Race Reports

Triathlon Superstar Javier Gomez meets Mid Sussex’s top GB age-groupers

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Mark Jordan and Jim Graham from Mid Sussex Triathlon Club were delighted to both finish as top GB athletes in their events amid a large GB age-group team. It was a wonderful boost to shake hands with Gomez, a true great.

Mark was fast on both swim and bike to finish 5th in the world in the 60-64 Aquabike category. This terrific result was despite a chronic ear infection. Mark's pain and deafness was remedied within 24 hours of his return to UK by an emergency appointment procedure by top Sussex ENT surgeon, Mr Prodip Das.

00:50:38 3km swim
00:02:57 transition
03:39:11 120km cycle
04:32:46 overall

Jim had a slow swim as usual but strong cycling and the 2nd fastest run in age group lead to an 8th in the world finish in the 55-59 Long Distance Triathlon Category. A weak run at Ironman Norway 2 weeks earlier made him narrowly miss 1st place, but this time there was a steady 7:30 minute/mile pace throughout plus a good sprint finish.

01:11:20 3km swim
00:03:47 transition 1
03:26:01 120km cycle
00:03:22 transition 2
02:18:29 30km run
07:02:59 overall

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News roundup, 16th July

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British Middle Distance Triathlon Championship at Hever Castle 8th July

Mid Sussex Triathlon Club Member Kate Mactear, who is studying for a Masters Degree at Bristol University, achieved a magnificent 3rd place with a time of 5.19.47 in the British Middle Distance Championships held within the Festival of Endurance Gauntlet event at Hever Castle. This is an event in the popular Castle Triathlon Series and involves a 1.9km swim in Hever Lake followed by a tough 90km bike ride round the High Weald of Kent anf the Ashdown Forest, and finishing with a 21km run with a challenging off road element.

Vitoria Gasteiz Midddle Distance Triathlon, Northern Spain 8th July

New member Amanda Hyatt achieved 2nd place in her age group with a time of 7.21.11 in this popular event held in the Capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in Northern Spain. It comprised a 1.9km swim in Ullibarri-Gamboa lake, a 94km bike ride around the beautiful landscape of Alava, and finishing with a 21km run through the medieval town. Amanda commented that the club's open water swimming sessions at Ardingly Reservoir had given her the confidence to tackle the swimming part of the event.

Amanda Hyatt Vitoria Gasteiz

Thorpe Park Middle Triathlon, 14th July

Emma Jayne Smith took on her first Standard Distance Triathlon at Thorpe Park (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) finishing in 3.27.36. She commented that it had a nice course, was well organised and very enjoyable.

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Ironman Haugesund Norway 2018

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Background

The inaugural full ironman in Norway took place on 1st July during unusually hot dry sunny conditions. There were less than 600 athletes doing the full 140.6 mile race which occurred simultaneously with the 70.3 race. At the start of the year, this Norway race had been my main target to win an Ironman Kona slot, with Ironman Boulder in Colorado three weeks earlier as the tune-up race. I was fortunate enough to get a Kona slot at Boulder so this visit to Norway became the tune-up race for the ITU World Championship in Denmark two weeks afterwards.

Swim

The lake swim at Haugesund was a relatively cool 18 degrees and produced a surprisingly frequent number of contacts with other swimmers despite the rolling start and small starter list. The swim was well organised with a novel system of swim lanes within the lake so it was impossible to go off course by very much. My 1:28 swim was typical of recent times and one of the slowest in age group.

Cycle

This is possibly my best ever cycling experience and a top personal performance. The conditions were perfect with closed dry roads on a breathtakingly beautiful but challenging hilly technical single loop 112 mile course with constant turns and switch-backs. If I had previously cycled the course, I could have cycled 10 minutes quicker because of less braking and choosing better lines to take corners at speed. Several sections were like a roller-coaster ride with 40mph descents approaching bends in the road then steep climbs that momentum could carry you up if you held your nerve.

My 5:33 cycle was 22 minutes faster than the next best in my age group, but I had no notion of this when I started the run.

Run

I had no idea that I was in the lead for most of the run and I frittered away a 13 minute advantage by failing to dig deep in the second half. My 4:07 run was 15 minutes slower than my typical Ironman run and I finished 2nd in age group having been beaten by 4 minutes 31 seconds.

Reflections

JimNorway2018.jpgIt was a very pleasant surprise to appear on an Ironman podium for the second time within 3 weeks. My overall finish time of 11:18:03 is not particularly fast but the challenging bike course and the hot conditions for the run caused everyone to slow down. 

Having been middle of the pack for most of the other 20 Ironman races since my first one in 2009, this 2nd place in age group at Ironman Norway is more than I could have hoped for.

That altitude training in Colorado a few weeks earlier seems to have worked but sadly it will just be a temporary effect. Lack of mental strength may have cost me 1st place in age group in this race as a little voice in my head may have been telling me to save something for the ITU Long Distance World Championship in Denmark two weeks after.

News roundup 25th June

Ironman Boulder, Colorado 9th June

Boulder2018_Jim_Trophy.jpgJim Graham continued his worldwide Ironman and Marathon experiences in this high altitude event held at 5000ft. He had made meticulous preparations for this event,  with every detail addressed, with the aim of securing a Kona qualification for 2018. Kona is the Ironman Championships in Hawaii. At the Boulder event, after a slow swim, Jim did well on on the moderately hilly bike route, averaging 22.5mph, with his home-made bike, put together mostly with second hand parts, proving to be very aero, and held his form in the run, despite 100F temperatures, to come in overall 1st in his age group in 10.39. This performance gives him a slot medal for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, later in the year. Jim said that this achievement was "a dream come true", "unbelieveable" since previously he had never ranked better than 5th in his age group, having completed 22 Ironman distance events over the last 9 years. Jim expressed his gratitude for all the terrific support from friends, family and colleagues, and said that " Kona promises to be  awesome."

You can read Jim's full race report here.

23rd & 24th June

It was a busy weekend for members who were competing in Triathlons of varying lengths and also for 16 members who took part the River Arun Swim.

 

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Swim 1st Triathlon, Crawley

 Rachael Baker won the women's race, with Rob Hoodless coming 3rd in the men's race. Sarah Hinton, Clair Hunt, Rebecca Moore also took part.

 

 

 

 

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River Arun Swim

This is a 3.8km swim from Ford to Littlehampton. Steve McMenamin was the 1st member to finish in 48.46 (4.68 km/hr), with Mike Jaffe 2nd in 50.45 and Jo Fleming 3rd in 53.34. Joanne Barton was the first woman member to finish in 55.28 (4.11km/hr), with Tiggy Rose 2nd in 55.54, and Merrin Forbes the  3rd member to finish in 58.15.

 

 

 

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Chomondley Castle Triathlon

Andrew Biggs went to Cheshire for this Castle Triathlon Series event. He did the sprint plus event on Saturday, finishing the 800m swim, 44km bike and 8km run in 2.20.10, and then did the Standard Distance event on Sunday, completing the 1500m swim, 44km bike and 10km run in a very respectable 2.47. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leeds Castle Triathlon

Lawrence Wintergold came 3rd in his age group in the Standard Distance Event in 2.23.22. Jane Faulkner also took part, finishing in 3.33.19. Adam Bryant competed in the sprint event, finishing in 1.48.08.

 

Age Group Win for MSTC at Ironman Boulder Colorado 2018

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Swim

Perfect conditions in a beautiful reservoir rolling-start single lap course resulted in one of the slowest swims in age group of 1:29. This was 17 minutes slower than my previous best iron-swim and reflects current poor swimming form.

Bike

Boulder2018_Jim_Bike.jpgHundreds of riders to overtake on the moderately hilly good surface non-technical bike course gave hundreds of brief legal drafting opportunities whilst going past people. The home-made bike constructed from mostly secondhand parts from eBay proved to be very aero with average speed of 22.5mph and maximum speed of 45mph for a 4:57 bike split. This was apparently fastest in age group apart from a 4:29 DNF.

Run

Temperatures were around 100F at the start of the run and I was content with the sub-5 hour bike split so a fast run was not in mind. Almost immediately I got overtaken by Stephen from Colorado who was in my age group and was wearing Kona World Championship Finisher's Kit. I was motivated to try harder and attempt to match Stephen's pace. I could not keep up with Stephen's running but he tended to spend longer at feed stations so I kept seeing him up until the last third of the run when he seemed to have got away. Just a few hundred metres from the finish I overtook an exhausted Stephen but because he had entered the water ahead of me our finish times were 2 minutes apart. Stephen's 4:01 run was best in age group and my 4:02 was second fastest.

Post-Race

Boulder2018_Jim_Finish.jpgBoulder2018_Jim_Finish.jpgThe exceptionally hot conditions and the 5,000 feet altitude accounted for a high DNF rate but Stephen and I secured the two Kona slots for 55-59. Unbelievable to get the age group award and the Kona slot medal. My 10:39 was almost and hour slower than PB but in the conditions it was pretty good and considerably faster than last year's IM Boulder 55-59 winning time. This result was totally unexpected as explained in the Grand Plan described later.

Background

This is the race report I never dreamt of being able to write, having completed 22 Iron Distance Races over 9 years and never ranked better than 5th in age group. It was a humbling experience having my perfect race at Barcelona 2015 only to find that the 9:45 finish time was slower than 6 people in my age group.

The Grand Plan

A final 100% effort to get a Kona qualification slot was planned for 2018 to coincide with going up an age group. Having been to Kona with a legacy place in 2016, I hoped to go back in 2018 with a roll-down slot to prove I could make the grade the proper way.
Every detail was addressed including body weight reduction, a more aero bike, 25mm graphene tyres, latex inner tubes and speedplay aero pedals/cleats. The schedule of training and preparation races included altitude training at the optimum time to deliver a best performance at IM Norway on 1st July at sea level. The Colorado altitude training in June included 3 races within 13 days (Revel Rockies Marathon, IM Boulder and Leadville Marathon).

I stayed at 8,000 feet for a week then raced at 5,000 feet in Boulder before going to 10,000 feet for a week to prepare for the 3rd race at Leadville with maximum elevation of 13,000 feet.

Reflections

I am very grateful for all the terrific support from friends, family and work colleagues to allow me to have do this trip plus the training needed to prepare. Commuting by bike to work 3 days a week and running marathons twice or more weekly in order to get 100-marathon club entry have been key factors in getting fitter.

Colorado is a wonderland for triathletes with great options for swimming, cycling and running at high altitude to maximise fitness adaptations. The landscape is gorgeous and the locals are very friendly. Flying direct from Gatwick to Denver with excellent budget airline Norwegian Air is very practical. Staying at AirBnB rentals was very good value and my hosts were wonderful.

The strategy of regular races paid off. 3rd in age group at Revel Rockies Marathon with 3:04 then 1st in age group at IM Boulder 7 days later. 6 days after IM Boulder I felt fully fit and secured 7th place in age group at the Leadville Marathon with maximum elevation of 13,000 feet, which won me a Leadville 100 qualifier slot.

Kona 2018 promises to be awesome and I am so lucky to be able to compete there. It looks like the big challenge for 2019 will be trying to complete one of the toughest 100 mile ultra runs in the world at Leadville.