2010 Race Reports
30 members of Cheltenham Triathlon Club made the short trip up the M5 to take part in the annual Upton Triathlon. The weather was scorching and humid, so the bike and run were particularly hard. In addition the river was flowing very slowly, so offered less help than usual.
There were two different races, a standard length (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10k run) and a sprint (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run).
The 24 members who took part in the standard length event were led to the finish by a very impressive Richard Walklate, who completed the course in 2:21:00, finishing tenth overall and 9th in his category (M-Open). 8 places behind Walklate was Oliver Hilton, finishing in 2:23:23.
Kevin Ord was the first M-Vet home for Cheltenham, finishing 9th in the Veteran (over 40) category in a time of 2:31:53. David Symes followed him home in 2:34:40, 17th M-Vet.
Lucinda Neeves was the first Cheltenham woman home in 2:43:09, 7th in the F-Open (under 40s). Just behind her was Sue Bathgate, who once again won her category (F-Vet) in a time of 2:43:46. Karen Hilton (wife of Oliver Hilton) was third in the F-Vet category.
In the sprint event the first Cheltenham member home was Navah Langmeyer who was 3rd F-Vet in 1:28:59, closely followed by Elizabeth Haigh (28th F-Open) in 1:33:23.
Other CTC finishers were as follows: Standard length: Gareth Blackbird 2:31:56 (34th MO), Andy Monaghan 2:35:13 (41st MO), Josh Hand 2:35:41 (42nd MO), Tim Cavanagh 2:37:01 (19th MV), Denis Betts 2:38:38 (22nd MV), Dan Hortop 2:39:19 (48th MO), Anthony Lloyd 2:46:26 (40th MV), Lee Hunter 2:51:29 (74th MO), Philip Henderson 2:56:39 (85thMO), Guy Douglass 2:58:34 (51st MV), Mikki Storey 2:59:10 (52nd MV), Sarah Roberts 3:01:09 (6th FV), Philip Gomm 3:01:22 (55th= MV), Roger Lipscombe 3:01:22 (55th= MV), Steve Yarnold 3:08:05 (63rd MV), Graham Beddis 3:08:54 (64th MV), Colin Watkins 3:10:57 (67th MV).
Sprint length: Brian Bathgate 1:42:48 (28thMV), James Kearney 1:45:36 (33rd MV), Audrey Healey 1:45:39 (48th FO), Mary Welsh 1:46:22 (11th FV).
Training for an Ironman is a long, tiring and sometimes soul destroying process so it was something of a relief to finally make it to the start line in one piece with no injuries, knowing that realistically I couldn't actually have done much more (although resisting the temptation to do that one last long ride/run is always hard)!
Austria is a beautiful country and the race takes place in and around the small town of Klagenfurt, popular with Austrians as a tourist destination. The swim is in a lovely clear, warm, fresh water lake. The bike (contrary to what you might think) is 2 laps with only 800m of climbing on each lap, and the run is a flat figure of 8 loop which you do twice.
Lining up on the beach with over 2000 other triathletes is always a bit daunting, but when the cannon fires it's just a question of getting on with it, making sure you stick to your plan and don't go off too fast! The swim is very much like being in a washing machine, I think I got kicked, hit and swum over more than ever before, but you just need to keep calm, remember it's nothing personal and keep going. The swim finishes in a canal which gets very congested, murky and weedy but there is terrific support from the crowds standing on the banks. On getting out and looking at my watch I found (to my relief) that my timing was pretty much spot on - so far so good...
My transitions (never that great) are always much longer on IM, after all you need to be comfortable - it's a long way to go if something starts rubbing, or you start getting sunburn! The bike course is lovely - quite fast at the start of the lap with undulations and hills later on. I worked out what I needed to do to get to my 'what I think is possible if I have a really good day and everything goes to plan' time and pushed on. I reached halfway a bit ahead of time, my only concern was that maybe the pace was going to be too hard and it would affect the run - there was only one way to find out...
I knew I had to start running by 3pm at the latest to have a chance of getting under 13 hours - that allowed me 5 hours for the marathon - this was going to mean that I had to do more shuffling and less walking than last time. T2 - Vaseline on the feet (and everywhere else) and off we go, a bit ahead of target - 2 disciplines down, one to go.
In IM, the word 'running' can really only be applied to the Pro's - the rest of us do something called the 'Ironman shuffle' interspersed with (hopefully) short bouts of walking to take on nutrition. It was a hot day, and lots of people were suffering on the run so on the first loop I passed quite a few. I got to 10K in 55 minutes and started to worry - this was way too fast. Half way in 2:05 and I was still shuffling... Out to the turn point on the 3rd loop of the run, then the wheels started to come off - 30K and I had to walk. The advice in the book I had read was to keep moving at all costs - after all, every step forward is a step nearer the end! I knew I had to do more running to get the time I really wanted, so from that point on it was a question of mind over matter. I employed the '10 steps shuffling, 10 steps walking' approach, the 'telling myself to get a move on because it's way too expensive to come back and do it again' approach, and finally the 'constant and repetitive counting to 10' approach, and... it worked! In my wildest imaginings I had thought 12:45 was possible so I was over the moon to come in at 12:40:54.
How do you feel at the end? Elated, relieved, shattered, aching - all of those things and more. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone for their help and support, especially Sue and Brain for their training advice, Karen and Sally for all the massages, and my long suffering husband for his patience and understanding!
The Granfondo in Italy was a nightmare. The race was shortened because of the weather as there was snow and ice on the three highest passes we should have ridden. In the end we did 75 miles over four lower passes in torrential freezing rain.
Believe me over 6 hours in those conditions is no fun. Climbing the mountains was not too bad at least the effort required kept you warm but descending was murder. Not only was it bitterly cold but trying to race a bike down a steep mountain road, running with water, round endless hairpin bends, with freezing wet hands was verging on suicidal. In fact one girl did not make it and hit a crash barrier, went straight over the top and down the mountain. According to the local paper she was airlifted to hospital by helicopter where she was in a critical condition.
Another club member, James Waller, also rode in the event and he suffered very badly from the cold and wet. When I met him at the last feed station he was shivering violently and looked to be on the verge of hypothermia! It was only James' sheer will power and determination not to give up that got him to the end.
For the Marmotte in France the weather was at the other extreme. Clear blue sky and blisteringly hot. On the final climb up Alpe D'Huez the temperature in the sun was over 40 degrees. Not what you want when you have to climb a 3,600ft mountain for just over 8 miles at an average gradient of 8.5% (14% max) particularly after riding 100 miles including 3 other mountain climbs totalling over 12,000ft all at similar average and peak gradients. The 6,000ft descent covering 25 miles from the top of the Galibier to the foot of Alpe D'Huez was, however, breathtaking - just imagine 20 Stanway descents back to back only steeper with a generous helping of hairpin bends thrown in for good measure!!!
Given the conditions I was happy with my result as I had set myself a target of getting under 10 hours for the race but eventually came in 10 hours and 10 minutes. That was after taking two 2 to 3 minute breaks standing under waterfalls on the way up Alpe D'Huez just to get my body temperature back under control!!!!!
As for the rest of the trip I did some excellent rides over some of the classic climbs of both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. The scenery is spectacular and the climbs, whilst a serious challenge, are easily doable so long as you have got the right gears on your bike and have put the miles in at home first. At a minimum I would recommend a compact 50/34 chain set with at least a 28 as your largest cassette sprocket. I went with a 50/34 up front and an 11-32 on the back just to give me a bail out gear or the opportunity to spin up on climbs to give my quads a rest. I climbed Alpe D'Huez on relatively fresh legs 5 days before the race on my target race heart rate (15 beats below my 25 TT rate) using my 34 up front and my 24 and 28 at the back in 1 hour 18 minutes. Alas some 20 minutes slower on race day!!!!! The picture was taken just before the finish.
With the temperature hitting 28C in the shade the Shropshire Triathlon at Ellesmere was always going to be a challenge. Add to that an extremely talented field (it was a qualifying race for the World Championships) and a hilly run course, the 12 members of Cheltenham Tri Club did the town proud with their performances.
Highlight was Sue Bathgate from Charlton Kings, who won her age group (60-64), completing the 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run in 02:37:47. Bathgate found the run tough but still finished it in a credible 50 minutes, pushing through the intense heat of the middle of the day.
Another impressive performance was from Anthony Lloyd (also from Charlton Kings) who was third in his age group (55-59) in a time of 02:32:46, including a fast 24 minute swim.
First home for Cheltenham was Kevin Ord, whose 2:24:34 earned him 17th place in the 45-49 age group. Denis Betts (2:26:54) and Gwyn Williams (2:27:49) also both broke the 2.30 mark. Alan Champion achieved a time of 2:32:01 which placed him 20th in the 50-54 age group.
Guy Douglass (45-49) and Sarah Roberts (40-44) had a nip and tuck battle all the way round the course, before Douglass eventually came home just 13 seconds ahead in 2:44:50. Douglass was 34th in his age group, Roberts 8th in hers.
Three other members achieved top ten finishes in their age groups. Gail Beddis (3:00:22) was 6th in F50-54, Catherine Booth (03:01:23) was 7th in the same category and Colin Watkins (03:03:13) was 9th M55-59. Graham Beddis finished in 03:03:52, coming 27th M50-54.