Race Reports

Ironman 70.3 Miami - October 2014


We picked Miami 70.3 as a destination event to mark Mike's 50th. The aim was to roll together a weekend city break, hot weather, beaches, and cocktails with our first half ironman. A good question could be why bother with the last bit. But as the club T-shirt says, if you have to ask you will never understand.

Anyway, with the benefit of having done the event we have tried to come up with our top 10 reasons why:

  1. Ultimate bike racks. Where else can you lock your bike to a palm tree while you go for a practice swim off the beach?
  2. The weather. Hot and sunny, perfect for lazing around on the beach sipping Margaritas. But for doing a triathlon? You've got to be kidding. Fine if you're from the Sunshine State but If you're used to the rather cooler Sussex climate? Boy was it tough out on that run! They did have ice at the water stations though. Nice touch.
  3. The atmosphere. Wow. 3000 competitors and a build up like some major sporting event, national anthem, flags, completely over emotional commentator getting everyone thinking they are about to do something glorious. Complete load of tosh and we loved it.
  4. The swim course. With dolphins. Yeay, everyone likes dolphins! And jellyfish (and Emma can show you proof that they were of the stinging variety).
  5. The warm water. Nice, very different to Ardingly in October. But wetsuits banned! Meaning slow swim time for Mike with Emma coming in a few minutes ahead. Better not ask Mike about that, he's still coming to terms with it. He's trying to claim that the current was stronger for his wave.
  6. The super flat and fast bike course, closed roads marked by traffic cones for the entire route and hundreds of state police manning every road junction. Pity about the headwind though. And the really long, boring straight bit in the middle (from about mile 5 to mile 51).
  7. The run course. Spectacular scenery with palm trees, skyscrapers, blue sky and sparkling sea. Completely flat too. That's according to the race guide. Whoever wrote that forgot to mention the MASSIVE road bridge over the harbour (with one very real hill) that we had to run over FOUR times.
  8. The friendly atmosphere. Great to chat to other competitors from all over the world (particularly Latin America), even shouts of "go mid sussex" out on the run course from some chap from Brighton.
  9. The medals. The best (and biggest) ever.
  10. The party afterwards. Under the palm trees on the edge of the harbour, free beer, music and new friends. And more dolphins. And margaritas.


So who's up for it next year??

PS. for those that want to know how we did, we both got round more or less in our target times. Emma in 6.30ish and well inside the top half in her age group which was an outstanding result given that 95% of her group had carbon TT bikes (she was on her trusty aluminium road bike) and that all the photos show that she was enjoying the event WAY too much. Mike came in just under 5.30 despite a shocking 53 minute swim and managed a not unreasonable 10th in his age group.

36 mins off AG win at Ironman Barcelona 2014



This was the inaugural "Ironman Barcelona" with a massive field of 2,600 athletes. In previous years this race was branded "Challenge Barcelona" and had half the number of athletes. Evidence of the Ironman/Challenge turf-war that is underway.

A pleasant wet-suit sea swim with a dry start from the beach. The bike course is fast, flat and hot with an all-closed-road cycle on good surfaces. The run is also fast, flat and hot but offers some shade along tree lined beach-front promenades.

The start is in waves with 3 mins between age groups, which allows a bigger field with less congestion on cycle as less athletes exit the water simultaneously.


The race venue is the lovely beach resort of Calella, which is 80 minutes drive from Barcelona. A bit like hosting an Ironman in Brighton and calling it Ironman London. Catalonia is terrific with great climate. Autumn poolside breakfasts and outdoor suppers in the numerous restaurants.

Hassle-free registration, briefing and racking with everything within a 1km radius. Lots of good value hotels nearby. I used "Hotel Mediterrani Express" costing 111euros in total for 3 nights, which seemed insanely cheap to me for what was superb accommodation within 300 metres of start and within 800 metres of Transition. Nice quiet room and a good pre-race sleep.

Roasting hot in the days prior to the race with heavy thunderstorms forecast for the race itself.


Lots of texts and face-book messages from well-wishers. Massively appreciated. Thanks everyone.

Heavy rain with thunder and lightning on race morning. Got soaked inflating tyres in Transition and the disc was too wet for the valve patch to stick on, but faithful duct-tape came to the rescue as usual.

Put wet-suit on in the dark because the generators kept failing (probably flooded) then trudged over to swim-start through muddy puddles.

Did a warm up swim and was ready to begin when announcement blared out that there was a problem and more news would follow in 2 minutes. Being a poor swimmer, I was almost hoping for a cancelled swim due to electrical storm risks. However, I quite fancied the wave-start swim and the water was rather nice. Announcement then declared the race would continue as planned with just a 30 minute delay.

We were all starting to get cold by the time our wave marched to the start-line. Limbering-up started in earnest and the Frenchman in front of me suddenly did some elaborate clenched-fist arm movements, landing a direct hit on my chin. Maybe I should change from triathlon to boxing, because I coped with that punch quite well and regained consciousness in time to sprint into the surf.


A nice swim with the added interest of getting swum-over every 3 minutes by the aggressive elite swimmers from each of the wave-starts that followed ours.

Wasted some moments in T1, putting on a rain-jacket for the cycle. Further rain was predicted and I thought the jacket may reduce road-rash if I came off (like I did at Bolton a few weeks earlier). Sun came out and I roasted in my jacket but I was not prepared to waste more time removing the jacket. Got lots of comments along the lines of "are you warm enough Englander?...ha…ha…ha". Blasting past at an average speed of 22mph for 5 hours was the only answer I needed to give.

It was a nice cycle on 90% flat surface. The slight inclines and descents were very welcome, because its rather painful being on the aerobars constantly.

Delighted to enter T2 without mechanical problems or punctures. Started the run with just 6:37 on the clock, which was uncharted territory but something I had fantasised about. Sub-10 hours seemed off the menu but my PB of 10:57 (Challenge Roth 2012) and even Lawrence Wintergold's club record of 10:37 (Outlaw 2010) seemed within range. Small matter of needing to avoid bonking on the run like usual.

First mile was the slowest at 8:28, whilst the sun-cream was applied. Managed sub-8 mins for mile 2 to approx mile 18, then started to slow down as usual. Took a salt tablet every 10k and paid attention to fueling/hydrating. Pace never dropped off badly and by mile 23, I was confident of hanging-on.

Practically sprinted the last 800 metres and felt terrific (stored that memory to dip into next time the going gets tough). Tears of joy finishing in 10:07 with a 3:30 marathon. Actually thought I may have made the podium.


Felt great and scoffed lots of free food plus a free beer. Collected my stuff and texted my lovely wife, Helen, who informed me I was just 36 mins slower than the age-group winner but I was placed 13th. The top 3 had all finished in practically the same time, which must have been a bit of a scuffle.

The top guys had taken 15-20 mins off me on the swim and maybe the same amount of time on the cycle. However, my run was second fastest with just one guy in my age group being just one minute quicker.

I don't see me becoming a good swimmer any time soon, but I reckon I could risk pushing harder on the cycle now that confidence in my run has increased.

Florida Marathon in 3 weeks then Ironman Florida the following week. Bring it on!

Brighton to Brighton Sportive 2014


Last year I did the Challenge Route of 85 miles and without thinking entered straightaway for this years event but thought I would have a crack at the Classic Route 107 miles!

Well that year flew by and it was suddenly time for THAT ride!!! Before June I had managed to bash out a few long rides but no where near 100 miles and since June I have not had the time for various reasons to log up a long ride. So I was a little apprehensive when I arrived at the start on Hove Lawns where I met up with fellow MSTC riders Andy Miles and Jeff Woodall.

Although it was a little misty the forecast for the remainder of the day looked good! Once registered we were amongst the first to set off and for quite a few miles I was able to keep up with Andy and Jeff but then they disappeared off into the distance!

I won't bore you with the details of the route but needless to say there were hills involved and the ride took us out West and up to Hazelmere via various sometimes very narrow country lanes. The Classic timing checkpoint was at a place called Fernshurst and after a brief stop I began the journey back to Hove.

I have to be honest there were times on the return journey when I said to myself "how much bloody further" but I managed to dig deep and eventually arrived at the foot of Devil's Dyke which was the last "big" hill before dropping back down to Hove Lawns and the finish.

Well that was the furthest I had ridden in one lump for some time so I was pleased to have completed the ride and was even more pleased to find out that I had attained a Gold Standard, which for my age group was 8hrs 20 mins and my time was 7hrs 28mins 5secs which included 13 mins of timing and feed station stops. Jeff flew round in 6hrs 32 mins 29 secs and Andy in 6hrs 52mins 49secs both achieving Gold Standards as well.

A cautionary tale from Ironman Lanzarote


Letter from Coventry Tri Member Joe Reynolds: Written to the British Triathlon Federation and published in Tri 220 Magazine

I want as many people as possible to realise that the cover from the BTF is sometimes less than that of the race organisers and that using a BTF card abroad can leave people at a dis- advantage.

On Saturday 17th May this year I took part in the Iron Man Lanzarote race. Unfortunately I got into difficulty on the second lap of the swim and had to be withdrawn from the competition as I had taken water into my lungs, probably as a result of being 'swam over'.
This resulted in me being admitted to the Lanzarote Hospital where I spent the next three days, the first night in Intensive Care. The care I received there was excellent and the prompt action of the marshals and medics on the course probably saved my life and I am grateful to the organisation.

My problems arose later. I was informed at the reception of the hospital that the Hospital Fees would be paid by 'Iron Man'. On the third day of my stay a member of the hospital staff informed me that this was not the case and that responsibility was with my Federation. After telephoning my Federation (British Triathlon Federation) they informed me that responsibility was with the Iron Man organisation. I telephoned the Race Organisers and a was told that as I was a member of the BTF, and therefore had not taken out a day licence, that responsibility lay with my Federation (BTF). This was later confirmed by e-mail that had I purchased a 'Day Licence' the Race Organisers' Insurance would be responsible but as I had a licence from my own Federation that the Federation's insurance should cover me. The hospital I was taken to was a private hospital and would not accept the E111 card.

On being discharged from the hospital I paid my own bill in full (€3561.20) as my travel insurance did not cover 'extreme sports'. After talking to a number of my colleagues most of them were unaware that they would require specific race insurance and all of them believed that they were covered by their race licence. I am fortunate in that the sum involved is not so high that I will endure serious financial hardship but it could have been a lot higher had I had an accident on the bike course requiring surgery and a longer stay in the hospital.

A lot of triathletes in the UK enjoy competing Iron Man races abroad but most of those that I have spoken to were unaware of the implications should something go wrong. The point of this letter is to make other triathletes aware of the situation when racing abroad as I do not feel that the race organisers or the BTF have made this clear. I would advise any athlete competing in Iron Man races abroad to forget about their BTF licence and buy a Day Licence from the organisers regardless. Very few of us read the 'small print' or the 'terms and conditions' when we sign up for races, and I accept that it was my responsibility to have done so, but when we enter a race we enter to finish and think that it can't happen to us. It does however raise the question as to whether there is any value in an 'age-grouper' triathlete buying a BTF licence. There were twelve other patients in the hospital who also had no insurance.

This was not my first Iron Man competition, I have finished four races over the distance including Lanzarote in 2011 and I have been racing triathlon for over twenty years, not only in the UK but all over Europe and also in the USA (A Day Licence is compulsory in the USA). The response of the BTF is that their race insurance covers me for £25.00 per night not including the first night. I have filled in the forms and am awaiting the result. I do not intend to resign or leave the BTF, it was not their fault, I just feel that the issue should be given more publicity.

Would you like a big woody for your 50th birthday?


It was not a question that I had anticipated from my dearly beloved, but who was I to turn up such an offer? A half day of vigorous pounding leaving me breathless and excited was not to be overlooked. Neither was the opportunity for shameless double entendre.

In my eagerness I had made my entry quite early (end of double entendre before it gets out of hand) and hadn't anticipated that my aged excuse of a body would try to completely conk out before I had reached my half century. Abdominal pain, internal examinations and colonoscopies were not in my training plan so I did what I could and crossed my fingers.

Another oversight was not reading the course details before signing over my cash. When I first looked at the course profile, I thought I had downloaded the ECG of a tachycardic pensioner.

After arriving at our nearby campsite prior to race day I left the children with my long suffering and understanding wife, the goodly Alice, and went to register and look at the race venue.

You could tell we were in the Welsh borders - even the swim was hilly. The transition to T1 was somewhat underplayed as "a gentle ramble that you may wish to slip some comfy footwear on for". Turns out it was a 700metre 8% climb on loose sharp shale. If you look at the picture above, you will note the swim (obviously in the wet stuff in the lower section of the photo) and the transition zone (at the top of the cliff at the end of the lake toward the top of the photo).

The race organiser was either a comedian or a sadist or most likely both. This was confirmed when I recce'd the bike course. The usual bike course has a 2 mile climb half way round but the road was closed because of a landslide! Just to ensure we didn't miss out the diversion included an extra short climb and a 2 1/4 mile climb that made Kidds Hill look like a hill for kids. Whilst it was brutal it was undeniably beautiful.

I didn't bother looking at the run course as it had taken me nearly 2 hours to drive the 56 miles (the long course did 2 laps) hoping that it couldn't be more challenging than the bike course (I think you can guess the reality).

Back at the registration tent, I saw Rupert, Claire and Tim who were doing the Little Woody - probably the most testing half ironman in the UK. They were looking very cheerful. I guessed they hadn't looked at the bike course yet.

I went to bed dreaming of small chainrings and big sprockets.

Race morning dawned,  well it didn't as it was still dark as I downed a peanut bagel and some lukewarm tea from the flask of tea I had made the night before. My present from Alice was a new Castelli trisuit. Ignoring all wise advice to never try anything new I decided that I should take it for a test run today.

Arriving back at the national dive centre, with first light breaking over the still lake, everything seemed tranquil as I looked down from the viewing platform to the waters far below.

The full distance racers were due to start first and we made our way down to the pontoon for race briefing. The briefing was brief but the start time came and went as the big yellow marker bouys hadn't been put out. I began to get quite nervous as all those round me were talking about their enduroman successes and there was a European deca-Ironman champion there. I started to feel as if I was in the wrong place. Sensing (smelling) the building tension amongst the waiting racers the race referee told us there would be a canoe in each corner of the lake and we had to swim round those 4 times.

Then off we traipsed before plunging into the crystal clear waters. I hadn't really appreciated that an 80m deep quarry lake would be quite that cold but my retracting testicles and hyperventilation were confirmation that it was indeed rather chilly. Over the top of the sound of gasping triathletes I heard a hooter just before being dealt a blow to the temple and losing my goggles. My ensuing fury meant that I made an unusually aggressive start and raised my core temperature to a degree where my shivering was almost controllable. It was a ridiculous amount of time before we even saw the canoes for the corners so I assumed that I was swimming rather slowly. However I was enjoying the swim now and the water was so clear you could see way down the dive lines when you went past them. It felt like you were swimming in the sky - a very odd sensation. As the laps went by I caught a number of people and when I got out of the water I was in 5th place in 1:23! That isn't my best time for 3.8km but it was an excellent time for the 5k that was measured by Garmin. Alice was waiting to cheer me on and decided to run up the path to transition with me which was a real boost.

At T1 my intestinal complaint made itself known so I took a rather long 6 minutes before I exited the loo and made my way onto the open road. By this time the little woody competitors had caught us up as they only had 2 laps of the lake. My nutrition strategy  (eat something, drink something and repeat regularly) went out of the window after the first mile when the drinking straw from my bar mounted system bounced out leaving me with a full bottle but no way of getting  at it. Being in full race mode I didn't even think of stopping to find it. This mistake found me out later as my newly quintagerian (ie 50 year old) body discovered that 800 ml of liquid is not enough for long distance triathlon.

The bike course really was breathtaking in both senses of the word. After a rollercoaster ride along the A48 the course turns inland and uphill into the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley (so called because you ask yourself why you are cycling up such a ridiculous hill). The wandering cattle served as a useful distraction from the pain as the narrow winding roads took us through glorious green scenery.

Onto the second lap of the bike course and it began to get a bit lonely and I was beginning to get a bit thirsty. I had finished my frame mounted bottle and all my gels and trying to see where the feed zone was as I hadn't seen it on the first lap. As I hurtled down a steep section I saw 2 shadowy figures lurking in the dense shrubbery. I realised too late that they were the feed station and not an amorous couple and shot past. Of course I hadn't learnt from my first "why not stop and go back incident" and carried on to finish the bike section. Into T2, where the organisers had someone ready to take your bike and hand you your run kit. . You then got to sit down in a chair in a marquee to prepare for the run. Daniel and Daisy (my children) joined me in the marquee and gave me a big hug which they soon regretted on discovering how covered in gel, snot and sweat I was.

Just a long gentle jog to go and off I went through the camping field (you can camp next to registration for free). I saw a portaloo and my stomach rejoiced at the sight. As I approached I tore down most of my trisuit at the thought of some gastric relief. But it wasn't to be. To my horror I found it was a portashower and having a poo in there may have led to a DQ at the least. By now I was too far gone to prevent the inevitable and just made it to the thorny, nettly undergrowth in time.

After crossing the adjacent field we turned left and began to climb….. and climb….and climb. Surely this must end soon…. at least the scenery is nice….maybe I can walk when I reach the next tree….please stop going up. Eventually I reached the turn after 2.5k of uphill hobbling where 2 jovial marshalls were handing out jelly beans and pretzels and some water at last. Downhill was pleasantly fast and I could really appreciate the views and how far we had come up. Lap 2 followed a similar pattern - visit the woods to lighten load, see how far I could run before I walked, stop for refreshments at the turn and tumble down the hill. Laps 3 and 4 were a bit hazy as dehydration started to take its toll. I saw Claire and Tim finish their races and my family were at the finish cheering me on to the next lap.

I spent a lot of time walking by now and the time I spent in the bushes or refuelling was escalating. As I was deciding where I should start walking on lap 5 there were only the long course athletes on the trail each in various states of decrepitude.  As the distance wore us all down the camaraderie increased with words of encouragement, offers of food and high 5's keeping us going.

By lap 6 I was thinking that even if I walked the whole thing I was going to finish even if it meant coming last. Now I was struggling going downhill and I was employing a run 20 steps walk 10 strategy. Even with the finish in sight I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other and I had to make a gargantuan effort to keep up with Daniel and Daisy as they crossed the finish line with me.

The organisers congratulated me on finishing and presented me with a large birthday cake that Daisy shared with other athletes and spectators alike.

What a lovely birthday.

For those interested in the times:

Little Woody

Rupert 5:31:48 (48:18 inc T1, 2:51:56, 1:46:45 inc T2) 27th overall

Claire Cresswell  6:54:14 (48:09, 3:30:50, 2:22:09)

Tim Cresswell  6:58:29 (48:40, 3:33:39: 2:23:12)

Big Woody

Loz 10:05:51 (1:28:45, 5:10:16. 3:21:45) 1st vet 1st over 50 2nd overall

Grateful thanks to my lovely wife and family for supporting me and following me across England and Wales so that I could celebrate my birthday in style.

Picture of Rupert at the finish - this would make a good caption competition!


Tim Cresswell looking much fresher


not sure if this is Claire but if it is she is showing those guys a hard time