Race Reports

IM Barcelona 2015 race report


3 places and 12 minutes from securing Kona slot



Jeff Woodall of MSTC announced he was doing IM Barcelona 2015.

I loved doing this race in 2014, so it didn't take much to persuade me to take up a late entry for 2015, via Nirvana Travel.

Classic over-training by doing a full-distance 100% effort 3 weeks earlier at Challenge Weymouth, followed by an 80% effort at Gauntlet middle-distance 1 week prior to Barcelona.


Race Day

Perfect conditions with calm sea and 20 degrees air temperature with no rain and little wind or sunshine.


Rolling-start to swim made a stress-free experience and easy to find correctly paced swimmers to draft off. Exited the water in 1:18 (2 minutes slower than PB but 4 minutes quicker than 2014). Bodes well for a good race. Wanting to shave 8 minutes off last year's finish time in order to get a sub-10 result.


Was approximately half-way in field of 2,400 at start of cycle. Therefore, over a thousand riders to overtake over the coming 112-miles. Got 12 seconds to overtake each one in order to avoid a drafting penalty. Decided to give it 100% and try for a first ever sub-5 hour ironman cycle. Not thinking about the run. Didn't want to stop for loo or fuel, so only drank 3 litres that I was carrying (15 gels, 3 salt tablets and 4 sachets of isotonic dissolved in the drinks system).

Plan worked well and completed cycle in 4:49, with only 2 or 3 cyclists overtaking me during that time. 19 minutes quicker than 2014!


Started with a stitch and indigestion so didn't take a gel for the first 40 minutes. Happy with the cycle and not too bothered about doing a great run. Started to feel good after first hour, so focused on trying to get that sub-10 finish. Got the maths wrong by a 15 minute margin and sprinted frantically for the last 2-miles in order to squeeze in under 10-hours. In fact managed 3:32, which was just 2 minutes slower than 2014.



Felt fantastic and scoffed a big meal including 3 beers. Usually feel rubbish after ironman, so this was a pleasant surprise. Couldn't believe the 9:45 finish time. Not surprised that 6 male 50-54's had finished quicker than me, because there are some insanely fast middle aged blokes out there who beat many of the pros.

Met up with Jeff and his family. Jeff swam 4 minutes quicker than me and would have matched me on the cycle if he hadn't got a horrid puncture. Jeff had completed a terrific sub-12 for his first ever ironman.

Massive thanks to friends and family who supported us. Brilliant comments on facebook and it was heart-warming that some people had been followed our progress on the live-tracker then posted updates on facebook. It really helps to have positive thoughts about that sort of thing whilst racing.


SWIM DETAILS | Division Rank: 129






3.9 km












BIKE DETAILS | Division Rank: 20






180.2 km







37.34 kph





RUN DETAILS | Division Rank: 7






42.2 km











Originally from: IronMan Barcelona 2015 Results 

Who’s the biggest banana?


On the same weekend that the club's elite were taking on the continent's best at the European Championships in Geneva, or becoming Ironmen (all over again) at Hever, the elderly, the infirm, the has-beens and the never-weres took a deep breath and confronted the Bananaman Triathlon at Dorney Lake.

Why the 'Bananaman'? Well, there was a bloke in a banana suit (no one knew whether he actually competed - getting his wetsuit on over the banana suit would have been tricky) and there were piles of green bananas around the place, courtesy of upmarket sponsor Lidl. "Don't eat those," warned Professor Dr Sir David Ricketts, Bart, "they'll kill you. I remember when I was in Honduras…" etc, etc.

Sir David, Brad Williams and I were off at 10.30 for an 800m swim, followed by a 31.8k bike and a 7.5k run (note the strange, in-betweeny sprint/Olympic hybrid distances), while Angela Murray's wave was due off 40 minutes later.

An 800m open water swim. Gulp. We line up with the other green caps in the clear waters of the lake, conscious that the next wave of yellow caps (relay team swimmers, I think) are due off just five minutes later. So that means being overtaken by the first of them in about six minutes' time, I think. And so it happens. Otherwise, I have a relatively uneventful swim as I labour round two circuits of a rectangle marked by four buoys - no (deliberate) punches, kicks or gouges, unlike a lady in Angela's wave who later says she's planning an official complaint after being so badly bruised by swimmers ploughing through from the following men's wave that she was forced to retire.

Emerging from the water, surrounded by yellow caps (where are all the greens?), I'm confronted by my usual wetsuit removal problem of being unable to reach to undo that velcro thing at the top of the zip (howdopeople do that?) until, seeing my evident distress, a spectator kindly offers to undo it for me. Against the rules, I know, but wtf? It's only the Bananaman, not the Olympics.

Into transition and no sign of Sir D or Brad (they'll be miles ahead), onto the bike and straight into the notorious Dorney Lake headwind for six circuits of the lake. Down onto the tri-bars for the next hour or so (it's completely flat), except for a tricky little chicane where you sometimes have to slow down to negotiate the traffic. Towards the end, I overtake Sir D, who is making his usual stately progress on his venerable titanium Raleigh, having deliberately handicapped himself once again by electing to shun tri-bars. If ever there was a course where you benefit from minimising your frontal area (no, don't titter), it's this one.

Then onto the run, which is three out-and-back laps of a path by the lakeside - and is HARD, despite its pan-flatness. About two-thirds of the way out I meet Brad on his way back, and with an uncatchable lead, so settle down to my own private misery. Out on the second lap I see Brad again at approximately the same place, but on the third lap, no sign of him. So that means he was more, not less, than a lap ahead of me! Oh well, it's not a race, I tell myself - conveniently forgetting that, well, itisactually a race.

Finally, nowhere near soon enough, the finish comes, and there stands an only slightly sheepish Brad waiting to reveal that he thought it was two laps, not three. "Julie will never let me forget this," he chortles, as Sir D finishes in fine style, having, like me, naively thought you had to complete all three laps.

Suddenly, catastrophe! Sir D realises that he hasn't been given a medal. He's only doing it for the medals. Nor have any of the rest of us, and realisation dawns. There are, in actual fact, NO MEDALS! Except… Sir D says he's seen some children walking about with medals, so there must be medals. He sets off in search of medals and returns shortly afterwards, well satisfied with a children's 'Scootathlon' medal. "They've got loads left," he says airily. "Why not get one yourselves?" Politely, we decline.

Then we sit in the sun watching Angela finish her run to come first in her age group for the first time ever, before the obligatory team photo back in transition. "Don't post the times on Facebook this time," warns Sir D. "I wasn't really trying. I've got the Brighton Aquathlon tomorrow."

"Yes," agrees Brad, looking preoccupied. "Er, you know, don't post those times on Facebook or anything, will you?"

So I don't. But just in case anyone's interested, here's a link: http://humanrace.co.uk/results-archive/2015/lidl-bananaman-triathlon/all-results

Leeds Castle Standard Triathlon - 28th June 2015


We all hope for and are seldom lucky enough to race in summery conditions in the U.K.  Indeed, my definition ofsummeryhas changed a lot since settling in this country but was I lucky enough to enjoy near perfect conditions for Leeds Castle Std triathlon yesterday.

I was surprised to see that only one other Mid Sussex entry on the start list of nearly 300, and chatted to Paul Wills in transition where we'd managed to rack within meters of one another.

The sun was out at 07:30, temperatures rising and the race director announced that at 21 deg water temperature, wetsuits would be optional. I am not the best at getting my wetsuit off so this was a tempting prospect, albeit short-lived, as a quick reconnoitre of the swim start and spotting the duck s**t content thereof meant almost everyone remained suited up. This was confirmed during a brief warm up swim whilst wading through foot deep 1000yr old duck s**t masquerading as mud!

The race

A well conceived self-seeding system helped avoid a beach start mass brawl as I set off in the second 'wave' in a very memorable and novel setting. As it turns out the moat is only 1 metre at its deepest point and I frequently felt the bottom (as it were) during the two laps around and under the castle bridge which was novel! There were many turns and not a lot of straight line swimming which made for an interesting swim, if slow and very big buoys made sighting easy.

Onto the bike leg, I was riskily trying out a (newly acquired) time trial bike which I hadn't ridden more than a few miles on. Inadvisable, in know, but ultimately irresistible.

My devoted cheerleaders added a dose of feel-good on the way out of T1, and I was cleanly away.

The bike course was a simple out and back with no turns, other than the eventual halfway u-turn of course. Described as 'undulating', a typical way of saying 'never flat' it certainly seemed to bemoreup-hills than down-hills but I enjoyed it and was determined to post a good split on my new toy although I knew I was burning matches I would need on the run. It was great to be able to stay in the aero position for 99% of the ride, something I've never managed on my road bike before but it's safe to say I will definitely need a tri-specific saddle ASAP!

Eventually back to T2 having overtaken at least as many as had overtaken me on the bike and with one numb foot (a 50% improvement on every other race I've ever done), a successful bike by my standards and within the first 20 into T2 according to a dismount marshal.

The run was a car free route within the castle grounds, mainly off road and described as 'challenging' in the race description - another colourful term, often used! I had overheard some chat in transition about how awful it was so was slightly apprehensive. This turned out to be wholly understating reality, as my lack of brick and/or hill training came home to roost!

Some parts of the course could easily have had staircases installed, as most competitors were reduced to a walk especially on the second lap as I too succumbed.

Increasing temperatures also paid its part in my decline, as dreams of a fast run split evaporated.

Some more demented cheerleading by my long suffering posse saw me to the finish line however (where were the cowbells though, I find myself wondering?). 


Gunter Eifler

OA      Swim               Bike                Run

16        0:24:12            1:14:59            0:45:06


Paul Wills

OA      Swim               Bike                Run

198      0:36:39            1:24:18            0:59:04


Ironman 70.3 Staffs 2015


A small detachment from MSTC including Jules Stuart-Colwill, Matt Critchley, Morwenna (ably supporting) and Myself made the journey up to Staffordshire for the inaugural Ironman 70.3 at Shugborough country estate. It was our first attempt at a middle distance event for all of us so butterflies all round (although Jules had cheated by doing a full Ironman previously!)


We headed up on Friday afternoon, managing to scrape into registration thanks to some demon driving from Matt and much pleading to the security guard in the event village who initially insisted that they were already shut. It was a good job we did register on Friday as setup on Saturday was far from straight forward. The split transitions were over 12 miles apart with no direct access to T1 introducing an extra 20 minute hike over hill and dale with our bikes in tow. Maybe it wouldn't have seemed so bad if it hadn't been raining and we began to consider spending the next morning getting a soaking on the bike!

Race day started exceptionally early at 3:30am so we could drive to Shugborough then get a shuttle bus back to the swim venue at Chasewater. I'm sure everyone else was cursing my relative youth, meaning I got drawn in the first wave after the pros. But on the plus side we got to see Triathlon royalty Javier Gomez warming up right in front of us. Pretty cool to be in the same event as the world number 1, even if our times were slightly different on the day!

Race day

I found the swim great, massive red buoys made sighting easy and I managed to avoid the scrum at the start. Although it was surprisingly choppy for a lake which made me glad I'd had plenty of time to digest breakfast! Its fair to say I made the most of T1 and spent more time in there than was strictly necessary but eventually I did exit and got going on the bike course.

Early on there were some quite technical sections with narrow lanes and blind corners. I was glad to be on my trusty road bike after narrowly avoiding a pile up of TT bikes on a small sharp hill following a blind bend! I established a fairly consistent pacing, quicker than my training pace but it seemed to be sustainable. While the course definitely couldn't be described as flat with over 700 metres of climbing I did find it fairly fast... until the last 20k at least! The climb into Cannock Chase came at the worst time for me with energy running low my pace plummeted along with my spirits. However the really steep section I was dreading never arrived, instead it flattened off then left a mostly downhill cruise back to T2. All you stats fans can check out my bike leg on Strava.

So, just a little half marathon between me and a big shiny 70.3 medal. The run course was 3 laps of a varied course, around the Shugborough country mansion, out to some cheering crowds on the streets then back into the estate through a wooded section. The variety on the course made it go by pretty quickly, that and the regular flat coke refuelling stops! Apart from one 1/2k hill it was a pretty flat course making it easy to conserve energy. Unfortunately no sock change in T2 had left me with wet socks and rapidly growing blisters and plenty of opportunity to remind myself the pain is just weakness leaving my body!

Surprisingly I only saw our resident cheerleader Morwenna on my last lap and was disappointed to hear later that Ironman had abandoned several hundred supporters, including Morwenna, at the swim venue for several hours! I gather that more shuttle buses only turned up after some guerilla campaigning on social media and those buses then promptly got stuck in traffic for an hour trying to get back to T1. The organisers really must do better with logistics at this venue next year as it put a damper on the event for us and many other competitors we talked to.

Unfortunately my pacing dropped off on the final lap of the run and I finished just outside of 6 1/2 hours, leaving me to rue my tardiness in transition, plenty to work on for the future! After locating Morwenna we cheered Matt and Jules in at the end, they both turned in great performances smashing their pre race time predictions, I doth my swim cap to you both. 



Name Country Div Rank Gender Rank Overall Rank Swim Bike Run Finish Points
Critchley, Matthew GBR 180 1001 1116 00:46:14 03:06:26 02:16:11 06:22:16 1589
Hook, Mike GBR 170 1114 1261 00:40:10 03:22:53 02:12:57 06:31:29 1273
Stuart-Colwill, Julienne GBR 42 213 1522 00:45:25 03:38:37 02:19:21 06:53:44 1317
Gomez, Javier ESP 1 1 1 00:23:34 02:20:57 01:13:32 04:02:13 3500

BAR 2015 Race 1 - Duathlon


ARDINGLY Reservoir Sunday 3rd May 2015

Considering the conditions we had an amazing record turnout for the first Best All Rounder race of 2015. 21 competitors took on the course at Ardingly, 16 for the short course and 5 for the long course.

But first I must offer huge thanks to my marshals, who happily gave up their Sunday morning to stand or sit in driving rain and gusting winds to make sure the rest of us had a good race. Loz and Tim did the timekeeping, Pete Harris directed everyone onto College Road and Mark Jordan and Emma Alden made sure no-one went wrong on the run course. Dean Allen, Jason Cole and David Ricketts (before going on to do the Haywards Heath marathon weekend day 2) dropped by to cheer everyone on.

It is fair to say that this was not going to be a day for PBs. Most people know the run course and it is what I would term as semi-cross country. It is a rough path interspersed with mud and large puddles, with gates and dead turns. As expected James Dear shot off, with Barry not far behind, with Liane trying hard to keep him in her sights. Both Mike Jaffe and Jim and Helen Graham had run the London Marathon just 7 days ago so they were all a bit jaded on the run but still posted highly respectable times for the conditions.

The bike course is always fairly hard as it is quite undulating, alright - hilly. With the added interest of gusty cross winds, driving rain, recently dressed roads with loose gravel in abundance and a healthy increase in the number of potholes, the course was positively challenging. Apart from James blitzing the course in 44 minutes, and Barry in 52 minutes, the most impressive ride came from Lucy with a sub 58 minute split on her training bike. Jim Graham unfortunately went wrong at the Dukes Head roundabout, not because he didn't know the course, but being tired, with steamed up glasses, in awful conditions just led to an error. At least he could finish though. It wasn't the same for Kevin James. He had ridden over to the start and was a bit cold before the race started, but was just getting into his stride on the bike when a broken wheel spoke ended his race.

The second run was understandably slower paced. The conditions were taking their toll, although 4 athletes managed the 5.2km run in under 12 minutes, Barry, James, Liane and Jo. It was good to see some more recent members racing - so well done to Jo, as well as Paul and Sam who ran the race as a relay. It was also great to see another step in Brad's multisport comeback, following years of foot trouble with some quite fast running and the 3rd fastest bike split.

There are 2 people who deserve specific mentions for fantastic efforts in their respective races. First is Helen Graham. After beating Margaret Hollamby's club marathon record (held since 2008) last week, she came to race the duathlon having virtually not touched her bike for years. With no bike fitness and a lack of bike handling skills, this was a seriously tough thing to attempt, but she just didn't give up and earned a huge cheer when she finished.

Second special mention must go to Jean Fish. She was the only female athlete to attempt the long course, but like Helen, she just stuck at it. When she came through T2, Loz ran the final 5k with her, and I believe the rain finally stopped and she finished to rousing cheers.

The biggest winner from today's race is the club spirit. I know that I felt really part of a group all pulling together and supporting each other and welcoming athletes of all abilities, and overcoming tough conditions. On top of that we raised more than £250 for the club charity which is quite impressive. Everyone was cheerful and positive throughout, and a special mention for extended cheerfulness must go to the tea lady at the sailing centre afterwards!

The results are available on the Duathlon event page.