Race Reports

Fambridge middle distance triathlon

When I told some of you that I was returning to Essex to participate in a middle distance triathlon, I'm sure you were picturing me swimming amongst discarded shopping trollies , cycling around burnt out cars and running through a travellers site wearing my Burberry tri suit and then returning to transition to find my bike on bricks with my new carbon wheels missing ! 

Well I can assure you it was nothing like that ! Fambridge is a picturesque village beside the River Crouch . The swim was a two lap circuit around the moored yachts and old Thames barges , I thought I was doing well but did struggle when we turned into the tide ,I was just pleased that I wasn't the last out of the water this time . The cycle route was two laps of a completely flat course through more quaint villages . Again I felt reasonably comfortable on the ride. The run was a four lap mainly off road route which included a path along side the river . I finished  the run without having to walk any part which again was something I had done in past middle distance events . My split times were 1.9km swim 55 min , 90km bike 3.23 and 18km run 1:52 . My total time was 6 hours and 18 minutes! 

Whilst I am pleased with my time , I'm still worried that I have to double this distance in August ! 

After the race most of the competitors relaxed in the garden of the nearby Ferry Boat Inn , I even bumped into some old team mates from Billericay rugby club who like me turned to triathlon once their playing days were over . 

I proudly wore my mid Sussex outfit back in my old manor , as much as I love Sussex , I'm always defensive of Essex as it is a nice place which is much maligned due to a minority of people who live there. 


Ironman Lanzarote 2013 Race Report

Many people consider this an iconic race, with its own special challenges and history. Certainly it is one of the tougher races on the official ironman circuit due to heat, winds and hills. Maybe it is difficult for Brits to get ready to race in the heat so early in the season, having trained in the cold. Lanzarote is a cycling and triathlon paradise so some serious competitors spend time training and acclimatising on the island for weeks before the race. 

Having said that, Lanzarote ironman is great fun and suitable for all abilities. You can take it slowly because there is plenty of time to finish. At the race briefing there were  plenty of people doing their first ironman and one person was doing their first triathlon! 

They let finishers go across the line with their kids, which a lot of races do not allow. It was all pretty friendly and laid back. Despite stern warnings at the race briefing, I did not see anybody get a penalty.



This was tricky, as UK open water swims had barely started due to terrible weather this year. Got head-butted during the pre-dawn warm-up. Glad the goggles did not break but got a grazed nasal bridge..

A mass start from the beach, dashing across a few metres of sand before wading into the surf at dawn. Seeded myself about 100th out of 1,800. Then got overtaken by about a thousand swimmers in the first 20 minutes. It is a 2 lap anticlockwise course with massive congestion especially on the left side because of a left turn at the first buoy that is only about 150 metres from the start. I was literally on the marker rope on the left and mostly had to pull myself along the rope for the first half-mile as proper swimming was not really possible. Lots of people went under the rope to get clear water to the left and I don't think any of them got penalised for cheating. Next time I would either set off far to the right or swim to the left of the rope (putting hat with race number showing on right, so the marshals in boats on left can't see who I am). 

A little disappointed with 1:16 swim but it was not an unpleasant experience despite the turmoil. Nice warm water with plenty of fish visible and I avoided any significant contacts.



The cycle started with an hour of drizzle and apparently it has never previously rained at lanazarote ironman in its history of over 20 years. Just like being back home, so no problem for me.

There is hardly any traffic on the island and much of the bike course is closed road. A single 112 mile loop around the island with a great mix of long straight bits to "go aero" as well as hill climbs and some technical descents. Good surface except for a couple of miles on a dreadful road reminiscent of Paris-Rubaix.

Plenty of drink stations in sensible places, so you only need one bottle on the bike at a time. Grab a water bottle first and gulp down half then pour rest over yourself to cool down. Grab a bottle of energy drink to put in bottle cage that will sustain fluid intake until the next drink station.

Some very windy bits mean that discs are discouraged. I used Zipp 303 and Zipp 808, 11-27 cassette and 42/55 q-rings. Had no problems with the high winds or climbing the steep hills with this set up.

My usual slow swim put me near the back of the field, so I enjoyed overtaking nearly 700 cyclists. The first half was slower than planned at only around 18mph. I really got pedalling over the second half of the course and managed an average of 19mph overall for the 112 miles in a pleasing sub-6 time of 5:53.



Feeling confident following 2:56 London Marathon a month previously. Left T2 with 7:20 on the clock. Needed a 3:15 marathon to secure an Ironman PB.

Mostly flat coastal tarmac run with nice views. Set off doing 7:15 minute miles and overtook maybe 200 runners in first half-marathon. Weather got roasting hot after a while and I hit the wall at mile 18 then trudged home doing 12:00 minutes per mile. Saw all those PB hopes and Kona aspirations slip away. Finished run in 3:54 and was surprised it wasn't a lot slower having been overtaken by a couple of hundred runners in the last few miles. Nevertheless, it was absolutely awesome to finish an exhilarating race.

At Lanzarote they seem to let everyone run into the finish banner (not just the winner). Grabbed banner triumphantly and raised it above my head with a big grin like Chrissie Wellington. Then got photo taken shaking hands with the race director (who presented my medal). Nice touch, being treated much the same as the race winner.

James Graham

  • 01:16:03 swim, 1039th overall, 72nd in age group
  • 05:48 T1, 171st
  • 05:53:44 cycle, 287th overall, 13th in age group
  • 04:39 T2, 389th
  • 03:54:08 run, 283rd overall, 16th in age group
  • 11:14:20 finish time, 273rd overall, 16th in age group 50-54



Next day, I attended my first Kona slot roll-down ceremony. It was good seeing Bart from Holland punch the air and praise the heavens, as the last of the 3 slots in our age group rolled down to him. I had chatted to Bart as we checked tyre pressures on adjacent  bike racks just before the race start. Bart had come 5th in age group compared to my 16th. Not so close as to be annoying, but close enough to give me hope for next time. I had finished just under 30 minutes slower than Bart. Bart had qualified for Kona via Lanzarote a few years previously and he had advised me before this race that "it is all about the marathon". It's easy to ask advice but harder to act on it. 

Many thanks to Helen, Gemma, Angus, Monty and all at MSTC for your continued support.





Haywards Heath Triathlon


After a very early wake up call of 04:30. yep 04:30 still full of cold and then scraping the ice of the windscreen I set off to Haywards Heath Triathlon.

The race as all Hedgehog races are very well organised and run with out issue, except for the 04.30 wake up call.

First swimmers off at 06:30 it was a very cold start with some athletes pulling out after and on the bike due to the cold, best in these conditions to spend an extra few seconds putting on the correct clothing as cycling fast down hill is cold even when you are not soaked from the pool.

A great lumpy bike route from HH to Ansty down to Burgess hill then up Issacs lane back to HH and repeat. The run ummm best do some hill repeats to train for this as its up hill out of transition then down hill back to transition 4 times.

The 4 loops were great as it meant you went through all the crowds a few times, 4 in fact, which gave you the boost to attack the hill again.

A great show for MSTC gathering a great haul of trophies and all members coming in the top 6 of their age group:


OA Pos AG Pos Total Name Swim Bike Run
4 2 01:10:21 James Dear 00:06:27 00:43:24 00:20:30
10 2 01:13:47 Philip Couch 00:05:15 00:48:28 00:20:04
15 3 01:17:08 Graeme Jeffery 00:07:30 00:48:41 00:20:57
21 4 01:22:16 Steve McMenamin 00:06:17 00:51:00 00:24:59
25 6 01:24:12 Charlie Langhorne 00:07:18 00:51:51 00:25:03
3 2 01:24:21 Hazel Tuppen 00:06:09 00:54:06 00:24:06
4 1 01:24:25 Karen Pattison 00:06:56 00:54:27 00:23:02
33 5 01:25:38 Gordon Skeats 00:06:54 00:55:41 00:23:03
8 1 01:32:27 Sharon Chladek 00:07:49 00:57:24 00:27:14
72 4 01:35:50 Dean Allen 00:08:18 01:01:02 00:26:30
37 5 01:11:28 Emma Cole 00:06:40 00:50:02 00:14:46


Southwater Duathlon

In the end 9 hardy souls took part, 2 for the short course and 7 for the long.  At the off, Phil Couch was initially quickest, but Neil then reeled him in and went on to run 38.17 for the 10k, which was very impressive as it was quite wet and slippery and muddy in places. Jim Graham was next through in 40.56.

Phil was doing the short course as he is just getting fit again and completed 5k in 19.24. Rachel and Lucy were running at the same pace, but Lucy was doing 5k (23.26) and Rachel 10k (47.12).  It was great to see Jeff back racing again. 47.38 for 10k may have been the slowest on the day, but is still a respectable stand alone time for this sort of course.

The times will show that Jim had the fastest T1, but it was one of the most bizarre transitions ever. He reached the mount point still wearing his trainers then proceeded to change into his bike shoes and dumping the trainers with Helen who was marshaling there. Phil is the man to watch in T1, because he is so quick you might miss him - very slick!
John MacTear learnt from last year's error and got out of T1 without a hitch this time. Lucy took the most leisurely approach but getting the right number of layers on for a cold bike leg was the key to survival.

The bike course was modified from last year due to roadworks. However it is much easier to navigate and nobody went wrong, although the excellent marshaling form Helen, Gordon and Andy as well as Sharon on the run course guaranteed it. Neil is clearly on top form at the moment because sub 64 minutes on a cold wet and windy day was awesome. Most people were slower than their usual but the weather did get worse once the rain
started and the wind picked up, especially on the return leg of the lap. If you look at the results you will see that there were no bad times - everyone did so well in the conditions.

T2 is always interesting.    Phil again showed what is possible, with an astonishing 20 second split. Ant looked like he had a good T2, but not before he came in the out way, and then had to go back out and round to the proper dismount at the car park entrance. Luckily we weren't penalising anyone for transition aberrations. Rob took both his transitions (and most of the race) at a laid back pace, he always looked like he had loads left in the tank.

Most people ran the last 5k at a slightly slower pace than the first 10k, but Neil still managed sub 20 minutes and it was Rob with the second fastest time in 21.30, although again no-one was slow. Phil managed 10.15 for his last 2.5k for a very fast overall performance in the sprint race, and Lucy again ran strongly with a 12.06 lap.

Prize for the most cheerful athlete must go to John for insisting on enjoying himself all the way round whilst still making a huge effort and racing extremely well.

Thank you again to all the marshals, Sharon Chladek, Helen Graham, Gordon Skeats, Andy Jenkins and Hazel Tuppen. Everyone appreciated all of your efforts and support. Special thanks go to Hazel for bringing her homemade chocolate covered flapjacks - they were absolutely delicious!!

It was also nice to Mike and Emma Jaffe coming out of their way on a long run to cheer everybody on.



Neil Giles        38.17   1.20   1.03.58   0.53   19.40   2.04.08  10pts       0%
Jim Graham    40.56   0.56   1.09.53   0.57   22.51   2.15.33    9         9.2
Rob Hoodless  42.30   2.22   1.12.11   1.52   21.33   2.20.28    8        13.16
Ant Grey         44.43   1.23   1.13.54   0.53   24.09   2.25.02    7        16.84
John MacTear  43.56   1.23   1.16.44   1.04   23.57   2.27.04    6        18.48
Jeff Woodall    47.38   2.02   1.16.53   0.59   25.36   2.33.08    5        23.36

Rachel Baker   47.12   2.20   1.15.23   0.59   26.44   2.30.43   10        0%

Phil Couch     19.24   1.00   0.35.45   0.20   10.15   1.06.41   4pts

Lucy Williams  23.26   2.52   0.44.53   1.23   12.06   1.24.40   9pts


Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon


Wednesday evening found me looking at the BBC weather forecast for Sunday, trying to decide whether to do the Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon as a season opener. The weather looked cold, dry, and windy, but no rain was forecast in the meantime so that was good. Then I checked the list of entries to date, and there was the name of the guy who beat me by 6 seconds on my first race, and whom I beat by 2 seconds last time. Decision made - I had to race and beat him properly. 

Now I have nothing against the chap - I barely know him - but I needed to get my season off to a good start, and beating a "rival" seemed like a good idea. There were a couple of minor flaws in my plan, including the fact I had not prepared specifically for the race, the bike was still on the turbo trainer, I hadn't practiced transitions since September, on-line entries were closed, the race is four days away and I am not at home for three of them. Minor details. 

Saturday comes and I decided I had better get the bike ready and do a quick run. The bike prep was fairly simple, and I even managed to change the tyre without puncturing the inner tube (a rare success). My run however had felt a bit slow and sluggish recently so off I went to put in a quick couple of miles to prove I still had it. A short while later (and a new mile PB to give me hope) I felt ready - I had even managed to come up with the innovation of using elastic bands to stop the icy cold wind whistling up my non elasticated sleeves. Genius 

Sunday morning comes with a civilised 10:30am registration. Bike racked, multiple pit stops (too much hydration), race briefing, say hello to the rival, and it's off to the start line. Off goes the gun, and unlike last year I set off at my pace - not that of the racing snakes near the front. Halfway through the first lap the girl next to me started beeping and confirmed that we had reached one mile in a respectable 7:10. My rival had dropped back at the 1km mark so I knew all was going well. 

Into T1 at 14:25 and what followed can only be described as a case study in why you should practice your transition - I did not and 1:25 later I finally emerged on my bike, Doh. 

Five laps of Castle Coombe racetrack follow without incident, but I was now frozen due to the 0 deg 13mph wind. Into the final straight heading towards T2 and I managed to get my feet on top of my shoes for a fast exit off the bike - that at least worked and we quickly rack the bike and get the trainers back on. It rapidly became apparent that I need to do more bike-run transitions as "gazelle" was the antithesis of my running style at that point. 

My wife was by the T2 exit and I shouted a query about my rival - "he's right behind you, cane it" she yells - off I went like a startled sloth. My wife's yell started to haunt me and I got my legs going a bit faster. 

I noticed a few runners a couple of hundred yards ahead of me, and having ignored the two runners zipping past, I realised that I was actually catching them. At the 1.5mile mark I caught them, and at a useful hairpin on the run course I looked back to see where my rival was. He was nowhere to be seen and my wife was confirmed as being a lying toe-rag who should not be trusted for race advice. 

The final half mile passed without drama and a quick sprint took me to the finish line. 

Negative split on Run 2 v Run 1, all bike laps within 3 seconds of each other, 87th overall compared to 164th last year, a new PB of 58:25 for the race, and more importantly I beat my rival by 6 minutes (!!!). Happy, happy days. 

My wife pleaded guilty to perverting the course of injustice, and was sentenced to an afternoon of repeated second by second analysis of the race without chance of parole.


Andrew Lennox