Race Reports

Ironman Wales and Conquer the Chilterns


Ironman Wales at Tenby

Seven members went to Tenby in Pembrokeshire to compete in the Ironman Wales event on Sunday 18th September.

IRONMAN Wales is now well established as having one of the most challenging bike and run courses on the IRONMAN calendar.  This is counterbalanced by Tenby's North Beach providing the most spectacular swim location, possibly of any IRONMAN event, and the inspiration gained from one of the most vocal and enthusiastically-supported events, with tens of thousands of spectators, who turn out on race day for all three discplines. This is a full Ironman with a swim of 2.4 miles, a bike ride of 112 miles, together with a marathon (26.22 miles).

Dr James Graham came home in 11.27.04 placing 17 in the 50-54 age group.  James said," Tenby is simply the best Ironman race in the world. Beautiful swim. Hard technical cycle but nevertheless pretty. Amazing hard hard hard run. The very best crowd support of any Ironman. So much banter and music and lovely friendly crowds". James goes to Kona in Hawaii in early October for the World Ironman Championships.

Colin Chambers was the second club member to finish, in 12.28.25 placing 35th in the 50-54 age group.  Doug MacTaggart was the third club member to finish in 13.07.12, placing 109th in the 45-49 age group. Doug commented , "A month ago my plan A was to try and sneak a sub 14 at Vichy IM and then just get around at Wales. Never did I think I could get a 12:41 at Vichy and then be only 26 minutes slower with a 13:07, at what is definitely the toughest IM I have done at Wales.  Time for a month's rest before I attempt a 100 mile trail run".

Sharona Harrington did very well coming in 20th place in the Women's 35-39 group in 14.29.42, Charlie Langhorne, also in the 50-54 age group, finished in 14.49.54 saying he was delighted to have completed the course but felt really tired. Trevor Moore finished in 15.16.03 and Cliff Wilson in 16.31.21.

Conquer the Chilterns Sprint Plus Triathlon at Henley on Thames

Sarah Hinton and Ricci Lennon went to this inaugural event which featured a 750m swim, a 30 km bike ride and a 5km run. The swim was in the River Thames and navigated the world-famous Henley Royal Regatta section. The bike leg followed a multi-lap rolling course with one large climb per lap, and the runs featured an undulating climb which required competitors to to push their legs to their limits. Sarah was the 8th woman to finish in 1.58.07, whilst Ricci was 10th in 2.01.19. This was Sarah's first open water triathlon.

Bodiam Castle Triathlon: 11 Sept 2016


Three men in a moat

A beautiful bright morning saw 3 of Mid Sussex' finest triathletes in action at the Bodiam triathlon amid a high quality field of 260+. The early mist gave way to sunny skies and a friendly vibe as waves of 50 were sent on their way to swim 400m around the castle in the moat. Surely this is worth the entry fee alone?

As I lined up in my wave alongside Callum I heard one competitor say "What a load of carp". Thinking he was commenting on the race briefing I was found to be incorrect in my assumption as I looked into the depths of the moat.

Now I have had pre-race nerves before but not about being eaten alive!

Happily the poor fish/ beasts of the deep had enough sense to keep clear of the thrashing riot of rubber that constituted the rather riotous start of my wave.

The water was warm and not unpleasant on the palate and Jo, Callum and I made it out without mishap and all limbs accounted for.

The bike course is a scenic (read hilly) ride in and out of the valley over 21km or so and very enjoyable in the good conditions. Jo enjoyed his bike ride longer than the rest of us as he had a rather deflating experience with his front wheel. However he still managed to get back to transition, mend his puncture and complete his triathlon quicker than others who had no misfortune.

The transition is in front of the Castle and was quite hectic with people coming in and out from all directions. The 5.5k run takes you from transition and behind the castle to some pleasant fields and then to the footpath beside the canal and ESKR railway. The castle is in sight for quite a long time before you actually get to the finish and makes this a really enjoyable event. After the finish you can mull around the castle grounds and enjoy the end of term atmosphere made all the better by the weather.


Loz 10th, 1st age group 1.08.14

Callum, 6th age group 1.22.19

Jo, not last but awaiting correct times from race director

Recent news and charity donations


Members of the club have been competing in all sorts of events from Channel Swims to Olympic Distance and full Ironman Triathlons, abroad in Austria and France, and within the UK. The club also staged its annual Triathalon Festival at Ardingly Reservoir over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Bank Holiday weekend 27th - 31st August


Doug Mac Taggart competed in the Vichy Ironman at Vichy in France completing the course in 12.41.29, whilst Andrew Biggs participated in the Olympic Distance Triathlon at Chateau Chantilly just outside Paris in a time of 2.53.19.This is part of the Castle Triathlon series where triathlons are held at scenic castle locations such as Hever and Cholmomdeley Castles, Castle Howard and Chateau de Chantilly.

Charity Channel Swim

Phil Couch and David Shepherd set off to swim the English Channel on the 31st August in calm and sunny conditions. At the half way stage they were on course for a 10-12hour crossing, however as they approached the French coast, the wind picked up and the sea became very rough, and eventually they had to abandon their swim challenge. David though obviously very disappointed said, "We may not have made it the whole distance, but we gave everything and, most importantly, everyone got back safely".  Despite the failure to complete the crossing, Phil was delighted to report that he had raised over £1000 for their chosen charity Asthma UK.

Club Triathlon Festival at Ardingly Reservoir

This event attracted 37 club participants in either Olympic Distance or Middle Distance events. In the Olympic Distance event Neil Giles was first in 2.23.26 with Mike Jaffe second in 2.33.00. Rachael Baker was first woman home in 2.44.20, with Emma Jaffe second in 3.09.02. Gunter Eifler was first in the Middle Distance event in 4.56.23, with Steve Alden second in 4.59.10. Laurie Anderson was the first woman in 5.43.53 with Lisa Stephenson second in 6.02.06.The profit of about £550 from the entry fees for the event was donated to Chailey Heritage.

4th September

European Middle Distance Triathlon Championships at Walshee, Tirol, Austria

Kate McTear went to Walshsee in the Tirol to compete in the European Middle Distance Championships, coming an excellent second in her 20-24 age group with a highly commendable time of 4.59.41. Kate was delighted that all the training hours had finally paid off.

River Dart 10km Swim

David Ricketts and Rob Southern swam in this extremely popular event, with David finishing on 2.25.30 and Rob not far behind with a time of 2.39.11.

10th September Vitruvian Middle Distance Triathlon at Rutland Water

Matt Critchley, Julienne Stuart-Colwill and Claire Hunt travelled to  Rutland Water for the Vitruvian Middle Distance Triathlon with Matt finishing in 5.38.22, Julienne in 6.11.29 and Claire in 7.32.47.

11th September Weymouth Ironman

Gunter Eifler competed in the full Ironman distance completing the course in 11.38.15. This placed him 28th in the 40-44 age group. Meanwhile as a  wedding anniversary celebration, husband and wife team Drs Jim and  Helen Graham competed in the Middle Distance event (70.3) with Jim completing the course in 5.38.32 and Helen in 7.39.54. Ed Cockill also competed in his first ever 70.3 event, completing the course in an impressive 5.38.48 and a 44th place in his age group.He commented that he could not have asked for a better day.

18th September: Ironman Wales Tenby

A contingent of members including Trevor Moore, Colin Chambers, Sharona Harrington, Doug Mac Taggart and Jim Graham will be going to Tenby to compete on Sunday. This event along with the Weymouth 70.3 is part of Jim's training for the iconic World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii on 8th October.

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