Race Reports

Quintuple Ironman 2013 race report


What is it?
5 x iron/day format.
Total of 19k swim, 900k bike & 211k run in 80hr40sec.

Where is it?
Monterrey, Nuevo León , Mexico, 18-22 Nov 13.


Monterrey was like I expected a Mexican city to be... colourful, but a bit crappy with lots of heavily armed police in big trucks. Even race site security had kevlar helmets and semi-automatics. There is quite a lot of drug related gang violence in Mexico.

Type in 'Monterrey deca' in Google and it comes up 'Monterrey decapitation'; last year 49 mutilated bodies were found in one of Monterrey's municipal parks. But most of the violence is gang-on-gang so I guess it's pretty safe... you just hope not to be caught up in any crossfire or that they don't take a dislike to your lycra bike shorts.

However, we found most of the locals to be charming. The race venue was Parque Espana where we swam in an open air 50m pool in wetsuits, and completed bike & run loops around the park.



The bike course was very juddery; after day 1 I took to wearing 2 bike shorts to dampen the vibration.

The weather was variable, from 31'C in baking hot sun on day 1 down to 6'C on the last day. We also had thunderstorms and torrential rain. Strong winds on day 5 brought down a power line so that it was held up by a tree only feet above our heads on the bike course.

In Europe the race would have been suspended for H&S (half way through the final day) ... but I needn't have worried... this was Mexico; some park employees built some sort of gantry to raise the line higher above our heads while we continued to cycle underneath.



Some people don't like the idea of short looped courses that are often a feature of ultra distance triathlons but there are benefits. You're never that far away from your support crew or medical attention if necessary. During the event you get to know the other competitors (double, triple, quin & deca) as you occasionally run and bike together, offering each other support or telling jokes.

I was able to witness the fascinating duel between Kamil Suran and Antal Voneki as they battled it out for title of IUTA (International Ultra Triathlon Association... governing body of ultra dist tris) World Champion 2013.  

They both came to the race with similar points so winning the continuous deca would be decisive. Half way through their 422k run they were still within 4k of each other!






(Right: Kamil, taking a short nap during 422k run. Note ice bags)

By day 3 you've got yourself and support crew into a pattern. A daily routine of discomfort becomes your new 'reality' and acceptance of it is necessary. The discomfort (aka pain) and fatigue involved normally comes in waves, and it is vital to remain upbeat. Everybody was managing 'issues'.

Mine was a dodgy back; in March I had prolapsed a lumbar disc and torn another. That had severely disrupted my training and I had to miss 2 build up races over the summer. I owe a debt of gratitude to the pain specialist at the Nuffield. He scheduled a root nerve injection for me a couple of weeks before so that the optimum window of benefit would coincide with the race.



Lugging my bike box and the long flight didn't help... the days before the race it was causing me pain again just to walk around town. During each swim I had to limit the power I put into the stroke to keep my back happy, but the juddery bike course was the worst part. Normally I enjoy the bike the most, but each day I couldn't wait to get to the marathon.

Note to self day 3: 'tell my wife not to let me do anymore of these races!

Completing these races would not have been possible without a lot of support. The ladies in the 24hr race kitchen would make you anything.... as long as it was Mexican.

My eldest son Ben was my race crew. He has crewed a few of these races for me. Ben did a fantastic job of looking after his Dad, and I couldn't have done the race without him.

As well monitoring/managing my hydration, nutrition and electrolyte intake he was always thinking of innovative ways to take care of me like putting sandwich bags of ice in my bike jersey back pockets to keep me cool or duct taping a bag of ice into a neck scarf for the run. We also had a great time hanging out in Mexico before and after the race.



The last 5k of the run on day 5 produced my fastest run splits as I was just so excited about the

prospect of finishing... finally. I had forgotten my day 3 'note to self' and was already thinking about the next challenge...?

Ultra distance triathlon is not going to be everybody's cup of tea but recommended if you think you'd enjoy small intimate races with great camaraderie and the opportunity to explore your personal mental and physical endurance. You don't have to be fast; you just need to keep moving.

My back is a lot happier now that I've stopped provoking it. 




See the 'World Cup Ultra Triathlon Mexico' Facebook page for more photos.

Follow this link to a video of Johns 5 days of Ironman



John Liebers

North Downs Way 100mile Ultra run


On behalf of my wife and I, the time has come (allowing for mental and physical healing)  to provide an update on the NDW 100 (or what turned out to be NDW103).  

I assert that this is quite problematic as those looking in can't understand it and those looking out can't explain it.  For that I reason I feel the best way to provide insight into the event is through an explanation of the psychology behind Ultradistance running with the added benefit of providing an indication of your propensity to partake in the sport.  

If you answer yes in more than:

  •   50% of the questions then it is considered a positive response
  • >70% and you should seek counselling or drop me a line about what races the MidSussex UltraDistance & Cake Appreciation Society (AKA MUCAS) will be partaking in over the next 12 months.
  • > 90% then consider yourself an honorary member of the club and come to our next "meeting"!
  1. When you see 100 miles to go on a motorway, do you think that would be a good run but could you do it in 24hrs?
  2. Would you consider the additional 3 miles in the NDW100 as bonus miles?             
  3. When people mention cake, do you have a Pavlovian response?
  4. Do you have an unhealthy obsession with socks?
  5. Do you think Chris Froome looks healthy?
  6. Do people give you a wide birth when you explain what you did on the weekend?
  7. Are you a little embarrassed by what you got up to on the weekend?
  8. Does everything on your body hurt?
  9. Do you believe your body will self-heal anything?
  10. Do you carry a head torch when you go out at night (even to the pub)?
  11. Do you think it would be better to run and meet your family on a day out rather than drive?
  12. Do you own more shoes than your significant other - or at least compete on the number of trainers you have?
  13. When you go for a run, do you see things that you should not see?
  14. Do you take more medication than an 80 year old stroke sufferer?
  15. Do you know your physiotherapist by their first name?
  16. Do you go to a masseur for a massage?
  17. Do you respect athletes that no one else has heard of?
  18. Do you carry toilet paper when you leave the house?
  19. Does is disturb you to relieve yourself outdoors?
  20. Are Portaloos posh?
  21. Do you feel people who think about barefoot running, forefoot running, pronation and supination are interesting people?
  22. Have you purchased a pair of  barefoot running shoes and live with the injuries to show for it?
  23. Do you know what a salt tablet looks like?
  24. Do you consider Unltradistance running as a sport?
  25. Do you consider Football as a sport? (yes = no, no = yes)
  26. Have you considered removing your toenails to stop them falling off?
  27. Is there any part of your feet that has not had a blister?
  28. Do you know where the Vaseline is in your house?
  29. Do you know what calf cards are?
  30. Do you own but not use calf cards?
  31. Do you think walking up hills is cheating?  (yes = no, no = yes)
  32. Do you think walking down hills is cheating?  (yes = no, no = yes)
  33. Do you think walking is cheating?  (yes = no, no = yes)
  34. Can you eat a Big Mac Meal Deal with onion rings, mozzarella dippers and a shake and still go for a run?
  35. Can you sleep?
  36. Can you not sleep?
  37. Do you know how to read a map?
  38. Do you know how to carry a map without letting go - regardless of logic?
  39. Do you feel you can judge where you are on the planet by your awareness of the earths magnetic fields?
  40. Can you see through time or do you have other "special" powers?
  41. Do you think alcohol is a performance enhancing?
  42. Is Born To Run a book by Michael Morpurgo?  (yes = no, no = yes)
  43. Do you recognise or use any of the following acronyms?  UTMB, MDS, C2C, A2A, NDW, SDW, TTP.
  44. Have you ever had an energy gel that tasted good?
  45. Is Icecream racing food?
  46. Have you ever done a race where there were 2 or less people to greet you at the finish?
  47. Do you feel lucky or unlucky that you live in a country where distance are measured in miles not kilometers?
  48. Do you have a nick name that would be out of place in polite society?
  49. Do you consider anything over 5 hours duration as a race?  (yes = no, no = yes)
  50. If someone offered you a place in a Marathon the day before would you think 

        a) What a great day out?
        b) What a circus?
        c) All of the above or
        c) As "c" is statistically the correct answer and you can't be bothered reading the other options
        d) None of the above
Answer; "c" = yes


Jamie & Emma Goodhead

MSTC.....The Next Generation

This year's revived Horsted Keynes Triathlon brought out a great mixture of semi-pro athletes and first timers. It is these - slightly eccentric - events that are the breeding ground for our sport......and so it was proved to be at this year's event on Sunday 6th October.
Beautiful crisp weather greeted the start of the event where Paul Hedger took the teams and individuals through the race briefing. As I looked around I could see the cream of MSTC's finest.....Messrs Wintergold, Hoodless, Alden and others......as well as many (quite obvious) newbies.  But I could also see many children including Ben Hoodless, Rob's 13 year old son, complete in his yellow and black tri-suit. My own daughter Harriet, 12, was less well kitted out but you could see in both of them an athletic posture and determination.  Both of them had entered the Horsted Individual Shortie, a 200m swim, 5k bike and 2.5k run.  Call it a taster but there was definitely nothing stopping the two of them giving 100%. 
They both blasted off on the swim and you could tell both of them have been well taught (and practiced) in the pool. Ben went out strongly on the bike on roads he knows well, and chaperoned by Rachel Baker (no question of drafting of course). Then a quick transition on the village green into the two lap run with strong legs under blue skies.  I was escorting Harriet on the bike and on the run.
This was what the fun part of our sport is about......competitors of every age going as hard as they can, families gathered, laughter and cheers everywhere, mucking in with marshalling, having a pint afterwards.  You don't expect your kids to like everything that you like.....but it feels good to see them getting stuck in and having some success.  Both them gave it their all and came in strongly in each of the 3 disciplines.
Ben is definitely one to watch in the future.  He won the Men's Shorties event and took the Village Cup.  Harriet was 2nd overall although the organisers awarded her the winner before taking it away 20 mins later! C'est la vie. More importantly both of them had a great time and I'm sure will be at other events next year.  I suppose a trip to Evans might be in order for Harriet's Christmas present.
Ben Hoodless: 3.43 swim, 15.50 bike, 14.56 run
Harriet Record: 3.44 swim, 23.33 bike, 15.13 run

Mat Record

Brighton 2 Brighton Sportive


Ladies & Gentlemen.


Another month and another race - this time the Brighton to Brighton Sportive organised by SRS Events and running in a big loop from Hove Lawns out westwards to Shoreham, Henfield, Partridge Green and all points west.


I missed this race, last year, after having an altercation with a straw bale, on a bend, at the Blenheim Triathlon and once again ending up on the slab and under Dave Rickett's scalpel. Peter Court, Graeme Fitzjohn and Woodyboy all did it in 2012 and were quick to appraise me of what a good event I had missed. This year it was Jeff's turn to sit it out, after introducing an aerial forward roll into his cycling skills and shattering both his cycling helmet and his left scapula when re-introduced to terra firma. So Graeme/Peter whose sitting it out next year??


Anyway, after months of training where Peter and I had dragged Graeme around Sussex every Sunday morning to the point where we knew he could ride for 5 hours+ and cover over 75 miles, we found Sunday dawning clear and bright. Down on Hove Lawns the foolhardy assembled good and early with a gentle 15 mph wind blowing from the east (fun out, in yer face coming back). Registration and collection of the timing chip was painless and Peter, Graeme and I were joined by the ever youthful, ever cheerful Del Hastings, replete in Club colours. Rupert Robinson showed up, forming part of an Evans Cycling team and being hardcore that he is, nothing less than the Classic (101 miles) for him. We satisfied ourselves with the 83 miler (Challenge).


Once registered, there was no holding back and we were out onto the seafront road swishing along towards Shoreham at a rapid pace and on really quite good road surfaces!


After months of training, and with peletons everywhere, it was relatively easy to latch onto groups but the quick pace (circa 37kph) was probably a bit too much and eventually the four amigos settled into a rhythm but it was clear that Graeme & Del were happier at a less frantic cadence and so we split. The roads were lovely, the drivers considerate and with the wind at our backs we hurtled across Sussex and Surrey before arriving at the turning point (47 miles) at Kirdford. At this point Peter and I parted company, on his orders, as I was despatched after the only rider to have been through. I just saw him as he headed out, as we headed in and so I set chase after the man in SKY kit on a black Boardman.


After weeks of cycling as a training group, it felt odd to out on my own trying to chase down the lead man. Matters were not helped just towards Billingshurst were a lady driving a Range Rover seemed to take exception to my being on the road and tore up behind me with her horn blaring  and gesticulating at me as she shot by. Being the shy and sensitive sort did I a) burst in to tears: or b) scream wildly back and give the full repertoire of hand signals? Well it was probably at this moment, I completely missed a right hand turn and shortly later found myself at a roundabout at which time, with no arrows to assist, I did that unheard of thing for a bloke and stopped to look at the map. Now this was easier said than done, as the print was small and my reading glasses were 30 miles away in Burgess Hill but I reckoned (or guessed) that I had to head south, so I cycled on into Billingshurst and hung a right onto the A29. About a mile later (and later looking at a map realising I added over a 2 miles to my journey) I came to a roundabout and "eh voila!" there were the signs. The hunt was back on!!


Well the rest of the journey flew by. At Ashington I locked onto the Worthing Excelsior boys and they saw me to Steyning and then it was the Club Sunday Tea shop route in reverse until Edburton where it was along the foot of The Downs towards The Devil's Dyke -  and there was my quarry! I had trouble closing him down as we pedalled up the Dyke but once I was on the flat it was just a question of time before I caught him at Shirley Drive. The run down to Hove sea front was fine but the lights were a pain. I crossed the finishing line in a PB needing to beat 6 hrs to achieve Gold, so doing it in under 5 hrs was a massive result.


It was lovely to wait on the line and see the boys come safely home and as we left the Lawns, Rupert was just returning to. Definitely one for next year.


I have had a trawl of the results and as far as I can see 8 Club Members took part:

  • Rupert Robinson (M41) - 6.11.49 GOLD - 101 miles
  • Paul Newsome (M26) - 4.51.29 - GOLD - 83 Miles
  • Andy Miles (M54) - 4.51.55 - GOLD -(included an extra few miles because I felt like it)
  • Mike Jaffe (M49) - 4.57.14 - GOLD
  • Peter Court (M52) - 5.06.06 - GOLD
  • Del Hastings (M67) - 5.30.20 - GOLD (time included 12 mins helping Graeme change an inner tube)
  • Matt Gibson (M39) - 5.59.59 - SILVER
  • Graeme Fitzjohn (M48) - 6.00.50 SILVER (included the 12 minute inner tube change!!)


Well done to all involved and see you all soon when the Turbo sessions start.




Ps Really pleased to see that I am as tranquil as ever and that the competitive streak has disappeared.


Portsmouth Triathlon Race Report - Learn from this...

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If you are too lazy to read the whole report, two things you should know:

  • Point 1 - in a sea swim, never trust Mike J about tidal flow - he used to own a yacht, but that means nothing
  • Point 2 - eat a gel = drink some water

For those of you willing to read on, it all started rather pleasantly on Saturday afternoon in the sunshine registering and then racking the bike in the secure storage. 

Race briefings were running all afternoon, and everyone promptly got very confused about how many bike laps you had to do around the dockyard and around the lake (1 and 5 - or it could be 4 - it depends what you count). Most of us at that point decided to use either GPS or the bike computer, and cycle to "bike-in" when it got to more than 40k.

We headed off to our camp site to set up the tent, and promptly realised that we had the largest spangliest tent on the site and were surrounded by the nylon equivalent of social housing. I was suddenly very thankful my bike was in secure racking.

After an hour of being the new must see attraction for the masses, we put all valuables back into the car, and headed off to meet up with friends for a curry. We were joined by my race buddy Stuart from the BRAT Birmingham Triathlon, and started debating which injuries would slow us down the following day. He took an early lead with some form of leprosy, but I finally clinched it with "sciatic pain from an inflamed perineum".  Elevenariffe will always beat Tenariffe.

Curry over, we returned to the campsite - but only after securing floor space if the thieving pikey's had stolen our tent. Luck was with us, and the tent was still standing.

Up at 5:20 for food and ablutions, and we headed into Portsmouth to secure a parking space just outside the closed road circuit. We walked onto site to find Mike and Emma J trying to convince the race organisers to let then register on the morning rather than the day before (as per race instructions). Obviously being a team player I vouched for them, and all was well.

 Kit got laid out, tyres checked, pacing from rack entrance to bike measured, wetsuit on, GPS turned on, and I was ready.

 I walked the 200m from transition to the swim, and when I saw Mike I tactfully mentioned that a grey swim hat (wave 2) was for the older gents. His response was touching if rather anglo saxon in its content.

Wave 1 got into the water to warm up, and a few of them walked out to the first buoy. Cue a 15min delay as the tide was out.

Mike was scouting out the swim exit and offering tidal drift advice as he had used his sailing knowledge to check tidal flow and strength. In truth it would not make any real difference as the course is the course, but suffice to say the advice in hindsight appeared to be completely wrong.

Wave 1 went off, wave two followed, and finally wave 3 (and me) were allowed to navigate barefoot down the shingle beach, across the large pebbles, and into the water. In the warm up time I worked out that I could run/walk faster than I could swim up until the sea reached 4ft deep, and so I had my plan.

Off went the klaxon, and like a startled gazelle I ran through the shallows, floundered like a girl through the mid thigh depth, and then waded like Arnie until the early swimmers started catching me.

My Navigation for once was good and the buoys all passed within a couple of feet of me. I drafted where I could, passed a few grey hats, and even some green (wave 1) and thought I was doing really well (hoping for a sub 28mins). Then rounding the final buoy heading towards the beach, I got chicked by the leader of wave 4 (the girls)! I was magnanimous in thinking that she was probably a world champion as I was having a good swim. Out of the water and hit the transition button on my 310XT - 37mins. THIRTY SEVEN - WTF?????

Off to transition with a hugely deflated ego.

Transition was ok and out onto the bike course. It felt good to be moving at speed, and even the cobbles in the dockyard were ok. I can confirm that none of the defence budget is spent on the upkeep of roads in naval bases as I was by this point wearing most of the drink I was trying to take in. 

The course through the dockyard went past HMS Victory, and was very tight and technical, but the 5 laps of the boating lake and esplanade that followed were fast and great fun. I averaged over 21mph overall so was happy with that.

Into T2 which for once was quite quick, and out onto the run course. Straight away I was feeling rubbish, which was quickly compounded by Mike doing his impression of a racing snake and passing me at the end of his first 5km lap. But for all that "feeling rubbish" a glance at the 310 showed me doing 7:21 per mile - happy days. Head up, keep going, catch the bugger in front of me. 

I took in a gel just before the drink station at 2.5km to give me more energy for the final third of the run - it worked for me at the BRAT Tri earlier in the year - I took on a cup water and kept going. The 2nd lap began to feel bad, I could feel heat building and dehydration starting. Another cup of water at the 7.5km mark, but it wasn't enough. At 8km my vision was going along with my legs, and I had to stop. Head between knees for two mins, got some blood back up into my head, stood up carefully, and kept moving towards the finish. 

A marshal asked if I was ok, and I explained I was dehydrating - a bottle of water appeared, and promptly disappeared down my throat - I could literally feel the energy flowing back into my body - off I went running again.

10mins later and I am sprinting down the finish chute thoroughly disappointed with myself, as by then I had figured out that it was self inflicted.

Why did it work at the BRAT but not here in Portsmouth? At the BRAT it was four loops rather than two - so I had access to twice as many water stations - simple really. Gels need water. Learn from this.


Did I enjoy the race, yes. 

Did I get a PB, not a chance. 

Did I learn things to make me faster in the future, yes. 

Will I do it next year, yes - but only to prove a point to myself.


There were mutterings that the swim was at least 300m too long, but are as yet unproven. My GPS showed 2.04km, and as stated, my sighting for once was good. Several people took over an hour to complete the swim, and my time of 37mins would have put me into sub 30min territory for 1500m if the mutterings were true - much more like normal. 

Again I have to say the marshals were great and I thanked as many as I could en route. It was really good to do a Tri with friends, and I even got a medal! 

Best of all, the tent was still there when we got back to the campsite.