‘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 !!

The VTC MASSIVE take on the Tour of Cambridgeshire

             A huge cohort of Viceroys raced around Cambridgeshire for the honour of qualifying to race in France for their country, or just for the fun of a demanding sportive:

Name AG Time Posn in AG # people in AG Qualify / comments
Adam Wells 45-49 03:51:57 469 840
Alison Baldwin 19-34 04:02:38 44 92
Andrea Whelband 35-39 03:44:30 19 80 Y
Andrew Curran 45-50 03:35:42 317 840
Andy Tolson 40-44 03:25:11 189 710 6 seconds off qualifying & 6th in line for roll down
David Aitchison 60-64 04:42:46 156 204
Ian Hope 45-49 03:25:07 194 840 Y
Ian Saunders 50-54 04:02:13 465 792 Punctured early
Ian Talbot 04:19:00 Relentless, flat, windy as hell – lots of sausage rolls at mid point feed station
Jamal Shakir 35-39 03:52:19 296 479
Johannes Veit 50-54 03:25:04 124 792 Y
John Mackey 60-64 04:08:45 114 204
Kevin Dargue 50-54 03:51:35 397 792
Kim Bainbridge 50-54 03:32:34 6 132 Y
Lisa Price 45-49 03:53:36 39 130 2nd in line for roll down
Lyndsay Fitzgerald 35-39 03:39:25 15 80 Y
Marty Clark 45-49 03:17:26 117 840 Y
Matthew Shipley 35-39 04:14:14 352 479
Nick Christian 45-49 04:21:53 633 840 Hadn’t fully recovered from stomach bug
Nick Harmon 55-59 03:37:24 121 456 Next in line for roll down
Richard Singleton 35-39 03:34:30 210 479
Stephen Newton 45-49 03:25:09 195 840
Steve Metcalfe 40-44 04:02:37 479 710

Andrea tells her story: After the disaster I had last year of going out way too hard & cracking half way around & having to deal with the horrid headwinds in the second half on my own, my plan for this year was to go at my own pace, treat it as training for Roth and just do the distance safely and keep my knee intact.

We went over the start line in groups but unfortunately even within those groups it all splintered very quickly and found myself only with Nick & Matt for company, so we jumped on some wheels but there were people everywhere so it quickly became Nick & I, and then soon after just I!  So I jumped into what groups I could, but found myself alone for chunks of time until Jamal came past & I jumped in with his group for a bit, but couldn’t keep up & gradually fell off.

This was about mile 25-30 at this stage and queue kicking myself for starting too quickly again & doing exactly what I’d told myself not to do & was already thinking ahead to the headwinds & how horrid it was going to be again, but I’ve learnt that when the negative self-talk starts it probably means my blood sugar is low so got some nutrition down my throat a bit earlier than planned but it did the trick as I felt strong again despite being on my own, but then got on the back of a chain and stuck with it.

Initially I was at the back so it took some work to stay on, especially after corners, but I was feeling stronger so moved up through the group and we caught back up with Jamal who also jumped on.  Was a brilliant group to go through the headwinds with, perfectly paced as I was pushed but not flat out, so the second half was a massively different story to last year!

The group leaders peeled off at the 64 mile aid station but I knew I had enough fluid to last so pushed on with what was left from the group & a few of us stayed together for a while, but towards mile 70 I was still feeling strong so pushed on and caught the backs of a few groups as I went forward & also passed Lisa who was looking strong.  I was feeling great so pushed more & gave it everything the last few miles.

I knew I’d done much better than last year & as I wasn’t too far out from qualifying last year had a quiet hope I might have managed to qualify so decided to stick around to find out.  Unfortunately they changed the way results were released this year and they were extremely slow in doing so.  The male age groups were drip fed one at a time & it wasn’t until after 7pm the first batch of female results were released so it was a long wait for Lyndsay & I but it turned out to be worth it as we both qualified!!  Also chuffed so many others qualified too, and with luck Lisa, Andy & Nick will get roll down places to be able to go to France as well!

Louisa overcomes Cycling Demons to Smash Blenheim Tri

Today was my first triathlon since the Redhill club championships last year where I had to get off my bike and push 3 times. For those of you who have ever cycled with me or spoken to me about cycling you will know that I am a very slow and anxious cyclist. In previous triathlons, I have generally done OK on the swim, dropped to the very back on the bike and the run could go either way!
In April 2016, I decided I needed to do something about the cycling thing so I booked a bikeability lesson through Elmbridge council to go right back to basics. It was something like £20 for a 3 hours 1 on 1 so not bad value.

Throughout last summer I forced myself to cycle to the lake and back on Saturday mornings. Not a long distance but through the centre of Walton which was massive for me. I then took Mark’s development cycling course last Autumn and learnt more about group riding and since then I have tried to go out on more rides. Huge thanks to Pam Winstanley-Fisher for the encouragement. That all culminated in the New Forest 100km sportive in May. Since I was still a very anxious cyclist I have then been having NLP session to try to get to the root of the problem.

Today was my first chance to put it all together and give it a go in a triathlon and it was in the beautiful setting of Blenheim palace

My start time was 12 so quite a leisurely journey up there to an incredibly slickly organized event with huge numbers competing and lots of different waves. I felt strong on the swim although felt like I needed to do 2 stroke breathing rather than my using 3 and came out near the front of my wave. The pace recorded was 1.58/100m which was disappointing but I was 33/280 in my age group so happy with that (must have been an uphill swim!). Transition was 0.5k run uphill which was a shock.

Then onto the bike and I pushed myself faster than I normally do. It was a 3-lap course with a few steep downhills (the bit I like least) and some climbs. Each lap got a little bit faster as I gained confidence in the route and although I was passed by a lot of people I also did some passing. Rather than being the slowest by a long way on the cycle I was 212/280 which is a massive improvement for me, although clearly still room to do better.

The run was a really nice 2-lap course with beautiful views of the lake and some nice downhills and tough uphills. I haven’t done nearly enough running this year but managed to keep a respectable pace for me. Hearing the yell or encouragement from Lara Clay as I was nearing the end spurred me to go for a sprint finish.

Overall for my age category I was 127/280 so made it into the top half, which I am delighted with.  All in all a great event in an amazing setting and I would thoroughly recommend it.

Silver for Yeoman at English National Sprint Championships

It’s not very often that you get a major race on your door step, but this morning the English National Sprint Championships were held at Thorpe Park only a few miles away.

I knew this was going to be the hardest race to date with people hunting medals & titles.

The start list was packed and I knew to get on the podium I’d have to be on point. Each progressive age group wave were set off 5mins apart meaning there would be traffic over the final 250m. I had a good start and at the first buoy latched onto the leader but I soon felt that I wasn’t working. After some deliberation I decided to swim on and soon took the lead. Wasted time but you live and learn. With a quick exit (top 10 swim time overall) I wanted to head out on the bike fast to build a gap.

The road was busy with the previous waves but I looked to push on. After 5km I was over taken.  Unknown if he was in my wave, the wave in front I paced off him and we took legal turns setting a strong pace. Coming back into T2 I was unsure where I stood over all as there were athletes everywhere.

It took me a while to find my run legs and I ran within myself for the first lap. I thought I might be in 2nd but unsure who was chasing me down as there’s no way of knowing. With about 500m to I was over taken which I could do nothing about.

Checking the results I saw I was second in AG so getting silver and only Twenty seconds off gold. Third was over three minutes back. Mixed emotions but happy to get on the podium. I’ve beaten the winner before but a sub par swim and run left the door open. Next time I will get Jim …

Thanks for the support and a great indication of my early season fitness


Roger Lowe – New Viceroy Takes on Southport Tri

Following a bit of an empty competitive year last year thanks to a few injuries (plus turning 40!), I decided to dip my toe back in the water and enter some sprints, the first of which was the Southport Tri . As a broken old rugby player, I’m not a natural when it comes to any sort of endurance sport and not a mountain goat by any stretch, so the short distance and flat coastal course seemed like the ideal mix for my skill(?!) set.

As a new Viceroy this year I was looking forward to the chance of racing in my new pink tri suit, tinged with a bit of apprehension that the northerners wouldn’t  take kindly to the colour scheme and would rough me up for it, but never show weakness and all that.

So the race…I rocked up at the standard 6am and it was freezing with a strong coastal gale blowing about and the marine lake was looking grey and cold, a far cry away from lovely Shepperton open water. Got in the water and it was as bad as it looked and managed to take on a couple of lung-fulls of the brine and goose poo soup that was the lake in the opening few metres through getting kicked around, but quickly got into a routine and swam pretty much on training pace which I was happy with having only done one open water swim in my ageing wetsuit this year.

Onto the bike which is always my best part and the nice calm conditions from my prior day spin up were replaced with a head wind that hit from every direction, but still managed to spit out a steady stream of people who had swum faster than me and was still feeling fresh going into the run.I was still carrying a calf injury going into the race that despite having Steve Hobson jab me with needles and make my cry by smashing it to pieces with his horrible thumbs still wasn’t up to going full gas for 5k, so I was just going to plod round. But with a line of people in front of me I find it impossible not to chase them down so was hitting pb pace for the first km and feeling great but sensibility took over, I sucked up my ego and did a run walk for the rest of it and finished feeling fresh but with my calf intact.

All in all a decent return to competing, not as fast as I wanted but I live to fight another day and am looking forward to having a crack at Redcar next month.


Neil Thomson – Ironman 70.3 Barcelona

Race report – 21st May 2017 – Barcelona 70.3

So, background – I’ve done a few Marathons, a few IMs and a few HIMs so I can’t be classed as a newbie to Tri’s.
Barcelona is a hilly course, if you imagine the profile as a little triangle either side of a larger triangle you get the idea with that in mind I was aiming for 35mins for the swim, whatever the bike gave me and 1:37 for the run.  Again given the course profile I decided on my lighter Road bike (Giant TCR) than my heavier ‘better bike’ (road bike with aero bars – Felt AR1).  I thought with that profile there’d be little time on the aero bars and besides I feel more comfortable descending on my Giant.
I arrived Friday for Sunday’s race and it was WINDY, fortunately by the time Sunday morning came around it has subsided somewhat.  Actually before I get into the race a quick mention of the race briefing, where I bumped into and got a selfie with non other than Jan Frodeno, I was very pleased with that and also with Paul Kaye the announcer 🙂 – doubly pleased
Back to race morning:-  .. bumped into Paul Kaye again 🙂 in transition.  All was well, bike where I left it, checked it was in the right gear, water bottles on etc etc.
I placed myself in the 30 min wave (I can’t seem to help myself – I see all these people going off and I think.. OOoo must get going) .. anyway, rolling start and off we go – I actually felt quite good, I  tried to find some feet but for the whole race I couldn’t latch onto anyone, the course was swim out a couple of hundred then turn west parallel to the shore for about 750, then round a couple of buoys before heading east back to the start.  Going out was fine but coming back, with the sun in your eyes – I couldn’t sight for toffee so just kept following the masses, ended up out of the water in 35min bang on 🙂

Into transition ,quick ish change then out to get my bike.. bumped into Paul Kaye again !! my strategy for the bike was to take it as easy as possible – there were 3 climbs, the little, the larger and the little again.  I tried desperately to ignore everyone streaming past me on the first climb and I just tried to take it easy.  This worked reasonably well and the best thing for me about going up hills is you get to come down the other side – I LOVE descending, with smooth roads and my confidence in tact I was able to make up some good time and good positions – However I completely over cooked it (exertion wise) on the descent but I had FUN  :).  There seemed to be quite a few fallers on both the decent  and one stretch of straight flat road – I figured the guy just lost concentration. The bike course passed without incident, although once again I was slightly annoyed at a particular group that I kept yo-yo’ing between that

rode as a peleton – just blatant drafting, I know IM do their best to enforce the rules but I wish those athletes had more moral fibre, the bike was 2:59 – given the terrain – I’ll take that.
Into transition, no dramas, shoes on and out for the run.  Now when I run off the bike my first split, even when I try to go slow is  ALWAYS fast (relatively) sorry for the next techy bit.. my garmin beeps every half mile so I work in half mile split.  I knew If I wanted a 1:37

I had to be hitting 7:30s so 3:45 on my watch, first split was down in the 20’s so I thought ‘good’ – back offI took water at EVERY water stop – it was getting hot out there – so there I am plodding along , just out of T2 and I hear Paul Kaye announcing Frodo coming into the finish arena, he’s a whole half marathon ahead of me.. guess that’s why he’s double IM world champion and IM world record holder !!

Anyway I continue to plod on up and down the beach.. getting slower and slower, the 3:20s turn in to  3:30s which I hold for a while then the 3:40’s come looming, I carded a 4′:something but justify that with ‘walking the water stop’ but battling on – it was hard I’ll admit it but I dragged my sorry behind along the magic carpet where – you guessed it – I bumped into Paul Kaye, for a run time of 1:40 something for a total time
of 5:23 something and you know what I was chuffed with that. with such a hilly bike and a, for me, tough run 5:23 is nothing to be ashamed of.
I did the usual recovery tent tried to eat their rice but it was NASTY, home, showered, pizza, beer and then something that I have enjoyed doing at HIM’s of late is to go back for the last half hour or so and applaud those guys n girls who’ve been out there for 8 hours !! I kinda felt good about that and yes you guessed it.. bumped into Paul Kaye AGAIN.
My schedule was to fly home on Sunday evening so by the time things were all wrapped up it was time to hit the highway and go catch a plane home for work on Monday
On reflection I really enjoyed Barcelona HIM, I got to meet Frodo, bumped into PK 4 times and put in a solid performance 51 in my AG and 351 overall.  It also felt good to be in pink representing the club.  I’m somewhat of a silent member and find it so difficult to get to the training events despite there being more options than you can chuck a stick at – I am trying to get to 1 !!
I have IM Austria in 6 weeks time and really need to knuckle down with the training.. today was tough and it was only a half !!
Good luck everyone
Neil Thomson

4th Time in Mallorca for Ironman Yann

This was my fourth time racing in Mallorca, having already completed the 70.3 twice and the full distance once. So,  I was planning for a great race full of confidence.

Everything was going according to plan pre-race, apart from damaging my power meter in the commute, so no power for the race. That’s ok, I am confident I can just use my experience, how wrong was I! Swim went well, no jellyfish this year, the bike was sunny, fast and dry (apart from an annoying Dutch cheat drafting behind me for 30km, arrgh, so annoying), transition was faster too and then the run, my favourite discipline… legs were tired but that’s pretty normal, until I hit km 2 when both the interior quad muscles seized and I had to stop running. After few stretches, I managed to find a strange way of running (not pretty) that took me all the way to the finishing line, not to say that I was head down, in pain, I did not looked at my watch once and I tried to ignore everyone else overtaking me.

I was on course for a PB after T2 and ended up finishing with my worse half and 70.3 time ever!! Strava estimated my power to be 18 watts above what my target power should have been. There is no secret in racing, just don’t overdo it on the bike. I still got the medal, the T-Shirt and made it to the IM official video in my bright shiny VTC kit! Not all bad after all!!

Coach/Chairman Yeoman Leads by Example – 2nd Overall at Eton Dorney

Eton Super Sprint 750/21/5. 2nd overall

What a couple of weeks makes with the weather. One day you are racing in freezing conditions and two weeks later it’s virtually tropical. I opted out of doing the drafting race in the morning at Dorney lake for the reason that I’m not looking to head off to the Worlds in September. So instead I chose the classic sprint. But the issue is that the race was at 12.50pm and I have always found eating and mid day races hard to figure out, so who knows how the body would respond.

There were three main waves, women, men 42+ and then men under 42. Off in the middle wave I knew that the sharper athletes would be starting off in the final wave so it was going to be a matter of racing to feel rather than chasing people or looking to get a gap.

After 100m in the swim I was clear and followed the guide ropes on the bottom of the lake. I exited clear in first and looked to get out sharp to open up a gap ahead of the run. Solid and comfortable time in just a shade over 10mins swimming. 2nd fastest all weekend for the non draft racing.

Dorney Lake is always windy and today was no exception. On the turn at the far end a wall of resistance hit & I did all the best I could to keep the bike stable. Over taking the women kept me focused and I felt good besides my power metre not pairing with my garmin so I had to rely on feeling –  so I’m unsure if I was under or over powering.

Coming into T2 I was hoping to have some legs but I suspected the final bike lap where I pushed hard might play it’s part.

I’ve been working hard on my running so I wanted to get to half way point feeling comfortable only to forget about the head wind. I could see the next guy and he was about 2mins back so I was comfortable for the wave win but unsure if it would be good enough to take the day. A solid 20mins which felt controlled, knowing that the high 18s are a matter of focus and not running comfortable

I crossed the line and waited. As it is turns out I was 2nd overall for Sunday and 3rd overall for the weekend which is good. Two weeks until the English Champs so more run focus