2012 Race Reports
Sue Bathgate won the National Championship in her age group at the Ellesmere Triathlon in Shropshire on Sunday. The race was also a qualifier for the World Championships in Auckland New Zealand in October.
Shropshire Triathlon, which is sponsored by TriUk, starts with a 1500 metre open water swim in Lake Mere. Out of the swim the competitors cycle a 40km challenging bike ride, which is both fast and undulating ranging over very pretty countryside in and around Ellesmere. Once the bike course is finished it is then onto a very hard out and back run on closed lanes and although picturesque it is difficult for the tired runners to get into a good running rhythm because of the terrain.
The weather, although not ideal, was reasonable with a downpour lasting only 20 minutes on the bike course. The swim was challenging because of the continuous rain the previous week making it cold. Despite that Jo Maddocks had an amazing swim of only 19 minutes 21 seconds, with Simon Clarke close behind in 20:35 and Richard Walklate in 24:50. Doug Waymark and Graham Beddis were a few minutes behind. Onto the bike and the race was on for Jo and Simon who both had amazing bike and run times, and not far behind Richard had a very fast run to be only just over 3 minutes behind them.
Fastest time out of the water was Emma Godson in a superb time of 21:54. Sally Freeman closely followed in a time of 23:27, then destroyed the bike and run to be the first Cheltenham female home in a fast 2:25:19. Behind them Petra Vymetalova achieved a personal best swim time of 27:46, going on to complete the course in 2:32:27. There was a race on in the ladies vets with Ellie Millington coming out of the swim in 25:04 with Hazel Everett close behind in 26:50 and Sue Bathgate in 29:11.
Ellie Millington stormed the bike and run course to finish first lady vet home, breaking the 2hr30min barrier with an impressive 2:29:09, with Sue second club vet home in 2:37:59 and Hazel Everett in 2:39:59.
Last year I did 2 Ironmen, Ironman UK and Ironman Wales, neither of which I was particularly pleased with my performance on. Ironman UK I was carrying an injury and Ironman Wales I carelessly fell off my bike, so I had a score to settle with Ironman. I could not do either of the UK events so I was forced to look further a field to Sweden.
This was the first year that Sweden had hosted a branded Ironman event and the course looked flat and fast - the highest point is 42m above sea level on a bridge crossing over to Öland Island. The weather was perefect, no wind, overcast and dry so there would be no excuses for not setting a PB!
The swim was 2 laps of the bay in calm shallow water, you could see the bottom most of the time when you weren't in a frenzy. The last part of the swim was up a small inlet to right next to transistion, the water was much shallower and quickly got stirred up into a soup. I took the swim steadily, perhaps too steadily coming out the water in 1:20, 10 minutes off my target time.
But next was the bike my favourite bit. It was a bit weird cycling on the wrong side of the road, but soon got used to it, although I did have a couple of lapses on single track roads. I was storming along averaging over 23mph and well on course for a sub 5 hour bike spilt, at mile 50 a wasp decided to attack me and sting my wrist and other than causing me to yell profanities didn't put me off my pace.
After about 100 miles I was checking my cycle computer to see how well I was doing, it was looking like a 4:50 bike split. When I looked up I saw tree coming straight at me, my front wheel went just to the left of the tree and my right hand and right half of the handle bars bore the full brunt of the impact.
I was thrown off the bike bike and skidded down the road managing to scratch both side of my body. My hand was in absolute agony, I tried making a fist and flatten it out,it hurt 10 times more.
After a few moments sitting there daze I picked up my bike, it hadn't faired much better than me, the entire right half of the handle bars was dangling on the brake and gear cables.
I was convinced it was game over. A motor bike marshal pulled up and checked I was OK and suggested I try riding it back, it was only 10miles after all! I stepped over the bike, 100% convinced this was a bad idea, clipped one foot in and gently rolled forward, after a couple of very dodgy wobbles I was up and running with just 1 brake and no gears, fortunately it was flat so it wasn't a major issue. There were a couple of frightening moments going round roundabouts and dismounting wasn't easy but I managed to nurse to bike back.
Cheltenham Triathlon Club sent a small party of six athletes down to the south coast this weekend to take part in the annual Swanage Triathlon. The race has become one of the classics on the triathlon calendar due to its spectacular setting and the warm and professional organisation of Concept Sport.
The race starts on the sandy beach of Swanage Bay with a 1500m swim. After swimming out 50m you then swim 700m parallel with the beach across to the old stone quay. Here you normally exit the water, climb a number of ancient stone steps, cross the quay and then re-enter the water, but due to a considerable swell and quite rough seas, it was deemed too dangerous, so a buoy was designated the turn point before swimming back the 750m to the beach.
Quite a long transition then starts with a run along the sea front and up a dozen or so steps to the grassy transition area laid out in a park with spectacular views across the bay. After a transition which would involve the removal of wetsuits and the attachment of bike helmets it was onto the bike for a 40km circuit taking in the countryside around Corfe Castle before heading off towards Wareham and then back to Swanage.
The bike course is generally flat but there are two quite steep and technical descents. Once back in transition it was on with the run shoes and off for the 10km run. Not quite at Mo Farah's pace but hey, he hadn't swum 1500m and cycled 40km!
A short flat run out of town in the heat of by now a hot and sunny Sunday morning was then followed by a quite horrific ascent of Ballard Down. This involved many dozens of large steps, hued into the chalk, climbing steeply up to over 500 feet. Once onto the beautiful downland of the Purbeck Hills you then run past a stone Obelisk, built in 1883 appropriately enough, due to the considerable thirst that most of the triathletes were feeling at this point, to commemorate the provision of new drinking water supplies for Swanage.
After a mile or two of running with spectacular views across Swanage and Studland Bays it was a steep descent down sheep tracks back into Swanage.
Of the three ladies from Cheltenham Tri Club who took part Emma Godson came in first with a time of 2hrs and 36min. She was placed 6th female finisher overall with a spectacular swim time of 23 mins in the rough and difficult conditions and came 2nd in the 30-34 age group category. Finishing shortly after her in a time of 2hrs and 37min was Petra Vymetalova who did brilliantly to finish first in her 25-29 age group with a brilliant run time of 42 mins for the hilly 10km.
Sue Bathgate, the founding member of the club and successful international triathlete, kept up the high standards and picked up the prize for 1st place in her 60-64 age group with a time of 2hrs 43mins and placing only 12th woman finisher overall.
Having Lost my Ironman Virginity to Tenby, Wales last year and picking up a Nirvana Europe brochure by mistake in the Expo I thought maybe one more crack at a sub 12 hour IM may be possible. My wife Anne who had had a nightmare experience trying to support me in Wales finding it difficult to fit in the supporting around her spa treatments said she was going to do one next year, how hard can it be! So we sat down and researched fast IM courses and with the help of Nirvana booked up Austria 2012.
Our preparations started in November with the drawing up of the Annual Training Plan. Key events were training camp in Spain, Tewkesbury HM, Bala Middle Distance Tri in June and taper for the big event on the 1st July.
We spent hours trying to predict possible split timings based on hope and reality looking at past performances and drawing up complex graphs and matrix tables to help analyse the data. I eventually ruled out a sub 10 on the basis on that I'd need a rocket up my arse and came up with a prediction of 11:35:26. 45 mins faster than Wales and sub 12 earning me the right to get a Mdot tattoo. (my own rules for reward!) Anne was concerned mainly with making the cut offs especially on the bike.