Race Reports

Latest MSTC news


A Doctor's Guide to Marathon Training

Club member Dr Jim Graham of Hassocks has published a Doctor's Marathon Training Lifestyle Guide for runners and triathletes, for beginners to elite runners. It provides insight from a physician who has studied the sport and personally raced more than 50 marathons. At 53 years of age Jim is still getting faster with a 2hr 51min marathon finish at Brighton in 2016.  Jim himself completed four full ironmans, two half ironmans and four marathons in 2016 and finished in the top half of his age group at the Ironman Triathlon World Championships at Kona, Hawaii in 2016. All revenue for the guide in January 2017 will be donated to the Alzheimer's society, a charity that Jim has been supporting for some time. Marathon running is a family sport as Jim's wife Helen is also a marathon runner. She is also a Doctor.

Ironman All World Athlete medals

Dr Jim Graham has been awarded a AWA gold medal for his Ironman performances in 2016. This places him in the top 1% in the world for his age group.In addition club member Douglas Mac Taggart has been awarded an AWA bronze medal for being placed in the top 10% of his age group. In 2016 Douglas completed 2 full Ironmans at Vichy and Wales, together with 2 Ultra marathons and 14 marathons. This year Doug is planning on doing 3 Ironmans, the first being at Lake Taupo in Zew Zealand.

Charity Donation

The club made a donation of £750 to Chailey Heritage's Seymour Dept to assist with their activity week in the summer term. This sum was raised from entry fees paid for events run by the club.

Portsmouth Marathon

Thirteen members participated in the 7th Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon on the 18th December just before Christmas. The route is from South Parade Pier to the end of the Hayling Billy Line and return. Although it is flat marathon, it has some fantastic views across Langstone Harbour.  The profits from entry fees are donated to the RNLI.

James Graham was the 1st member to finish on 3.10.51 with Kevin James following in 3.28.38 and Mike Jaffe just behind Kevin in 3.28.39 . Emma Jaffe was 1st club lady to finish in 4.02.57 with Helen Graham following on 4.30.54. Clair Hunt was competing in her 1st marathon and finished in 6.24.27. the other members times were: Steve Alden 3.49.44, Rob Hoodless 3.53.28, Julienne Stuart-Colwill and Matthew Critchley 5.55.55, Jean Fish 4.56.37, Vicky Von Der Linden 5.27.01, and Sarah Hinton 5.41.45.

New Years Day swim at Weirwood Reservoir

Four members braved the cold water, just a smidgeon over 5 degrees celsius, at Weirwood Reservoir on New Years Day. A few others watched.


Jim Graham’s Ironman Kona 2016 Race Report


In Brief

Mid Sussex Triathlon Club member, Jim Graham, was fortunate enough to get a legacy slot for the 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kona on 8th October 2016. The 11:26 finish time ranked in the top half of age group. This was a very pleasing result despite being 1:41 slower than PB.

Kona is THE Iconic Triathlon Venue and you don't need to be racing in the main event in order to participate or enjoy the experience. Kona is a lovely super-friendly town with lots of preliminary events, banquets, tourism and partying. Being a volunteer marshal for the main race is really rewarding. The whole town is a giant expo for race week and there are loads of free hats, shirts, gels, lubricants, cycle-bottles etc. There are numerous pros and former world champions to spot, listen to and chat with.

WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) have this race week as their annual celebration so everything is lavish and grand (despite there being a relatively small select group of main event racers compared to mega-races like Roth or Frankfurt).

In Depth


Inevitably, long distance triathlon would have arisen eventually in one or several places in the world. The fact that Hawaii was the location that established the specific iron race distances is probably fundamental to the current huge appeal of triathlon. This course and the pros who have excelled here have become legendary.

Imagine being in a sauna for up to 17hours doing continual multi-sport. That is what the Ironman World Championship is like. However, Kailua-Kona in Hawaii is a beautiful tropical paradise with very hospitable friendly locals, so the race is an absolute pleasure despite the challenging conditions.

It is a humbling experience. Many elite athletes in their prime (with Ironman podium finishes elsewhere in the world) suffer at Kona and fail to finish or get beaten by 70 year olds. By the way, some of those 70 year olds are super-human and can beat all of our PB's.

Getting a slot

Currently about a quarter of a million triathletes compete each year in qualifying races to try to get one of a couple of thousand places to the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Big Island, Hawaii on the second Saturday each October. Some events seem a bit easier than others for qualifying but you always need to finish in the top 1-2% of age group. 

Annually, there are about 100 legacy slots distributed amongst those who have completed more than a dozen official Ironman full-distance races. There are a handful of executive and charity places available in order to raise money for good causes (one charity is currently asking for a thirty-five thousand pound bond/pledge from the athlete who takes the single slot that they have for 2017).

There are a handful of slots for disabled athletes and for the US military.

There are about 100 professional slots, but obviously those are impossible for normal human beings to get. This year there were only 9 UK professionals good enough to reach this standard and 2 of these failed to finish.

Pre-race Training

Getting a Kona slot is a bit overwhelming, because of the thought of competing with the world's best. Even if you have your best race ever, you will still most likely rank low in age group and finish considerably slower than PB.

I decided to do a series of races to get me in shape and to bundle all this into a challenge to honour my father-in-law who has Alzheimer's disease. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Graham19

Training was was all about doing this series of races then avoiding injury in order to get to the Kona start-line intact.

3/4/16 Paris Marathon in 2:59

17/4/16 Brighton Marathon in 2:51 (PB)

24/4/16 London Marathon in 2:55

21/5/16 Lanzarote Ironman 140.7 in 13:56 (bike broke)

11/9/16 Weymouth Ironman 70.3 in 5:38

18/9/16 Wales ironman 140.7 in 11:27

Pre-race week

Kona exceeded all expectations. As soon as you get off the plane it is clear that Hawaiians take great pride in being kind, patient and hospitable. Literally an island paradise and also the Ironman event does live up to the hype. 

My wife, Helen, probably had a better week than me because there was so much great stuff to do and no worries for her about saving energy for the the big race.

  • Ho'ala swim race 38k
  • PATH 10k run race
  • Underpants Run 1.5miles
  • Traditional feasts x2
  • Heroes of Hawaii banquet
  • All World Athlete Breakfast with Dave Scott and Mark Allen
  • Parade of Nations
  • Welcome banquet
  • Black Sands Beach Turtle watching
  • Daily swimming, cycling and running
  • Active volcano lava tour
  • Coffee plantation tour

Race Morning

The bike racks and transition on the pier were immaculate. Every inch carpeted and nothing out of place. Not too cramped for space. This was one was clearly going to be different from other races. Terrific kind attention from the army of volunteers and marshals. The excitement and expectation was palpable.

Sensational sunrise as we did the final bike check then waded into the water for the start. Seen it on TV, dvd's and on youtube many times. Unreal.

The mass start at Dig-Me Beach and the cannon going off. Wonderful. Felt like "home", despite being almost as different from a UK triathlon start as it is possible to be. No particular stress or worries about that swim in that lovely clear warm tropical calm water. Nothing to prove on the swim but slight anxiety that any number of bike issues could spoil this (possibly once in a lifetime) experience.


Sensibly, I seeded myself with the slowest 10% (far to the left of the pier). Beautiful warm clear waters with lots of fish. I had gazed at the sea-life and sighted the tropical landscape every morning for the last week but on race day it was the same pair of feet to look at for most of the 1:27 swim. A massive non-neoprene swim PB for me but one of the slowest swims of the day in this elite field (2100th out of 2316).

It was all serene until the final half mile when the top female age-groupers (who had set off 15 mins later than the men) bombed past and over me.


No problem finding my bike bag or bike in T1 as the bulk of my age group were long gone.

There are some slightly tricky sections at mile 2 and mile 4.5, so I took it easy and settled down. This cycle must not be ruined by a stupid accident. 

The plan was to drink 1500ml per hour (yes, 1500ml!) and not get in an accident or get a drafting penalty. It seemed almost impossible to drink that much but experts say it is needed at Kona. The heat, high winds and humidity readily cause dehydration plus salt depletion. Feed stations every 7 miles were needed in order to get enough to drink and to constantly drench body in water. One bottle-cage was just for water to drench body in between feed stations.

There appeared to be double the usual number of draft-buster motorbike marshals and the penalty tents were always full.

A rushed 4 minute T1 caused insufficient suncream application, so the subsequent fear of sunburn encouraged quicker pedalling.

The gusts of wind in the northern half of the bike course were extreme and it was good to not have deep rims (Zipp 303 front and 808 rear did the job nicely).

Paced it nicely using heart rate monitor and overtook lots of people in the last 30 miles. The 5:55 cycle was pleasing and the DIY bike constructed from eBay second-hand parts and duct-tape performed perfectly.


It was a massive relief to start the run and feel confident that this most important of all races would now be completed.

Extreme overheating potential was mitigated by feed stations every mile issuing fluids, sponges, gels and ice. It was good having the drink bottle carried in the tri-suit back pocket to provide extra drinks in between each feed station. Lots of ice was stuffed under tri-suit and hat but it mostly melted within 10 minutes. Lots of supporters on the course had hoses to cool us. Those who overheated had to slow down but fortunately, I kept a good pace even in the infamous hot microclimate of the 4-mile "energy lab section".

It was great feeling strong during the hot airless ascent out of the "energy lab" (just before mile 20) and thereafter gradually increasing pace to overtake many athletes until completing the run in 3:53. The final half-mile mile was an ecstatic sprint ending in a mad dash to the finisher's arch. Too pumped-up with emotion to slow-down and pose for pictures. Stuff of dreams.


Helen was a volunteer marshall for the finish-line and I literally ran into her arms, which was a very special moment to complete a wonderful event.

Next day was spent chilling out, packing the bikes and attending the Champions Banquet Awards Ceremony. Being placed 101st out of 203 starters in the 50-54 male age group was almost unbelievable. How could I have beaten that many athletes at this race when for 8 years of trying (16 previous Ironman races) those guys had been beating me and grabbing all the podium places? I would have been content to beat just one of them in order to prove that my participation in the World Championship was justified.


Big Island Hawaii is literally still growing, with huge quantities of red-hot lava being deposited on land and at sea every day. A couple of days after the big race we found ourselves jogging for miles in the lava fields to get access to the latest up-close viewing places. At sunset the bubbling lava glows spectacularly and it looks like the end of the world and the beginning of the world simultaneously. 

Reflection and Thanks

This is the race report that I have dreamt about writing since first doing a local sprint triathlon in 2008. Some people apparently have sufficient ability to get a Kona slot at will. For most of us it is nearly impossible and that makes this achievement sweeter. My journey has been blessed with plenty of help and support from family and friends. 

Mid Sussex Triathlon Club is full of so many inspirational people who provide lots of positive energy and all of our successes should be considered a team effort. It was fantastic for me to share this experience with my most important person (Helen). 

The next time someone from our club gets a Kona slot, we should rent out a decent sized house for race week and have a large club gathering as that would be awesome. The flights would be the main expense, then we could survive on the free hand-outs of isotonic drinks and energy bars/gels. Expenses could be off-set by selling all the accumulated free hats and tee-shirts on eBay when we get home.

Race Summary


01:27:49 (Division Rank: 185)


05:55:52 (Division Rank: 150)


03:53:34 (Division Rank: 101)

Transition Details

T1: Swim-to-bike 00:04:35

T2: Bike-to-run 00:04:52

Finish Time


Overall Rank 1,316 out of 2,316

Division Rank (age 50-54) 101 out of 203


MSTC end-of-season marathons, duathlons and more


Once the Triathlon season is finished,  many club members enter running events, to pursue additional goals other than pure triathlons.

Lisbon Marathon

Tony Asquith completed the Lisbon Marathon in mid October along with his son and best man.

Ed Barnes: Duathlons

Ed Barnes had a few busy weeks in October, when, after 3 months of intensive training, he completed the Windsor Half Marathon, Oulton Park Standard Duathlon and finally the Bedford sprint Euro Qualifier Duathlon (5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run) on the 16th October, achieving 1.02.18 in gusty winds and torrential rain.

Beachy Head Marathon Saturday 29th October

The Eastbourne Beachy Head Marathon is one of the biggest off-road marathons in the UK. Formerly known as the Seven Sisters Marathon, it is popular for its scenic and challenging route through the South Downs National Park countryside. Four members participated this year, with Jean Fish completing the course in 6 hours, Amanda Durrant in 6.02, Sam Drake in 6.37 and Simon Hodges, along with wife Josie, in  just over 7 hours.

End of Season Saturday morning training swim in Ardingly Reservoir Saturday 29th October

Fifteen swimmers braved the chilly water early Saturday morning, with some in fancy dress, to celebrate 6 months of swim training on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings,  deservedly followed by bacon rolls and mulled wine!

River Thames Autumn Half Marathon Sunday 30th October

Vicky Von der Linden took on this event which is alongside the River Thames, achieving a personal best of 2.06.00. She was joined by her brother Luke Davids who achieved 1.34.29.

Dublin Marathon Sunday 30th October

Occasional MSTC member George Murray completed the Dublin Marathon, his first, in 3.00.59, earning automatic entries into the London Marathons of 2018 and 2019 - if he wants them!

Anthony Vince's season guide


Hever Castle Sprint Tri- 4th in Age Group (SEN) and 9th overall. Great local event, stacked fields, well organised and interesting course. Not sure the water was 17deg though, felt more like 10!

Ocean Lakes Sprint Tri- 4th in AG (SEN) and 9th overall. Well worth a try, especially at the beginning of the season, they are normally one of the first/last to have an open water swim during the year.

Ironman 70.3 series- Barcelona, Germany (European Champs) and Vichy. Best placing 46th in 4:57.

  • Barcelona has a sea swim with a hilly ride and a flat and generally hot run on a sandy surface.
  • Wiesbaden is a lake swim in a quarry, a very hilly bike and a hilly parkrun. Expect good quality road surface on the bike and tough competition because it's the Euros. The downhill section on the bike gets to 85kph! Also the Germans insist you stay to the right at all times on the bike course, else they ram you off!
  • Vichy is a river swim with no noticeable current, was non-wetuit at the last minute this year so be prepared, been very hot here last 2 years. The bike is flat on a good surface, so in aeros pretty much the whole course. The run is fairly flat around the river with some shade. Expect 30-35 deg heat on the run in August.


Trevor's Ironman Wales


The event couldn't really have gone much better for me. The swim was beautiful, a little choppy in places and I spotted a couple of jellyfish low down, but you couldn't have hoped for much better conditions considering it's the sea off Wales. I was really happy with 1hour 13mins.

My bike speed isn't the best so I was worried about cut-offs but I rode in the moment and enjoyed every part, even the hills, amazingly, due to the incredible support from the hundreds of spectators lining the sides. Adrenaline is an amazing thing. It's a hard bike but seeing people sat in front of their houses or on a sofa on a flat-bed farm trailer in a lay-by or banging pots with wooden spoons really helps and they stayed put for even the slower riders on their second lap so you feel as special as the fast competitors. Again really happy with my time, a great feeling knowing you're not going to be cut off and you'll be allowed to do the marathon!

The bike has a deserved reputation for being hard but the run lies in wait, quietly gloating, as it knows it's actually harder. It heads out of town and then steeply uphill for probably a couple of miles. Then back down the way you've come and winds round in a maze through the crowded streets of Tenby. Four laps. Supporters even on the further reaches of the run had music systems set up in front of their houses.

I was determined to do the first two laps with no walking, hills and all, except for water stations. Rose was in Personal Needs on the run so I saw her every lap and she supplied what I needed most... love and belief in me. I can't thank her enough for selflessly supporting for over 15 hours, exhausting in itself. She'd even walked out to Saundersfoot on the bike course to cheer at the top of the hill for a brief moment as I passed and then walked the 3 miles back.

Lap 3 of the run was dark. Literally it was getting dark, but mentally too. My poor quads were shot from the bike effort. I took the last painkiller and salt tab. My adaptive nutrition plan which had worked wonderfully on the bike and until now was starting to crumble. I developed a weird 'scratch' on the back of my throat that made me cough to the point where I thought I might be sick. I think it was the build-up of the intense flavour of the Powerbar gels or a scratch from the one and only Dorito I had had at a Feed station. I had to breathe through my nose to control the cough reflex for a while until it passed. No gels from now on, for now water for a bit and flat coke.

Loads of people were walking the long, long, long hill now but I'm a bit bloody-minded and decided to run. I knew for me that to alternate walk / run would be the start of a downward spiral to just walking everything. I was like a slow snail creeping past fractionally slower snails! Some of the slower snails sped off on the downhill but others didn't. It mattered not as I wasn't battling them... I hadn't walked… an internal fight won.

So no gels but I need energy still so it's tiny bites of banana and tiny sips of coke and energy drink. I had to pop up a dark side road for a wee so I'm OK hydration-wise so no more water, that will dilute salts.

Back in town on the second half of the third lap and Tenby was a disco. The bike shop literally had disco lazer lights strobing the street. In fact it was becoming a bit overwhelming. Once more past the finishing chute seeing people enter it... but you're peeling off for another lap.

But there's Rose again and it's the LAST lap! What a mental pickup. I tell myself it's a lap of honour. I thanked every supporter that I passed on the bike and now I thank these ones doubly. It's raining and they're still out. Every tiny child on the run wanting a high five has got one. Their excitement at that small act is such a positive buzz that I feel like they transfer a small bit of energy to me.

I'm running slow but OK. I'm not an Ironman yet but my quads feel as hard as iron. My knees hate the downhills. ITB pain is bearable due to the taping. I'm so happy it's the last lap, everything's good now. There's even some chats to be had with other last lappers and a few laughs. We're on the way home.

The finish chute is loud and red and a blur. I high five Paul Kaye,  he tells me I am an Ironman. I search for Rose, she's there, but too much music and faces to see her so I cross the line arms raised. I see Rose on the other side, there's hugs and a few tears.

A long, long journey, four years since not finishing Bolton but absolutely worth it. The last lap was definitely the last lap, it doesn't get much harder than Wales, no need to do it again!

Trevor's times:

Swim: 1.13.27

Bike: 7.48.20

Run: 5.46.03

Overall: 15.16.03