Category Archives: Triathlon

Nottingham Outlaw, Nottingham, Sunday, July 23, 2017

2.4m swim / 112 miles bike / 26m run

Matt Claydon

Eighteen months ago I was sitting on the sofa 3 stone heavier with a cake in one hand and beer in the other and had a sudden realisation that something needed to change. I needed to do a Thing. A Big Thing. I decided I liked the idea of a full ironman-distance triathlon. I think I may have had several beers by this point.

Over the next few weeks I deliberately told many people of my plan, so I couldn’t bottle out. One of these people was Neil Sleeman, whose enthusiasm for the idea was considerable (and who’s help and encouragement was hugely appreciated throughout). After discussing the idea with Neil, and a friend from work, Helen Drinkall from Durham Tri, I settled on the Nottingham Outlaw, regarded as a friendly and well organised event (and a fair few quid less than a well-known alternative). Helen decided to sign up, and Neil’s wife Corrina decided he would sign up too (doubt this would be a welcome surprise in many households!).

The training started slowly – it was a long road ahead. I concentrated on the running for the first few months, to try and regain some basic fitness and lose some weight. Looking back I was amazed to see the sum total of my ‘competitive’ running in 2015 comprised just 2 parkruns. It was here that I began, trying to find the motivation to drag myself out each Saturday morning. I signed up for Raby Castle 10k in May 2016 and managed a respectable 42.26, which lifted my confidence a bit, as did Hamsterley 11M (1hr.24) in the July. A disaster at the Northumberland Coastal Marathon in September was a wake-up call as I collapsed with cramp 4 miles from the end, eventually dragging myself over the line in 4hr.51. I had never suffered from cramp before, but it was a useful lesson in nutrition and hydration.

By the autumn I had shifted a few pounds and was running pretty well. I decided that I would try to use my anticipated fitness to target 2017 to PB in all standard distances 5k-marathon and get into the medium pack for the Harrier League. Over the winter I did manage pretty decent performances in the Harrier League, but not quite good enough – missing out on the medium pack at Thornley 2 by 1 place (and 1 second!). I also managed a handful of fell races (still chuffed to make it 1st strider home at Captain Cook). I had by now actually purchased a bike as well (crucial in triathlons). This was set up on a turbo trainer in the spare room and didn’t actually make it out on to a road until May.

At some point in the spring it was explained to me that there were cut-off times for both the swim and bike. This was a very big oversight as I had been relying on a strong run to get inside the overall cut-off of 17hrs. I realised I might not actually make it as far as the run. The swim cut-off is 2hr, and a further 8hr for the bike. Weekly swim sessions and regular cycling followed. A PB at Druridge Bay Marathon in April (and 1st M40!), a standard Olympic distance triathlon (2hr 52) at the same venue a few weeks later. All felt like it was going well…….

Suddenly it’s 3am on the morning of the Big Thing. I’m in the Premier Inn (very convenient-recommended) 6 miles from the venue at the National Watercourse Centre and it’s time to get up. Gulp.

I meet Helen and Neil in the lobby and we drive across to the centre, having racked our bikes and filled our transition bags the day before. We faffed for a bit and I tried not to think about the fact that I had only lake-swam twice, and only ever managed half the distance in training (even less than half for the bike). The weather forecast had been miserable and I was also concerned about cycling in wet conditions (something else I had avoided in training), but despite a heavy downpour the night before the clouds gradually cleared and the sun shone across the lake.

I necked a gel, a couple of ibuprofen (just in case) and 4 Rennie (I usually feel bloated after a swim from gasping for too much air and swallowing water). Then we were off. The swim course is very straightforward, up the left hand side of the lake, across the top and back down the other side (even I didn’t get lost). I started right at the back and gave everyone 30 seconds head start to give myself some space. There was little breeze and the water was very calm. I knew that when I try to go to fast I mess up my rhythm and panic sets in leading too much spluttering and thrashing about. I set off slow and steady, checked my watch at the turn to make sure I was on time, and knowing I was comfortable, built up the pace a little on the way back. Easy peasy- I actually enjoyed it! Out of the water and there were strippers on hand to drag your wetsuit off, then into the marquee-tented transition. A slow and careful change into my bike kit, another gel and out to the bike rack and on to the next stage.

I did a slowish loop of the lake, getting adjusted to being upright and tried to get comfortable on the seat (impossible for me). The course comprises a mix of open rural roads, closed lanes and a relatively short section on a scary-as-hell busy main road. It was all reasonably flat apart from one hill about 50 miles in, and I managed to keep an average speed of around 16mph. The support on the way round was great. The village green of Car Colston was used by many as a place to picnic while waiting for a fleeting glimpse of their loved ones. The first time through it I saw no one (bit deflated) but second time around I passed Neil coming the other way (1.5-2hr ahead?, never saw him again!). Immediately after I passed both families cheering me on – loved it, what a boost!

Coming in to transition was a huge relief as by now the uncomfortable seat felt like a nail pointing somewhere you really don’t want a nail pointing. I was also very glad to be on to a discipline I felt competent in. A smooth transition and I jogged around the lake feeling surprisingly spritely. Again steady was key, and yet more gels. Feed stations every 1.5miles allowed exhausted competitors to grab whatever, whenever. The route took you around the lake then a double loop (like rabbit ears tying your laces) out passed the City Ground and Trent Bridge. I had many childhood memories from these parts which occupied my thoughts on the last few hours.

I passed Anita Clementson coming the other way, and then Helen. It was nice to see friendly faces after the relative loneliness of the cycle (no drafting rules prevent chatting). The support from the marshals was awesome- Thank you all! After 22miles I could feel my hamstrings getting dangerously tight and decided to walk – I knew I would make it. I walk/jogged the last bit. A guy jogged alongside “we have 15min to get the last 1km done and break 13hr 30. Shall we do it?” Hell yes! So Jim and I ran to the line.

As you reach the last 100m Outlaw allow your children to wait by the track for you, and join you to cross the line. This was one of the best moments of my life, I’m very glad to share it.

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Club La Santa Mini Triathlon, Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dougie Nisbet

I had big plans for the week. I was going to do the triple: Half-Marathon, Duathlon, and Mini-Triathlon. Then I saw the Lanzarote Marathon was on the same week, and entered that too. I clearly hadn’t thought this through.

I picked up a calf-strain in the last few kms of the marathon and hoped to shoogle it out by some gentle jogging on the volcanic trails around La Santa. The half-marathon wasn’t going to happen, but the other two were still possible.  And with more optimism than sense I turned up for the duathlon. 2.5km run, a bit of cycling, then another run. Should be fine.

I take some pride in bailing out of the first run section of the duathlon. I was fine to the turn, a massive 1.25km into the event, then suddenly my calf kicked off. I walked, hopped, skipped and jogged back to transition,  retired before crossing the timing mat, and huffed off to breakfast.

A few days later I was back for the tri. I did this in March and had been indescribably nervous with the leap into the unknown. This is, after all, why we race. This time round I was a bit more relaxed. Roberta got a decent night’s sleep too as I wasn’t up every hour staring aghast out of the window at the massive swimming pool.

For a small field it was acutely diverse – from athletes clearly here on a serious week’s training through to first-timers wanting to give something new a go. For the swim we would self-seed into the appropriate lanes – the “Olympians” in lane 1, through to the “Doggy Paddlers” in lane 8. Lane 8 it was then.

8 lengths of doggy paddling later and out of the pool, where you are positively encouraged to run around the length of the swimming pool across the timing mat and to your bike. I love running beside the swimming pool. It feels so wrong.

I was pretty much at the back of the swimmers but expected to take some positions back on the bike bit. It’s a good bike section – a flat bit along to La Santa, then a steady climb up to the turn at Tinajo. I gained a few places on the outward climb, then a few more on the descent.

Descending is a funny old game. I’d never claim to be the world’s best but it is quite clear, whether it’s cycling or running, that many athletes are not at all comfortable about descending fast. It seems to cut across all abilities. I’ve torn past cyclists and runners who are far faster than I am, but who seem massively uneasy on their going downhill skills. They inevitably storm past me later in a race when they’re back in their comfort zone.

Still, I take what I can get. Even if it’s temporary. Back at transition, then the last bit. A quick out and back running back towards La Santa, round a roundy thing, then home to Club La Santa.

The finish is good. You circle back into the centre then do a quick lap of the track. The ‘Green Team’ are fantastic, cheering you in and making you feel like a proper champion. Even if it is just a little Triathlon to get an appetite before breakfast.

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IRONMAN UK, Bolton, Sunday, July 17, 2016

2.4 miles swim, 112 miles bike, 26.2 miles run

Debs Goddard

Photo of Debs giving thumbs up before starting.I was so happy to have even made it to the start line of this event after six months of hard training and a knee injury which meant that I hadn’t run for more than six miles since January. For the last week I’ve lived on a diet of ibuprofen and practically bathed in alcohol hand gel so I didn’t pick up any last minute nasties.

This event is logistically complicated in that it’s a split transition. This means that the bike start and the run start are in different locations 12 miles apart and the finish is in a further location in Bolton town centre.

I travelled down 2 days before the event to take my time registering and setting up the two transitions. My Tri club buddy and twice Ironman himself, Tim Matthews, was my domestique for the weekend and was tasked with the challenging job of keeping me calm!!!

After registration and the welcome party on Friday, we spend Saturday setting up the two transitions and I was able to get into the Lake (Pennington Flash) for the practice swim session as luck would have it with my coach Sorell. The lake was much better than I expected – fairly warm and reassuringly murky (I am not remotely interested in knowing what lurks beneath!!). We also managed to meet up with my fellow Durham Tri competitor Bob Hewitson and have a hearty carbo loading breakfast and a nervous chat about the upcoming challenge awaiting us the next day. So off to bed for an early night for an extremely early start but not before applying the ever important race number tattoos (so damned cool!!).

Photo of Debs with number printed on right arm.So race day arrives – up for a 3am breakfast in the hotel then onto the shuttle bus to the lake for a 4am and pitch black arrival to the start but thankfully no rain. Wetsuits donned we arranged ourselves in the chute to enter the swim in predicted swim time order. On my way down to the water I spotted my wonderful supporters from Durham Tri club – Tim, Lesley, Amanda and Olivia which gave me a nice little boost. At about 6.25am I was off!! The swim course consists of a 1.9K lap of the lake then an Aussie style exit from the water to run around a channel of about 50m to the roar of the crowd before jumping back in for a second lap. I exited the swim in a satisfactory time for me of 1hr 30mins. Into the T1 tent which unfortunately had a surface underfoot of thick squelshy mud (but made my cross country soul feel rather at home!) On to the bike and off I went to tackle the 112 mile ride.

This bike course is rather challenging featuring over six thousand feet of elevation. The route consists of a 12 mile trip out to the village of Adlington then two 50 mile loops. The two most legendary climbs are entitled ‘Sheephouse Lane’ and ‘Hunters Hill’ which are obviously done twice each. The support of the crowds was fabulous around most of the course but most notable on these two aforementioned climbs. Huge crowds lined both sides of these hills, music was blasting in places and encouragements being shouted – a real Tour de France feel. There is quite honestly nothing like the sight of a man in a mask, cape and mankini dancing to the tune of ‘Uptown funk’ to lift the spirits when the legs are getting tired.

Photo of Debs taking corner on bike. I did find it quite challenging to eat and drink enough to keep well fuelled – very surprising for those who know me well!! The taste of isotonic Powerbar energy drink after 4 litres, chia bars and sweets can become very tedious. I took up the option to have a ‘special needs’ bag available to me at mile 88 and experienced a moment of sheer ecstasy when I extracted and devoured my packet of salt and vinegar square crisps which I had cunningly placed there earlier. I even managed to eat a couple of ham and cheese croissants to make sure I had something in the tank for the ever approaching marathon.

I saw my own family twice on the bike route at the most remote part of the course which was fantastic and the Durham Tri support crew cycled their way to two vantage points to cheer me on. Tri club coach Ian MacKenzie also made two surprise appearances on the bike route which again gave me a great boost. All was going rather well pacing and timing wise until disaster struck at 100 miles – a rear wheel puncture, arrgh! Now to put this into perspective, in 10 years of cycling I have never had a puncture – what a cruel world this is. Thankfully I had practised this in the week before the race so tried to stay calm. I had been introduced to CO2 canisters which inflate the tyre to 100PSI in 3 seconds – a god send. About 20 mins later I was on my merry way again and before long found myself at the finish of the bike leg 8 hours and 20 minutes later in T2 at the Macron Stadium to the welcome cheers of my fans. Unfortunately my Durham teammate Bob had fallen off his bike earlier in the race and fractured his wrist, so his racing day was sadly over.

Photo of Debs in Trisuit giving thumbs up.

By this time of the day the sun was well and truly shining so I lathered on the suncream, donned my fresh tri suit and socks, said a quick prayer to the God of injured knees and I was off to face the most challenging part of the event. The run course consists of a six mile run from the Macron Stadium then a hilly six mile loop of Bolton town centre which is completed three times. I set off on a 4 minute run (which very quickly became a shuffle) followed by 1 minute walk strategy with the aim to keep this up throughout. It started well and the route was fairly pretty along a canal path which offered some welcome shade and a blissful stretch of off road surface, yippee! This only lasted for 1km unfortunately before it was back to soul sucking tarmac. I then joined the three loop part of the course where we were rewarded with a different coloured hair scrunchy to proudly wear on our wrist on the completion of each lap.

Again nutrition was a major challenge and my stomach had simply had enough of trying to digest vile food options whilst competing with the muscles for a blood supply to enable this. I managed to get down a few gels, bananas and tortilla crisps washed down with lashings of coke and water. Jules Percival had bought me a packet of polos on the assurance that they were marvellous for warding off nausea in endurance events. Wow was she right and I rewarded myself with one after every 5k of running completed.

Photo of Debs with support team.

By the time I started on the loops I felt absolutely cream crackered and can honestly say the support of the crowd and other competitors got me through. The lovely people of Bolton were out in force for the whole route; their enthusiasm helped no doubt by the sunshine and for some ice cold beers in their hands. My tri family were along the route and also my coach and her colleagues from Tri Training Harder which was wonderful. The real saviours of the day, however, were my Hubby and kids which had positioned themselves half way up the long drag of a hill. They proceeded to take it in turns to run with me for short stretches, hold my hand, give me hugs and encourage me that ‘I had this’. My son Rhys later told me that watching the marathon was like watching an episode of the zombie drama ‘The Walking Dead’. Never was a truer word said as I definitely felt like I was starring in it at some points. On each loop when you hit the town centre part, you are faced with the roar of crowds driving you on and a trip past the finishing shoot which gives you a taste of what’s to come.

At long last and 5 hours and 49 minutes later and a total time of 16 hours and 5 minutes it was my turn to hit the red carpet and do my victory dance to the sound of the yearned for words of the PA “Debs Goddard you are an Ironman” – it was an awesome moment and one I won’t ever forget.

Photo of Debs at the finish with red carpet and timer.

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Club La Santa Mini Triathlon, Lanzarote, Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dougie Nisbet

If I’d been nervous for the Half Marathon the nerves were nothing compared to those I felt for the Triathlon. Or ‘MiniTriathlon’, as it was billed. I kept telling myself a mini triathlon was just a bit of fun, and the man who’d sold it to me (zero Euros again) insisted it was ‘beginner friendly’.

I’ve always wanted to give a triathlon a go but never had the courage. Even though I know they’re friendly, informal, and not at all scary, that doesn’t stop them being scary. They remind me, strangely, of orienteering competitions. I know, as someone who has done a lot of orienteering competitions, that they are fun and friendly and suitable for all abilities. But to the first timer they can be daunting beasts and I always have sympathy for people who see them as a bit intimidating.

Pull down the blind, look out the window, and Don't be scared ...

So there we were, at 730AM (on holiday), for the second day in a row, waiting for the briefing. Roberta had got up (again) to see me off, not that she got much sleep with me pacing about. Our villa overlooked the swimming pools which, on the one hand, were pretty impressive. On the other hand, if ever I glanced out of the window during the night, there they were, in all their floodlit glory, taunting me with their massiveness.

The briefing was pretty straightforward. No cycling in the complex. No running over the timing mats in cycling shoes. But the main thing was to “Make sure the Timing Mat says BEEEEP!” – good advice.

We started in the pool, picking lanes according to our ability. I picked a slow lane and was just beginning to know my lane-mates well before it was time to start. Off we went and I settled into a steady breaststroke. I’m rubbish at the crawl but after a few lengths I was discovering that my breaststroke was a lot faster than some of my lane-mates’ crawl. Not that it mattered. Overtaking was never going to happen, not without implementing some sort of congestion charge. Anyway, the sun was out, and I zoned out, knowing that the swim wasn’t a big part of the event and I wasn’t going to make any real gains here anyway.

Heading out on the bike sectionOut of the pool and an exciting jog around the poolside before crossing the timing map, making sure it said BEEP! and onto the bike. It may have only been 0830 but there was never any danger of being chilly. The bike section was a long, steady climb up to the neighbouring village of Tinajo, round the roundabout, and a fun descent back to Club La Santa.

I’d passed a few people on the bike section and now I fully expected them to be popping by again on the final run section. I knew I’d be ok on the bike section, terrible on the swim, and indeterminate on the run. The last section was a bit like a handicap – all the time expecting to be pipped on the final approach. It was also a good motivitor and encouraged me to push hard on the final few km of the run. A final push round the track to the finish then across the timing mat, which said BEEP!, and relax. I looked at my watch and it wasn’t even 10AM, and I’d done a triathlon! Time for breakfast.


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Outlaw Triathlon, Nottingham, Sunday, July 27, 2014

2.4m swim / 112 miles bike / 26m run

Richard Hall

Rewind back to August 2013 and I decided to bite the bullet and enter the Outlaw iron-distance triathlon. I had done a few triathlons in the past and with my lack of love for the bike, I picked out the Outlaw with a relatively flat bike course. For £285, an undoubted bargain too? Whilst I toyed with the idea of wanting to do an official Ironman branded event, the hilliness of Ironman UK put me off and an overseas event seemed like a lot more could go wrong just getting there!

My only chance of making it to the finish was if I gave the whole preparation thing a good go so I gave up hockey for the season and pretty much gave up any booze at all from January onwards (I was even more dull than normal on nights out). I thought I would get to the day and think I had done nowhere near the training I wanted but I did pretty much what I set out to do. Everything I read about training scared me in terms of the hours they suggested you did. I did train most days but never really got to any more than 12-15 hours a week even at the peak. I would swim on lunchtimes at work and force myself out to cycle at weekends. It was still the cycling I could not seem to love and the furthest I had cycled by race day was 95 miles. I couldn’t swim 1 length 3 years ago but completing the 2 mile Great North Swim in June gave me the confidence that I could do the 2.4 miles on the day. Running was always the most enjoyable part of the training and I entered a few races as it was always great to get encouragement from the Striders. I had worked up to comfortably(ish) running 20 miles by the time July came around.

So the weekend of the 27 July arrived and I made my way to Nottingham after a relaxing week off before hand. I was in a complete panic about getting injured so close to the event and also panicked about my bike malfunctioning, about being ill for the event and of course the weather for the weekend which I checked approximately 25 times a day from a week out! Registration and bike racking was the day before on the Saturday along with a 1 hour 15 minute briefing (all you do is swim a bit, cycle a bit and run a bit eh?) I paid £20 for my bike to be checked at the venue despite having already had it checked twice in the previous 2 weeks! It was all very slick but my nerves were only increased by the procession of fancy bikes and very fit looking people!!

4am on Sunday 27th July and my alarm went off. I forced down a couple of crumpets and a croissant and headed off to the venue with poor Becky who had a very long and boring day ahead of her!! It was a mass start at 6am and they had 4 bays set out – less than 60 mins for the swim, 60-80 mins, 80-100 mins and 100+. I opted for the 80-100 mins bay and got into the relatively warm feeling water which was a tropical 21 degrees. The swim was a simple 1.2 miles up the lake, around the buoys and then back to complete the 2.4 miles. The water tasted pretty rank and there was plenty of weed in there that kept getting caught around my head. It was also very cramped in parts and I got kicked and elbowed in the face which is part of the fun apparently. All said though the swim went pretty well and I was very pleased to be out of the water in 1 hr 18 mins. Unlike other triathlons I have done there were people to help you out your wetsuit and then a changing tent to get changed in – all very civilized.

So the bike was always going to be my worst bit and the wind was up to make matters worse. The bike involved a flat southern loop on quiet roads before heading up a very busy road to complete a northern loop which included the much talked about ‘Oxton Bank’ (which was apparently the only real hill on the course), followed by a final southern loop. By the end of the first southern loop (45 miles) I was feeling pretty OK and was faster than hoped. They had drinks/food stations every 15-20 miles and so it was easy to keep the fluids topped up. I spent the whole time on the way to the Northern loop panicking about Oxton bank. I had intended to get to Nottingham to check out the course before the day but had not managed it. Oxton bank came and was over with in a flash and a whimper – nothing to worry about at all. By the time I got back to the southern loop (80 miles in) I had had enough of cycling and with the wind at its highest was definitely counting down the miles. Becky had headed out to a popular supporting spot and getting a cheer on from her kept me going to the end. When I made it back to the watersports centre I was delighted to hand my bike to one of the volunteers who racked your bike for you (that must be what you get for 285 quid). The bike course had been very flat but I was still pleased to have completed the 112 miles in a little over 7 hours which was faster than expected again.

I now had 8 hours left before the 17 hour cut off to complete the small matter of a marathon. I took my time getting changed for the run and headed out in to the glorious and very hot sunshine! A quick chat with Becky and I felt reasonably OK as I started the first loop around the lake. They had drinks/feed stations every 1.5 miles and the course involved a 5km loop of the lake, an out and back into Nottingham, a loop of the lake, an out and back into Nottingham and then a final 1 ¾ loops of the lake. I felt pretty good for 8 miles or so but then it was more a matter of survival. I tried to run between each feed station and then walk for 1-2 minutes before running again. It was really hot and I was feeling pretty sick by the 13 mile point and struggling to get anything down me other than water. I tried to force down a few crisps at each station as I was conscious my top was getting covered in salt from my sweating. Nice. Becky was great support again and my running speed was highlighted by her running alongside me for a bit in a dress and flip flops. I did the first 13 miles in 2 hrs 20 but knew I was always going to slow down. By the time I made it back to the lake for the final lap and ¾ I knew I was nearly there and was going to make it, despite how sick and exhausted I felt. The support from everyone there was immense and really helped, much like the support you get from Striders at all running events. I had aimed to finish in around 15 hours but realized that if I could hobble around the last 5 miles at 12 min mile pace I would go under 14 hours.

Now for a couple of miles cool-down ...

One last push and I passed the 25 mile sign and could hear the finish music in the distance. 200 yards to go, yes I am going to make it…. Owwwwwwww, huge hamstring cramp left me stuck in the middle of the path! A few words of encouragement from passing runners and I managed to start running again and onto the red carpet for the finish. I was looking forward to being greeted over the line with the usual announcement of ‘Richard Hall – you are an Outlaw’ but for some reason the announcer was yapping on about a Commonwealth decathlete who was behind me and so that didn’t quite happen. Anyway, who cares, a high five with Becky and crossed the line in 13 hours and 57 minutes and I had done it. Now, who wants to buy a wetsuit, bike and running shoes, I am off to eat pasties.

So on reflection was I pleased I did it? Definitely yes, for the sense of achievement. Did I enjoy it? Kind of. Would I do it again? No chance!!! Sorry this has gone on a bit. If you are still reading this and had even half thought about trying an ironman one day then go for it. I am no super fit athlete, am not a great swimmer, biker or runner. I sacrificed a bit for 6 months but my training was not ridiculous and I made it. I am now £285 worse off, a stone and a half lighter but I have an Outlaw medal/t-shirt/training t-shirt/key-ring/bike gloves/mints and am most definitely NOT (according to Becky) getting the tattoo…

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QE2 Sprint Triathlon, Woodhorn Museum nr Ashington, Monday, June 3, 2013

750m swim, 24K bike, 6k run

Richard Hall

A 6am alarm call and I staggered out of bed and headed off to Woodhorn QE2 Country Park with my car looking like I was going away for a month! The pre race briefing announced the great news that the lake temperature had tipped over 14 degrees. 150 swimmers gingerly made their way into the lake and I left it as late as possible to dip my face into the water! I hovered at the back and 750m of swimming later I was helped out of the mud and directed on a 200m run up to transition. 18.5 minutes down and now my worst bit, the getting changed! Somehow it took me over 3 minutes to get the wetsuit off and get off on my bike. The winner took 29 seconds.

The bike ride was a very pleasant 15 miles on quiet roads and more importantly, flat roads. There was no wind and I managed to not get overtaken by too many speedy bikers. It was a very scenic ride and I made it back to transition after 53 minutes of pedalling. Fewer clothes to change this time and so I was off out on the run and a lovely 2 lap 4 miles around the lake.

The usual dreaded cramps did not kick in and I managed to pick off a few runners on the first lap and settled in behind two younger looking blokes in their fancy tri-suits. Half way around the second lap and the prospect of my half melted yorkie in the glove box of my car gave me a final push and I managed to pass a few more leading up to the finish. The announcer welcomed me across the finish line in a pleasing 32 minutes for the 4 mile run. Overall 1 hour 47 minutes and 6 minutes quicker than last year. Yes, I was very near the back but passing a few people on the run is what counts for a Strider yes?

Overall a great event and for anyone fancying giving an open water triathlon a go then I would recommend this event. I will return next year to try to get changed in under 3 minutes…

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Try a Tri, Freeman's Quay Durham, Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mark Preston

Having, for many years, been an avid lover of cycling and running I was persuaded by a friend to have a go at a triathlon. The idea of a new challenge which involved running and cycling over distances my ever aging limbs could cope with seemed like a good idea, only one problem I thought, I can’t swim! Only one thing for it then my encouraging wife said to me, “Learn to swim young man”.

Not having the first idea of where to begin I was pointed in the direction of Durham Tri Club’s swimming coaching sessions at Freeman’s Quay on a Saturday afternoons. “They’re a friendly bunch with a lot of experience” I was told, they’ll need it I thought to myself. So off I went for my first swimming lesson since leaving junior school. As I stood poolside on my first afternoon I thought to myself “what on earth are you doing here” as I watched the regular swimmers go through their warm up sessions, gliding through the water faster that I could run. As I watched in awe, one of the coaches introduced himself and asked me to get into the water and do a 300 meter warm-up so he could assess my technique and ability level. By the time I’d finished laughing I think he’d got the idea that I was a complete novice at this swimming thing.

I thought the idea of teaching someone with little or no ability was a lot less appealing than honing the skills of already accomplished swimmers and with that I would be left to splash around in the water like a bunch of school kids during their summer holidays. I couldn’t have been more wrong, along with 3 other beginners we were put in a lane of our own and treat to a session of almost one to one coaching, after an hour the swimming bug had bitten.

A few months later and 5 swimming lessons under my trunks I was emailed a poster advertising Durham Tri Clubs “try a tri” taster sessions, five, two hour, sessions giving you an insight into the varied disciplines of a triathlon. On Saturday 2 February I turned up at Freeman’s Quay for the first session, swim, run and core technique. Having been a runner for a number of years now and attended circuit-training classes regularly, I thought the core technique and run skills lessons would prove to be straight forward, I was looking forward to learning most from the swimming class.

As the afternoon progressed my initial thoughts were proven to be wrong. As we stood in the car park round the back of the pool we were told by our coach “I’m now going to teach you how to run properly and more efficiently”. After a little warm up we started with arm technique, which was quickly followed by stride technique and upper body posture. After half an hour of practice I had learned how to increase my stride length and speed, getting me across the car park in a third of the time with a lot less effort.

Core technique turned out to the same, I always thought that a little bit of cross-training helped to give the body a rest from the rigours of running and cycling whilst at the same time increasing fitness. I now know that core stability not only assists with making the body more efficient by improving quality of movement but also helps reduce injury by supporting the back and improving coordination of movement.

All in all the first “try a Tri” session has turned out to be a valuable experience. Learning new skills in the disciplines I thought I was already accomplished in and finding out how to train my body to be more efficient and less prone to injury has fuelled my thirst for the four remaining sessions. To make things better the coaches are a friendly group of knowledgeable people with a real interest in helping you get the best out of your training whilst at the same time making it an enjoyable, if painful, experience. If you’ve considered turning up but thought it might be more of what you already do think again, “try a tri” and you might just be surprised at what you could learn.

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Hebburn Triathlon, Sunday, July 8, 2012

400m swim / 20k bike / 5k run

Lindsey Brooks

I’d done a couple of triathlons and was desperate to do another. I’d heard a few positive comments from this triathlon and no negative comments so thought I’d give it a try.

Before the race: An email is sent before race day to advise of start times; race numbers are collected on the day. There is a briefing before the race which was held by the swimming pool area.

The race:

Firstly, the swim: a 400m swim, which is held in the leisure centre. The swim starts at 7:30am and staggered at 30 second intervals; my swim started at 8:00.30. A marshal is positioned at the end of each lane counting each swimmers lengths and you are advised when you have 2 left to do. Getting nearer to my start time, I started feeling the nerves starting to twitch. As soon I was in the water, I don’t know if it was the adrenalin kicking in but once I set off on the swim I felt great.

Next, the bike: This is 20km bike and a 2 lap course. Marshalls are on the course but there are also signs en-route pointing where you need to go as and when necessary. Marshalls were great in encouraging you along the way. The bike route is on roads but these are not closed. Most of the roads are small estate roads which are not too busy there are a couple of stretches on dual carriageway.

Lastly, the run. This is 1 lap of 5km on pavements through a housing estate. This is not marshalled but pointers show the right direction.

Afterwards: Prize-giving and buffet in the Longship afterwards.

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Stockton Mini Triathlon, Sunday, August 21, 2011

swim 260m, bike 13km, run 3km

Lindsey Brooks

Alister Robson and myself did the mini triathlon which as a first for both of us.

The mini triathlon was one of three being held for the Stockton Tirathlon Festival – there was a sprint and standard distance later also being held which a few other triathlon club members were also doing, including Alister’s wife Jaquie, and my hubby, Peter. The mini triathlon is particularly aimed at first timers but is open to anyone.

I was quite looking forward to the triathlon – it was my first one and looking forward to the challenge. The mini triathlon consisted of a 260m pool swim, 13k bike followed by a 3k run [the bike and run were both on closed roads].

The swim consisted of just over 10 lengths. The swim is started at one end of the pool, and at the end of every second length you dip under the lane rope and start up the next lane. This is done for 10 lengths and at the end of the 10th length, dip under the lane rope again and swim to the exit half way up. I must admit, once I got to the side of the pool waiting to start, it hit me what I was about to do and if I would get to the end! I had to stop in the pool a couple of times just to get my breathing right – I’m unsure if this was nerves or what.

Next was the bike, which for me was the my best part. The course was pretty much flat – the odd slight incline but nothing to shout home about; I don’t like hills but I loved this route. The course is 3 laps of a 4.3k circuit. I was unsure how hard I could push myself with having the run afterwards but I thought do my best and worry about the run afterwards.

Then it was the run; before the triathlon, I had been dreading getting off the bike to then do the run as I didn’t know how I would feel. Sure enough my legs were just like jelly and could barely run at first. I had to walk some of the route but I did manage some running. I was pleased the run wasn’t any longer as I felt at the time I couldn’t have done it. The run was one lap of a 3k route which finishes on the riverside.

I thought the overall organsiation was great, the marshalls friendly and encouraging along the way. I was a bit wary of entering any more triathlons before I did this one as I didn’t know how I would enjoy them but I cannot wait for my next one.

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Teesdale Triathlon, Barnard Castle, Sunday, July 25, 2010

Swim 400m / Bike 28km / Run 5k

Peter Brooks

Liz and I travelled down to Barnard Castle first thing on Sunday morning for the Teesdale triathlon. I had an early start due to my estimated swim time being quite slow and Liz was due to set off 14 minutes after me.

After the usual faffage setting up transition, registering and having numbers scrawled over us it was time for me to get to the pool for my swim. Teesdale sports centre has a small pool, only four lanes and I was number eight so was the second swimmer in lane four, the first swimmer in my lane started four minutes before me.

I was summoned to stand by the lane counter as the guy in front of me started, I was asked by the lane counter if I would be doing front crawl or breast stoke, when I answered crawl I was told that I would probably be overtaking the swimmer in front as he was doing breast stroke. I was started by a ten second countdown and was off like the proverbial canal barge on my 16 length quest to get out of the pool. I soon caught up and passed the guy in front and carried on, then I soon caught up and passed him again, and again, and again. Half way through my swim, the next swimmer joined in, who was also doing breast stroke and I soon caught up with him and passed him and passed him and passed him again before I got out at almost exactly the same time as swimmer number one. I finished the swim in 8 minutes 46, the fastest that I have ever swam 400 metres. I didn’t know it at the point, but I finished the swim in 95th place out of 130 starters which is quite a step forward from my other two tris this year where I came last and second last.

The cycle was a long, undulating ride from Barnard Castle, along the A688 to Staindrop where we had a very sharp left hand turn and then had to ride about 7.5 miles uphill to Eggleston with the wind coming down the hill which made it quite hard. I didn’t see anyone else on the bikes until I had got past Staindrop where I caught up with a few riders on the hill. At Eggleston, there was another sharp left turn onto the fast, downhill road back to Barnard Castle, this time with the wind behind us. I was having a blast by this point reaching speeds of 37 – 38 mph until I got to the bottom of the hill when my chain fell off. My first thought was something similar to “oh dear, that’s a bit of hard luck” (I’m sure you can substitute the real words were weren’t kept quiet!) as I was still doing about 35mph at this point. Luckily, I was far enough ahead of the next rider to get the chain put back on and get back to transition without being passed.

I thought I’d be clever and get my feet out of my cycling shoes before I got back to transition, but they just wouldn’t come out so I ended up just unclipping from the pedals and running the bike back to the rack and change into my running shoes for the three lap 5k run. By this time I had nothing left in my legs and I struggled to get up the small hills on the run. I saw Liz start her run as I was coming to the end of my second lap and I managed to keep her in my sights throughout my final lap and I managed to finish in 1:42:07.

This is a great, local event which is very well organised, friendly and, despite the tough bike course, is great fun. If you are considering starting out in triathlons, this would be a good one to do as a first attempt. I would recommend it to anyone.

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