Andrea Smashes Challenge Roth ULTRA DISTANCE

I flew into Nuremberg Thursday morning and collected my bike and registered and had a little wander around the expo.  It was a slightly warm 34 degrees so knew we were in for a hot race, so plenty of fluid was the order of the weekend!  Friday morning was swim practice then Friday afternoon went on a tour of the bike course, which was the first time we got to see the lovely roads that had been promised, then Saturday was racking the bike & registration.  


Sunday morning was up at 0315 & got to the swim start at about 0430, which was rather early as my wave start wasn’t until 0700, but I’d heard the many horror stories of the traffic nightmare if you arrive later so I wasn’t taking any chances!  Had breakfast in the car then toddled into transition to set things up.


Asked kindly to borrow a pump from a neighbour only to find my front tyre wouldn’t pump up.  Queue the start of a minor meltdown but took some deep breaths & kept calm knowing I had lots of time & had brought a spare tube with me for such eventualities.  Went over to the tent where they had lots of pumps & with the help of one of the thousands of amazing volunteers we got it pumped up, but I then spent the next few hours anxiously feeling it every few minutes just in case it went flat again (hence why I ended up on the official video standing next to my bike with arms folded looking grumpy – oops!!).


Everything else went to plan though and saw Debbie & Dave a few times and Neil kindly wrestled me into my wetsuit.  I can’t really describe what it was like standing waiting to get into the water – I think my words were something like: “This is more like a circus than a triathlon!” as there were thousands of spectators, a guy coming in on a parachute & hot air balloons going off, and as if that wasn’t enough, instead of the traditional hooter to set waves off, they had a canon, a full blown canon, which made me jump about 5ft in the air every 5mins when it set a new wave off!!

Debbie & I were both in wave 7 so we wished each other well & got into the water.  I actually felt quite calm, possibly the calmest I’ve ever felt before a tri, but that’s probably because I was distracted & in awe of the spectacle around us!!  But very quickly off went the canon again & away we went!


We had the usual biffing within our wave, but because there were some 20-odd waves and we were only wave 7, it meant that just as the biff from our wave was settling, the men from subsequent waves started coming through and pretty much kept coming through right until I got out of the water.  A lot of them weren’t so gentle about it either so it’s probably the most beaten up in a swim I’ve ever been, including a hard blow to the head which stunned me for a minute.


But I survived and while I was disappointed with my time, a slower time was somewhat to be expected in all the biff and also looking back at my data I swam 2.6mi instead of 2.4 – oops!  But into transition and with the help of one of the volunteers I was soon ready & out the door & onto the bike.


I carefully controlled the first lap of the bike knowing it was going to be a long day and the mercury was going to rise.  I also wanted to savour the moments in the crowds, especially on Solar Hill, as the only word to describe that is simply “wow” and if you’ve ever thought about going full then Roth is the place to do it!!  Lance came past me during the first lap of the bike so it was great to see him too.


The second lap of the bike was a lot tougher though, as while the first lap had been windy it was cloudy & cool, but on the second lap the cloud lifted and it got hot, very hot, and it was a real battle.  What had seemed easy the first time around felt 10 times harder the second time around, and despite the crowds there were some dark moments & even some tears on that second lap and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see transition!

I know I’ve already said it but I just have to say again how wonderful the volunteers at Roth are!  In transitions one of the volunteers attach to you and lay all your clean kit out and pack away wet / dirty kit and generally don’t let you do anything except get dressed (despite my protests in T2 of going “no really, you don’t want to touch that jersey let me put it away!” and then grabbing my sunscreen and insisting on slathering me in it, to which I was ever more horrified as I knew how disgusting I must have been but she wouldn’t let me do it!).


It was then onto the run where very quickly it became an uphill to which I was like “hang on, this course is meant to be flat!!”.  Unfortunately as well, the last 10-15mi of the bike, while I didn’t feel sick, I think due to the heat my stomach closed up and didn’t want to take anymore food on board, but knowing I still had to do a marathon I forced it in and the consequences were as soon as I set off on the run I got an awful stitch / cramp.


Debbie came past me shortly after on the run so I waved her on, but the stitch just wouldn’t go and I ended up with one of the Kiwi (New Zealand), girls for company as she was happy to walk for a bit and then do whatever slow shuffle I could manage until the stich became too bad and we walked again.

I tried to keep putting nutrition in knowing there was still a long way to go, but as the stitch wouldn’t give up I made a decision to stop putting anything in for a while knowing there was a risk it would hurt me later, but thankfully it did the trick and finally after about 5 miles it subsided.  I saw Dave somewhere in all that and he was on his second lap and looking strong so waved him on to the finish.


My newfound Kiwi friend and I then got into a walk-run pattern, with a bit more walking up the hills and through aid stations and lap 1 was soon done (well, soon in a relative sense!), and we knew we just had to do the same again & we were done!  I had a portaloo stop shortly into the second lap and said I’d catch up to my kiwi friend, so once I got going again I set off at a steady run (well, jog!), and actually found myself feeling comfortable so just kept going at a constant run (jog), rather than run-walk.


Had updates that Lance was doing well & close to the finish which is always good to hear, and I caught up with Debbie who unfortunately was having her own stomach issues as well as blisters, so we did a swap of antacids for gels & I headed off knowing Debbie was still ok for time & she had a determined look on her face!  By this stage my Kiwi friend had found 2 other Kiwis and I was still feeling great constantly running (jogging), so knowing they too would be ok for time I kept on going and except for aid stations and hills I ran (jogged), the rest of the second lap & negative split it!


Started to feel tired the last few kilometres, but that’s also when the euphoria of knowing you’re going to make it sets in, and coming into the finish area and the finish stadium all the pain disappears, and while most people speed up / put on a run to finish, I did the polar opposite and slowed to a walk in order to savour every single second of it and that finish line (and the event in general), truly is everything they say it is!!!


Got to see Dave in the finish stadium on my way around, and I hung out in the finish area for a while with an Erdinger or two waiting to see the various friends I’d made on the course come home as well as Debbie, and we then toddled off to sort ourselves out.


As if everything during the day hadn’t been fantastic enough, my love for Challenge Roth was complete when I saw the huge bank of showers available, and I’m actually still salivating about the roll with ham, cheese & pickle that I had – seriously *the* best thing I have ever eaten in my life!!!


Unfortunately the shower was also the point where I discovered I’d forgotten to sunscreen my legs (my upper body was actually ok), so taking my calf guards and shorts off to discover to my horror the bright red patches from the middle of my thighs to just below my knees; those lines won’t be going anywhere for a while!!!


In summary though, a brilliant event with brilliant spectators and brilliant volunteers and is something you just have to experience for yourself!!  Roth has a time cut off of 15hrs which I was very nervous about making, but ended up coming home in 14hrs 13mins blowing all my worries out of the water, but I also know if I’d been more sensible earlier with my stomach & pushed harder on the run I could have done under 14 hours – but that’s the challenge for next year?!

First Place by 8 Seconds and Fastest Swim Split for Yeoman at Dorney

Stick a fork in me, I’m done. Been pretty busy recently with racing and on Sunday I did the last race before a little break to the French hills in Morzine.

I entered the VOTWO Dorney Lake sprint triathlon looking for more of a time trial effort. I was off at midday in the heat – two things that completely kill me. Body doesn’t respond well to the heat and I struggle to eat properly when racing mid day.

I was fortunate enough to watch the first wave with the under 40’s. One guy smashed the swim with a massive lead over 2nd and 3rd. I soon recognized him as a ex talented junior who is now in the 20-24 AG. However, he lost the lead on the bike but I know he runs like the wind so it was going to be tough to get on the podium as the guys around him looked super sharp. I was in the 40+ so looked to set the swim pace early then settle in focusing on my stroke. I exited with a couple of relay teams close behind so I thought I’d swam poorly but at the end I realised that I’d set the fastest split with 9.21 and the two behind where uber fast pool swimmers bought in for the relay teams.

Four laps into a head wind each lap meant I had to control the effort out so I could open it up on the return. Happy with my pace and came into T2 feeling like I’d done well on the bike. 8 seconds from the fastest split but happy enough with high 29’s for 20.5km,

The run at Dorney kills you mentally. 2.5k out into a head wind seeming to get no where as you run. I held an easy pace out and at water station stopped to cool off before pushing the return leg. I was surprise to see NO ONE near and I mean no one – they were about 2k back. Over the final 1.5k I pushed hard and came through the line to find that I’d won by 8seconds over the ex elite junior.

HAPPY DAYS – 3 wins in four races. So 9 races, 3 wins, 4 2nds and a silver AG at the English championships. Slightly embarrassed about the 4th place – lol.

Time for a rest before the final 5 races of the season with a European qualifier thrown in.

Can’t say enough how much your support goes into what I do. Thank you once more.


Llandudno Sea Triathlon

My first triathlon of the season, in at the deep end with a World Championship Age Group qualifier, the Llandudno Sea Triathlon.  Sprint distance with a brutal swim in freezing, choppy waters (awesome fun!), a hilly and technical bike course (scary fun!) and a reasonably flat run (flat fun?).

I made sure I didn’t go off too fast as I usually do on the swim and tucked in behind the leaders, came out the water 3rd and felt reasonably fresh going into T1.  Although Draft Legal this course has very little opportunity to benefit from drafting due to the fact that we were very spread out and the laps are essentially up the Great Orme and back down.  That said I was surprised at the benefit I got for a short while when I tucked in behind a guy who overtook me on the first ascent.

Bike went ok, was passed by about 6 guys, still my weaker discipline but I’m definitely stronger this year.  Descending towards the end of the bike leg allowed the heart rate to calm down a bit and I felt strong on the run where I ran the 3rd fastest leg, sub 20min 5km and regained a couple of places.   Finishe7th out of 37 in Age Group. The top 4 in each Age Group qualify automatically and with one guy ahead of me not registered it looks like I’m sitting 6th at 102.9% of the winners time.  So, with my goal being to benchmark myself against the best this year there is possibly a slim chance of a fastest loser spot.  Got one more shot at the final qualifier in Redcar in 5 weeks time

Sandy Whisker


Racing back to back can be hard, even more so if the conditions are against you. One week 30degrees the next strong winds. Happy to race back at St Neots near Cambridge as last year I was sent off the bike course so I had unfinished business.

A down up river swim, 24k rolling bike and flat twisty run. What’s not to like. The air temperature was cold but the river Ouse was warm so plenty of weed. The key is to hold something back for upstream and my plan worked well. I opened up a nice gap on second to exited the water in under 10mins (fastest time)  since getting back to the Helix, I have dropped time like a stone – a real game changer.

I got out onto the bike fast to get out of sight and hit my flying mount at pace. The bike course was so tough for the first 15k out of 24. Gradually uphill and with a constant head wind. With no one to chase I had to settle in. Using a new bike fuel I felt strong and once on the down hill section I pushed the pace. 2nd fastest bike split and time on the run to play with.

Coming into T2 I knew I needed to settle into my run in my own time. I come good over the final 2k but can over push it too early. I could see on the return of my first lap that 2 & 3 were too far back to catch, so I could focus on my form. Heading out onto lap two I was lapping people so I could concentrate on chasing people down.

Crossing the line in first place overall – gun to tape back to back wins on a tough day. Happy to clock 18:14 for the run too.  Not bad for an older 😉

Aquathon Friday so going for the hat trick


Fiona’s High Performance Windsor Tri: 1st in Swim; 2nd on bike; 3rd on run!

Windsor Triathlon Sunday 18 June

It was an early, hot one on Sunday and the women’s sprint group was in the Thames by 6.04am. I usually like the swim section the most but there seemed to be a lot of unnecessary kicking around me which meant I couldn’t really get any clear water, and I felt a bit frustrated as I exited thinking that I could have done better.


The run to T1 was really long but I got onto my bike and found that I loved the 19k course. It was beautiful being on the roads at that time with no traffic and the gently undulating hills meant that there were no difficult sections. I felt that I got into my rhythm and went as hard as I could so started feeling a bit happier with my performance.


Out of T2 and I found the 5K run hard. I knew that I was lacking on training due to a series of niggling injuries and the hilly course really tested me. I couldn’t even appreciate the castle or The Long Walk and I felt that I must have been going backwards in the race standings.


However I got a boost as I came to the finish to hear my name, Viceroys Triathlon Club, 2nd in age category 1:27:15.


When I checked all the results and I had come 1st in swim, 2nd in bike and 3rd in run for my age group which put me 2nd and 35th female overall out of 185. Happy with that. I know that I need to do a lot more work on my running , but I am pleased with the other two disciplines, especially the bike which used to be my weakest by far. Thanks to my training buddies and coaches over the Winter/Spring months as you definitely helped me to improve my times.


As a word of caution to anyone thinking about doing this triathlon, I had the worst case of vomiting on Monday night from the swim. It’s the only time I have had Thames tummy and it would put me off doing the race again despite it being brilliantly organized and a beautiful course.


Fiona Dowthwaite

Kirsty takes on Windsor Tri – Novice to 2nd in AG in 2 Triathlons!

All the Gear and Some Idea…
The last time I entered a triathlon with an open water swim was the Shock Absorber Women’s Only triathlon at Dorney Lake back in 2011. It was a novice distance 400m/10k/2.5k (I got a lot of stick for doing such a short one – Lisa Yeoman).  I swam breaststroke, wore a borrowed tri suit and used a neighbour’s bike, but still managed to come first in my age group despite my bike chain coming off. Next time I was clearly going to have to do a bigger one…
Fast forward to 2017 (a long gap and two children later) and I found myself getting up at 4am to head to Windsor to do the sprint distance. This time was a bit different – I realised I actually looked the part with my 2xU tri suit, Zone 3 wetsuit, triathlon Garmin, bike shoes, Specialized Amira, Bike Garmin, Race belt and Viceroys top. Clearly this is a sport where you can spend a lot of money!
It was a stunning morning and I was so excited.  I made my way down the start, head filled with all those cues from Mark’s Monday coached lake sessions. Once I was in the water the 750m swim seemed to go so quickly. Before I knew it I was hot footing it through transition. The bike ride was amazing with no chance of getting lost with so many other people on the course.  Thanks to the Viceroys’ beginners cycle sessions earlier this year, I managed to find my gears and navigate the hills pretty easily. Into second transition. Ouch! Who put that hill so close to the start of the run leg? My legs were heavy but I was on such a high – I had nearly done it – my first ‘proper’ triathlon. The run was hard work but I still managed a smile and a whoop whoop as I crossed the line.  What a buzz!  Thanks to the fellow Viceroy who called out ‘Well done – I am a Viceroy too’ as I headed back to the car in my Viceroys top. Maybe I was a triathlete after all.
To my huge surprise (and elation) I had actually done OK. 2nd female in my age group and 24 out of 185 women overall.  Perhaps I should train a bit harder next time 😉

Tim Gray- 8th in GB AG Team in Denmark / Middle Distance

ETU European Middle Distance Championships, Herning, Denmark – Saturday 10th June 2017

I stepped up to middle distance (70.3) at the end of last season and qualified for GBR AG team on the back of a strong result at Vitruvian (great race by the way – do it this year if you can!). This race has therefore been my focus across the winter and into the start of this season. I’d already raced the distance this season at Grafman a couple of weeks earlier and had done okay but still went into the championships feeling a little ill prepared and ‘race light’.

Anyway, excuses over!

Herning is nothing to write home about! However, on race day it was incredible. The whole town simply went triathlon crazy. The 1.9km swim was in a nearby lake which meant an awkward split transition. Great setting though. Water was cold so I was pleased that I’d taken the neoprene swim hat just in case. As always, the first 200m was a washing machine but soon and inevitably enough, we got away from the bunch and by the time we’d cleared the first buoy, we were swimming in a nice arrow head and in clear water. We caught the stragglers from the earlier (and younger wave) by about the halfway point and then had to cope with swimming through slow traffic all the way to the end. Put in a good swim split, exiting 12th in the wave.

T1 was slow -hands were so numb from 30 mins in the cold water that I couldn’t get out of my wetsuit! Anyway, managed to get away and onto the bike for 90km through the Danish countryside. Beautiful day for a ride! Velvet smooth roads and a rolling profile only hampered by a bloomin’ headwind whichever way we seemed to be heading! It took me about 60km to realise why there were a lot of wind turbines!! Worked hard on the bike to hit close to 2 hours 30 mins but fell short on my target time just down to lack of power into the wind.

Came through T2 knowing that I’d have to run a quick half marathon to stand a chance of a reasonable result. The heat was now building and athletes already on the course were showing signs of struggling. The run course was 4 x 5km laps with the course a mix between a technical town centre section (with loads of great support) and then a long out and back stretch. My first two laps were on pace for my 1 hour 30 min target but the heat and blisters were starting to tell and the 3rd and 4th laps fell away to leave me with a disappointing 1 hour 37 min run time. I came 27th overall in my AG and 8th in the GB AG team. Not a complete disaster but not as good as I’m capable of. I’ll rest and recover and then start building for Worlds qualification races over the standard distance in the coming weeks.

‘Bonkers’ Monday Nights with VTC @ Shepperton prepares Fiona for Jubilee River Swim – 10k Relay Team

Anybody who likes swimming open water I would urge you to do this event next year and maybe we could have a few VTC teams entering? The swim up the Jubilee River was gorgeous! Many amazing people swam the whole 10k themselves and huge respect to them, but for the rest of us who do not have webbed feet splitting the race into 2kish blocks and changing swimmers at the locks was good fun and manageable. 

I started off as Number 1 swimmer of our team of 4, in the second wave. There were 4 waves going up in expected speed with the fastest swimmers in Wave 4. It was quite a rowdy start with a bit of fighting which I was surprised about as some of the swimmers were going to be in the water for 3-4 hours, but it didn’t put me off as I am used to the VTC Bonkers 7pm Monday night Shepperton crowd and they are a bit rowdy too!

Soon I had lost the 2 girls who had been trying to sandwich me between them and then just enjoyed the swim pretty much on my own. Beautiful countryside around Eton, and I felt that I had a good rhythm going. Thumb to thigh and early catch were the things that I thought about as well as blimey what’s that in my face – oh its only a weed – relax!

At the end of my 1.9k I came out second in my wave at 00:33:31.0 at a pace of 3.4km/h which I was very happy with. I then handed over my chip to the next swimmer. There were some great swimmers in the waves behind and although I was chuffed with my time it put me 171/374 out of all the swimmers for my leg and that cut me back down to size!

Worst bit about the race is carrying people’s gear as you walk along next to them as they swim their leg. So pack light!

My group came second in the mixed gender category relay teams only to be beaten by a group from Shepperton Lake.


Fiona Dowthwaite

Lucy Collins Deva Triathlon – Worlds Qualifying’s going to be tough this season

I rocked up to sunny Chester on Sunday 4 June to do the Deva Triathlon, standard distance.  It was a World Championship qualifier, so the nerves started as I checked out all the very scary looking competition at registration on Saturday evening.

Nerves continued to Sunday morning, especially as it was a joint start for my total age group with the men.   The swim is my weakest bit, and I was dreading the washing machine with all the boys as well as a fair few feisty girls.    However, after a fantastic race briefing from a local coach on the Saturday afternoon I managed a pretty good swim (for me) – out of the water about 15th or so.  Everybody headed to the far bank of the river, but a few of us had been given the tip off to stay to the left, and it worked!  

Thanks to Mark’s Monday night swim coaching, I have gained loads of confidence in a couple of weeks and I drafted pretty much the whole way.  Swim was 27 minutes – very good for me.  A long run up a hill to transition, and onto the bike where I expected to gain a good few places.    Disaster struck – bike felt like I was peddling through treacle and I just couldn’t spin and get any decent speed up without grinding through all my power.

Overtaken by 3 competitors (which I should have been doing instead!), despondency started to set in and I lost focus.   Was it really the bike or was it just my legs?  Was I just useless and slow?  Anyway, the upside was a beautiful course into the Welsh countryside and sun all the way.      Back to transition and off to the run – gained about 4/5 places at least, but there was just too much to do to gain any more.   Also my legs were pretty fried from churning it out on the run.   Again, lovely route and a great atmosphere with 1000+ participants and lots of supporters.   Ended up 13th in age group out of 50.   My age group was absolutely awesome – some incredible women, including first and second overall women both from my age group.    And that has to be a good thing for us older ladies (although I can’t wait to be in the next age group when the two of them won’t be there for a couple of years…)   Was pretty disappointed at the finish, but have found the mechanical on my bike so at least it’s not me.   Onwards and upwards to Ripon – will be really tough qualifying this year, but at least I’m out there trying!

So – lessons are to triple check the bike and not believe your husband when he says there’s nothing wrong with it even though you know there is (I had to get a nag in somewhere…).   But, it is a fantastic race, brilliantly organised, beautiful, fast and pretty flat.   I’d recommend to anybody – there is also a middle distance route which looked pretty good too.

Ian Talbot Steals a 5k PB in a Surprisingly Speedy ‘Old Codgers’ Wave

Eton Dorney Saturday Sprint:

Having chosen the Saturday sprint to avoid all the quick boys racing at Sunday’s qualifiers, it quickly became apparent that the codger’s age group I was in was not as devoid of speedsters as I had first imagined. At least not in the wet part of the day anyway.

Having exited the water fairly well down the field, I gave it some humpty coming out on the bike – only to get shouted at by the marshal for not having a race number on. Luckily, it was still attached to my bike so some less than aero adjustments to the apparel and I was back in the saddle (as it were) and consistently passing people from my wave as well as a succession of those from the earlier wave.

Following a short sharp shower (which caused a few incidents on the corners), it was on to the run which I was hoping was going to be my strongest part given the wintering I had and the loss of over a stone of excess blubber in the preceding months duly delivered the goods – not only overtaking the guy who led out of the swim (a full 6 minutes ahead of me !) but also posting a triathlon PB for a 5k by over a minute.

Race one for 2017 complete and with a time 5 minutes quicker than the original target I feel is a good place to start the  year !!