Race Reports

Cold Water Swimming Championships

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As one of the original team from Toting Bec's South London Swimming Club who put the Cold Water Swimming Championship's on the map in 2007, this event is an absolute must for me.  I swam every Sunday through the winters of 2002, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the Lido and still miss that great comradely and "sensation" when racing there.  Feeling the water's temperature fall slowly from October to February is as much nerve racking as it is exhilarating, but the times when it fell as low as 1 degree Centigrade are few and far between.  Sadly I never got the chance to break the ice to swim at the Lido.

So when I jumped into the 1 degree water for my first race, I was genuinely shocked.....not just because I am not acclimatised like I used to be, but I was also entering unknown cold territory.  I screamed with cold, my body tensed up......then the beeper started and the race (30m freestyle) had begun.  With my arms pumping and legs doing a 6-beat kick, I was on my way.  The water ahead had amazing clarity, I could see no one close to me.  I had won but there was no time for hanging around.  In one fluid motion I touched the wall and leapt out of the pool.  My body felt like a stone standing on the side for 2 seconds before the blood starting returning to my body, and that incredible feeling started.  The buzz is pretty post-coital in nature.

And this is the reason why cold water swimming is so addictive.  Yes, I am a fully paid up member of the Nutter Club (along with lots of you reading this article) but a few of us get our kicks from freezing waters.  The beer tent, hog roast, hot tubs, sauna and comradely all add to the experience.  Oh, and reaching two finals (freestyle and "head-up" breaststroke) also help.  What started in 2011 with five members of the Tri and Swimming Clubs going up to London has turned into 10.  Tim Fraser from the swimming club scooped a gold and silver.  Our two relay teams acquitted themselves well and we all had a superb day.   Next time we might have to break the ice.........here's hoping!

Matt Record


"From outside looking in you cant understand it -from the inside looking out you cant explain it."

It is said that with cold water plunges the non-initiated can only stare and ask "why?" Well that's not really true I also was asking myself that in the run up to the Cold water championships. I was looking for any excuse to pull out but as I was not only entered for the freestyle I also had the joy of the relays so there was no way I could let my team mates down. With gritted teeth and grim determination I accepted that it was inevitable and actually started to look forward to it.

Ok that's a lie, the first time I did this event in 2011 I looked forward to it as I did not know what to expect, this time I knew exactly what was coming. The water temperature was somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees depending on where it was measured the distance was a width of the Tooting Bec lido (32-35m) in just speedos goggles and a hat.

The journey there was good fun I travelled with Matt and Jamie (we were also in the same relay team)  we were also accompanied by some of the Marlins. We managed to stay off the hip flasks until nearly all the swimming was over, unfortunately Matt downed my hot mulled wine after one swim final while he was waiting for the next, I say unfortunately as he thought it was hot Ribena until he finished his gulp and then coughing spasam.

The rules state that you have to all drop into the water hold onto the edge with shoulders under the water and wait for the count down this felt like 5 mins but in reality 5 -10 sec's then off. There were some quality swimmers there who I think had the advantage of not spending so long in the water. 600 individual swims so it was quite a large meeting with some of the most eccentric people you will ever meet.

Anyway a great day with some bone chilling painful swims, would I do it again... Of course cant wait until 2014.

Steve Mac


This week has been interesting; challenges at work, sleepless nights with children, a house without heating, a sick wife, a couple of trips to the Dentist (what kind of individual would become a Dentist anyway?) a few swim and run sessions that pushed the limits (the heavy meals beforehand were a mistake).  Regardless, life is now thoroughly enjoyable as the National Cold Water Swimming Championships are out of the way.

There is absolutely no justification as to why.  There is no need to jump into freezing (literally) water and swim about like a loon, however 600 of this nations "finest" disagree.  The Eccentric Magnet that is Tooting Bec Lido was to put on a show - they came from everywhere, all taking pride in a bond created over sadomasochistic joy!

I often think that with sport you are given a bottle of pain to deal with as you see fit.  Regardless of the competition, you should have an empty bottle by the end; be it a 400m swim, 10mile TT, Marathon, Ironman, Ultra, etc.  Emptying the bottle in 20 odd seconds can be quite an eye opening experience, while using it up through anxiety before you start inevitably ends in grief.  Having completely emptied the bottle, to find out the body wants to continue with jaw grinding grief is "un-fun"!

Like reaching blindly into your toiletry bag and feeling the sweet sensation of your Mac 3 razor lacerating your fingers, so it was to be, one race after the other until Jagermeister and Whiskey dulled the sensations and nullified the singing of the local hula ladies and their ode to the Lido.  

Seriously though, I can't wait to do it again, it must be like childbirth!

 "Make pain your friend and you will never be alone".

Jamie Goodhead

Country to Capital Ultra-marathon

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It was the 12th of January, snowing and I was sitting in bed with a cold.  What better thing to do than pack your gear, head to Wendover and run to London along with 300 other eccentrics including your wife.  45 miles of cross country bliss and a day without children, could it get any better?  Actually yes, what other race starts with bacon rolls and a cup of tea?  I'm not sure I can remember being in a pub, teeming with such energy at 7:30 in the morning but then again if the night had been that good I wouldn't have remembered!

These days one can't take these things too seriously, so starting at the very back of the field we ambled down Wendover high street to the first style - now it takes some time for 300 people to cross a style who all arrive at the same time.  No worries, time to stretch, have a chat and ponder how the water will get out of your water proof shoes when they fill up from the top!

It's always nice to spend time with your wife, enjoying the countryside and the company of strangers with interesting stories about how they don't have heating and are using this as preparation for their run from Birmingham.  Things didn't change much for the next 25 miles, run a bit, wade through some mud, have a chat, look at a map, wait at a stile and repeat.  The weather did improve and at checkpoint 1 I discovered the best cake ever made which included some magical ingredients that I'm sure were designed to uplift one's spirits - the world took on a 60's glow!

Now there is nothing quite like a light Siberian breeze hitting you in the face for a day which contributed to the downside of the race when I failed to motivate Mrs G to go any further than the Marathon distance, which left me to go it alone.  A stubborn one that Em but the look of grey disgust and inability to pose for the photographer meant we had failed on our mission of quality time together so I may as well punish myself a little!  75grams of carbs and 500ml of fluid per hour and the knowledge that if I get through the 30 mile point I had enough jelly snakes to get me home, not forgetting the joy of more cake at the next stop was plenty of motivation.

A Canal can be quite boring but not the Grand Union Canal, that has a few house boats, the occasional BMXer, water, footpath, disposed toilet, dead fish, misleading sign or two, tree, derelict property  and at least 2 Sainsburys - now that beats seeing nothing swimming for the same amount of time any day!  And then came the finish, at just over 8 hrs I crossed the line and went to the pub - beats a round of golf but not quite as good as an Ironman so I'd give the experience 6/10 but 10/10 for value - Race T shirt, medal, mysterious cake, gels, and 8 hrs of entertainment all for the bargain price of £40 odd quid - now that is a deal and better than anything I got in the post Christmas sales and it gave me an excuse to miss the Swimming Club's T30!

Jamie & Emma Goodhead

Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 23rd December (BAR Race)


After last year's sub zero temperatures - it was going to be interesting to see what difference milder conditions with recent torrential rain would make. Well - it was wet!! It was also windy. 

As usual the pre-race banter centred around the excuses. Loz and myself pleaded lack of training for distance, Jamie had done loads of distance but all at a slow pace. Martin Sanwell was doing his first marathon so did not really know what to expect. Jules had her usual approach, so virtually no training, and Jim Graham was taking it easy pacing his wife Helen round as his heel injury was still recovering after his amazing 3h 02m a couple of months ago. 

Jamie set off at a good pace straight from the start, but found his lack of pace training was causing pain in his overstretched hamstrings, so after 8 miles he backed off, allowing myself and Loz to move in front. Jamie is doing a 45 mile ultra marathon in a few weeks and it was not worth risking any damage at this point. 

As we approached the halfway turn (it is an out and back course) Loz was beginning to breathe quite heavily which turned out to be caused by tummy problems. Luckily there were 'facilities' at the turn point, but this was just the start of a torrid time for Loz with several stops in the second half. 

Jim was pacing Helen round and Jules was running at her usual sensible steady pace, although the course made it difficult to keep the pace even. It is half cross country and half tarmac, with 2 sections each way on shingle beach. The cross country sections were very wet, muddy and slippery. If Loz wasn't having a bad time already the last thing he needed was to slip on a wet concrete sea defence wall then skid off the edge. Unfortunately there was a big drop to the beach below and he completed the race with a huge graze down his leg.

 The conditions took their toll of everyone - especially as the way back was predominantly into a headwind, and the pace slowed for all. 

Performance of the Day for me goes to Martin. 3h44m for a first marathon is exceptional, and there is clearly a lot more to come. I am sure he will break 3h30m soon. Helen's 4h13m was also exceptionally strong. 

Martin and Loz pushed themselves so hard that they each went beyond the 'empty' point. When they finished they were both so pale that they really looked ill. It took an emergency dash to the nearest MacDonald's to refill them with junk food before either looked remotely human again! 

Well done to those that completed it. 

Men Winner 2h50m40s 

  • Steve Alden         3h19m50s    17.09%    10pts
  • Loz Wintergold   3h32m59s    24.8           9
  • Martin Sanwell    3h44m01s   31.26          8
  • Jamie Goodhead  3h49m32s   34.49          7
  • Jim Graham         4h13m12s   48.36          6

Women Winner 3h04m02s 

  • Helen Graham                4h13m13s   37.58%     10pts
  • Julienne Stuart-Colwill  5h46m56s   88.52          9 


Authors Steve Alden


Loz finds his way from Place to Place - Records 2012


In October these Hounslow & District Wheelers club records have been smashed.
Place to place records are a longstanding part of the British time trial scene, the governing body the Road Records Association was founded in 1888. However in recent years record attempts have been rare - modern road conditions, particularly the huge number of traffic lights, have made the task more difficult.
In most peoples minds this difficulty has moved on to impossibility, but occasionally some one exceptional turns up to challenge conventional thinking, and the Hounslow and District has Loz Wintergold to fill this role. Loz has had a long time trial career which has been illuminated by some flashes of brilliance, for example when he led the Hounslow to the 12 hour team competition record in 1997. This year he has been concentrating on triathlon and has been honoured by selection for the Great Britain Veterans Team for next year's World Sprint Triathlon Championships in Turkey.
Perhaps the work he has done for triathlon has had a beneficial effect on his cycling performances:in September an impressive ride of 253.5 miles in the Kent CA 12 hour in spite of serious mechanical problems gave him fourth place in the event and confirmed him as this year's Hounslow BAR champion. It also encouraged him to pursue his long standing ambition to attempt some place to place records, but it was clear that some 'warm up' experience would be necessary before attempting a national record.
There are three levels of place to place records. At the top there are the RRA national records-Land's End - John O'Groats is well known, but there are many others: Land's End-London (12 hours 1 minute 37 secs), London-York (7.29.45) for example. At this level the records are now very tough. The next level down are the RRA regional records, for example London - Marlborough and back, which is Loz's next target. Some of these records are  old and therefore not so unassailable as the national records. Below these are club records: in the past when national level record activity was more prominent  most clubs had their own records, and the Hounslow was no exception with Hounslow-Worthing and Hounslow-Newbury.
Record breaking has often gone in phases- a record will lie dormant, perhaps for decades and then some one realises that because of the general increase in time trial speeds it is now beatable and has a go. This then sparks interest among other riders and a new phase begins. The Hounslow records were so antique (Newbury 1937, Worthing 1946) that only this summer the racing secretary had suggested, quite reasonably, that they should be scrubbed from the books as obsolete and impossible under modern traffic conditions.
And the along came Loz. With the racing season over and with the weather conditions deteriorating rapidly he was in a hurry to exploit his current good form before the winter set in. His schedule would be: Worthing, Newbury then Marlborough - London, which would, he hoped, give enough experience to tackle at least one national record next year. It was necessary to move quickly and the Worthing attempt was set up in a matter of hours, although this created difficulties since none of us knew what we were doing. Our method was basic: we would have one following car with a timekeeper and an observer who would also deal with feeding and any necessary mechanical support (e.g. punctures). Two problems rapidly appeared, first that if the route has not been fully agreed (and it wasn't) it would be easy for the car to get in front of the rider without realising it had done so, and second, in traffic at either end  the rider was significantly faster than the car. On both occasions the Houslow turn was covered by the observer arriving independently and then joining the car, but the Worthing turn was a disaster  with the rider having to wait almost five minutes (in heavy rain) for the timekeeper's car to arrive.
For the rides we followed the established practice of starting at a convenient point along the route, turning at the nominal start point (The Bell in Hounslow), going to the far turn(Worthing Pier, Newbury Clock Tower) and returning to the actual start point.
 The existing Worthing record was 5.43.01 for the 109 miles, very slow by modern time trial standards, but time trials never go near places like central Hounslow. Starting from the car park at the foot of Box Hill at 9.23 am (Tuesday 2nd October) and turning at The Bell at  10.12, it was soon obvious that the old record was being annihilated. Loz arrived in Worthing at 12.42and was back at Box Hill by 2.16 pm, making a total time of 4 hours 53 minutes. Unfortunately our amateurish time keeping did not allow for the seconds to be accurately recorded.
Loz described his ride as follows: "There was little wind or traffic before Esher, then riding up the Olympic TT course to Hampton Court gave me a buzz. I had to deal with a road closure near The Warren which involved bunny hopping over a pipe, but the nearest I came to real difficulty was when the south west wind strengthened after Dorking bringing squally rainstorms which numbed my fingers - the rain was particularly heavy at the pier where I had to wait for the timekeeper. Once northbound the wind was beneficial, and climbing up to Findon I found it easy to maintain 20 mph, and my speedo showed 41.5 mph on the descent. The only point where I was struggling was the climb at Kingsfold".
The Newbury record was done on Sunday 14th October. Starting at Paley Street (B3024) at 9 34 am, we went through Windsor and Datchet before joining the A4  at the Colnbrook by pass. After turning at The Bell (10.24) we retraced, getting mixed up with a charity ride in Windsor. It was a relief to get back to the A4 at Twyford although here wind, traffic lights and three traction engines leading long trails of cars all caused difficulties. There are 28 sets of lights through Reading, and then a further 23 sets between Thatcham and the Newbury turn making, for the two way trip, 102 sets of lights. Loz rode steadily "as if I had an extra 50 miles to do, which I will need for the Marlborough  record". He was back at Paley Street by 1.53 pm: the new record, now expertly timed by Trevor Gilbert to include the seconds: 4.19.24 for the 96 miles.
We felt this showed that the 1937 record (4.33.36) by a Mr. R. Hall must have been a brilliant ride by the standards of the time.
Loz's enthusiam is such that he intended to attack the London - Marlborough record next Sunday ( 4th November), until it was realised that the London Brighton Veteran Car run would make this impossible. The plan now is to wait for next year.


Shamlessly stolen from http://ukcyclesport.com/results/time-trial/item/8045-place-to-place-records-2012

Written by  Chris Lovibond |Published in Time Trial

Abingdon Marathon 2012

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The Abingdon Marathon was first held in 1982 and 2012 marks the race's 31st year since its inception. 

This is a flat, fast, scenic marathon with not too many runners. 

This race sells out within weeks. Mostly good standard club runners looking for a PB, because it's such a good race and usually ideal temperature in October. 

About 750 starters out of the 1,000 entrants. About 80 usually go sub-3 hours. 

Pre Race 

No idea how I would do on the day but weather seemed perfect. 10 degrees, light wind, cloudy. Some muddy puddles from recent rain. In 2011, I trained diligently for marathons and Abingdon 2011 yielded 11mins off PB for 3:11:03. Done several marathons since then and not gone faster. 2012 has been dominated by long distance triathlon and long distance duathlon with no specific stand-alone marathon preparation. Heartened by taking 3 mins off half-marathon PB just 3 weeks before Abingdon 2012. A bit in awe of Kevin James' 3:02 marathon finish a couple of weeks ago. 

My Race 

Figured I would go for sub-3 and see what happens. That meant a decent warm up for 10 mins before the start, so I could post sub-7min miles straight from the gun. Delighted to find I was doing 6:40-6:50 min miles with relative comfort for the first 6 miles but then got a nasty pain develop in heel at the Achilles Tendon insertion. At age 49, one does worry about Achilles Tendon rupture. Contemplated dropping out but decided to keep going as it did seem a genuine opportunity to fulfil the sub-3 dream.

Toughed it out and got to half way in 1:29:30. Completed mile-22 and was averaging around 6:45 per mile, which was comfortably inside target. Hit some kind of wall thereafter and the next miles were 7:00, 7:10, 7:29, despite really trying hard and almost passing out.

Always manage to rally for that last mile, which was around 7:05 on this occasion. Then the last half mile was at 6:30 pace as I sprinted screaming like a nutter to motivate myself. Yes, that's 26.45 miles in total rather than the 26.2 miles I had in mind. That extra quarter of a mile probably took a 100seconds or so.

Post Race

Great to see Anthony Bliss of Sussex Sports Photography. Posed for a few pictures. Delighted with 3:01:17. According to Garmin I had done 26.2 miles in sub-3 but unfortunately that doesn't count.

Great to give Kevin a bit of friendly competition and perhaps the nudge he needs to go sub-3 next time.

My heel feels wrecked and will need serious rest from running for a while. Massive limp day after the race. Thank goodness I have swimming and cycling to do instead for a while.

Race Report by Jim Graham

**After the Male club Marathon being held for over 6 years by Steve Alden it was taken by Kev James 2 weeks ago at the Chester marathon with a time of 03:02:50. Unfortunately for Kev he only got to hold the title for 2 weeks as Jim is now the proud owner of that title.

Club records here