Race Reports

Barns Green Half Marathon

The pre-race favourite was always James, and he stormed off at the start. Jim Graham has been concentrating on his running and he also started very strongly. I am not noted for fast starts but went through the first mile in 6m23s, but James and Jim were already way out of sight, probably well under 6 minutes!! Soon after Phil Couch came cantering past looking very comfortable.

Colin went out fairly quickly, and was followed by Mark and Rachel who were being paced by Rob, who was barely at a jogging pace by his standards, whilst making Rachel and Mark run at their limit!

With Barns Green it is always the second half of the race that sorts everyone out as somehow it seems to be predominantly uphill, especially after 9 miles. By the half way mark though we already had two casualties. Clare had to pull out with cramp, which was very disappointing for her, and Emma stopped halfway. Her 6-month taper for this race had left her severely undertrained!

By 9 miles James had run into trouble. He was on course for a 1h23m finish when he developed severe stomach cramps. He gamely carried on, running and walking to still finish just outside 1h33m. Meanwhile Jim Graham kept up his excellent pace to be first home in 1.26.19. Phil could just see him at times but could not close the gap to finish in 1.27.12. Steve was delighted to run a very even race in 1.28.18.

Once Mark had got his breathing together he managed to push on to finish 14 seconds ahead of Rachel and Rob, but not before all three had caught and passed Colin late on. He wasn't wearing club kit and it was only the muttered expletives that made them realise they had overtaken him!  Rachel broke her PB by some 4 minutes so had a cracking run. John Liebers ran in place of Steve Mac (apparently worried that 14 pints of lager the night before might have an adverse effect) and did a time Steve would have been proud of - just outside 1h46m and a few minutes ahead of Del who did a respectable 1h52m.

Lucy had an excellent run to finish second lady in 1.46.30, and Kay planned and executed a very steady even race in 2h10m and Julie did an excellent 2.08.56 (?PB). I didn't even see Sharon in the melee afterward but she was third lady from the club just outside 2h6m. Julienne finished in 2h34m.

No race would be complete without the support crew so thanks to Steve Mac (and Murphy), Hazel and Pete for their consistent cheering.

MEN WINNER 1.10.30

Jim Graham   1.26.19  22.43%  10points
Phil Couch     1.27.12   23.69      9
Steve Alden   1.28.18   25.25      8
James Dear   1.33.19   32.35      7
Mark Jordan  1.41.00   43.26      6
Rob Hoodless 1.41.13  43.56      5
Colin Chambers 1.43.25 46.68    4
John Liebers   1.46.07  50.51      3
Del Hastings   1.52.33  59.64      2


Rachel Baker      1.41.14  22.33% 10points
Lucy Williams     1.46.30  28.70      9
Sharon Chladek  2.06.07  52.40      8
Kay McMenamin 2.10.18  57.46      7
Julie Williams     2.08.56  55.81      6
Julienne Stuart-Colwill 2.34.20 86.5  5
Emma Alden       DNF (6miles)         4
Clare Parkinson   DNF (cramp)         3


Author: Steve Alden

Abingdon Marathon

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I thoroughly recommend this race, which is well organised and has less than 800 runners (so not enough people to get in the way). Well marshalled plus decent medal and a technical shirt in the goodie-bag. 

Vibram Five-Fingers in training allowed Asics Piranha SP3 shoes to be used for the marathon. The Piranha's weigh 140g each (half the weight of normal marathon shoes) and are considered best for distances up to 5k. By running on the balls of feet there is no need for the heel cushioning but it does stress the calf muscles.

Abingdon Ranked Top in UK For PBs in 2010 Runners World Poll.

This is the first marathon I have ever done "with negative splits". 1:36 out and 1:34 back. Wonderful feeling finishing strongly and being able to sprint the last few hundred metres in an Athletics Stadium to the finish line. All my previous marathon efforts have ended in wall-hit near-death experiences as I crawl over the finish line, having slowed dramatically over the last few miles. Pleasant 10 degrees weather helped.

by Jim Graham

Brighton Marina Triathlon

I won't bore you with details of my "extremely long" journey from South Chailey to Brighton as it was uneventfull and by 06.15 i was parked right opposite the start point.The weather was good the sky looked pretty clear and the sun would soon be out. I spent the next hour setting up my gear in transition and chatting to other competitors. I even found myself giving advise to a very nervous guy about the swim leg! Yes ME giving advise about swimming!!! Well actually it was more about trying to reassure him to try to alleviate his nerves!!

I still find it hard to believe that i have reached a point in my triathlon career where the swim leg no longer presents a mental problem, i just wish i could move quicker through the water, then i will really have cracked it!!!

There were two "waves", the first, all males under 40yrs, the second, all males over 40yrs and all the females. The 1000m swim leg takes place in the Inner Marina, so the water is brackish and fairly still. At least i didn't have to fight the waves and the wind like in Wales!!! As i got into the water my nose clip broke, which in the past would have really "pissed" me off because without a nose clip i suffer after a swim with a severely congested nose, but being a real triathlete i ignored the issue!!! as soon as the hooter sounded i was off and into my rhythm albeit a slow one!! The swim went without any problems and the next thing i am climbing the ladder, yes climbing a ladder, to get out of the water, then it is a 200m run through the Marina shopping precinct on pavement and road back to T1.

No problems this time in getting my wet suit off and i was soon off on the two lap 32K bike course which takes you out of the Marina heading towards the roundabout at St. Dunstans where the route then goes up through Ovingdean and continues to climb up to Woodingdean. After climbing the short but steep ramp at the lights it then heads towards the race course where it turns left and down Wilson Avenue,[over 40mph down here but you have to careful at the bottom that you slow in time for left turn at the lights] then behind the golf course for the start of the second lap. By now although it was a bit cloudy the sun was warming up. During the two bike laps i managed to overtake a number of other riders so by the time i reached T2 i had made up some of the time i always lose on the swim.

No problems in T2 and then it was an 8K out and back run along the underpass towards Rottingdean. the sun was quite warm now but there was a nice breeze coming off the sea.On the way out i overtook a few runners and the return leg i even managed to up my pace and passed a couple more before "sprinting" to the finish line. Although by now my nose was pretty blocked up i enjoyed my last triathlon of this season.
SWIM: 1000 m   26 mins 25 sec
T1                    4 mins
BIKE: 32 K         1 hr.7 mins 24 sec
T2                    2 mins
RUN:8 K            38 mins 6 sec
OVERALL TIME:  2 hrs 17 mins 55 sec      [ beat last years time by 5 mins 5 sec ]
OVERALL POSITION: 88th  out of  134 
Sorry no photos yet!!!

Author: Del


New Forest Middle Dist - 25 Sept 2011


An early start having racked the day before, at Fordingbridge, and overnighted at a friend's house. Alarm at 4.15am for breakfast and then a drive to the fabulously named "Sandy Balls Holiday Camp" to park up and take a bus transfer to T1 and the lake.

Standing by the lake at 6.30am, I was questioning my sanity but at 7.10 we (old farts) followed Wave 1 (Quick Men & Ladies) into the water which was surprisingly warm (unlike Hever last year which was surprisingly freezing!) and at 7.22am we were off for a 1.9k swim. It all went well and I enjoyed myself. I estimate that I was about 35/36 mins for the swim but T1 was a bit of a mare as I got caught up trying to put dry kit on a wet body but my splits show 42 mins for Swim + T1. There was a bit of a run out to the road which was partly on mats but then on mud/sand which was okay except my Shimano cycle cleats clogged up and wouldn't clip to my pedals. Off the bike, clean the cleats, back on the bike and not happy.


The bike was more hilly than I expected and why is it all the flat stretches appear to be into a head wind? Perhaps I was travelling very fast (!) (wise up Andy, the time says otherwise). Great scenery with plenty of wildlife - horses, ponies, donkeys, cattle - and a lovely moment when a bull wandered out in front of me causing a slalom avoidance manoeuvre that had fellow cyclists applauding my cycling agility - but that was about all there was to applaud.


On reflection I found the bike tough (very undulating with little remission from climbing) and despite covering more than this distance regularly in training with Jeff & Peter - at about mile 45 the quad cramps started and it was  almost the Sussex Sportive all over again! So I pulled back on the speed and nursed my legs to the finish and after 56 miles it was a relief to get off the bike and dump it in T2.


Into the tent, off with the cycle kit and deep joy to pull on the trainers for the run. My split shows 3.32 for Bike + T2.


And off I plodded. No whippet out of the blocks as per usual but more a cart horse with one goal - to finish what I'd started.


A cross country half marathon is very different to my usual road races and I found it tough, especially with my thighs in shreds. Fortunately, I teamed up - at about mile 7 - with 2 other runners having similar fun, to see each other to the end. The final hill nearly killed me and my quads were spasming (quite odd to watch) but after 2.40 (an hour longer than my average half marathon time) I crossed the line and never has a chair been so welcoming.


Final time 6.55.39. Was hoping for somewhere around 6 hrs but I have re-aligned my expectations, since!!


What have I learned? Not to over estimate my own abilities and not to under estimate the course.


But more importantly I found out that even during the most negative parts of the bike course - when I was unsure how much further there was to cycle, when my legs were killing me, when I started to think there was no way of running 13 miles and when I just wanted to give up - that there is a part of me that refuses to give in. I was not going to let all that training go to waste, I was not going to tell everyone I'd achieved a DNF and, more importantly, I was not going to let myself down.


I don't care about the time. I'm proud to have finished such a huge race. To expect your body to deliver for 7 hours is a massive ask. Ironmen? Hats off guys - I'm in awe.




Ps Perhaps now, I can be upgraded on The Forum from "Sprint Distance" athlete, to "Middle Distance". I feel I have earned it!


pps My mum made me smile. "I'm so proud of you, Andrew. You have to remember though, you're 53 and not getting any younger". Ouch!!

 Author: Andy Miles

European Long Dist Tri - 21 Aug 2011

 A fabulous Finnish finish

If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be on the start line  of the European Long Distance Triathlon Championships wearing a GBR tri-suit I would have told you that you may have overdosed on performance enhancing but brain befuddling "supplements". But there I was, feeling something of an imposter, amongst Europe's finest age group and pro athletes, pondering quite how deep the "deep water" start was going to be and if someone was suddenly going to let me know my selection was an unfortunate clerical oversight.


When I was offered a place on the team in February (you get a "Congratulations you have been selected e-mail") I looked up the weather in Tampere, Finland, where the race was to be held. -20c by day didn't look great and the 160cm of ice on the lake seemed to suggest skating drills should replace swimming ones.


Luckily there was no ice to break as the starter ordered us into the water. Whilst the balmy water temperature (19.6c) was comforting, the thought of a 4km out and back swim was rather scary to a landlubber like myself. When the team GBR race recce took place the team manager pointed out into the far distance beyond the horizon line.. "and somewhere out there is the turn buoy". Luckily my customary swim start tactics left me with plenty of feet (well all of them actually) to follow. I managed to find some kind of rhythm and sensed I was heading in the right kind of direction. This was confirmed as the leading age group ladies caught up and swam over the top of me.


Whilst the woman on top wearing rubber water play fantasy may be some people's idea of fun I didn't take too well to this assault. My survival instincts must have kicked in and I swallowed several gallons of Finland's finest lake water to act as ballast and enable me to remain submerged whilst the girls tap danced on my head.


I must have swum round the buoy at some stage as I could see the footbridge near the Olympic Stadium HQ where transition was. With great relief I hauled myself unglamorously out of the water happy to be alive and not experiencing the dreaded cramps that have reduced me to tears in the past. I was further uplifted by the cheers of support from team Wintergold (Daisy, Daniel, Alice and her parents had all come out too).


The bike leg was a confusing 6 lap effort that included lots of well marshalled roads, a section of motorway and a scalextric style cross over where you went from being on the left side of the road to the right with on-coming riders doing the opposite.


I was making quite good progress but couldn't push too hard or drink as my stomach was complaining about the small pond ingested during my encounter with the fast ladies. By lap 3 this pond was trying to make a bid for freedom sometimes up, sometimes down and sometimes both. Not wanting to break the strict ETU rules on revealing various bits of anatomy and not wanting to soil my new trisuit I skidded (no, not that kind of skid) to a halt outside the stadium. "Where's the loo?" I shouted at the congregated mass of spectators and officials. Various shrugs and looks of confusion suggested that my lack of Finnish ("missa on vessa", if you ever need to know) and coherency made me look rather


I decided to head into the stadium and search the myriad of corridors for the room I was increasingly desperate to locate. The combination of shiny floors and cycling cleats is not good. Add in a dose of panic and the dramatic backflip with double twist was inevitable. Picking myself from the floor I spied the facilities required and some 7 minutes later I emerged from the stygian gloom to remount my bike several kilos lighter. The next 3 laps were more comfortable in spite of the rising wind and the continuing game of Russian roulette at Scalextric corner.


Going into T2 it was lovely to hear "Go Daddy go" as the Wintergold cheerleaders made their presence heard. A leisurely transition (not forgetting a handful of chocolate ├ęclairs for comfort and energy) and it was off on the scenic 4 lap lakeside run. It was quickly apparent that I had forgotten to pack my running legs so I settled into a 7'50 mile plod and cheered the other GBR athletes as we crossed paths (but not in the Scalextric manner of the bike course thankfully). The pro athletes were simply amazing and were already approaching the last of their 20 miles at a pace I could only dream of.


Every lap the family fan club gave me a boost as I tried to keep the numbers of people passing me level with the numbers of people I passed. A helpful Finnish age grouper swapped an ├ęclair for details of the (totally unmarked and off course) loos. The slightly lighter load meant I picked up to a heady 7'49 mile pace and rewarded his kindness by overtaking him with a mile to go.


It was a really special to finish (and not in last place as I had feared) in an Olympic stadium in front of your own family.


A lovely holiday followed where I could spend some quality time with them and not my wetsuit. The lakes and sea were fabulous as were the Spy Museum and the Viking Feast. A better post race celebration would have been hard to find.


So for any of you dreaming of wearing GBR on your front I say keep on trying and keep on training - eventually you will be so old that you will get there!


Event details:

4k swim, 125k bike, 20.5k run

Drinks - 900ml High 5 and 3000ml lake water

Food - 3 High 5 gels and 4 eclairs

Fans - 5

Blisters - 0


Training details

3 key sessions a week for 18 weeks


Result details

Time 6.53.01 (1.09 swim, 2.00 T1, 3.13 bike, 1.30 T2, 2.28 run)

6th in age group

2nd Brit over 45 (would have been first without unfortunate loo incident)

61st overall including pros and all age groups


Number of medals I would have won in other age groups = Bronze 25-29, Gold under 20, Silver 50-54, Gold 55-59 (if only I were older or younger!)



Author:   Loz Wintergold