Race Reports

Bedford Triathlon - At dawn look to the east


Both Rob and Neil qualified directly for the European Championships with Rachael as 1st reserve Steve is also a reserve on the waiting list with the other all fairing very well and flying the club flag but being just outside of the selection group but may get in on the roll down. 

A race that is well worth doing if you are in the area or are happy to travel the distance. 

Bedford - it's a pleasant kind of place - or so it seemed in the small amount that we were exposed to. Nestled in between ring roads and out of town shopping centers lay the embankment, a park with a clean straight river with limited weeds, friendly fowl, lots of green areas, a tarmac covered path around the perimeter and men in shorts and compression tights. Almost a perfect setting for a triathlon.

So seven of MSTC's finest and Colin set of in search or glory or humiliation in a field where over half of the competitors were to finish in less that 2hours 30 minutes. 

Lawrence was unfortunately unable to start, being a fine family man Lawrence decided to bring his family and after an unfortunate family accident followed by an afternoon in A&E Loz was not able to start, but child and dad are ok. (post event note - Loz chose not to take his family to the Worthing Tri and managed to start the event) 

Tents were erected and advice was sought from two of MSTC best know members as to how to best to prepare for the most competitive race of the season - off to the pub is the unanimous retort, yep it may be counter intuitive but bladder and intestine loading is the way to go. 

A question arises; Should you take your family to a triathlon (so far it would seem the answer is one vote for no and none for yes) - when this is asked of you what goes through your mind, will they: 

(a)  cramp my style

(b)  get in the way

(c)   affect my preparation

(d)   result in an afternoon in hospital and a DNS

(e)   cost too much

(f)    affect my performance

(g)   prevent me from sharing a tent with three fit members of the opposite sex who have just downed a load of beer, are testosterone loaded and hyped up for the race of their year. 

Rachael considered the options very carefully! - 2-0 in favour of leaving the family at home. 

It was an early start, so late to bed - yep counter intuitive again. Neil chose a remote location away from Tent de Rachael worried that too much noise may keep him up and ruin his race. 

He was quite right - Robs flatulence was thunderous as methane bazookas echoed around the campsite accompanied by teenage laughter from the blokes and telling off from Rachael - it was going to be a long night for us all. 

As the three bladder and intestine loaded men were shepherded and zipped into the holding pens located at each end of the tent Rachael monitored the door and the emergency escape route, a good idea - or was it. 

As the noise subsided all were gassed into a restless sleep with the odd groan of 'get of' and 'yes of course I love you, now go to sleep' coming from one of the holding pens. 

Two hours later it dawned on the blokes - not the sunrise - the bladder, gently sloshing as it was pressed down on cold hard soil or spiky vertebrate.

What to do? 

Tough men are turned to pulp at the thought of having to wake a sleeping woman in the middle of the night - so they lay there zipped in their pens trying to ignore their bloating and expanding abdomens as the exit continued to be  guarded by slumber. 'You will not pass' Gandalf's staff pushed gently into the bladder 'You will not pass' another jab from the staff as stars of pain appeared before our eyes. 

Sh----------t  sh-------t I can t take it any more, I am sure Terry Waite's captivity went quicker than those few hours lying there wide awake with a pulsating melon in your pants expanding as it sucks up moisture from a hidden oasis of beer. 

'Is any one awake' a voice as puny as a baby smeagol on horse tranquilizers gently filters through the nylon of the holding pen, the sound came from a creature so rancid, its body pulsating with pain, devoid of testosterone and scared sh---tless of the possible consequences of waking the guardian of the tent - once more just in case 'is any one awake' 




It wakes - 

A butterfly fluttered somewhere in northern Uzbekistan - the holding pens were ripped apart as three grown men trampled uncontrollably over a helpless prostrate female, flung themselves in to the open air entered Modor, scaled Mount Doom and threw their precious (it was that colour) into the crack of doom of shiny porcelain urinals - Middle Earth was safe or so it seemed. 

Five hours later the race was to start, four hours of which consisted of Steve refusing to leave the campsite until his bowels moved. And move they did - a couple of times at the campsite followed by a few more at transition. The battle of the bowels has passed 

Preparation was complete. 

The veiling shadow that glowers in the East takes shape as the battle of transitions continued. 

Colin won the battle of T1 with a glorious time of 1.11 a full 5 seconds in front of Neil who just sneaked in front of Rob by one second. 

T2 was not so good for Colin who had gone over to the dark side and ran down the wrong aisle, Steve was determined to gain back his transition crown and put in an incredible 57 seconds a full two seconds in front of Neil, this is attained by carrying your shoes our of transition and putting them on past the timing mat, Colin trailed out of transition some 27 later to rue his orienteering skills. 

The swim was wet, the bike consisted of putting out a constant 400 watts, the run hurt.

by Colin Chambers


Results (in finishing order) 








Neil Giles








James Dear








Robert Hoodless








Colin Chambers








Steve Alden








Rachael Baker








Hazel Tuppen









Southern Counties 100 mile time trial


The most recent long distance BAR event was the Southern Counties 100 mile time trial. As is customary the event was held at a time on a Sunday morning when most normal people would be in a restful state of slumber and dreaming of a slow transition to partial wakefulness, Sunday papers and a fry up. Instead 4 foolhardy MSTC athletes coaxed their aged and reluctant minds and bodies into a daring challenge of endurance and bike handling. David Jones, Jim Graham, Rupert Robinson and I were these brave cyclists. 

The course is rather peculiar in the number of roundabouts you encounter with 52 roundabout junctions in the first 56 miles. It is also unusual in having a major intersection with traffic lights at 60 miles. If you get stopped by the lights you have to stop (obviously) or be dq'ed or run over. If you are unlucky enough (and I was) to just get the lights going red you can wait for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds (I am sad enough to go back and time it). The course continues to be a typical in that it then does 2½ laps of a circuit that incorporates some very rolling and poorly surfaced single carriageway. This makes for a proper test of man and bike (I say this as no women entered the event because they have a good deal more sense).

Jim's story..

The 100 mile TT was a reality check for me. I plodded along for 50 miles at 20mph (quite decent by my standards) but got overtaken by dozens of riders doing 25mph. I overtook nobody. I then took a wrong turn and did 25 miles of the previous section of the course. When I eventually started the second half of the course I appeared to be right at the back of the pack and felt rather fed up so I retired. At about half-way the finish was sign-posted and I thought it best to attend to domestic commitments rather than get home a couple of hours later than promised.

Cycling on busy A-roads was a bit scary but it was a good training session. I hadn't appreciated how many great amateur cyclists there are out there. Shame I'm not one of them.

If I did it again, I would taper training properly to have fresh legs and use my best bike with a disc. I would also have the route properly mapped out on my garmin as route is a bit complicated and easy to take a wrong turn.

May I add that Jim was going quite well and underestimates his athletic prowess? However, he also underestimates his navigational abilities and puts himself as a frontrunner in theForestGump prize category for end of season awards. Had he not attended to "domestic duties" he would have completed 137 miles!


Rupert's story.

For me I was aiming for Sub 4.10, wanting to beat my time from last year. I uploaded the ghost rider from last year to race my Garmin. I was seven minutes from the scratch man (for those not familiar with this term it refers to the fastest rider on previous performances not someone who provides a rough post race massage) & I wondered how long I would keep him off  my back.

The first two laps of the usual Crawley 25 mile course went well with my average speed staying around 25 mph despite the headwind.

As I was approaching the Shell Garage towards the 52 mile mark  the heavens opened - it was like being on a boat, making riding up the hill increasingly difficult.

I was pleased to pass the 56 mile mark at Southwater feeling like I was at the half way point. It was just after this that Rob caught me for 7 mins. I tried to hang on & we both got stopped at the traffic lights. I was off like a bullet out of a gun only to be passed by Rob again on that long drag up towards Washington.

This was when I had my first signs of cramp. Going too hard from the traffic lights suddenly made me pay, when will I learn! The two laps through Ashington and Patridge green were lumpy but the tailwind helped the miles pass by.

My average speed had dropped to 24.1 in the remaining two laps but I knew I was on for a PB especially when I saw Dave Jones ahead.

Dave had started 19 minutes in front of me and this spurred me on so that I could finish in the time I wanted.

9th - a PB- 5th year on the bounce- 4.09.43!

Man my undercarriage was sore!

 Dave's story..

I spoke to the Mr Stealth (after all he is near silent and deadly fast) about his ride. He was as enigmatic as ever and looking as fresh as if he had just gone for a Sunday morning amble.

Dave told me that he enjoyed the last 40 miles as he was tucking into the ample post race refreshments. Clearly he had been riding a different race - I suspect that he was using this race as training for something much more substantial. It would not surprise me if we saw our training guru going for something ironlike in the near future and that will be very interesting.

 Loz's story

I really was using this race as training in my build up for the night time Half Ironman I will be doing in glamorous Dartford. As usual I had decided to rebuild my bike late the evening before the race and was pleased with the loan from Jon Webster of his speedfill drinking system. This ingenious device is a large flat triangle shaped bottle that fits on the downtube of the bike with a long straw that you zip tie so that it dangles from the tribars near your face meaning you are reminded to drink regularly and can remain aero whilst doing so. 

I was riding without any support (Rupert and Dave were getting drinks handed up by Doug) and was testing my theory that 1.25 litres of High 10 (twice as strong as High 5) would be enough to rehydrate and fuel me. I had read an interesting article on taking the minimum amount of liquid you need in long distance events to prevent gastrointestinal shutdown (and consequently bonk) when entering the run of a long distance triathlon. 

My prerace routine (no warm up, visit loo, accidentally let air out of tyres with track pump, visit loo, pour sticky energy drink over my bike and legs, visit loo) had gone seamlessly. As I rushed to the start I was aware of an unpleasant feeling between my legs. I ignored it as I headed to the start keeper with 20 seconds to spare. 

5,4,3,2,1, go.

It did not take me long to work out this annoying pain. The filler cap of the speedfil was catching my knee on every revolution. I spent the next couple of miles working out that if I averaged 80 rpm and was going to be cycling for about 250 minutes I would be slowly eroding my knee 20,000 times. I really should try these things before a race. 

Still the rough road surface at 5 miles meant I could refocus on the job of keeping my disintegrating tribars (didn't quite tighten the bolts properly) from falling into my front wheel. 

The next 95 miles were a case of ignoring which bits hurt most - my undercarriage, my knee, my legs or my head.

Rupert was going like a train and ahead of me at 50 miles and I was pleased that my legs didn't fail me on the last circuit to finish just over a minute in front of him. It was probably my increasing power to weight ratio as I decreased my weight through skin erosion and dehydration. 

There was then a pleasant tailwind for the 4 mile ride back to the HQ where I quickly donned my trainers to see if I could run for an hour after the bike. I could - with the thoughts of post race cake delights urging me on. 

So I have learnt that: 

  • I should build and test my bike and hydration kit before race day.
  • You can do 5 hours of exercise on 1.25 litres of drink but preferably if there is a very well catered tea and cake venue where you finish.
  • Riding on a dual carriageway in the rain is no sensible way to spend Sunday morning.
  • It's great when it is over.



Tri-Star 111 Milton Keynes



The below event was completed by a non trained triathlete so you don't have to go through the same pain

First thoughts of the weekend were:-

  • Why?
  • When was this a good idea?

The race brief described an 'Event village'. Trade descriptions act was being broken there I think. 2 tents in a field with some racking didn't instil me with confidence.

Quick drive of the bike course made the confidence rise slightly until the last 2k and a big hill appears. What made it worse was the realisation that I had to do it 3 times.

Race Day

4:40 is an ungodly hour FACT. Breakfast at that time is even harder, what makes it worse is the sight of late night revellers sharing breakfast with you and thinking that used to be me.

What a difference an afternoon made. When arriving at 6 the place was fully set up looking much more pro than the day before. 199 competitors who looked like they knew what they were doing, and me. A quick 'morning' to Phil Graves completed my time bumbling around transition.

I never realised how quick the last hour before start can go. Off to the lake we went. The sun was out the lake looked great, a quick brief and it was no turning back 'get in and warm up'.

Now I've never done mass start races before. Where do you go? Back,side, in the middle. I opted for holding back and went off steady. To my surprise my steady was much faster than most of the people in front of me. Oh well best go over the top then. Everything came together; I could sight and keep pace. The last 200m was into the sun so you couldn't see the last 10ft long 5ft high marker buoy, act like a sheep and follow the others.

I got a great helping hand out of the water in a very respectable time of 20 mins. The first thing I see is Claire beaming at me (damn better run into transition then).

Transition wasn't a great performance, being a bit of a tart it was on with the socks, on with more padded shorts and off.

Now I haven't cycled 60 miles before so I was a bit worried about that. Head down and stare at the computer telling me the average speed. Keep that at over 15mph and I'm doing well. End of the first lap and the hill appeared from round a corner. Just to make it worse the camera man was half way up the hill. I thought it only fitting to call him an evil sod.

I now have respect for the ability to eat whilst cycling. How do you peel a banana at 20 mph? Badly, seemed to be the answer. The only option was smack it on the tri bar and suck the mush out, well it made a difference to gel after gel

The best bit of the cycle is the last 5k back to the start/finish. I had fresh tape on the tri bars and came through the line to Claire's shouts of encouragement at nearly 30mph in the best aero position a 14 stone man can get into.

The 2nd laps aim was to do it in the same time, I was 5 mins slower so not too shabby. The 3rd small loop was spent thinking 'can I run after this, is there anything left?'

Quick bit of Webster's factor 100 and I'm off for an afternoon run in the sun. Well those of you that know me know how much I LOVE running!

It started well for the first 2k, after that my shins hurt like hell and forced the walk of shame. Still my best discipline. Could I do 3 laps of this? Damn right I could, I'd got this far and I wasn't stopping now. 2 laps down and the pain got greater but the speed walk got faster.

Now I had read the race website where it said how to get the best photo, so in the last 100m before you turned into the finishing Shute the glasses came off the hat was adjusted. The marshals said 'You wanna look good for the finish line'. The only thing that came to mind was saying 'Does my bum look big in this?'

Turning the last corner was great, red carpet pom pom girls and people shouting your name. I had done it, the fat bloke from Hassocks who swims, cycles and runs a bit completed the longest race of his life with a genuine smile on his face 5hrs 31mins later. Claire was there patiently waiting to cheer me over the line.

I didn't need to worry about here being lonely for 5hrs. She was talking to all the pros from all over the world. But never fear the fat man in a tri suite will be with you soon.

Being told well done from an Aussie pro that Claire had been talking to was a nice moment for me, these guys are all so down to earth.

I would recommend this race to anyone who doesn't like a long run. It was amazing to do and complete.

I would just say don't try this without any training, I did and it hurts  A LOT

Final times

  • 20mins 50 secs swim
  • 3hr 45mins bike                                             
  • 1hr 10mins run

 Total 5hr 31ins

 Tim Cresswell





Club Olympic Distance Triathalon

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MSTC welcome Leicester Tri as Sun Shines 

46 athletes in total took part in the second MSTC Olympic Race, including 11 guests from Leicester Tri Club. It was a glorious day, probably about as perfect as it could be to race any triathlon. The lake was beautiful, the bike route challenging and the run route wet and muddy, so something for everyone!!

Setting everything up from scratch only caused a small delay and the race got underway about 7.45am, but not before the race briefing. Martin Shoesmith was very pleased he attended as he discovered the new relay rules might affect him. To keep everything fair the relay swimmer had to completely remove their wetsuit in T1 before tagging the cyclist. Unfortunately Martin likes that nice feel of rubber against his skin, and has recently been swimming 'commando' - luckily he had to time to rectify the situation without being DQ'd for being 'tackle out in transition!!!' 

The standard at the front of the swim is almost unbelievable these days. Dave Gorley from Leicester was out in 22.43, almost 2 minutes ahead of Neil who was just seconds ahead of Phil Couch, Mat Record and Mark Jordan (who found Mat's feet and tickled them all the way round - so excellent drafting!) in 24.35 and all 39 starters were out of the lake in under 40 minutes. Fastest lady out of the water was Hazel in 27.25, with Rachel about a minute behind. 

Most people got through T1 without incident, except Dave Lashbrook who lost his footing as he was running out with his bike and fell quite heavily. Remarkably he just got up, dusted himself down and carried on. 

On the bike route 2 people punctured. Martin Sanwell was at least prepared and had all the kit with him. He lost a lot of time but still continued to race. Nick Deakin from Leicester punctured quite early, along Sunte Avenue, but did not have any kit with him. Fortunately a Good Samaritan was on hand in the form of Tim Cresswell, who gave him a spare tube and got him back on his way. 

As any regular readers of my reports will know there are 2 things that are usually open to mocking and ridicule. One is way too long transitions (I can't criticize anyone today as we can't have transition splits) and the other is avoidable mechanical issues (usually Ant!). Ant was very quick to point out that he passed someone at the side of the road (as did about 10 others) in a black aero helmet trying to fix his Cervelo. Yes, that was me, and to make matters worse it was pretty much the same problem I had last year on the same circuit!! All I can say is that at least I had the problem this week so things should be fine for the big race next weekend - but it was still avoidable!! 

As usual James had the fastest bike split, but he was only 23 seconds faster than Neil, and Dave Jones only one minute back, so both Neil and Dave kept ahead of James into T2, with Dave Gorley of Leicester just behind. Rachel overhauled Hazel to take the lead in the ladies race with Emma Tilbury from Leicester maintaining her 3rd place. 

T2 was fairly uneventful and again we cannot have the time splits. The run however was quite interesting considering it is a fairly flat, accurately measured 10km. It was remarkably muddy which certainly slowed down the fast runners, although Neil still managed to break 40 minutes and 10 runners broke 45 minutes. The route was fairly straightforward - with 2 arrows and a giant yellow blob on the ground marking the turn point. Mike Jaffe did manage to miss all of this and carried on to check out the scenery round the next corner before he realized his mistake. He got it right on the second lap however! The deep mud pulled off one of Loz's shoes, but Rachel went one better by losing both. 

In the end Neil won comfortably in 2.15.05 nearly 4 minutes clear of Dave Jones, who was a further 3 minutes clear of Dave Gorley, with James just seconds behind. Rachel had a comfortable win in the ladies race in spite of losing her shoes and finished about 4 minutes ahead of Hazel who was well clear of Lucy in 3rd. 

Toby wrote a nice piece about his race so I have included it - thanks Toby 

Hi Steve - here's some of my thoughts from the rear...


With two late night social events on both Friday and Saturday, hauling myself out of bed at 5.45 Sunday morning felt like a major challenge in itself.   Ardingly reservoir, was stunning in the early morning light, mist hanging over the water, geese flying overhead and the rising sun glinting off an intimidating array of bikes which made the Tour de France look positively stone age. It was reassuring to chat with a couple of other relative newbies and find them equally daunted by the task ahead. But the relaxed briefing and friendly vibe helped steady the nerves and soon enough we're in the water and off. 

I had a bit of a panicky moment during an open water swim recently, and have learnt to take it slow and steady, concentrating on my stroke, conserving energy and making sure I don't get out of breath. This works well except for the minor problem that it means I end up going rather slowly. I'm one of the last out the water.  Never mind I am feeling good and have only lost a few minutes...I can catch up on the bike. I set off in a group of four, all fairly close together. But fairly quickly the other three start to move away from me. Bugger. I know the first part of the bike route is mostly uphill, having ridden part of it recently in training. So I was happy to push fairly hard (for me), looking forward to the second part of the course, which I logically assumed would be mostly downhill. Oh dear. I don't really understand the physics involved but somehow the route managed to be mostly uphill all the way round. Luckily I managed to get myself into a nice little battle with another rider (sorry didn't get your name) which helped push me along. Unluckily this meant I hadn't conserved any energy for the final challenge (and my triathlon nemesis). The run. 

I'm a crap enough runner at the best of times and even the (greatly appreciated) gentle encouragement of Alan and Margaret during Thursday night's winter training haven't turned me into anything more than a steady plodder. Never mind - it's a nice flat route isn't it? Oh dear again. Mud. The course (out and back twice) was nicely designed to let me see all the front runners sprinting impressively towards the finish, as I'm just setting out. Anybody I had managed to pass on the bike came past me fairly quickly on the run and I just had to revert to my usual triathlon run tactic.  Try and keep moving, attempt to take on gels without throwing up and don't think about how far I still have to go. I had set some target times for myself, but with the hills and mud these were quickly out of the window and I was just aiming to finish! Special thanks to Steve Mcmenamin for telling me I was 'looking good' as I started my (fairly lonely by now) second lap. Obviously complete bollocks, I looked and felt like shit at that point,  but it was said with a smile and every little bit helps! In the end I was quite a bit slower than I'd hoped, but hey, this is a long term project for me. Incremental improvement is my aim. Just wait and see what I can do in 2017... 

Good to see my fellow newcomer Julie coming in behind me to complete her first Olympic distance. I suspect without the problem she'd had with her knee she may well have caught me on the run! 

Thanks to Steve Alden and others that organized the event. I really enjoyed it. Mostly. It's great to be in a club that manages to mix friendly encouragement for the part timers like me with some very serious, competitive and inspirational performances from the front runners. 

Once the race was over we had a glorious day to enjoy a BBQ with all the team from Leicester. The new Inter Club Challenge was won comfortably by MSTC - although I don't think anyone apart from Steve Mac knew there was a trophy! It was great to make friends with other triathletes and hopefully this may form a pattern for the future. 

Name Swim Bike  Run number OVERALL Position
Neil Giles 00:24:24 01:10:49 00:39:52 11 02:15:05 1
David Jones 00:25:31 01:11:50 00:41:34 35 02:18:55 2
Dave GORLEY 00:22:43 01:18:02 00:41:24 29 02:22:09 3
James Dear 00:29:35 01:10:26 00:42:39 25 02:22:40 4
Martin Burder 00:27:22 01:13:51 00:42:51 21 02:24:04 5
Rob Hoodless 00:26:43 01:14:55 00:42:57 13 02:24:35 6
Phil Couch 00:24:35 01:16:49 00:43:39 22 02:25:03 7
Colin Chambers 00:26:42 01:15:02 00:45:58 38 02:27:42 8
Andy Jenkins Pete Harris Fiona Bussell 00:29:40 01:17:08 00:43:42 23 02:30:30 T1
Steve Alden 00:27:57 01:21:05 00:44:22 34 02:33:24 9
Ant Grey 00:30:03 01:18:07 00:48:12 8 02:36:22 10
Lawrence Wintergold 00:27:56 01:20:19 00:48:07 36 02:36:22 10
Dave Saunders 00:33:25 01:21:49 00:42:03 26 02:37:17 12
Martin Shoesmith & Steve Crocker 00:29:27 01:22:21 00:45:33 33 02:37:21 T2
Dave Lashbrook 00:27:18 01:21:16 00:50:45 12 02:39:19 13
Rob Cox 00:26:32 01:26:52 00:49:01 14 02:42:25 14
John Mactear 00:27:08 01:31:15 00:45:39 7 02:44:02 15
Rachel Baker 00:28:24 01:26:53 00:49:08 15 02:44:25 W1
Mike Jaffe 00:32:42 01:26:37 00:47:46 4 02:47:05 16
Hazel Tuppen 00:27:25 01:30:32 00:50:47 24 02:48:44 W2
Dave Beale 00:31:24 01:27:38 00:51:02 31 02:50:04 17
Paul Pearce 00:32:27 01:29:51 00:50:34 18 02:52:52 18
Kate Mactear 00:29:22 01:37:09 00:49:09 6 02:55:40 W3
Sam Darby 00:30:10 01:36:13 00:52:00 20 02:58:23 W4
David Ricketts 00:30:10 01:38:41 00:51:20 1 03:00:11 19
Lucy Williams 00:36:38 01:34:45 00:51:15 32 03:02:38 W5
Ollie Lawrence 00:36:56 01:33:08 00:58:20 10 03:08:24 20
Kat Kemp 00:29:05 01:39:41 01:01:00 16 03:09:46 W6
Ann Pearce 00:30:58 01:36:55 01:01:53 17 03:09:46 W7
Martin Sanwell 00:31:56 01:43:30 00:54:25 28 03:09:51 21
Nick Deakin 00:34:03 01:40:38 00:57:43 27 03:12:24 22
Toby Quantrill 00:32:33 01:35:45 01:08:13 3 03:16:31 23
Mark Jordan & Callum Murray 00:24:35 02:08:58 00:48:36 5 03:22:09 T3
Julie Rowe 00:39:23 01:48:31 00:58:04 2 03:25:58 W8
Dean Allen 00:39:31   35a 03:30:16 24
Julie Williams Tim Cresswell Kay MacMenamin 00:35:33 01:55:19 01:00:58 9 03:31:50 T4
Mat Record 00:24:35 01:32:13 00:00:00 37 00:00:00 25
Emma Tilbury 00:28:11 01:34:07 00:00:00 19 00:00:00
Vicky and Elly 00:28:57 02:05:19 00:00:00 30 00:00:00

Roth 2012

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If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be an IronMan, my son!



My Roth - Ant Grey

I had been dreading the swim, so it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I lined up for the start of the swim. The turn around buoy the other side of a distant bridge looked very far away. The swim went fairly well, although I seemed to have trouble getting a draft from 'quick feet'. No sooner had I latched onto a pair than the swimmer in question decided to meander off to the bank or the middle.
I mostly found myself swimming in large 'empty pockets' of water, maintaining (I thought) a relatively straight line to the markers. The return was great once you got close to the start line I could hear the commentator and cheers of the large crowd even through my ear plugs.

I exited the water in a bit under 1:16 which was close to my target time, what wasn't in my plan was the rather large T1 duration. It didn't help that my bike was almost as far away from the changing tent as it could be. I took my time in T1 as well ensuring there was enough comfort cream applied down below to last the distance, along with a good dosage of sun tan lotion.

The bike course was excellent, I had to rein myself in a bit at the start to keep to my target heart rate zone, although towards the end of the bike course this wasn't a problem as tiredness did that for me.
The support from the crowd was amazing, apparently local news and radio reported that there were about 200,000 supporters in attendance and they really did lift your spirits with their enthusiastic support.
Lots of banging, drums, rattles, even old WWII air raid sirens. At one particular stretch of the cycle course there were half a dozen or more soldiers in uniform standing at attention saluting the competitors.
Lots of supporters holding their hands out for flying fives, I even had one guy running up one of the steep hills with me cheering me on.
The Solaberg hill was amazing, there are barriers there to funnel you through to a single lane. Supporters there are about 15-20 deep on both sides and you hit this roller coaster of sound and emotion. I choked a bit going up the hill the first time, it was all a bit overwhelming.

The bike course is a bit open and unfortunately there was a bit of a breeze which made it harder than it could of been. My time of 5:57 was a bit slower than the 5:40-5:45 that I had been planning on doing.
Another slow transition followed, but this was partly my own doing as I had a quick chat with Jon to find out why I had managed to pass him towards the end of the cycle leg, and a quick trip to the porta loo (sorry Dave, but I couldn't bring myself to utilise 'that' particular strategy on the bike course).

I started off fairly well on the run, having to try and hold back a bit for my target 9:00 minute miles. Unfortunately the heat and tired legs soon took their toll. I had planned on only walking through the aid stations, but after the first 10Km I had made my first walk of shame. The next 15Km were very hard for me although the crowd were very uplifting with their support. With about 15 Km to go I realised that a sub 12 hour time was still a possibility if I pulled my finger out, queue a lot less walking. With 4 miles to go the sub 12 was still on but there was no time now to walk through the aid stations so I pressed on ignoring the offers of drinks and sponges. By now my legs were all over the place, lots of rippling muscle spasms running up and down my legs with each stride. With less than a mile to go I had given up on my target time and had started the walks of shame again. Before I knew it the finish tunnel was within sight, 2 minutes to go, could I do it?  With what felt like a sprint, but in reality was simply a fast shuffle, I charged up the red carpet finish loop, barging past other competitors intent on crossing en-masse. To cheers from the MSTC supporters crew I finished in under the 12 hours. Unfortunately the last few miles had taken their toll so I was rather unwell and had to go to the medical tent for an IV pick me up!

I couldn't imagine being able to do such an event without the help and support from the friends and family that were there to support or compete, and also my own family back home for having put up with my crazy training schedule over the last 7-8 months.


My Roth - Jamie Goodhead

Not sure what I was more apprehensive about - a week in a foreign country with my parents, three kids and wife or the inspiration that is an Iron-distance triathlon after not having participated in a triathlon for over 10 years.  Anyway as I couldn't decide I thought I may as well preoccupy myself with thoughts pertaining to "will my bike actually survive easy jet?", "will my kit be the oldest there?", "does Lycra disintegrate with time?" and "will out of date gels make me sick?".

When I arrived at Munich Airport I was slightly perplexed by the number of bikes from previous flights without owners - a friendly German lady told me to think positively and she was right - out it came in one piece.   Despite my retro bike, kit and gels I felt sufficiently prepared until I got to registration where I found my front wheel had been made "illegal" - if work has taught me one thing, it is that there is little point taking on a debate with a German following "instructions" so I swallowed my pride and gladly took the spare wheel on offer from Jim who had pretty much two of everything!   That exemplifies the week - everyone was happy and helpful  with Jim in the back ground fiddling with his extra kit!

Now true fear started the day before the race - not so much about the race itself but by leaving one's bike in the sun fully race ready.  As the sound of bursting tubs could be heard on the walk back to car I had a night to ponder how I should go about changing my tyre(s) in the morning in what may be a closed off transition area.  Thankfully all of our bikes were intact although there were many a triathlete being informed to the contrary over the tannoy.

I suppose you may be interested in the "race" (personally I'm not sure anything over 5 hours is actually a "race").  To summarise, it was ruthlessly efficient.  I failed to see why we needed to be there 2.5 hours early for the swim but ho hum, sleep was not really happening.  What a pleasant swim (aka "warm-up") - no point killing oneself, I was happy to sit back, watch the crowds and enjoy the moment - over too soon it was onto the bike.  180kms on tri-bars is not something I could imagine or train for so I felt "winging it" was the only viable strategy which seemed to work.  I was terrified of being busted for drafting and ending up in the "pit of shame" so I can honestly say I have never been so "clean" in all my life and before I knew it I was in T2 being helped by a German lady who  was not the slightest bit perplexed by my full frontal.  Having enjoyed the crowds and survived the wind / hills I was now looking forward to a pleasant jog but by now the litre of fluid & three gels per hour  were starting to catch up on me - 10kms later and a bag of pix & mix I reached for the salt tabs that Mr Mac had given me the day before - they worked a treat, my stomache started to empty and despite being a victim of TBC (Total Body Confusion) I jogged on.  The only conversation I had the whole day was 30kms into the run with Hans who told me he was "fxxx'd up bad" and looking at him he was correct!  An hour later it was all over with a deceptive burst of speed down the finishing straight - naturally my wife passed me the kids with a look that clearly meant - "its your turn now"!

I would fully recommend this race / family holiday, that was made all the more enjoyable with the cracking bunch from the club!!

My Roth Claire Cresswell

A little bit of my heart doesn't want me to write a race report. However I am sitting with a huge smile on my face, another adventure ticked off the box. Perhaps it might seem weird to you that I am smiling as I didn't finish the Ironman. It doesn't to me, from the minute I booked to do the second ironman I have been excited.

We are going with Jamie, Jim, Jon, Steve B, Ant and Steve M. What a team, no wonder I am excited. We are sharing a house and its going to be great. I don't really know all the guys that well, so it will be a great chance to spend some time with them and their friends/families/loved ones some of which I do know like: Pippa, Emma and Kay.

I know already the guys are going to "fly", such a wealth of experience between them. I so enjoyed my first one last year. Having a time of 15hrs 4 mins to beat was something I was hugely aware of as Roth has the cut off of 15 hrs, not 17 hrs like Austria. My training this year seemed more settled . . at times.

Like anything that's a big sacrifice this year, this was no different. A few 'hurdles', make the end challenge even more appealing. Mine started with a lovely touch of bacterial sinusitis and a remarkable cough that left me with a very husky voice - which has been missed by a few of my patients!! This took me out of training for about three weeks in a very pivotal time.

Then the information that we could represent GREAT BRITAIN that felt at times like a noose around my neck was something that was not deserved however hard not to cherish as a thank you for the continued support to give back to my mum, dad, family and of course Tim. Seeing "the Trisuit" with CRESSWELL GBR made me start to think about why I race? Why I HAVE to keep challenging myself? Why do I make life harder, by choosing an impossible distance to train to and put myself under so much pressure? When in life most of my other pleasures are escapism from pressure, gardening, painting, cooking etc..

I know now why I did it. I rang my dad when I was having my leg taped up in Germany.
"Hi Dad"
"Hi Clasmo"
"How's mum? how did the chemo go for her? "
"She fine-ish honey, we were more worried about you"
"ohh I am fine-ish "
"we could see that you only got to 108 miles on the bike, are you sure you're ok?"
"Yes-ish, my leg got really painful dad, "I was having a ball" the roads here, are like you said they would be FANTASTIC and mainly flat if you take out the Solarberg and a few other hills"
"What's the solarberg, hon?"
"oh, so much to tell you, dad, the solarberg was awesome. You could see it in the distance, the iconic hill that is littered with supporters making enormous amounts of noise, banking drums, whizzing rattles, you would have loved to have seen it, it looked like something out of the tour de France. I couldn't see where my path was. Only room for one bike UP and thick crowds of supporters smacking you on the back, shouting HOP, HOP, Hop, Allez, Sooouper, it was unreal. I had to keep one hand on the handlebars and the other flicking my hand to indicate that they needed to get out of the way as I was cycling on up. It was phenomenal the noise and atmosphere was wild almost as noisy as the crowd at Foo Fighters concert!  You'll have to come with us next time dad. I am just having my leg iced and then it's going to be strapped up - don't worry though, all is good dad, all is good.
"So what happened?"
"well, I was really tinkering along for me and it was easy to do at times as the roads were flat and I think that my vastas medialis muscle (inner quad muscle) got very fatigued and I altered my position on the bike and sat further back in the saddle. Then I started getting, knee pain and my first ever sciatic pain for about ten miles this didn't arrive until I had done 90 miles and the constant pain in my knee was unbearable with every turn of the leg"
"You should have just stopped, mum and I are very proud of you no matter what you do"
"Dad, I couldn't just stop to begin with, the way my body manages discomfort and pain is a part of what gets you over that finish line, these events dad .they are tough, they are meant to break you"
"Hmmm, Did you enjoy the swim?"
"It was great, a bit warm for wetsuits sitting just under 23degrees. I loved the swim. A very settling moment for a big event, nothing can go wrong in the swim for me. It went so fast dad. When I got a migraine from the pain in my leg and decided to stop at the top of the hill after the solarberg, I couldn't take my weight and decided very sensibly to stop a very close 4 miles from finishing the bike, Tim bizarrely was there for me, I didn't see him, but he was there for me with Kay and Mark"
"Cor, I bet you were knackered"
"No - full of energy - I think I might have to reserve that for when the pain in my leg has gone"
"So, you will do another?"
"Oh, definitely Dad, I feel like this injury was a one off. This is the distance I love, I do it because I can and it makes me so happy"
"Did you learn anything about yourself today and did you enjoy your time away with Tim and your friends?"
"Dad, it's been great, I know you wanted to be here and I am so happy that you stayed with mum, she has been on my mind. We have had the time of our lives, experienced so much in such a short time with some really lovely remarkable people, so many stories to tell and despite the possible grade 2 tear of rectus femoris, I am happy"
"That's my girl, always happy to challenge yourself and that's what makes us proud - sometimes darling , and you won't want to hear this - you sometimes learn more about your direction in life through not completing something.
"Umm, maybe, Dad this call is costing me the earth I am sure! The guy has taped my leg know - beautiful bright pink tape. I am going to ring Tim and he will wander back from the finish line to help me see the guys cross the finish line, I can't wait to see them they have been remarkable"
"Ok, remember to be proud, you still did a superb job, you don't sound tired after doing 108 miles  ...
"I know I am not tired, my leg hurts Dad.I can't straighten it, the pain was just too much"
"Claire, you're just human and what you did was just one day out of your whole life, and honey, you would have finished easily the bike in time, so be proud ok? Ok? We have checked your cats, there fine and we will see you when you get home. Goodbye Love - Everyone from the family sends there love to you and Tim.
"Thanks Dad, I Love you, see you soon"

I can't change what has happened, and having the ultrasound (with the confirmed partial tear in the hamstrings) isn't great. I am "behaving" and walking around the pool for twenty minutes everyday and nearly causing lots of accidents with the crutches has made me realise that it won't be the last IM . just a little hiccup on route to the next.

Well Done to the super incredible Jamie, Jim, Ant, Steve B, Jon and Steve M You were all amazing.


My Roth Steve Mac

The preparation

This was to be my A race for the year. After a lot of hard training I was feeling good so I decided that Roth 2012 would be my chance to lay down my fastest time. Also it was to be the European Championships and I could be representing Ireland. With the other MSTC competitors representing GB, I could envisage that with us all in our kit, this could make for a great photo.

Every time I think about Roth I get butterflies. Can I really do it? Of course, after all, I have done this distance before in the Switzerland Ironman. Well, that's what I keep telling myself. Swim - no bother, bike - after the Mont Blanc training camp no worries and as for the run - although I have never been a keen runner I have really focused on it in this time and am as confident as I have ever been. I am actually looking forward to it.

Arrival in Germany

We arrive on the Thursday and are sharing a very large house with some great club members. Lots of nervous energy and lots of banter; which is a great lead up.

We arrive at registration which in typical German fashion goes very smoothly. Believe it or not we are the first in line. Okay, I admit this is only because we set off 2 hrs earlier to do a test swim but could not find the start, but did find the registration tent! It is also at this point that Jamie discovers he is illegal. Well his front wheel is  anyway.

The next day we are out driving the bike course when unfortunately Steve and Pippa are involved in a road traffic accident. Everyone is ok but as the car badly damaged this cannot be a good place for your mind to be 2 days before a big race. With the incident taking place at a crossroads, the locals come out to see the incident and despite speaking little or no English (matched equally by our limited German), they bring out coffee and cakes for us all. They are great people and this really warms the spirit despite the distressing

The Big Day

Breakfast at 03:00 and I'm feeling refreshed and invigorated after a great night's sleep...  I wish. Thankfully I am too nervous to feel tired. Well how else are you supposed to feel at 03:00 in the morning after an hour or two of sleep?

Swim 3.8km  01:00:05

The swim is great as I knew it would be. All the anticipation and all the nerves just melt away when I pull my wetsuit over my shoulders and zip it up. Now it's time to race, I tell myself. Up to this point I am pretty unfocused as my way to chill is to talk to people and have the craic.

In the water on the front line BOOOOM a hugh cannon goes off to signal my wave start. Well this is a surprise, normally its a bun fight at the start, but this one goes really well. I am in the lead pack but they are going way too fast so I back off and really start to enjoy the swim. I spot another person off the pack who is swimming a bit quicker than me so I latch onto his slip stream and cruise along at his faster pace but putting in less effort.

We come across and pass 3 other waves I realise that I have passed Jon and Jim. That's great as I need a big lead on them for the bike. Before I know it its time for the fun to end and get onto some serious racing.

Out of the swim with a time of 01:00:05 - where the hell did those 5 seconds come from??

T1 03:36

Out of the wetsuit and pull bike shorts over the tri suit and out, but quickly have to go back to get sun block rubbed into me.

Bike 180km 06:12:00

Out on the bike feeling great. The first couple of miles are quite twisty and mainly downhill and quite soon we travel through the army "ration station". We are being saluted by soldiers either side of the road which is quite unusual. I come across 'beer miles' all over the route and note that it is very well supported.

It is however windy, very windy. When the head wind stops, it simply moves to the side and tries to push you off, then turns back into a head wind again, especially towards Greding. The bike route is subsequently described by the race organiser as having the most difficult conditions he had known in fifteen years, due to cross winds. 

All that said, my extra training at David Jones Mont Blanc training camp has paid off as I barely notice any hills and storm the twisty descent with switchbacks. I overtake the more cautious riders and this becomes one of the highlights of my race, overshadowed only by the famous Solarberg climb. On its own, this would be a relatively minor climb. But with a crowd of 20,000-30,000 standing 10 deep and lining the road like a Tour mountain stage in the Pyrenees, it is something special that will remain in my memory for life. The climb is as
I said minor and I approach it with a heart rate of 75%. However, this jumps quickly to 90+% half way up. Not due to the excursion but just the pure buzz and energy from the crowd. You cannot see the road for spectators and have to play chicken with them as they part inches in front of you. With your heart pumping and your ears ringing with their huge cheers, it is truly amazing.

I gradually realise that I am becoming dehydrated, I haven't peed at all even though I am drinking over a bottle an hour. It transpires that unfortunately this becomes my undoing as I subsequently suffer a large crash in my blood sugars. Even though my feeding regime is tried and tested, they drop to dangerously low levels so I have to revert to my backup emergency feeding plan... bolt down as much glucose as possible. Unfortunately even this doesn't work.  However, I do see a tiny increase which helps, so rather than withdraw I decide to back off on the bike, so I can at least begin the run and then see what happens.

Bike target was 05:50:00 but 06:12:00 is ok. Avg speed:18mph

I believe (and expect to have it confirmed) that due to the dehydration, my body could not absorb the glucose properly, possibly from a liver malfunction. So a lesson learned for
all, drink, drink and drink some more.

Belinda Granger (in her 11th year) said the bike conditions were the slowest that she had
experienced at Roth. It doesn't detract from my disappointment of hitting my time goals, but it does help explain some of the difference.

T2 03:33

Out of the bike shorts and more lotion rubbed into me whilst I try to get my head into the right place.

Run 42.2km 05:09:47

Believe it or not I am actually looking forward to the run. I have worked really hard for 6 months with Coach DJ and I have improved massively. So I am set for a 4hr marathon, which is an achievable goal.  I start the run and it quickly becomes apparent that this may actually be an unachievable goal, but I refuse to accept it. I take inspiration from the pros who are passing me in the opposite direction heading to the finish. I see the pain and effort etched into their faces, so it is time for me to dig deep. 'Biodh an misnech' is a Gaelic phrase I have tattooed on my leg (it means Have the Courage) so it is time to zip up the man suit and fight the urge to slow down.

The minimal cloud cover that has been present for most of the bike rolls away just in time for the run, and it is going to be a hot one. My blood sugar levels are slightly up at around 4mmol's. For non-diabetics they would be 6ish and collapsing can happen at about 2mmol's, so I needed to keep a close watch on them. I decide to walk every aid station and get as much liquid down as possible. They are giving out half full 300ml cups of coke, water or iso drink and soup. Soup, in this heat?? Madness!. I end up grabbing either the iso or water and by adding it to a coke this works well and stays down. Unfortunately I am still very dehydrated.

I back off  the 9 min miles after about 3 miles and settle into 10's and then 11's. The aid station 'walks' are also becoming longer as the course progresses and cramps are setting in all over my body. Even in my forearms, I didn't know they could cramp!

The climb back into Roth with 4km to go is hard, although it probably isn't even that steep. Then with relief, I am into the last 3km around the town. Passing the spectators cheering from their beer tables is amazing and it is quite surprising how much that lifts me. It is the final kilometre and am approaching the finishing chute when I see Kay. She joins me and we run down the chute side by side giving a few high-fives to the crowd cheering from the
stands either side. As I see the MTSC shirted supporters and the Irish flags waving frantically. I cross the line with Kay hands raised, before almost collapsing into her arms. Another memory that will never fade.

Finish 226km 12:29:00


I didn't hit my 11hr goal time but am ecstatic to have finished, as I know doing the distance is something everyone should be proud of and I am pretty chuffed with certain elements of my performance. Swim was where it should be, bike was fairly well paced -
and the consensus seems to be that the wind made the bike a lot harder than normal, maybe 10-15 minutes slower. The run was bad, very bad, but I survived. I had many internal arguments about ditching my number and binning the whole thing, 'Biodh an misnech' was my response. So thankfully I didn't although it was a close call.

My blood sugars remained low throughout but again I am still here. On reflection to continue was a dangerous decision to make and it could have easily gone very wrong, There were quite a few scattered bodies on the run all receiving attention and it would not have been nice to be counted among them, If another diabetic had told me this story on the run, I would have tried to stop them. For me I think it was the right decision. I had trained for things like that and made allowances in my training for 'What if's. Unfortunately that all came into play but things go wrong in all races, especially in ones of this distance. You have to be flexible and adapt. If you can't adapt you won't finish. I was flexible and did

I probably should have gone to the medical tent to get rehydrated (I didn't wee for quite a few hours after and felt very rough for a few days) but I was slightly distracted by the communal changing/shower rooms....a very strange experience.

Roth as a race is amazing and probably the best experience you are likely to have at a long
distance triathlon. The spectators were unbelievable and I am sure we all have loads of stories about our individual interactions with them. The banter, support and help from the fellow MSTC team out there were great and David Jones's coaching is inspiring. But most of all the love and support from Kay is as always amazing I am a very lucky man.


The water laps your toes and envelops your skin. Close your eyes. The masses become silent and your heartbeat thunders. You have planned for today, talked about today, trained for today, imagined today, dreamed today, and yet you still don't know what to expect.

A cannon blows and you remember, as you dread the uncertainty and the harsh duration to come, to savour every second because in your memory it will be over in the minutes it takes to recount or reread from your journal. 

Move, breathe, drink, eat. Move, breath, drink, eat. Move and move. One hundred and forty and six-tenths miles. Know tenderly, intimately every fibre of your being that propels you forward only because your brain says. 'Don't stop.' And don't stop. Move, breathe, drink, eat. 

Manage your day. Stick to your plan. Be flexible. Just finish. Float when your mind and body detach and watch your body move without you - pushed by the crowd, the volunteers, who lust for your finish as if it were their own. 

But it hurts. And you don't know for sure why you're doing this and what it will mean when you do. And then you see it. A banner, a clock, a frenzy of applause. And you know you made it happen through whatever means and power source you draw strength from. 

Ironman trivializes past hardship and prepares you to minimise those to come. It makes dreams come true. We all have what it takes to bridges aspirations into accomplishments. Crossing that line embraces self: confidence, sacrifice, reliance, invention, worth. Finishing makes you your own hero. 

                                                        From some book I read on the journey.