Race Reports

Ironman Zurich 2013

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I trained diligently for Ironman Zurich but the non-neoprene swim drained the energy reserves and also piled on the minutes.

I only took up swimming to do triathlon and I have only ever really been interested in wet-suit outdoor races. Hence, an effective leg-kick has not been developed. Lack of wetsuit did not seem to bother the top swimmers as they don't need the buoyancy.

The cycle went perfectly to plan with average pace of 20mph and heart rate average below 140 (only crept up to 145 very briefly on a couple of occasions). Terrific bike course with several spectacularly scenic sections. Combination of flats, hills and some sharp turns. Maximum speed 47 mph. This is the part that made it all worthwhile.

The run pace was conservative due to the conditions and resignation that the poor swim had destroyed Kona aspirations. Nevertheless, by mile 15 there was nothing left in the tank.

Personal best cycle of 5:31 (beating my Challenge Roth 2012 effort by 6 mins)

Worst ever swim of 1:55 (45 mins slower than expected)

Worst ever run of 5:43 (did London Marathon 3 months ago in 2:56)

Slowest ever overall finish time of 13:18


(These sentences are taken from an email sent to finishers after the event).

This year´s race goes down as the hardest competition ever realized in Zurich. Not only because of the heat but also because of the non-wetsuit swim which was an additional challenge for many athletes."



Ironman Switzerland is a good race that is highly recommended (Challenge Roth by contrast is a great race...just a bit better in all ways, especially crowd-support and race management).

Lake Zurich is beautiful with clean water. Probably a very pleasant swim under normal conditions.

The cycle is terrific but has a few sharp turns combined with steep descents that could prove tricky in the wet (and it often does rain in Zurich). Lots of rules and novel ways to get in the penalty box (such as non-aerobar sections and  no-overtaking sections).

The run has several underpasses and switch-backs but lots of crowd support and feed-stations.

Jim Graham

Rachel Breaks a Club Record

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Rachel Baker, Ant Grey, Rob Hoodless & Martin Shoesmith rode the Crawley Wheelers evening 10 last week (11th July).

Rachel set a new club record for a 10 mile time trial. Taking 23.44 to complete the challenging G10/58 course (which runs along the A24 between Rusper and Southwater), she broke through the coveted 25mph barrier for the first time. Her speed was an amazing 25.28mph average over the 10 miles.

Rachel rode over from Haywards Heath with Ant and Martin, an excellent warm up before the main event, then broke the club record and her PB, by over a minute.

Rachel said she had a perfect ride, and was absolutely delighted with her performance. Conditions were ideal, a still and warm evening and with competitors leaving at 30sec intervals, it made for exciting racing.well as exciting as times trials ever get!

If you wish to set your own 10 PB, join the MSTC team, who leave at 6.50pm from the Ship Pub car park, Cuckfield. Race entries are accepted on the night, £4 for non Crawley Wheeler members.


Crawley Wheelers Club 10 Mile Time Trial 11th July G10/58    

Top 10 riders  

1.                   Stuart Nisbett                     21.23

2.                   Paul Byford                        21.26

3.                   Rupert Robinson                    21.53

4.                   Ant Grey                           23.23

5.                   Robert Hoodless                    23.29

6.                   Martin Shoesmith                   23.36

7.                   Mark Penfold                       23.43

8.                   Rachel Baker                       23.44 (L) PB

9.                   Mike Oliver                        24.32

10                   Iain Scott                          24.42


Club records are held here if you think you have one please email through the site. The only proviso is that you have to have been a member at the time of setting the record.





1st place at Seaford Olympic

After a positive showing at Worthing in the sprint triathlon the weekend before where I finished 4th, I was mostly looking forward to my first Olympic distance event of the year down in Seaford. My friend had kindly lent me his TT bike after I had somehow managed to crack the top tube on my own bike a couple of weeks before - a super slick machine with a Zipp disc wheel at the back. Only problem was I am 6 ft tall and my friend is about 5'6" so every time I rode the bike my knees would bang into my elbows.

On Saturday the weather was gorgeous: no wind, no waves, sunny and warm. At the best of times my swimming resembles a drowning man and this race was not much different although I guess I managed to drown with at least "some" style coming out of the water in 11th place and sprinting up the steep shingle into T1. Aaaargh, Idiot! Having mounted my tri shoes on the bike I had forgotten to open up the straps on the shoes so I wobbled my way down the first 50m of the bike course getting my feet in. Right, time to monster. Seaford is a pan flat bike along the prom so it was relatively uneventful. The biggest challenge is counting 12 laps and avoid being taken out on the 22 180 degree turns you have to make but I survived intact and could see that I had made some gains on the cycle leg. A quick T2 and out onto the run. Where is everyone and who is the guy on the bike in front of me? It took me a good 30 seconds to realise I'd run out first. This was a unique experience for me and I spent the next 9.75km torturing myself with the thought that someone was going to run past me. My paranoia definitely helped me step on the gas and I managed to hang on to cross the line in 1st place, very proudly wearing my MSTC tri suit, of course! The last time I did this race in 2005 took me nearly 3 hours so pretty happy with that improvement!

Swim 30:18

Bike 1:03:26

Run 40:49

Total 2:14:33


Graeme Jeffery

Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Festival



This was a massive challenge for Helen, who is a keen runner but relatively new to triathlon (previous experience limited to a couple of sprint triathlons). Pippa, Steve and Jim are
seasoned long distance triathletes.

Helen's preparation was severely limited, initially by other commitments and then by a cycling accident. Practically all Helen's swimming and cycling training was to be done in the
fortnight before the race, but the first cycle training session on Preston Park Cycle Track ended in severe cuts and bruises when a dog ran into her front wheel at 20mph. The broken skin and limb pains had just 10 days to recover before the race.


The venue and course

Very good value for money. About a third the cost of official ironman. Free camping next to swim start and/or cheap rooms provided on-site.


The Avon Tyrell Estate hosts the annual Enduroman Ultra Triathlon Festival, with half, single and double iron-distance races plus a 100-mile ultramarathon occurring simultaneously on the same course. Great atmosphere in a picturesque setting. The previous couple of years have seen very wet and windy weather. This year, the conditions were perfect with sunshine and dry roads/paths.


Everything is on one site, so you can walk to the race briefing and transition etc. Nice lake swim with repeated laps of just a few hundred metres each.


Great cycle through the New Forest with all left turns and not much traffic. Repeated 1.1 mile run laps through the grounds of the estate, on dirt tracks and paths.


The race

A relatively small field of competitors with a friendly atmosphere.



The women's swim start was 90 mins before the men's. Steve and Jim cheered on Pippa and Helen as they completed their swim. Pippa was one of the first out of the water as expected. Helen had a massive smile as she finished the swim far quicker than she believed possible. Steve's swim was close to the fastest of the day and Jim was middle of the pack as usual. 


An enjoyable safe ride on decent surfaces with only left turns and hardly any traffic. A mixture of flat, hilly, straight and technical sections (but nothing very challenging). Not a fast course, as it is longer than the usual middle distance cycle plus there are several slow passes of the Avon Tyrell courtyard fuelling station. Jim had raced this course previously
and this helped him secure the fastest cycle time. All four from MSTC completed the cycle without incident (major result for Helen).



Challenging run up and down dirt paths within the Estate. Passed the courtyard fuelling station every 1.1 miles to get drinks, gels and cheers from supporters.

Speeding past tired athletes, who were doing longer distance events on the same course, helped to keep our spirits up.

Enduroman tradition dictates that one completes the final run lap in reverse direction, in order to high-five everyone still out on the course. Jim was pleasantly surprised to find he finished his penultimate run lap without seeing anybody running in the opposite direction (never been in the lead before and never previously won a race).

Steve and Pippa completed their runs with good form to produced fast finish times (17th male and 9th female respectively). Helen saved her best for last and she was the 7th fastest female runner (11th fastest female overall).

Name Overall Pos Overall Time Swim Bike Run
Graham, James 1. 05:25:46 0:38:40 02:59:10 1:36:05
Birchall, Steve 17. 07:20:43 0:35:12 03:44:47 2:43:27
Crouch, Pips 9 08:19:31 0:40:53 04:31:20 3:07:17
Graham, Helen 11 09:21:35 0:58:06 05:51:34 2:31:54


UK 70.3 Wimbleball


Up until a week I was unsure if I would compete in this iconic race again as I had pulled my left calf muscle at the Ardingly Standard Triathlon on 2/6/13. But as race day drew nearer, the injury had improved and as this would be my last visit to Wimbleball I made the decision to go ahead!!!

I drove there on Saturday and had an uneventful journey. On arrival I went through the registration procedure, sorted my kit out into the blue and red bags provided and racked my bike. The weather during the day was a mixture of wind, rain and sun, which then started me thinking, " hope it gets better by tomorrow, why did I decide to come!!" I attended the race briefing at 16.00hrs and then made my way to my digs about twenty minutes drive. It's a lovely old farmhouse sat in a hillside which overlooks one of the downhill sections of the bike course.
After the usual fitful nights sleep [no I wasn't having fits!!!] I had my normal bowl of porridge and drove to the race venue arriving about 05.00hrs. It was chilly, overcast and windy and I thought maybe the sun would come out later!!! I met up with Peter Court [from MSTC, always nice to know someone] who was also taking part. Well we completed our final preparations and it was time to get the old wet suit on! 

At about 06.45 our wave, the second, [only ever been one wave before!! ] made our way down to the lake. The first wave had just started and we were asked to enter the water, no turning back now!!! Having walked through the mud and weeds I immersed myself into the water thinking this is like a warm bath, well I knew it wasn't but it helps mentally. The temperature was cold but I have swam in colder water!!! Done a few strokes to warm up and impress the opposition and then the gun went off, definitely no turning back now!!!

The swim went okay with the usual disruptions of others swimming into you, over you and under you!!! I eventually came out of the water [and no I wasn't last!!! ] and then there is the 400m run to T1 which includes a steep grassy bank immediately you get out of the water!!!

Collect blue bike bag and into the change tent where you have the option of taking off your own wet suit or having assistance. Being old, wet and cold I decided to do it myself!!! Luckily I had put extra kit in the blue bike bag, so I put on a short sleeve cycle top [ MSTC of course!! ] and then really struggled to put my arm warmers on as I was wet and cold!! Once they were on I stuffed a thin rain jacket into a back pocket and made my way to the bike rack. By now the wind had picked up even more and the rain was persistent!

Out of T1 and start the bike course which kicks off with 3 miles up hill!! As I have done this race twice before I knew what to expect in relation to the course but that doesn't make it any easier. It is very tough, made considerably worse with the wind and rain!! It's a two lap course involving approximately 3904ft of climbing! As the miles went by the rain and wind got worse eventually forcing me to stop and put on the rain jacket!! The descents were quite dangerous in the rain as some involved very sharp left hand turns at the bottom!! All part of the fun and another reason for doing this race yet AGAIN!!! I managed all the climbs without getting off the bike, passing many that thought walking was the best option and they were a lot younger than me!!! Just before the end of the bike section I had a very negative thought! I was very wet and very cold and said to myself " do you really want to run a half marathon now!!!"

Anyway I got into T2 racked my bike still with a few negative thoughts but then I was in the change tent with my red run bag and the next thing I know I am out on the run course!! What happened there!! Maybe it was a C.R.A.F.T. moment!! Well at least the rain had eased but it was still windy and by now the off road course was very muddy in places. The first of the three laps was hard, the second even harder and well the third was just bloody awful but I was determined to finish what I had started. Never say never!!! I eventually crossed the line to the roar of the crowd in a very disappointing 8hrs 2mins 56secs !!  That was my slowest recorded time at Wimbleball but I still managed to come 3rd in my age group!!

Most importantly I finished, didn't have any injuries and after all it is only a race!! I am trying hard to make myself feel better!! I hope our three week annual holiday in Skiathos, which starts this Wednesday, will help to ease the disappointment and maybe I can figure out what went wrong!!! Sorry there are no split times as at the time of writing this I couldn't seem to find them on the website.[another C.R.A.F.T. moment!! ] Probably just as well as that would really piss me off!!!! 
I would like to thank Peter Court as he was waiting for me at the finish to cheer me through and I am sure he was as tired as me!! On a final note, good luck to anyone racing while I am away and I promise to practise my swimming!!!! Thanks everyone for your support on Facebook.

PS just found my split times!! Do you really want to see them, I think not!!! Oh well if you want a laugh;

swim  54:15
T1     10:33
bike   4:15:35
T2      6:20
run     2:36:16

age group 65-69  position 3rd  overall 1140. At least I wasn't last!!!!!!!