the event. The suggested travel method was to bring your folding bike by train, cars should be avoided at all costs and buses would not allow your folding bike on.

So I got my trusty hacksaw out to cut up my bike and gaffer tape it back together when I got to Hyde Park, as an afterthought i checked the train time and the first train arrived a few minutes before my start time and an hour after my registration time. Bums - there was nothing for it, I would have to ignore their advice and come by car.

Driving through London at 4.00am is a strange experience watching people crawling along the road but I managed to manoeuvre past the re creation of zombie invasion to park outside Lancaster gate at 4.30am in a free parking zone - result - life is sweet.

First to register, first in to transition - this is looking good.

3 hours later! And I'm in the water, trying to ignore some strange American on the loud speaker system - its lovely swimming in the Serpentine, fortunately I could not see further than 2mm in front of my goggles, but a lovely single loop swim - very weird as no one was around and I did not see anyone for virtually the whole swim because the course was so wide so I just got in to a steady rhythm to the tune of 'I could be so lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky' as recommended by David Walliams - it really works - try it, but I could have gone faster if the likes of Rob, Steve and Dave were around me for the swim as in the MSTC Olympic.

Out I pop and limey it's a long run from the swim exit to T1 which was about a km from the exit (the elites are about 10m from the water exit which is much more civilised) - 3 minutes 51 sec later I arrived at my bike (I was one of the quicker transitions, most were about 5-6 minutes). By eck I was knackered and my feet were sore by the time I got on to the bike.

Ok this is it and what I've been looking forward to, fast and flat and the Olympic course - well first realisations it is not the Olympic route taken by the elites (they kept that quite) it is totally different although we do go past Buck House and it's not fast, there are so many bends and corners (over 100 corners), speed humps, bad surfaces, people on the course etc that it became a real stop, stop, oops, ouch stop start affair, but i managed to get to nearly 60kph past the barracks (just the once mind)

Half way through the bike I hear my name shouted - bugger - wots up. Turned round and Marc was pretending to be a Marshal on a notorious corner that shall from now on be named Jordan's corner due the high number of accidents on this particular greasy bend. I went on to lose at least 5 seconds on each lap as I cheerily waved at what seemed to be the only happy person in the centre of London at the time.

Good the bike is over which turned out to be 42 point something km rather than the perfectly measured course I expected   - no crashes, fillings are still in my mouth and I wasn't taken out by a dog, tourist or slippery speed hump.

After another transition expedition I'm out on the run in the footsteps of Brownlee et al - ur no not quite! The run follows a totally different course in the opposite direction for four laps, well at least it is flat - ur no not quite - a long drag up an incline for about 1km before a short steep downhill, long flat bit, another short sharp downhill then back to the grind uphill.

By this time I had done my usual of going out ok on the swim, flat out on the bike racing some tattoo covered rough looking skinny chap who was half my age and stuffing up the run. (The tattoo covered chap ended up being the technical director of ITN news). So I struggled through the run (which Emma Snowsill referred to as a school cross country course) which finished nicely running up the blue carpet where young Mr B finished a mere few hours later in a slightly quicker time - and what nice chaps they are - they even had their photo taken with me?

So actually a thoroughly enjoyable day with a nice swim an interesting ride and a hard run finished off with watching the world champs at Jordan's corner with the man himself. I would recommend this race even though it is quite expensive; it's not on in 2012 but is back in 2013.

Results:

                                  Colin                     Alastair

Swim                 0.26.09              0.18.09

T1                     0.03.51              0.00.37

Bike                  1.06.52              1.01.01

T2                     0.02.08              0.00.34

Run                   0.47.30              0.29.50

Total                  2.26.28              1.50.09

Unfortunately I was not third and taking of my transitions Alistair only beat me by half an hour - so not so bad

Author: Colin Chanbers