Last weekend saw Chris Brown finding his feet in the Aqua Bike Event. Here is what Chris had to say.
“The first thing you notice when looking round an Aquabike transition zone before the race isn’t the lack of running shoes in everyone’s set-up. Nor is it the ubiquitous top-end TT bike. More it is the size of the opposition. After years on the BTF’s money-making extravaganza, I’ve become used to racking next to those of a scrawnier nature. Not many of my regular opposition come in over 75kg and my usual next-door neighbour, Mr Blunt, is just 68kg with the accompanying height restrictions that go with the stature of a Mo Farah wannabe.
At this event, it’s very different. All the guys are 6-foot or taller and most appear to be closer to or above my own 82kg. I’ll not be suggesting a top-10 fight-off at this race!
Back to the event. It went pretty much along the lines of any other event we all do and know so well. Three things probably stick out.
First, from the klaxon, two guys swam full speed right across the front of us all, almost at a 45-degree angle, heading straight for the bank. My thought pattern went something like this “What have I missed? Is there strong current over there? No, it’s a lake aresehole. Is there a buoy I didn’t see? No, they’re all eight-foot-high and orange. Must be beginners. But can’t be with them swimming at that speed. Must be Tossers then.”
Second, there’s a foot-down-and-stop point on the course where two roads cross. We are specifically warned about it in the briefing. Someone even asks the question as to if it is a complete stop, which is affirmed. How then, does some daft bugger get DQ’d for not putting his foot down? Maybe the same tosser.
Third one only occurred to me about a week later. I came in sixth overall, just four seconds behind fifth. Looking at the swim and transition, I made up 90 seconds on him in the first five kilometres of the bike. When I passed him, he was behind another athlete but I assumed didn’t have space to overtake with me coming up the outside and the road being a bit ropey. However, over the next 15km with him behind me and increasing effort, I didn’t put a single second into him. Might explain why, when I patted him on the back and said, “Well done, just couldn’t match you in the last 500m”, he didn’t look me in the eye. Hmmmm. Maybe I should take to looking over my shoulder every now and then.
Guten Abend, drei menüs bitte, ich gehe unter zehn, wir sind sie?
Yes folks, a trio of Jackpotters were out on the continent visiting Bavaria, and practising their German for the Ironman distance event Challenge Roth. The event is celebrating its 30th year and renowned as the most spectated of all ironman events with around 250,000 spectators lining the course. The region was experiencing unusually high temperatures for this time of year which resulted in the organisers airing caution to all competitors at the race briefing ahead of race day. However Mark Kilner, Eddie Howarth and myself remained calm.
On race day the temperature did not feel as hot as first expected, however tan lines were still pristine by the afternoon and temperatures in excess of 30 degrees.
On arrival to T1 and the swim start athletes were greeted with a very reserved atmosphere where last minute adjustments were made to bikes and equipment as a collaboration of songs from Hans Zimmer and John Williams from War Films were played over the sound system. The tension was mounting and at one point it became a little too much until i saw Mark Kilner in his wetsuit!
The start of the race and departure of the Pro field was singled by canons and hot air balloons rising above the waters, following some more (thankfully) motivating songs such as eye of the tiger….I was getting pumped and ready to go.
The swim was held in the warm waters of the shipping canal running through the Bavarian forest. The conditions were calm and athletes given 5 minutes between more cannons signalling the next wave.
Eddie Howarth led the Jackpotters out the of the water first in 55 minutes chasing down Mark Kilner (swam in 1:09) who had set off 20 minutes earlier behind the pro field and chasing a potential sub 10 time. I later followed in a slower than expected time of 1:18 and the garmin reading over 4100 metres covered.
With plenty of assistance from the superb volunteers in transition the trio exited, organised and then acclimatised themselves to the smooth German roads. Early into the bike leg Eddie Howarth hounded down the fox Mark Kilner as he howled past… no literally. The bike course was a spectacle with undulations and the passing of villages and towns saw locals turned out to cheer and enjoy the festival atmosphere. By the end of the first lap the athletes approached the famous Solar Berg hill where spectators crammed the roads with riders only able to pass single file with the crowd cheering and screaming only inches away.
Unable to see how Mark and Eddie were doing I stuck to my race plan with a clear strategy of pushing a little on the hill and getting up to speed on the flats and descents while keep as much speed in Valentino Rossi riding style! The temperature was starting to heat up and the wind becoming more evident on the tiring legs. Four hours into the bike and I was beginning to get saddle sore and a little lethargic I continued to eat and drink religiously to the 5km splits on my Garmin and took some caffeine to raise my alertness. At each aide station I took on some water having carried my well honed rice cakes and blended isotonic recipe drink from T1. After the two loops there was a 5km service road to T2 where the riders where stretching out and looking forward to leaving the bike leg poised for their run.
Eddie was off the bike first with a solid time of 5:07 followed by Mark with back and hip problems flaring and a below par ride of 5:49, and then myself catching up Mark in a well executed bike time of 5:30.
This year challenge Roth had changed the run course to incorperate effectively two out and back loops providing spectators with at least four occasions to see each athlete pass. In turn this brought a challenging marathon run through forests and trails in the 30+ degrees temperatures and over 650 metres of elevation.
Fortunately, locals, family and friends cheered the athletes through the final stages sitting on German garden tables drinking Steins of beer and again fantastic volunteers provided a buffet of refreshments and nutrition along the route with the multiple aide stations.
Out on the run and the heat was evident straight away, with aide stations first offering water sponges then water. On leaving and climbing the trails of the forest section and heading out on the canal paths the sun was beating hotter and hotter and each aide section became about reducing temperature, maintaining hydration and nutrition. The first 5km was a shock whilst my body got into the running and my mind was telling my legs to shut up. In the second 5k lethargy crept in and the race became a struggle. With no Greggs in sight I turned to other nutrition taking on caffeine gels and more coke becoming alert and finding rhythm over the next 20k.
I continued taking on gels and fuel regularly and towards the last 15k, the Redbull and salts kept me moving. On calculating that I was well within the sub 12 hour mark I began to pace myself home with achilles, knee and shoulder pain contributing to the crowd of messages I was getting from my body to stop. I pressed on. With the out and back course I constantly kept a look out for Eddie who was progressing well on the run and Mark who was still having a bad day in the office especially when I caught him with less than 10k to go. Andy Jackson (jackpot newbie), Colin McNeil, Phil Berry and Kev Heath from Raceskin were all exchanging encouragement as we passed, and on seeing the trio of home support (Georgina, Julie and Jo) proving to be more emotional on each passing. Well before i approached the last 10k Eddie had finished with a 4:03 marathon and overall in a time of 10:14:57. Chapeau.
With less than 1km left the turn was made for home stretch into the Roth Expo and the 10,000 seat finishing shoot which was shaped like a horse shoe. Trying to find some composure and technique in those tired legs while thousands were watching me take my last strides became even more difficult with the ruffled red carpet, on what felt like a motocross course under my blistering feet.
Minutes earlier Mark had salvaged his race, from 5 km away from finish he was meandering in front and swaying from side to side through the forest. On refusing an ambulance (Golf Buggy assistance) Mark claimed he was Yorkshire’s Bruno Tonioli. On doing this and refuelling with salt and Redbull he sidestepped and found some rhythm with those hips to finish the marathon in a time of 5:04 and overall with 12:07.
On me entering the stadium Eddie had already finished and had consumed two Steins of Erdinger and cheered myself and Mark home with the Jackpot Support crew. I was delighted and emotional at the end to finish in 11:42:23.
Well what a fantastic event and a definite “bucket list” experience with nostalgia, excellent organisation, amazing support and humbling volunteering. If you have not done Challenge Roth make sure you added to your list.
Thanks to Mark, Eddie, Andy and everyone who made Roth 2017 a fantastic day.
The last weekend of June saw the Mr and Mrs of the Jackpot Team, Martin and Emma Stoney competing in the Llandudno half and sprint triathlon. Here’s Emma’s race report.
“I have never visited Llandudno before. One of the first things I noted was that parking is a total nightmare, which is why people only generally choose to visit once they are old enough to travel by mobility scooter.
We checked into our hotel, right on the sea front and where race registration was taking place, so things couldn’t have been more straight forward.
The sea looked relatively calm and inviting in the sunshine the day before race day which was good news, as I have never done a sea swim before and was feeling the nerves.
We ate dinner in the hotel (along with Edna, Dorris, Frank and Norman – presumably not triathletes) and then settled down in our already cosy room with two bikes and all the paraphernalia that comes with racing.
Next morning we literally crossed the road to rack our bikes. The weather had turned over night. The sea was now grey and decidedly rough looking and there was drizzle. Nice.
The Middle Distance race was the first to start at 10.30am. My sprint wave was not due to begin until 12.30, which was how I justified the full cooked English breakfast I wolfed down.
I saw Martin come back into transition after his swim and was unnerved by his report of it being ‘quite choppy in there’. He seemed happy enough though as he set off on the bike leg – one loop of the Great Orme before heading out into the Conwy hills.
I set off for the pen on the beach and waited to be counted into the water with the other 50 female athletes in my wave. It is a deep water start, so having swum out from the beach, we were held treading water for around 10 minutes before the start gun finally went.
They were a fairly competitive crowd with it being a Championship qualifier, so I kept out of mischief towards the back of the pack and concentrated on what mainly felt like drinking plenty of salt water and being smacked in the face by waves.
I was relieved to finish the swim of 750m and to get on the bike. The Great Orme was a closed road section and the Sprint took you twice round, up what was quite a drag and then a fantastic descent which I loved.The run for the Sprint was mainly on the flat – an out and back along the promenade. The Middle Distance was more challenging and involved a run route with several hills in it.
In between the Middle Distance and the Sprint is an Olympic distance race – so something for everyone. Charles Hickman was also racing the Middle Distance and had a great result, taking 4th Male and first in his age category. Martin really enjoyed the race and was pleased to finish the run feeling strong. He finished 18th male and 3rd in his age group (he’s not sure where all the other 40-44 year olds were racing that day) whilst I finished 6th in mine.
Having survived my first sea swim I would definitely return to Llandudno for this race again.”
A little over a week ago Jackpot’s Neil Waller took part in possibly the hardest Iron Distance Triathlon there is, The Full Wasdale X.
Here is a little about the course.
At over 17,000 ft (5100m) of ascent in 140 (225km)miles of gruelling Lake District mountains, The X is the world’s toughest extreme triathlon.
Swim 2.4miles (3.8km) around the head of Windermere, England’s longest lake, before tackling the route of the famous Fred Whitton bike ride; at over 12,000 ft (3,700m) of ascent the Fred Whitton route is the hardest bike section of any ‘Ironman’ type event in the world.
Competitors transition from Bike to Run to complete the 26 mile (42km) marathon to the top of Scafell Pike and back. Climbing over 5,000 ft (1,400m) from the foothills of the Langdale Pikes before entering the high central mountains, traversing Esk Hause and onto Great End and Scafell Pike, England’s highest point
It’s not just the total ascent, 16,994 ft (5,137m) over the traditional ‘Ironman’ distance of 142 miles (226 km), that makes it the toughest, it’s the severity of the climbing on the bike and run that distinguishes The X as the world’s toughest.
With the huge challenge here is how Neil’s race went.
“So Wasdale wasn’t the result expected but believe me in no way I’m I disappointed in any way..
Arrived at the swim at 3.30am to a freezing cold lake in the dark. A mass start. So cold I struggled for a mile to get my stroke and breathing anywhere near where I wanted it. In fact overall due to the visibility I swam just short of 3 mile in 1h 25m😂
Then onto the bike.. Wow..
For my friends and team mates who will only really understand the full brutality of this whole 112 mile bike ride which takes in England’s biggest and toughest climbs back to back. Straight on the bike you head onto Kirkstone pass which gets that heart rate flying at 6.30 in the morning at 25% incline.. Then onto Whinlatter, Coldfell, then onto the one and only Hardknott 33% followed straight into Wynrose 20%.. the heat was nearly 27 degrees. And on busted legs it was tough.
As I was descending down Wynrose disaster and I ripped my rear tyre which needed a mechanical assistant to replace which took 45 mins. I took this opportunity to strip down and lay in a stream to cool down and at this point knew my cut offs were tight. Back on the bike I pushed back to Ambleside and out on the run. I had 90 mins to run 7 mile. Made it with 20 mins. Onto the next cut off. Made it with 20 mins.
Then I saw the true meaning of climbing on busted thighs.. Rossett, Esk Hause, and Broad Crag.. I made the cut off at the top for 7.40pm and had one more before Scarfell. I had 20 mins to hit the 8.00pm cut off. 8.15pm game over. TBH I felt a sense of massive satisfaction rather than disappointment. I had pushed the run so hard. I was like a pissed up mountain goat climbing the sheer climbs. Hot and sweaty and with a contact lens full of suntan creame but this event was like nothing I have ever entered and will be in no rush to do it again. I nearly made it and who knows without the split tyre. On route back down I bumped into a gentleman in difficulty so we walked back and chatted out being nearly men.. he was a top bloke and I shared the last of my fuel with him as he had run out. I’m now going to enjoy my time with the girls and going to have a chilled Father’s Day in the lakes.. Thanks to my girls as always for being here just no medal today.”
Sunday 14th May brought Jackpot’s Tom Van Rossum in action in the Leeds Half Marathon. Here’s Tom Race report.
“Having never done a half marathon without a swim/bike warm up, I accepted the offer of an entry to Leeds half marathon on Saturday afternoon. After my ritual pre race feed of Pad Thai, I rocked up on Sunday morning in the place of Sarah (green pen, predicted 2h30 finish time). Targeting a slightly faster pace than Sarah, I wished Bron good luck on her race, and squeezed myself in between the more serious runners in the blue pen, hiding the coveted green bib from the vigilant pen guards!
My race plan was to go sub 1h20. Some pre race calculations showed that 3.45 min km’s would bring me in at 1h19 and change (mindful that I may need the extra seconds for the inevitable explosion of my legs as I hadn’t done any long intervals or prep for a half marathon).
The gun went and I settled in with a small group, as the leaders shot out of sight. The first few Km’s ticked by and sub 3.40 felt comfortable. Having a chat with the guy I was running with, he mentioned he was aiming for for 1h15. “Too fast for me” I thought, but I stuck with him as we reeled in the stragglers from the fast starting lead group heading up through Meanwood. I ticked off the first 10km averaging 3.40 min km’s. Arriving at the ring road at the half way point, I figured that was the hard bit done and it was all downhill from there. Heart rate was above threshold with another 10k to go and moving at pace was an increasing struggle. I also really needed a pee by this point. Contemplating the spectators reaction to me peeing my pants, I relented and hoped the finish would arrive a little bit sooner. At the next aid station I grabbed a gel and washed it down with the 2 pro plus stashed in my pants. Probably a good reason for not having that pee I needed earlier. The sub 1h15 dude was long gone by this point and I was now becoming the stalked, and not the stalker. Down on to Kirkstall Road for the last leg home and the double burst of carb and caffeine kicked in. Ticking along towards the finish in town, I knew the final hurdle would be the small rise (but feels like a mountain) over the ring road to reach the finish. I was wrong. Note to self, check the position of the finish line prior to the race. It turned into the longest finish sprint following the numerous turns around the town hall. Knowing that I was well under 1h20 pace I didn’t really care about my time at this point, I just wanted to finish. With the line in sight (but at the top of another hill) I was doing the worst impression of sprinting and finished in 1h17.50. Sarah was 18th overall, 1st female by over 3 minutes and scored a huge PB.
Aiding my recovery with the well received post race beer, I waited on for Bron to finish her race towards a PB. With the clock ticking towards her target time of 1h45 it was going to be close. Executing a far better example of pacing than myself, she crossed the line 10 seconds shy of her target, smashing a new PB in 1h44.50! That’s how to pace a race”!
Also in action in the Leeds half Marathon was Rich Knell-Moore. In response to his race, Rich said “What’s there to say about a half marathon!”. Rich let his feet do the talking and and finished with a time of 126:31.
Welldone to Tom and Rich with strong running and two PBs.