Race Reports

Enduroman Half

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I entered this event as I wanted a change from doing Wimbleball again, so this was going to be a whole new experience. I drove down to the New Forest in Hampshire on Saturday and had no problems until I got within a few miles of the race headquarters when my sat nav took me down a very narrow track and I mean narrow!!! Eventually I found my way back onto the correct road through the National Park  avoiding the ponies and horses and into the grounds of Avon Tyrrell House Activity Centre, which was where the event was taking place.

Luckily the weather was fine as I had to park my van in the middle of the field between the lake and the house. Many vehicles and tents were already there as the different events had started on the Friday with a Triple Enduroman [Iron distance] and 200 mile run. 

Saturday's events were a Double and a 100 mile run. Sunday's programme was a Single, the Half and a 50 mile run!!

A real festival of endurance which was making me feel quite inferior as I was only doing the Half!!! As I am too old now to camp I had booked a room in the "House", so I booked in and then had a walk around to soak up the atmosphere.

Not to bore you too much I'll try and explain the layout of the area. The "House" sits at the top of a hill surrounded by woodland and slopes on one side down through the parking field to the lake approximately 500m away. The other side of the "House" is the "roundabout" which is the start and finish of all the events. Also it is the lap counting  point and it is where the support crews congregate, so it is a hub of activity as there is always someone coming through  completing either a lap or finishing and of course starting, just amazing support for everyone taking part. 

There were some world class endurance athletes taking part so the place was buzzing! Later that evening I registered, I was going to be in Wave 1 starting at 08.30hrs and my race number was 148. It was then time for dinner, which was pretty good and plenty of it! No sooner had I finished dinner and it was time for the race briefing which was very informative.

I racked my bike in the allotted tennis court adjacent to the "roundabout" . Next it was time to get my kit sorted ready for the morning. Bedtime at last but could I sleep!!! Within two hours I was wide awake thinking about tomorrows event!! The rest of the night went the same way a couple of hours sleep then awake!!! After a fitful night I got up at 05.00hrs as I had to go for the bike/helmet check and I passed that with flying colours!!!! Filled up my water bottles next and laid out my kit in the change tent which was optional or you could put it by your bike. I chose the tent option as there was more room to change etc. and as I knew I wasn't going to win there would be no rush at T1 !!!!

I stood at the roundabout for awhile and just watched and soaked up the vibes. I got chatting to some guy and he told me I could leave my running shoes by his support crew tent which he said would save me a little time at T2. as we had been told at the briefing that as you completed your bike leg someone would take your bike from you and rack it so if you wanted you could leave your run shoes somewhere near the "roundabout". Great I thought every second counts!! But I was to regret this move later!!! 

Next was breakfast, bloody hell no porridge!!!  Oh well cornflakes would do and by now the nerves were kicking in so I wasn't that hungry!! Soon it was time to put on the penguin suit and waddle down to the lake!!! We had been told to take an old pair of trainers and leave by the swim exit as there were some stoney sections to overcome enroute to T1. The water temperature was not bad so I got in and had  a little paddle around to ease the nerves!

It was 08.30 hrs and we were off!  The swim was 7  laps anticlockwise round the small lake and after each lap you sort of pulled into a layby and called out your number! Like playing bingo!!! I have never swam laps before in a race so that seemed a little weird but at least I didn't get giddy going round!!! The next thing I know it was my last lap and I was approaching the exit ramp and I wasn't the last either as there were two others still in the water!! No they weren't ducks they were competitors!!!! Makes a change not to be last out the water I thought!!![ there was only 24 in my wave!!] and there was only a total of 48 competing in the Half.

Now it was a 500m run up the hill through the middle of the car park field to T1  pulling my wet suit down to my waist as I ran, well jogged!!! As the weather was looking good I had already decided to just wear my tri suit for the bike and run. So it was off with the wet suit, on with the bike shoes, a few metres jog to the bike rack and another little walk up a few steps and it was onto the "roundabout" for the start of the 5 bike laps. The course was undulating and at times went through the New Forest National Park, that was strange taking part in a triathlon and having to avoid horses, ponies and cows in the road!!! They look at you like they own the place!!!! At least I didn't hit one!!

There was a bit of a drag up Braggers Lane towards the end of each lap before re-entering the grounds of Avon Tyrrell House, then it levelled out before a very short fast descent to the "roundabout". Call out your number as you went over the timing mat and it was back out on the next lap. No mishaps on the bike and soon it was the end of the last lap and back onto the "roundabout" for T2.

As I dismounted I was told I had to rack my own bike back on the tennis court!!! So much for my hidden shoes for a fast getaway!! Of course I had already taken my feet out of my bike shoes before dismounting so I had to jog to the bike rack across tarmac and stoney ground and then back again to get my running shoes on!!! The plans of mice and men eh!!! At least I remembered to rub the grit off the bottom of my socks before setting off on the first of 12 laps.

The first two laps I felt pretty good and was running fairly strong for me! The course was all off road, very technical with tree roots [which had been marked with orange paint] and there were two spots where it was quite muddy and wet. It was a tough run route and each lap got harder, the sun got hotter and I got slower. As you entered the "roundabout" at the end of each lap you called out your race number as you went over the timing mat and the crowds were cheering and clapping which was a great feeling and certainly helped me push through the pain!

After six laps I had that feeling, you know what it's like, this is bloody hard and am I going to finish!! But you just dig in deep and carry on. At the end of the ninth lap I knew I had got it cracked as there were only two normal laps to do then the last lap you do a U turn over the timing mat and run the last lap in reverse so that everyone watching and racing knows you are about to finish your challenge. Oh my god what a fantastic feeling as you run round and the crowds cheer and clap and those runners going in the opposite direction high five you and clap!! I had a few lumps in my throat! Then it was up the last hill and down onto the by now infamous "roundabout" to the cheering crowds and the FINISH!!

Bloody hell that was TOUGH!! Will I do it again? Maybe, might even try the SINGLE!! What am I saying!!!!

Results:

swim  1.3 miles   51mins 9 secs a PB for me!   22nd out of 24

T1                             5 mins         no PB !!!

bike     58 miles      3hrs 31mins 31 secs  another PB  15th out of 24

T2                            3 mins            

run       13 miles       2hrs  34 mins 31 secs    16th out 24

overall time :  7hrs 5 mins 11 secs   a fabulous PB for me!!

overall position in Wave1  14th out of 24

overall position out Wave1 and Wave 2     33rd out of 47

the next youngest was 52yrs old 16 yrs younger than me!!!

I know it's been a long race report and probably boring but I just wanted to give everyone a feeling for the atmosphere and the race setup. Also I was so pleased with my overall time that I just wanted to share it with you all. Thank you all for your support.

 

Del     

Notingham Big Tri

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Paul Newsome, Colin Chamber and Martin Shoesmith traveled to the Euro and World Sprint Qualifying event on Saturday 31st May. Being a youngster, Paul was rewarded with a 7.30am start, Colin and I, being very old, a 12pm start. This meant Colin and I travel up and back in a day, leaving Cuckfield 7.45am. The event is held in and around the international rowing center at Holme Peirpoint, a 2km long, perfect rectangle lake, about 1.7m deep (I could stand up).

Transition is interesting, it's a "double transition" area, which means you have to leave your
running shoes in T2, all alone…with no bike for company. Which makes finding them amongst another 249 pairs potentially tricky. Its a good job I left a "flag"
to find mine, Colin's are bright pink so he was OK.

The Swim was nuts, 250 in our wave, I should have brought the dirty washing to this big washing machine. There was a ton of weed in the water, and for 150 meters it was getting stuck in my fingers and feet, if we had got out at this stage, like they do at the World Series, we would have all looked like a platoon of wetsuited camouflaged SAS commandos. Exit from the lake is via a soft and grippy blue carpet… just like the pros, heaven. Then 4
laps around the lake on the bike.

The event is a Mecca for BTF Officials, we were carefully watched from all angles, and 30 cyclist in our wave were "draft busted". There were 2 on motorbikes following us around and around, and Colin was pushing his luck drafting one of them. I escaped, as I had Colin's spare number on. Then T2 to find your trainers, then a run around the lake. On your run, you can see the finish line all the way around the lake and it was mighty tempting to take a quick dip across the 8 rowing lanes for my first ever 1st place.


On the run in, you can see the grandstand, hear the noise of the crowd, the blue carpet and the finish line. What a super fast time from Paul, smashing the club record by 3 minutes, what a great performance. Colin was on a massive PB, but a running injury ended his chances…it still counts Colin, that's 0-2 for the year BTW. You get your times straight away, icecream and home. I strongly recommend this event, its top notch. Allow 3 hours for the drive, buy bright loud trainers, and ask Colin for his spare number…don't explain
why.     

 

                                                                                                                             
  Paul Newsome            
(M) 25-29 Mid Sussex Tri Club 01:01:10 12:10 0.55 28:57:00 0.48 18:20
               
  Martin Shoesmith            
(M) 50-54 Mid Sussex Tri Club 01:04:47 12:43 01:03 29:36:00 0.48 20:37
               
  Colin Chambers            
(M) 50-54 Mid Sussex Tri Club 01:04:52 12:11 0.58 29:08:00 0.54 21:41


 

Martin
Shoesmith 2nd June

Ironman 70.3 Pays dAix

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The day finally arrived to experience a middle distance Ironman race and i wasn't disappointed with this event. It had great atmosphere, good competition and some hard racing with about 1900 athletes entered. This is a beautiful part of France and the weather was ideal. 

Taking down an 800 calorie breakfast was interesting and so was discovering I had somewhat outgrown my wetsuit from last year! However the goal of this race was to finish strong and positive, test out the nutrition strategy with a view to making the full distance Ironman Nice next month a less daunting prospect.

Swim
(1.9km) - Set in a lake about 30mins by car north of Aix which made the logistics of the event abit cumbersome due to having two transition areas, however it was good nonetheless.  The usual  washing machine affair during the first half, stayed calm, got some space and focused on good navigation and preserving my energy. Fortunately no contact.

Bike
(90km) - Felt pretty good after the swim but was cautious not to push too much on the bike, wanted to finish strong on the run. Time flew past on the ride and I learnt to be careful pacing against others since many were doing the relay and were much fresher, it was reasonably hilly with one 500m climb about 80km in, but what goes up must come down and there were some fantastic fast downhill sections afterwards. Finished in good shape for a strong run.

Run
(21.1km) - Oh dear....legs feel great, lots of energy, however my lungs seemed to have stopped working. It was about 24degrees but felt alot hotter for the 4 x 5km loops in the centre of town. I'm not sure what my problem was, i now suspect the wetsuit was far too tight and compressed my chest and maybe this was the after effect but nevertheless I had to back right off and fortunately the great atmosphere from the crowd around the course (and my lovely wife) meant i finished. Whilst I would have liked to be 25mins quicker on the run, I know this will serve as motivation for the next one.

Result:
Swim(39m), Bike(03:13), Run(01:56) = 06:00

A big thank you to MSTC whose coaches have been very helpful the past 12 months.


<<<photo to follow>>

Anthony Vince

Boston Marathon

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The Boston Marathon has a special place in the marathon calendar and for good reason.  It is the longest continuously running marathon, starting in 1897 and now on its 118th edition. It is also significant because almost all of the field have to achieve a Boston qualification time (a "BQ" in the language of American club runners) to get there. And clearly this year's Boston marathon also took on more significance with the Boston bombings in 2013 that took the lives of three spectators and injured or maimed race participants.


My journey to Boston was on the Saturday before the race on Patriots Day (Monday 21 April), but - to pardon the cliché - the journey had started a long time before that.  My original intention was to BQ at the Rome Marathon in 2006!  Unfortunately, I was just outside 3:10 qualifying standard and after a break I returned to marathons in 2011.

Various 'failures' at Brighton 3:24 and Portsmouth suggested my times were going south of my target.  Finally, I got the time at Chester in 3:02, and again at Manchester 2:58 which now meant I had to apply.  (Note: In the end the number of qualifiers achieving the 3:10 standard for my age group was quite high, so the cut-off ended up being 3.08 for 35-39 year old males - which could have been quite disappointing had I training to get just within 3:10).


The build up
The build up for the race had been fairly good for me averaging 35 miles per week, although I lost a block of time in the 'peak month' before the race with a tonsillitis/scarlet fever combo and my preparation races - Hastings Half and the Worthing 20 were a bit down on the year before. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that I was good to scrape under 3 hours.  This was not least because I thought that the net elevation drop on the course meant it would be a fast course (how very wrong was I).


Given the costs of the flights and accommodation I decided to go out on my own.  This was a blessing in many ways as it meant not having a three and five year old with me that might not understand the finer points of different time zones or rest before a big race! I stayed at a hostel in downtown Boston which was superb as it was 5 minutes from where I needed to be on race day and was filled with other marathoners from around the world. 
 
With the excitement of the race in my mind I walked to the expo for number pick-up etc. This meant passing the finishing line, which had already been set up. It was a sight to behold due to the hundreds of people milling around taking shots.  I'm not sure many races would generate so much interest. The next day was spent chilling out around Harvard trying desperately not to do too much. 


Before I knew it race day was on me. The race is not conventional as you are taken in buses from Boston Common where the race starts 26 miles west to the race start in Hopkington in rural New England (lots of trees and nice wooden boarded houses as far as I could tell). I sat next to a guy from San Diego who stood out as he was wearing 'Google glass' specs that had a built recorder he used to video the race.  After the usual conversations about what races we'd done, worries about the race, and what we wanted to do we eventually got to the start.


There was a lot of security about but luckily it wasn't too in your face (although someone afterwards pointed out that they saw snipers on the roof overlooking the race village!). The problem, as with many marathons, was waiting for race start in the cold very early in the morning.  Luckily the organisers were giving out space blankets and I was thankful for it despite having purchased a thermal top for $4 that I could chuck away. 


The race itself
Thanks to my qualification time I was in the first wave of runners that got to start at the same time as the elite men (although it still took 2 minutes to cross the start line from the gun going).


The Boston is known for a fast start and I had read that the route drops quickly in the first four miles. However, even at this stage there were some short sharp rises that interrupted the downhills.  Pacing was extremely difficult as was trying not to go into the red on the uphill but also to keep things relaxed on the downhill so my pace varied significantly between 7:30 to 6:30.  Unfortunately, with a large pack of similar standard runners, the downhills were difficult to navigate, there were a few nasty falls by runners clipping each other, and in the congestion I was braking (wasting energy) rather than letting gravity do the work. 


It was great to be running however as the crowds were already amazing even in the early stages, especially going through various small towns such as Ashland and Framingham.  These were on the 'flat' part of the race, but there never really was a section of level ground. 


Even in the early stages of the race, which started at 9.30, the sun was pretty strong and I was having to take on water at most of the water stations at every mile.  But I was ticking along nicely and in the first half of the race I was consistently on sub-three pace. I passed the half-way point at 1:29:30 feeling ok but not super. 
It was just after half way that I heard the 'scream tunnel' - this is the section of the route where the Wellesley College Girls are out in force.  It was certainly high decibel and high frequency for a significant amount of time. It is Boston tradition apparently to stop for a snog and there were many amusing signs inviting runners to do so, but with race times still on my mind and, given the ages of the girls, concerns about scarring them for life I pressed on through the hormone highway.    
 
Between miles 13-16 I was drifting slightly above race pace and started to have the nagging doubts about what was to come. 


In the run-up to the race I had heard a lot about the difficulty of the Boston marathon due to infamous 'Heartbreak Hill' at mile 21.  What proved to be the killer for me though was the cumulative effects of the ups and downs already in my legs; the heat which drifted up to over 20 degrees on the day; and the Newton Hills, a series of tough uphills starting from mile 16 onwards. My goal pre-race had been to allow my pace to drift up and get enough back on the downhills and the last five miles after Heartbreak.   
On the day however this wasn't going to happen as the uphills were far tougher than I had anticipated (at least in terms of running at the pace I wanted to).  


Check the profile (in grey) for yourself!
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At points my pace was painfully slow drifting above 9 minute pace and by the end of Heartbreak I was totally shot both mentally and physically as I was no longer on target for sub-3 hour and there was no getting that time back given my legs or the weather. But halfway up Heartbreak Hill I was determined to carry on running hard and just to enjoy the atmosphere. I got a bit of a kick out of the crowd and just looking around at the suffering on everyone's faces.  There were sub-3 hour guys and girls all around me, some walking the hills (with 5 miles still left) and others pushing through and me somewhere in the middle.


I was now nearing the centre of Boston with crowd noise seemed to increase exponentially. A combination of American's outgoing nature (unlike Brits who might politely give a "well done" or clap, they cheer at the top of their voices), the passion for the event after last year, and the constant ringing of cow-bells made it almost over whelming.  By that time it was a pure pain but at the same time the emotion coming from the crowd kept me going. It was unbelievable to see so many top runners stopping, limping, and walking at that point in the race, which pays testament to the difficultly of the course.
Finally however I made it onto Boyston Street, turning a left hand corner for a 500 metre 'sprint' to the line.     


Post-race was a mix of joy (at finishing), tinged with mild disappointment at my time (3:12), and the agony in my legs (the worst ever).  Nevertheless, as I reflected on the race over a couple of beers immediately after the race and my time became less important. I realised that Boston Marathon was so much better for its difficultly. With the defiance of the city after last year's bombing, it was also great just to be part of an experience and to understand the "Boston Strong" motto the city has adopted. This will stick with me far more than my results sheet. 
 


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April 2014 by Kevin James

Beacon Rouleur

93 miles !!!! seemed like a good idea when I entered months ago!

Considering I hadn't ridden that distance since I rode across Australia in 2001, I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew!!!

I went to bed Saturday night secretly hoping that it would be raining so hard in the morning that I would have an excuse not to ride!!! Well it wasn't raining in the morning but it was very windy as I made my way to Burgess Hill to the start [ by van as I didn't want to add even more miles!!!] .

Once I got signed in there was turning back and before I knew it I was on my way. After about 5 miles it was time to tackle Ditchling Beacon, followed by a fast descent down Coldean Lane. Then it was up Coombe Road , Bear Road and onto the coast road through to Newhaven before heading inland via Lewes.

The route then took us out to Laughton and continued through various villages and MANY hills heading towards Mayfield. At one point following the "arrow signs" I took a right turn and after about two miles of going down a lovely hill I realised that I hadn't seen another "arrow sign" and my fears were confirmed when I saw a sign post for Battle and Hastings!!!

A quick consultation with my map and I had to ride another two miles back up the same hill I had just flew down!! As I passed the turning I had previously come out of I realised that the wind had turned the "arrow sign" completely the opposite way!!! [ or did I have a C.R.A.F.T. moment!!] Oh well I thought what's another 4 miles on top of 93.!!!!

I soon forgot my mishap and was making my way to the timing chip check point at Mayfield. A quick pit stop here and then it was only another 30 odd miles back to Burgess Hill!!! The hills and wind had been relentless so far and the same pattern continued all the way back to Burgess Hill and the finish.
                   

My riding time was 6hrs 53mins 41secs which gave me a Silver Standard, missing out on the Gold by approximately 10 mins, which I reckon was the extra 4 miles I done!!!!

 

Del