Race Reports

Mid Sussex Triathlon 2021

Finish

The Mid Sussex Sprint Triathlon was held at The Triangle Leisure Centre on Sunday 13th June with 59 female and 111 male competitors taking part under social distancing rules. The event comprises a 400m swim in the Triangle pool, a 25km bike ride through country lanes in Wineham and Twineham, and a 5km run in Burgess Hill. About 15 other competitors also participated in either a short course triathlon or the aquabike option (swim and cycle only). This year the focus was on “participation not competition,” getting everyone back into sport and back to normality. Fortunately, the weather was fantastic with fine, sunny and dry conditions, which helped create the celebratory atmosphere.

This event is suitable for experienced triathletes and novices. The club members marshal the event, providing encouragement to all competitors as they make their way around the course. It is also popular with all age groups with more than 50 competitors in the Vets 50+ age group and about 30 competitors in the 60+ group.

Covid restrictions really changed the logistics of the event, with competitors arriving in small groups, rather than one large start. The race itself was also changed, with the “transition” sections between the swim, bike and run untimed, to allow everyone to walk between disciplines and stay socially distanced. It was very relaxing in comparison to previous years and a great way for everyone to get back into racing. The winning times were 1.01.41 in the male section and 1.12.43 in the female section, but no prizes were awarded this year as the focus was not on competition.

Race Director Jo Fleming thanked all the club members whose collective efforts made the event both possible and also so enjoyable.

Comments from first time triathlon entrants,  “I really enjoyed the event today despite the nerves and consequential lack of sleep! What a lovely team you work with – absolutely each and every person was fantastic! As it was my first Tri, I learned so much, “  and “ It was my first Triathlon and I used it as a mechanism for raising money for charity, so there was quite a lot at stake. However, my nerves were elevated by your very helpful and friendly volunteers, all happy and incredibly cheerful,” show the enjoyment which all participants felt.

Former Race Director Steve McMenamin was finally able to take part this year, having organised the event for many years. He commented,” It’s strange to swap roles from race director to competitor but it was amazing, from the cowbells that I could hear under the water to all the shouts of encouragement out on the course.”

Thanks so much to Jo and the whole of MST for yet another wonderful event.

All competitors received an attractive medal and refreshments at the finish.

Jim Graham's 100th Marathon with Walking Poles

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A broken hip and torn knee cartilage from a cycling accident in September 2019 prevented Jim Graham doing two important things the following month. He could neither run for the England Age Group Marathon Team nor compete at the 2019 Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii.

He had completed 99 marathon finishes in 10 years with 7 finishes under 3 hours and his fastest time of 2:51 at Brighton Marathon at age 52. A burst appendix 6 weeks before the 2018 Ironman World Championship impaired his performance in that particular race but top results during that season meant he was 'The Overall Ironman World Number One' in the age 55-59 category.

100th Marathon Jim Sticks

Jim has been recovering during 2020 and most marathon races were canceled due to COVID social distancing rules. Races for up to 30 runners have just been reintroduced and Jim managed an official marathon finish in Kent in a time of 6:26 on 26th July. He is delighted with the 100-Marathon Club Medal and Megamarathoner Shirt but most of all he cherishes the card made by his kids.

100 Marathon Haircut 3

100 Marathon Haircut 2

Many thanks to MSTC members Carol, James and Douglas MacTaggart plus Helen Graham for running with Jim to help him get his 100th Marathon finish. Celebrations included a much-needed haircut and shave.

Thank you to Rachel and Traviss of SVN who staged the 'Very British Challenge' Marathon at Betteshanger Country Park in Deal, Kent. A very pleasant undulating trail run of 6 laps around a 4.37 miles course mostly on gravel.

100th Marathon Group

Lee Valley Velodrome

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MSTC night out at Lee Valley VeloPark

MSTC triathletes tested their track cycling skills at the Olympic Velodrome, Lee Valley VeloPark, last Friday, February 14th. The daring group of 16 willingly swapped the romance of Valentine's Day for the allure of an introduction to the art of track cycling and coaching in the use of a fixed wheel bike at the indoor velodrome, the fastest track in the world. They quickly realised that riding a bike with no brakes or gears, on a track with steeply sloping sides means the only option is to go fast. Except when you want to stop, where the challenge becomes even greater.

They set off, gingerly to begin with on the flat, graduating to the "cote d'azur" (the light blue section which separates the flat from the banked track). Only when they'd got up some speed were they finally let loose on the apparently impossibly high slopes, but, once speed and centrifugal force worked their magic they found themselves flying round. The session finished with timed circuits of the velodrome track in which several of the women, led by Hannah Droschler, managed comfortably to get close to the top target speed of 20 seconds a lap with a very impressive 20.104. Esther Williams and Liane Davids achieved equally impressive speeds of 20.353 and 20.867 respectively. The men's race was won by Doug McTaggart in 17.864 seconds, a spectacular race which finished with an object lesson in what happens when you have no brakes but try to stop pedalling! Doug's cycling shorts will never be the same again. Let's hope his skin grows back quickly. Other very impressive men's speeds were achieved by Barry Davids (18.674), Kevan Nicholson (18.864), Jo Fleming (19.327), Mike Jaffe (19.525) and Steve Alden (19.774).

The trip was a first for the club. A fantastic introduction to the world of track cycling. Thank you to Callum Murray for organising it and when can we go again?

Ironman Arizona 2019

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Helen Graham completes two Ironman Triathlons within 9 weeks

Helen Bike

Background

Tempe in Arizona delivers a mostly-flat, fast, and spectator-friendly course that brings urban charms and desert vistas together. The deep lake water tends to be rather cold despite the potentially warm race conditions. Headwinds on the cycle can be more of a challenge than the significant inclines.

Pre race

Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon a year ahead because this race sells out rapidly. Helen completed Ironman Italy 9 weeks earlier. Jim broke his hip during Ironman Italy so he switched from racing to supporting for Arizona.

Swim

64 Fahrenheit water and some currents lead to many athletes getting hypothermic and withdrawing of getting slow times. Helen was 16 minutes longer in the water at Arizona compared to Italy. The 0.4 mile jog from the swim exit to T1 made transition times longer than usual.

Bike

The sun did not emerge from clouds until around midday. The first 20 miles were uphill into a headwind so Helen was averaging around 11mph when she needed an average of nearly 15mph to make the cut-off times. Prospects looked bleak but Helen dug-deep and she avoided use of brakes downhill plus she pedalled like fury. Helen's speeds steadily rose through the 3-lap course and she did make the final cut-off time by just 2 minutes 50 seconds.

Run

Helen is a great runner with more than 50 marathons completed. She ran steadily and strongly to beat the final cut-of time by nearly an hour, overtaking vast numbers of other athletes as she went.

Post race

The subdued celebrations of Italy were compensated for by jubilation in Arizona.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

The 16:10 finish time at Arizona was 27 mins slower than the Italy finish time, but many more All World Athlete (AWA) points were awarded to Helen for this Arizona race. This reflects tougher race conditions on the day at Arizona. These two races give Helen an age group world ranking of 17th in GBR and 254th in the World. Some of those ranked higher will have gained points from 3 races rather than just 2.
The support of family and friends following progress on the Ironman App was much appreciated. The MSTC training sessions, advice and comradeship has been hugely important to Helen as she has progressed from complete novice to accomplished triathlete.

Helen Medal

Ironman Emilia-Romagna 2019

Doug and Helen successfully complete this wonderful race but Jim DNFs with a broken hip

Doug And Helen IM Italy Finish

Background

The ancient fishing village of Cervia hosts a spectacular race that takes place along the coastal Emilia-Romagna region flanked by the Adriatic Sea. Italian village vibe and historic scenery plus very hospitable local people. The biggest ironman event currently, with approximately 3,000 participants.

Pre race

Doug, Helen and Jim signed up for this fast warm weather triathlon. Doug's wife, Carol came along to provide essential support.

Swim

Relatively fast sea swim with pleasant temperature but not too hot for wetsuits. Doug, Helen and Jim completed the swim near to personal best times despite significant currents and a lot of contacts due to the large number of swimmers.

Bike

A fast 2-loop closed road cycle that is mostly flat except for one sharp hill climb and descent that is the same for each loop. Doug and Helen managed near personal best bike splits. Jim was matching his 2015 lifetime best Ironman race for both swim and cycle pace when he suffered a front wheel puncture at 25 mph at mile 60. Jim lost control of his bike due to the puncture and sustained a broken hip when he crashed.

Run

Doug and Helen finished strongly with good running. Doug got a new personal best time for this distance in a shade over 12 hours. Helen was just a couple of minutes slower than her personal best in 15:43. Jim was achieved terrific speed in the ambulance on his way to one of Italy's top trauma centres.

Post race

Carol deduced that Jim was in trouble and with perseverance she found Jim in a hospital many miles from the race venue. Helen and Doug's celebrations were bit subdued due to Jim's crash.

Reflections and Acknowledgements

There was one digit wrong with Carol's phone number written on the back of Jim's bib number so the messages left for Carol were sadly useless. Ironman staff had been told by roadside officials that the injury was a grazed elbow and they had not been told where the ambulance had gone to. It was amazing that Carol managed to track Jim down in an orthopaedic ward with a broken hip in order to provide much needed emotional support. Jim had blown his chance to compete with Alistair Brownlee at Ironman Kona 3 weeks later. Jim had completed 99th marathons prior to this race and the 100th could be many months away now.

IM Italy Crutches