Race Reports

Jim Graham qualifies for World Ironman Championships, Kona


A Mid Sussex Triathlete's biggest race ever will be on 8th October 2016, when this 52 year old GP goes up against Beijing Olympic Gold medalist and reigning Ironman World Champion.

In March 2015, James was almost brought to tears when he received a phone call and an email form The World Triathlon Corporation "to formally congratulate you on being selected to compete at the 2016 Ironman World Championship", "for dedication, not only to Ironman but to the sport of triathlon".

Some call it the world's toughest single-day sporting event. The Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii is approximately 4 times the distance of an OlympicTriathlon. Participation in this particular race is the ultimate dream for almost all triathletes but most will never get the opportunity. It is a privilege to be one of the 2,000 professionals and amateurs to be selected out of around a quarter of a million who enter qualifying races each year.

This Hassocks resident and father of 3 has completed 17 official Ironman Triathlon races since 2009, which are all qualifying opportunities for the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Despite ranking highly on several occasions, James never achieved automatic World Championship Qualification with a podium finish. His best finish time is 9 hours 45 mins, which is quite good for an amateur, but the professional world record time of 7 hours 41minutes is held by Germany's Jan Frodeno. 

Jan Frodeno won The Triathlon Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympics and he will be the defending Ironman World Champion racing this year against James at Kona, Hawaii. Triathlon offers priceless opportunities for amateurs to race alongside the top professionals. James is dedicating this race to a close relative who has Alzheimer's Disease and many people have already kindly made donations to the Alzheimer's Society via his site. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Graham19

Mid Sussex Triathlon Club is the main reason for James' sporting progress. When he joined the club in 2009, his best marathon time was 4:45 but in April this year James finished Brighton Marathon in 2:51. This terrific club caters for able-bodied and disabled athletes of all standards from social-joggers to those of international age-group standard. James also thanks Jane Roweth (of Hassocks) at www.aspirefitnesssolutions.co.uk for helping him with fitness and nutrition advice. We are blessed to have a friendly supportive fitness community locally. However, the biggest thanks of all go to a wonderful supportive wife, Helen.

Swims both ways (1)


Imagine jumping into 13 degree C water, wearing only a pair of speedos and a set of goggles. Behind you is Dover and ahead, approximately 22 - 30 miles away, lies Cap Gris Nez, France. After swimming through the pitch black of night; coping with strong tides; hordes of jellyfish and fields of seaweed, you will emerge victorious having swum the English Channel. However, the task then extends to the return leg as we are doing a two way crossing and have to swim back to England.

A team comprising Jamie Goodhead (c), Steve McMenamin, Graham Lock, Richard Arthur & Tim Fraser from two of the great Sussex clubs Mid Sussex Triathlon Club and the Mid Sussex Marlins, came together to face exactly this challenge.  Having trained in the sea since the end of January they built up their tolerance to cold water, adapted to the presence of strong tides and dealt with sea life, sharp pebbles and other sundry hazards.

One of the team member, Steve stated "I didn't start swimming because I wanted to cross the Channel. Originally, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and took up triathlons to maintain a healthy lifestyle." 

At 05.55 on Thursday 14th July and under the team name 'Swims Both Ways', their exciting journey began. After a choppy start, the wind dropped and the swell abated and after 9 hours and 57 mins they landed in France. Then, immediately upon landing they turned to embark upon the return leg.  In the absolute pitch blackness of the channel overnight, it took another 11 hours to swim back; completing 54 miles in total. Delightfully, they discovered that no other 5 man team had gone faster.

Steve acknowledged the support he received along the way from family, team mates and training partners from the Mid Sussex Triathlon and Marlins clubs who helped me him brave water temperatures as cold as 7 degrees in preparation for the swim. "The right support will get you far, to France and back to be exact!".  He completed the challenge as part of a series of events to raise some much needed cash for Teenage Cancer Trust. To help support this incredibly worthwhile cause or to help the charities supported by other team members, you can donate on the sites below:


  • Teenage Cancer


  • Mid Sussex Marlins Swimming Club


  • The Multiple Sclerosis Society



Vitruvian middle-distance race

The Vitruvian "half iron" middle distance triathlon was held at Rutland Water on Saturday 10 September in what could best be described as biblical conditions.  This year, the race was afforded greater significance as it had also been designated as the British Triathlon Federation middle distance national championships.

The ladies were off in the first wave of competitors in the half light of early morning and the rain that was to set the scene for the remainder of the day.  Mid Sussex Triathlon Club were ably represented by Clair Hunt and Julienne Stuart-Colwill.  Fortunately, the strong winds of the previous evening had subsided and with it calmer conditions for the majority of the 2 lap, 950-meter triangular circuit for the swim leg.  Towards the far end of the course by the first marker buoy conditions were decidedly choppy making for difficult swimming conditions until turning that first corner and heading back to shore.

Despite the challenging conditions, the first lady back to shore set an impressive time of 25 mins 39 seconds to cover the full 1,900 meters and off onto an undulating 2 lap bike course totalling 85 km before the final wave of competitors had even started their swim.  Last to go were the male 45 to 49 age group category and Mid Sussex Tri Club were again represented; this time by Matthew Critchley, setting off a full 40 minutes after the first competitors.

The weather for the day was due to deteriorate and the forecasters did not disappoint with temperatures dropping, wind picking up and the rain intensifying throughout the race.  All of which made for increasingly treacherous conditions on the road for the cyclists.

The race concluded with a 21.1 km, half-marathon run along the picturesque banks of Rutland Water.  Being 2 laps of an "out and back" course, it offered the perfect opportunity to stop club-mates and rivals as well as offering much needed support and encouragement to tiring athletes!  The race for club "line honours" was getting quite tight with Matthew having closed the 40-minute deficit at race start to 15 mins 30 seconds by the start of the run.

With Julienne determined to hold off her club mate, she duly finished in an overall time of 6 hours 11 minutes and 29 seconds, to cross the line a full 6 mins 53 seconds ahead of her team mate, Matthew, who stopped the clock at an elapsed time of 5 hours 38 mins 22 seconds; both setting new Personal Bests at this distance.  Clair completed the club trio with a very creditable 7 hours 32 minutes 47 seconds to successfully complete a middle distance race at her first attempt.


Club News, 26th June


The triathlon season is in full swing with members competing locally and further afield in Hanpshire, Somerset and Cheshire.

The Galdiator Ironman at Bucklers Hard, New Forest, Hampshire

Juliw Williams and Jean Fish competed in this event and were cheered on by a group of club supporters. This event includes a 3.8km swim from Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard followed by a 180km cycle ride around the New Forest and finishing with a 42.2km run. (Results not yet posted)



Exmoor 70.3 Ironman at Wimball Reservoir

Cliff Wilson completed the event in 8.03.09.

Arundel Castle Triathlon

Gunter Eifler placed 10th overall in this Olympic Distance triathlon on 2.13.34. After many marathons and falling off his bike during the week Doug Mac Taggart finished on 2.55.47.

Swim 1st Sprint Triathlon Crawley

A large contigent competed at Crawley with Lawrence Wintergold finishing in 3rd position in 58.49. Rob Hoodless was 7th in 1.00.09 and Ben Fergie 9th in 1.02.02. Rachael Baker was 10th and 1st woman in 1.02.15. James Graham 1.07.44, Brad Williams 1.11.38, Jeremy Paine 1.17.12, Steve Birchall 1.18.21, Ricci Lennon 1.18.56, Sarah Hinton 1.19.30, Pippa Crouch 1.27.20, Helen Graham 1.32.24, and Gemma Graham 1.45.13 all put in good performances.



Boskman Half Ironman at Bucklers Hard

Simon Barton, Simon Hodges, Colin Chambers and Charlie Landhorne all competed in the event in the Beaulieu River and the New Forest. (Results not yet posted)

Cholmondeley Castle Olympic Triathlon, Cheshire

Andrew Biggs competed in this popular event finishing 46th in 2.40.10.

Event round up - 18th June


South Downs Marathon

Darren Bird and Douglas Mac Taggart competed in the South Downs Marathon, starting at Slindon College and then following a route up to and along the South Downs Way to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park at Petersfield. Darren completed his marathon in a very respectable 3.27.13 whilst Doug completed his 150th marathon in 4.58.37.

River Arun 3.8km swim

Twelve members competed in the 3.8 km swim from Arundel to Littlehampton on Saturday morning. Sarah Moore finished in a fantastic 11th position and was the second woman to finish on 53.07. She was followed by Katie Chatfield on 59.21 (71st), Mark Jordan 1.00.02 (77th) and Mike Jaffe 1.05.52 (135th).  Debbie Nisbet 1.08.21, David Ricketts 1.09.38, Simon Hodges 1.11.00,  Sharon Chaldek 1.11.38 and Rose Ryan 1.15.58 were not far behind.


Dambuster Olympic Distance Triathlon at Rutland Water

Eight MSTC athletes made the journey up the A1 to Rutland Water on Friday night to take part in the Dambuster, an Olympic-distance triathlon that started early on Saturday morning and was a qualifier for this summer's age-group World Championships in Mexico.

 Conditions were cold and overcast for a 1500m swim in Rutland Water, followed by a 42k bike ride on the roads around the reservoir and a 10k run that went out across the dam and back, finishing in front of a large crowd, stoked up by pumping rock music and an excitable race commentary.

 Callum Murray led the Mid Sussex contingent home in 2.54.26, just 18 seconds ahead of Matt Critchley in 2.54.54, who in turn was followed by Julienne Stuart-Colwill, the first MSTC woman home in an impressive 3.02.42.

 Cliff Wilson finished in 3.14.49, Joanne Barton in 3.19.51 and Ricci Lennon was delighted with a 3.23.13 in her first-ever Olympic-distance triathlon.

 Tracy Brownings wasn't far behind in 3.34.38 and she was followed home by Angela Murray in 3.43.17 and by Clair Hunt in 3.58.44.

 All these results were put into perspective, however, by the overall winner's time, an amazing 1.58.21, not far off the time that the winner of this summer's Olympic triathlon in Rio de Janeiro might expect to post. This was a high-quality field.

Saturday Morning swim in Ardingly Reservoir

Meanwhile 11 members did the regular 8am swim in Ardingly Reservoir, supported by 3 safety observers in kayaks and on the dock.

East Sussex Cycling Association 50 mile Time Trial Sunday 19th June

Nine members competed in the 50 mile time trial along the A22 in East Sussex. Kevin James was first member home on 2.16.04, followed by Neil Giles 2.16.32 and Phil Couch on 2.18.43. Lawrence Wintergold, Colin Chambers and Jez Fallon finished on 2.20.27, with Graham Bond 2.20.54, Steve Alden 2.21.49 and Sharon Chaldek 2.31.12 also competing.