Mid Lancs Cross Country Report

Saturday 9th November saw Harriers take part in the second Mid Lancs Cross Country fixture of the 2019/20 season. Just in time for the big day the temperatures took a tumble and one point sleet was on the weather forecast! Our teams were not worried however as they had their new tent making it’s second outing as ever complete with with tea and coffee facilities. We have certainly moved with the times!

First up were the Ladies team. Represented by Marie Jarvis, Danielle Brearton KellyAnne Towns, Jacqui Jones and Pauline Foster.

Hyndburn is one of people’s favourite courses. It has most natural obstacles you can imagine, not out and out hilly but plenty of undulations. The only thing missing is a stream or river but it trades water for mud and plenty of it. Not the severity of Knowsley or Witton Park (runners of the Northern XC Champs at those venues will be having palpitations at those mentions!!) but enough to make it very very tough.

The ladies had a brilliant day, they might have been light in numbers (come on we need more of you!) but they made up for it in an excellent performance. Leading the ladies home in a brilliant 7th place was Danielle in 27:19. A fantastic result that really got the team off to a great start. Next was Marie (battling a cold as well as the mud) in 32nd and 30:13. Making it home as 3rd counter was KellyAnne 41st place in 30:43. Jacqui was 56th in 31:45 and Pauline was 107th in 37:28, coming home completely covered in mud following a serious case of face planting.

This meant the Ladies were 5th team and 3rd V35 team. A great return on their efforts!

Next were the men with a turnout of 10 and a serious loading of handsome V40 runners! Hell! Who says the editor can’t show some artistic licence! By now the course was at it’s churned up finest. Please don’t be fooled by the excessive clothing in the photo, come race time it was strictly vest and shorts only for these tough guys!

Mike Harris, Steve Nicholls, Paul Fitzsimmons, Tony Foster, Chris Simpson (unusually camera shy?), Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Stuart Fairclough, Jeff Darbyshire and Mark Morgan-Hillam were the male line up.

Absolutely blasting round the course for the men was Jonathan, finishing 33rd in an impressive 40:41. Then the pop sensation Stevie Nicks bounced back to form in 72nd place in 43:37. An excellent debut from Sanjay in 81st and 44:13. Next was a steady procession of V40 Harriers. Mike in 85th with 44:30, Mark 91st with 44:41, Chris Simpson (who had adopted camo face paint by this stage) in 100th in 45:12 chased in by Stuart in 101st in 45:14. Then we had Paul Fitzsimmons in 108th in 45:36. Tony was 206th in 53:03 and Jeff was 259th in 1:04:06.10th place team and 6th V40 team.

A tough but very enjoyable day. An honourable mention to the younger athletes who also made the journey to represent Harriers, well done!

All our teams are in Divisions, based on season performance there is promotion and relegation. The ladies are in Division One and the men Division Two. In addition there are leagues for the age categories with the men’s V40 team in Division One.

Well I’m pleased to say that the Ladies are TOP of Division One! This means it’s really important we get as many of you running as possible for the rest of the season to maintain this position. The Ladies V35 are in 2nd place which again is fantastic, well done Ladies!

The Men are going steady in Division Two, currently in 4th place – the top two are promoted and bottom two relegated. For the V40 men it was their first points as they didn’t have a full complete of old boys at Ulverston. It was 2nd place team at Hyndburn so a great points return. Again it’s now vital we continue to turn out in big numbers!

Remaining fixtures

Sefton Park, Liverpool 23rd November

Towneley Park, Burnley 11th January

Lawson’s Ground, Blackpool 8th February

Ryelands Park, Lancaster 29th February

In addition there are the Northern XC Championships 25th January and National XC Championships 22nd February.

Cross Country news!

Important – registering to run Cross Country at Sefton Park Liverpool

Cross Country – Saturday 23rd November Liverpool

This isn’t the next race but it’s different in that you need to let us know before this weekend if you want to do it! The club will pay for the entries but we need to know so we can sort numbers and timing chips. There will be no on the day entries. It’s a fantastic event that attracts additional runners from across the country. Please only advise if you can definitely run. Thank you.

Cross Country – Saturday 9th November Wilson Playing Fields, Hynburn

The next Cross Country race takes place Saturday 9th November at Hynburn. If you are a registered club member do please come along, join in and represent the club. There is no selection criteria, just a club vest is required. The course is either spikes or trail shoes and is sure to have a little mud so likely to be good fun! For details of location, course maps and timings please look at http://www.midlancs.org.uk/

Other Mid Lancs League dates

11th January Burnley Mid Lancs XC
8th February Blackpool Mid Lancs XC
29th February Lancaster Mid Lancs XC

Other Cross Country events

25th January Northern Athletics XC Champs,
Camp Hill Estate, Kirklington, Bedale, North Yorkshire, DL8 2LS – look up Camp Hill – looks a good venue.

Saturday 22nd February English National XC Champs
Wollaton Park, Nottingham – a fantastic venue for a great event

Chicago Marathon

When you live with Chris it definitely keeps things interesting, this time he decided he was entering us both into the Chicago marathon ballot as he really wants to do the Abbotts series. Yet again i somehow got in and he didn’t and its starting to become a running joke between him and the lads because i never had any intention of running a marathon and have now done 4 because of him. I don’t have the best track record when it comes to marathons as injury or life always seem to get in the way of training for them and this time it was a bit of both. My running went out the window at the start of the year with illness then niggles and even though Chicago was booked back in January the majority of my training for the first half of the year was dedicated to the half iron triathlon that Jonathan had signed me up to.  

    The hope was that I could come off the back of triathlon training and still be in a good place due to the cross training, it didn’t really work out that way. I managed to get one 16 mile run in about 7 weeks before race day and then my right leg decided to rebel. Another 3 attempts at long runs ended in despair as i couldn’t even get upto double digits due to pain in my right leg, luckily a visit to Andy and a solid hour of work on my right side the week before the marathon really helped out and we just had our fingers crossed I’d be able to wing it round on race day. Its safe to say travelling abroad for races is never ideal especially when the flight is just short of 9 hours and there’s bugger all leg room! If i wasn’t already nervous enough being on a flight where half the passengers were clearly runners didn’t help, stood in the queue to board the flight and trapped in the middle of a group of guys talking about how they wanted to try and get another 2:40 marathon was slightly depressing. One long ass flight later and I had shooting pains through one knee and pain through my hip thanks to being all leg with no room to stretch meant me and Chris were far too happy that our hotel offered an in room training bag that had a yoga mat and foam roller.  

      Its safe to say Chicago is a great place to go visit. As far as races go I’ve never had one keep me so informed by email and constant updates and tips. The expo was really easy to find and absolutely huge with a really good choice of stuff in there and loads of helpful people. Race number collected all i had to do was try not to walk too much but that never happens, I think we averaged about 8 miles a day but we do like to explore. The night before the race was just about me getting kit sorted and making sure i had some kind of snack for the morning in case i couldn’t find breakfast, i have to eat before any race or i just go downhill fast. Id already decided i was going to go to the start on my own because of how early it was and leave Chris and the kids in the hotel.

Its very odd going to a race on your own especially in another country in a city you’ve never been in before. We had been to a shop the night before to get me some fruit for breakfast in case i couldn’t find anywhere in the morning which worked out for the best. Heading out the hotel at 6am i was surrounded by other runners on their way to the start though it tickled me slightly that most of them were in pyjamas or wrapped in blankets and i was in shorts, running jacket and a buff, must be a northern thing. There were plenty of coffee stands open but no where to get a real breakfast so i had to settle for a croissant and the apple and two bananas i had picked up the night before. I know to a lot harriers that seems a big meal before a race but it was no where near what i usually eat before a long race and i knew i was going to feel it later on. Its a really good set up for the start, you get a coloured wave and a staggered start which means you don’t get squashed in and you can get into your race pace pretty early on.  

    Music blaring and surrounded by excited runners we made our way towards the start line and we were off. I’ve never been round such a well supported race! From the off you run up a slight hill and under a bridge which must only be about 500m from the start line and from there till the finish there were people clapping, cheering and ringing bloody cow bells at you. I knew i was never going into this race looking for a time it was always going to be a case of just getting round so id said from the start i wanted to try and just enjoy it for a change and i really did. The first few miles were spent trying to get into a comfortable pace while avoiding the various pieces of clothing the other runners were trying to take off and discard while running, never seen so many people stripping off so many layers while running outside of a harriers session when jonathans decided he’s had enough of clothes.

I saw the family for the first time around mile 4 which was really nice as they got to see me still fresh and smiling and I wasn’t sure how long that was going to last. I was treating this as a long training run so figured I would try to keep my pace between 9-9:30 a mile as long as i could because I knew I could hold that pace for at least 14 miles on a good day.  

     Its fair to say its not cheap to do this race. Berlin was an expensive race entry and this one was similar but i have to say you can see where the money goes. This is one of the most well organised races i have been too and well supplied too. The roads are so wide that there’s minimal jostling with other runners and there’s plenty of room to cut through groups. There’s aid stations almost every mile with really long water stations and gatoraid stations, they have portaloos at every aid section and you didn’t have to queue because of how often they were which was brilliant! I think i got to mile 11 before i started to seriously feel hungry and the blister i already had on my foot started to make itself known. I got my ass to the half way point and ducked into the aid station where the lovely people had compeed blister plasters to hand, they really are amazing, and decided i would walk out and eat my toffee crisp that i had put in my race belt. I always run with clif blocks but for anything longer than half marathon distance i take a proper snack too.  

    fed and blister protected i got my ass back into gear at a slightly slower pace but i was happy and I was moving. The support was still going strong and you really cant beat stages with drag queens on them cheering you on with cops dancing away. I think i got to 18 miles before I started to struggle and had to start walking. It had started to get seriously warm at this point and i was understanding why the race started so early! Everything was starting to get tired and trying to run when around your knees is cramping is the weirdest feeling. By this point I was messaging Jonathan and Chris who were both being they’re amazing loving selves and telling me to behave and keep my ass moving and stop playing on my phone. I’m pretty sure that sheer stubbornness on my half and amazing support is what got me round. I was in a fair bit of pain but just kept plodding on because i knew even if I walked the last few miles there was no way i wasn’t finishing, even with a complete lack of training. The people that came out on that course to support were amazing and constant. There were people with pretzels, twizzlers, cookies, sandwiches, sweets and even beer and jello shots all of them cheering you on and keeping you going.  

    I managed to get to mile 21 where i saw Chris and the kids again and it was really needed, i got a hug and a kiss and knew i was almost home. They said they’d be at the finish for me and the last 5 miles were a case of stop starting which i really didn’t want to do but my body wasn’t giving me much choice. I saw my family again at mile 25 and had pretty much managed to hold it together the whole run, i’d had a few arguments with myself but that’s nothing new, but i was getting annoyed as i just wanted to be able to run in the last mile. It was getting annoying that i was running long too as i’d been about half a mile up since mile 7 so i knew i was running long no matter what. It doesn’t matter how many times you do a race when you see that last sign that says 800m left there is always a wave of joy and relief and trying not to cry at the fact that you actually managed to pull this crap off, though it is a bit mean that its uphill into the park at this point. I managed to get my ass across that finish line with a 2 minute pb somehow which tells you how bad my previous marathons have gone haha. I was in pain, tired and hungry but i had a smile on my face for the majority or the run and even at the finish line. I had genuinely enjoyed every minute of this race more than any other race I had done previously and would definitely recommend it to anyone that fancies travelling that far to do one or if your going for the 6 stars. You really will have a brilliant time and meet some lovely people and the free beer on the course and at the finish line will be a nice plus point too. I don’t recommend doing this crap without training its just plain stupid but sometimes life and injuries really do just get in the way. At some point i will go into one of these well prepared and do the club colours proud.    

IRONMAN

IMUK report by Jonathan Kearsley (Apologies for late publishing – Editor)

Alexa, play thunderstruck. 4 AM I’m up, breakfast already planned out weeks in advance. Strong coffee, porridge with raisins and honey. Checks the bags, checks the bags again everything’s packed.

Now I need to apologize, Chris and Katie gave me a lift to the start, what they got was me with headphones in hardly speaking. Chris says stop being nervous it’ll be fine, easier said than done but I believe him. We get to Leigh sports village I don’t remember anything about getting the bike ready or any prep. I find myself stood on the red carpet. The crowd at Pennington is amazing considering its 6am on a Sunday morning even better my brother had made the swim. It meant the world but I’ve no idea what we said to each other didn’t even wish him Happy Birthday, but a hug off Phil was what I needed, he grabbed my hand told me “I got this”.

Now all I wanted to do was finish, time never mattered just bloody finish. 2.4 miles (3.8km  for any remainers) swim in Pennington flash, no worries I wasn’t nervous for this, the plan was always swim to wake up aim for an hour and don’t kill yourself chasing a time. 5 minutes to the start I’ve gone and stood with the 55 minutes swimmers in an effort to not get caught in the washing machine behind. The national anthem, what do you do? Do you sing? Stand with a hand on your chest? Opted to play with goggles. THUNDER!! THUNDER!! Good old AC/DC they really know how to start a race.

The swim went to plan near enough apart from the WWE inspired swim strokes some seem to have adopted. 1 lap down get out of the water and run taking swimmers on the run on the Australian exit the crowd is so loud, couldn’t help but wave my arms to get a reaction, Brilliant. Run off the pier and get into lap 2. This lap seemed to take forever to get to the top of the lap at the top I found myself in a big group of swimmers, it was great 10 of us all jostling down the back straight. The competition feels good a peloton of swimmers drafting taking turns at the front seeing who will put the first kick in. 200m from the swim exit I decide to kick get to the front and finish the swim strong, but this is the only time this race will feel like a race. Ironman quickly turned into survival. Got out the water in 79th 1:01 on the watch. Capable of faster but this was the plan. Wet suit rolled down to waist straight away hat off goggles off. Run. Phil stick a hand out for a high 5 I’m miles away. Platty screaming my name it’s hard not to get carried away.
T1 I take on fuel and get to the bike.

Confidence at an all-time high I get to the mount line a group of friends just next to it, this is amazing, the photo of me with no visor on I’m really that happy. Now the night before Darren joked that he hoped I had an accident on the bike so he could set an iron distance time before myself and at 10 the night before Ironman is not what you want to hear. He’s since apologized for what happened next as this was not his fault but coincidence. As everyone will have already heard me moan about I came off the bike at the second speed bump. I learned this week watching the Tour de France that you don’t feel pain for 10 seconds usually after a bike crash, this is true. I peeled myself off the floor and got to the bike signalling to others to not help a Marshall asks if I’m going to carry on and if I’ll fine. Of course I told him as I fumbled my way around putting my chain back on. I get on the bike and finally make my way out of Pennington. Down the road my sister in-law cheers me on I love that she was there with my nephew but I really didn’t want her to see the holes in my clothes that had torn or the blood coming from my shoulder not that she’d worry but I just didn’t want her to tell Mum.

Pain had now fully set in as I made my way into Bolton, great, all confidence was now gone. I’m not a cyclist, I’m hardly a runner what am I doing in this race. Thank god I can swim. For the hills I drop down to little cog and tell myself that it’s going to hurt but it will be over tomorrow and you can relax then, but for now just try and enjoy it you’ve paid to be here. I get on a flat and work through the gears feeling ok considering I try to move to big cog, bike says no. Cursing the crash. This was going to be a long day. I’d love to describe the course but I have no idea where we went. Basically, hills, potholes, hills, hills, Then the Black dog pub. Great pub people 4 deep screaming at you cycling through the middle of the crowd. Top of sheep house the masked wrestlers out in force they like my bike, I didn’t at the time. Cycling down sheep house is amazing. Much easier that way. Cycle to Bolton 1st lap done 65 miles+ in my head I’m over two hours in front of cut off. I’m having a picnic, might as well enjoy this nonsense. Pull out a ham and cheese sandwich bit warm and slightly squashed but I’ve looked forward to this. An oompa loompa strolls over clearly eyeing up the sandwich. “Alreet lad” “You’re from Wigan you should be eating pies” To his amazement I pull out three from a back pocket. That’s shut him up. Little did I know this 15 minute picnic caused an issue with my tracker much to my mum’s amusement. The second lap was horrible, I didn’t enjoy it, everything was hurting, stupid speed bump. If I got anything right on that bike it was nutrition second time at the top of sheep house, done. It’s all downhill now, Chorley road never felt so long. Made it to T2, confidence is back a check of the watch says 8 hours to finish a marathon. The race was done now nothing would stop me finishing.
First question, how’s Chris, where is he? Katie said he was doing fine but had snapped his chain. T2 grab bag take time and get ready. Full change was the right call. Harriers vest on sorted. “Alright mate can you help me out of my top I’m stuck?” course mate. “Mate can you pull my top down?” Hmm ok, no eye contact.

Just a marathon, I get out of the tent too so many familiar faces, almost everyone I knew was there, it was amazing, I thank everyone who came out and supported that day. It made the day so special to me.

Quickly I find I can’t run normally the dull ache had set in across my back and this was going to hurt. Quick deals made in head, ok run the town centre, any hills are now a walk, walk the feed stations and just keep moving forward. From seeing friends on the course to my dad running with me the first half I got finished in 2 hours, a 4 hour marathon is always good. Lap 3 my head had gone apart from the town centre everything was a walk, I knew I would finish so perhaps had lost my urgency but this was hard going. Just when I needed him though Chris, he’d caught up and was now on his second lap.

He dragged me through 4-5 miles of what should have been a walk at a relatively decent pace couldn’t ask for anything better, I’m about to finish Ironman my best friend is running next to me and I’m actually starting to enjoy myself. I run past Lucy and Mum 1 lap left!! As we take our predetermined stroll through the park Chris is playing tig and man from Chorley tri you are still it! Chris looked fresh and far be it for me to keep him he’s in this race to, so off he set down the road like a gazelle, sickening the man hadn’t trained for this one bit and he’s about to blag an iron man. What a guy. Come on Johnny, get moving, a group of friends shout until I reach a jog, can’t hide anywhere. I took a red bull and with 1 mile left I pushed, I knew that it would be over soon, I caught a small group of people all finishing we all put arms round each it was really nice. Im gunna sprint this, if I don’t I’ll walk, Bolton town centre was electric loads shouting your name. Perfect. I got to the red carpet and had to slap it, finished. Mr Kearsley you are now an Ironman!

From 20.5 stone to an Ironman yeah I’ll take that. Again a huge thank you to everyone who supported that day it was brilliant. I’m not stopping at 14:21 though.

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Epicman Windermere

Epicman Windermere by Darren Horrocks.

The day started by parking up in a field of sheep and sheep shit, and I noticed a lot of “run route” signs in the field, which I dismissed as “these are spare signs they are using to direct spectators to the actual run route”, I was wrong, but more on that later.

I unloaded my bike and my bag, and walked up to transition and got everything ready, and then had a lot of time to think about how badly the swim was going to go, because I really hate swimming, it sucks, for me, there is nothing worse than having to swim to start a bike/run race. What makes swimming to the start of a bike ride even worse, is swimming to the start of a swim, those words “deep water start”, are some of the worst words I know.

Despite that, the swim start to EpicMan Windermere was by far the easiest and least problematic part of the day. I swam out to the start and slowly swam in circles (I cannot tread water) for a few minutes to wait for my wave to start, and then off we went. The swim was a simple out, turn and back, very little sighting to do, so I just got on with it. I don’t know why I was so worried about the swim, I kept up with the back of my wave, and ended up getting out not-last.

Then came what I thought was going to be the easy bit, how wrong I was. I knew that 56 miles on the bike wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t know that it was going to be so hard. Just short of 6000ft of elevation according to my watch. 56 miles, and 6000ft in the wind, and, the biggest climb was the start of the loop, a loop I had to do twice. After completing the first loop, that seemingly went on forever, I knew I had it all to do again. Half way up the first climb of the second loop is the first time my head went, and I had decided I was going to go until I couldn’t turn my pedals, then get off and give up, today wasn’t my day. But I just managed to get to the top of 1.8km 10% average climb, and roll down the other side, and that was just how the next hour went, climb after climb, convincing myself I was done, and then thinking “it wasn’t that bad”.

That was until I had 5km left on the bike, and I noticed a mountain in front of me, and not a flat landscape that took me to a lake, I looked left, I looked right, the mountain stretched off beyond 5km in both directions, and then it dawned “im going over this aren’t I”. I followed the road, and a group of cyclists on a club ride ended up behind me. I turned a corner, and saw a 1km long 15% climb in front of me, and “ohh for f**ks sake” just fell out of my mouth, which was met by a lot of laughter and agreement from the club riders.

When I eventually got back to T2, my back, as well as my head had gone, I couldn’t really stand up straight or put weight on my left leg, because my back wasn’t there to support it under me. I used T2 to slowly change my shoes over and stretch off and felt slightly less terrible, so went off onto the run.

The run was 4 laps of a 5.3km course, an undulating trail course through fields, forest paths, up and down rocky climbs, and about half way round, through the sheep-shit field. At the end of the first lap, I was done, I had nothing left, I only continued onto the 2nd lap because I knew that not far into the lap, that is where the toilets where. I thought I would just carry on to the toilet and then walk back and tap out. But, from nowhere after going to the toilet, everything sort of came back to me, I had enough energy, and got rid of enough pain to be able to run the flats and down hill, and walk up hill. So I decided to carry on, and immediately caught my foot on a rock, which immediately went numb, and I thought I had broke it. It didn’t hurt to walk or run on it (that came later), so I continued. The only thing to get me round the next few laps was knowing that every time I ran past the start/finish line, my kids were waiting and shouting and wanting me to finish. I hobbled through and got to the end, in what was the toughest 7 hours and 59 minutes I have endured.

I was told during the run from another athlete, “I have done a few of these, this is the toughest one I have ever done, not only that, this is one of the toughest half marathons I have ever done, and would be on its own”. Which was later backed up by a few other people making similar comments. So while I was annoyed at not hitting the 6 hours I was initially aiming for, the day was a very tough day, and people who do this every week said it was tough too and I made it.

The lesson I have learned is, research the course next time, don’t pick one of the hardest races there are as your first one just because it’s the nearest and my head is stronger than I thought it was.

 

Granfondo Stelvio Santini

Granfondo Stelvio Santini Report by Paul Platt

The week before the Granfondo the pros went through the same part of Italy and a stage of the Giro that finished on the Gavia Pass was changed due to the risk of avalanches. This got me concerned and monitoring the Stelvio Pass. This was the reason I signed up. The long route I was entered in also had the Mortirolo pass which has a fearsome reputation with Lance Armstrong calling it the hardest climb he has faced. I watched the giro go up this and wondered if I had bit off more than I could handle and thought about changing to the medium then on the Wednesday before we travelled they confirmed the Stelvio was still full of snow and the road still closed.

The week before I went Ian Stewart serviced my bike (Thanks Ian) and suggested I swapped my 28 cassette to a 30 for the climbs. Having done Fred Whitton two weeks earlier on a 28 and etape du tour two years earlier with similar 10k and 18k climbs over mountains thought I would still with what I had…mainly due to the fact my other wheels had a 28 on also. More on this later..

Myself, my brother in law set off to Italy Friday morning in high spirits and excited for the challenge. We arrived just South of Strasbourg on Friday and went out for Pizza and drinks. Saturday morning early start and through Switzerland, this is when we started to realise why snow had kept Stelvio pass closed. Two passes in Switzerland where closed and we had to detour via a tunnel and car transporter. This got us in to Bormio around 15:00. Straight off to the expo to register. One of the rules of entry is you are given a Santini cycle top which has to be worn in the event. Me being a short arse ordered small….panic I couldn’t even zip it up 😂😂😂. I had to change it to a LARGE!! The Italians like their kits skin tight! From the expo we decided to climb some of Stelvio while we was there. We weren’t the only ones with the same idea. I got about 11km up the climb, took some photos and decided to not continue the further 11km and be fresh for the event.

Morning of the race…
Up at 5:30am for hotel breakfast, ready and roll to the start. The race started at 7 and I crossed the line about 7:15. The cut off in Bormio was 14:15 before the last 14km and the 11km climb of Cancano to the finish. 7hrs to do the 88ish miles. Sounds easy or so I thought.

First 25ish miles where mainly downhill and was averaging 28mph without any effort. The temperature started at 8c and by 9am was about 18c. I had a skin on and had to remove this on the first small climb. The first real climb came “Teligo”. It’s just under 6km at average 8.3%. I went up this with very little difficulty although it was getting hotter. The descent was lovely. Then there was a long section which brought you to a food station just before Mortirolo at 49miles. I was speaking to people on the ride and it seemed not many where doing the Mortirolo due to not wanting to miss the cut off. I arrived at the food station at 10am. I thought 2hrs up Mortirolo and still 2 hours to get to Bormio which was roughly 20miles away. What I hadn’t realised was how much Mortirolo would take out of me and from the bottom the final 40km was ALL up hill.

The Mortirolo is 11.4km, average of 10.5% and max 23%. First 5km was hard work but progressing. I then started to get cramp. I kept battling through. The cramp went. Brilliant. Around 7km it was getting harder and I was having to go into the red due to the 28 cassette to get to the hairpin and get any few seconds of rest bite I could. 9.4km in and it ramped up to 23%, I decided to hit it hard and then the guy in front unclipped right in front of me, I couldn’t get round him, I will be honest if I would have got up the 22% so far in to the climb I very much doubt it. That was it I was off, too steep to get back on until the next hairpin and then jumped on and got through the next 1.5k and I was at the top. I was broken!! I needed a 10min rest before decending the mountain, I didn’t fancy trying 6mile of mountain decending without a clear mind. At the bottom I went into the food station and then 5 mins later was off on the final 40k uphill to the end. I got to Bormio at 14:10 wow that was close. Mortirolo and the around 30km climb to Bormio with the now 28c weather had put me in a dark place. I started the Cancano climb and at a drinks station looked up….all I could see was switch back after switch back up the mountain to some towers about 4 mile away which I knew was near the finish. For the first time in any event including marathons, ultras, Ironman’s and other events I was VERY close to quitting. I knew it was only 4 mile away but I could get my head around how I could climb that last section of the mountain. I sat having a drink next to a Columbian. With my broken Spanish I said “muy difícil” and “estoy no bien”…translating this is very difficult and I am not good. He laughed and then he said in English “I think I am finished”. We agreed we where finished and then I said “shall we try a few switch backs together”. He surprisingly said “yes”. So we set off and then on the switch backs I felt better. I came in the finish and I had completed. What an event. It tested me to my limits!! I road back down the mountain and on to the hotel to have a few drinks.

Ironman Mallorca 70.3

Apologies the publisher is running very late!!

Ironman Mallorca 70.3 race report….

I love cycling in the sun, I don’t mind hills and I’d long since decided that the half Ironman distance is the event for me….doable at my current level of training, no killing myself on the day, just enjoying a good solid half-day’s training with a medal and food at the end! What more could you want?
So a few years ago when I found myself spectating at Mallorca Ironman 70.3 during a cycling holiday, I decided I’d like to come back and do it one day.
And I’m so glad I did!

A friend (also competing) and I flew over and arrived in Alcúdia late Wednesday evening. We had a few glasses of wine, deciding sensibly to refrain for the next couple of nights, and got a relatively early night. Thursday was a busy day: first registering for the event and collecting the necessary transition baggage, stickers and touring the expo, then picking up our bikes, returning briefly to the hotel to change into cycling gear and then squeezing in a quick 25 mile loop up the coast to check out bikes were ok. Following lunch in Puerta Pollença and a lovely photo opportunity in Cala San Vicente, we returned to Alcúdia for a quick dip in the sea to acclimatise. It was much warmer than 3 sisters!

The following day, we had to rack bikes at 3pm and collect our timing chips from transition. This also involved packing the aforementioned transition bags with everything we’d need for the race. Stressful! Made a couple of rookie errors like walking 2 miles in flip flops and forgetting factor 50, but once everything was securely in transition it was feet-up time around the pool.
Race day morning was a 5:30am start for the special early breakfast the hotel put on for athletes. Apart from thinking porridge was a bowl of jumbo oats covered in boiling water, the rest of the offerings were substantial enough to fuel us for the next few hours, and off we went to the start, stopping briefly at transition to put nutrition on bikes.

There was a warm up opportunity prior to the start, so I had a little swim in the sea, and got my usual pre-race nerves and worries that my wetsuit was restricting me (memories of previous experiences rearing their heads). A quick rearrangement around the shoulders and I was ready to go.
The rolling start at Ironman events makes for a more civilised swim entrance, unlike the scary ‘washing machine’ fist fight in a mass start. I managed to get some great drafting, and coupled with millpond-like sea conditions produced my best swim ever. Sub-32 minutes, I thought I’d read the number wrong on my watch!

Into T1, quick drink of water, carried bike shoes with me as my bike was racked at the opposite end of the longest transition in the world (fact!) and onto the bike to start the course with a fast flat 15 miles to the foot of the climb. This consists of a 7 mile uphill, with I think an average gradient of about 5.5%. Not steep, but blimmin long! Following a technical descent with several switchbacks to contend with, the rest of the course is relatively flat, and if you haven’t burned your legs out on the climb (I did), should be pretty fast (I wasn’t!).

I was absolutely desperate to get off the bike, I always am, but having done very little on the bike this year I felt this event really found me out. After what seemed like an eternity, I was back in Alcúdia and quite happy to chuck said bike in the nearest skip. Instead I racked it back where it belonged and quickly headed out onto the run.

By this time the temperature had risen considerably, but conditions were helped by a slight breeze and lots of water stations. The run is a 3-lap route along the coast road, past the raucous beach party of support, then ending on the beach along the famous Ironman red carpet, where you hear your name on the loud speaker announcing ‘you are an Ironman’ (whether it’s a full or not haha!). Pretty uneventful run, managed to keep moving forward and eventually cross the line in just over 6 hours.

Swim 31:55
T1 6:02
Bike 3:33:13
T2 3:47
Run 1:54:46
Total 6:09:43

All in all, a superb event and a great location. Definitely recommend as a warm-weather option, and can also be done as a relay!

 

Ultimate Half Iron by Chris Green

UK Ultimate Half race report by Chris Green

After having man flu and lurgy all week I wasn’t really expecting much from UK ultimate half tri. Feeling crap and sick in the car I wasn’t looking forward to it.

Transition all set up wetsuit on pretty pink cap covering the battle braids walked down to the start to thunderstruck Jonathon going mental shook my hand and that’s last I saw of him until the run.

I placed myself at the back of the pack on the left as had to keep all buoys on right, we got acclimatised and I could still stand up but water up to my neck, after 3 or 4 mins we were away. Slow and rubbish start for me as I couldn’t get my head into it at all, the water was just deep and green. It took me half a lap to calm down and sort my head and breathing out. First lap done in 25 mins and out the water, little run with pressure on to make sure I nailed the dive with all the women watching about to start. That was probably the fastest 100m I swam trying to get a bit of a lead before the women came. It wasn’t long before I got swam over by lots of yellow caps but it gave me feet to try and follow and I was much happier with my second lap and did it under 24 mins total swim 48:26 total time, not a bad transition considering the distance from the water to bikes under 6 mins before out on the bike.

The bike course was amazing. The first half was slightly down hill and second half slightly up but more rolling than climbs, it was easy to stay on aero bars and never been happier to have di2 just flicking through gears. Easily think I could of pushed harder but happy with 3:05 for the bike distance.

Second transition was under 3 mins and as I was putting my shoes on I heard Jonathon shouting at me that he had done his first of 3 laps.

Out on the run the plan was to just go out at steady 8 min miles and see if my chest would let me just run, it seemed to work for the first 4 miles with a hi 5 to Jonathon as we went past each other. Taking the micky out of the St. Helens tri guy and the Warrington road runner there was friendly banter on the first lap and a hi5 to Jonathan on the second, then I made a friend from tri force in sterling and ran with her for the end of second lap and most of the 3rd with my pace slowing all the time. A bad stitch and unable to breathe I walked the water stations as the water was in cups. I wanted was half marathon under 2 hours and I got it with a 1:55 and Jonathan cheering me on. I ran under the finish stopped watch 5:57:58 really happy with that as epic man last year was 7:15 finish time! Jonathan finished in 5:12 28 mins swim 2:48 for the bike and 1:44 for the run so about 12 mins in transitions.

Ultimate Half Iron by Jonathan Kearsley

Ultimate Half Ironman by Jonathan Kearsley

Before anyone comments about grammar I got CC in English, but writing this on a Portuguese beach with a lot of sangria is making literacy hard at the moment!

As all races should start off I heard thunderstruck on the tannoy, this song being synonymous with iron man. I have listened to this song perhaps a hundred times in training, it always has the same effect, ask Chris Green. Now fully focused give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and headed to the lake.

Unlike every session at the Delph it is about 15 degrees and I actually want to be there. 10 minutes to acclimatise to the water, race nerves now fully taken over I try and speak to other competitors and practice my start. I headed to the front between two buoys. Go. I love swimming, it’s my favourite leg of the race, I spend the first 100m in an aquatic fight club a few kicks to the goggles and a swimmer over the top, enough to panic but experience says this is part and parcel of any race, along a wider line I find open water, relax and settle in to my rhythm, singing ac/dc in my head and I completed the first lap, ran along the carpet and dive back in. I’m not making Tom Daley nervous but a decent enough dive to join the lead pack, now all I can think about is my bike! Swimming is easy but cyclists play a game in triathlons called catch the swimmer who shouldn’t be on a bike.

Leaving the water in 7th position In 28 minutes I sprint to transition, the bike course is two laps at 45 km a piece. The first lap of my bike showed me it’s capable of speed and a very shocked me had started to do the math that a good time was on, on the turn for lap 2 a screw came loose on the aero bars, a few choice words later and half an energy bar I pushed on with lap two, losing time and places I finished the bike 51st in 2:48, a reality check in t2 will later tell me to grow up and that I’ve more than exceeded my expectations. My mum before the race suggested to take my time in transitions as it’s not a race, perhaps unusual advice before a race but making the most of the race and the allowance of headphones I put music on got myself organised.

Immediately leaving t2 I bumped into the the race leader about to start his last lap, apologies and an offered lucozade I watched him disappear in the distance, my last half distance was a day to forget mainly due to a 2:36 half marathon. 1 lap in I spot a familiar sight with Lucy Charles Esque battle braids. Seeing Chris made me so happy, I pushed on with the run, waiting for my legs to decide that the race is over and walking would be preferable. Seeing Chris on the following laps was either a blown kiss or a high 5 to the beautiful bastard, he made the run leg look effortless.

The last lap I told myself that if I wanted a time then it’s there but I’m going to have to suffer for it. I ran all the way with a lucozade bottle and after 20km I was sad to bin it truth be told.

1km left I thanked every single person who had been there. I couldn’t recommend this race enough, the support is amazing and definitely helps. The last 500m my pace picked up now at full sprint another runner shouts slow down you’ll not finish, he was told that I’m about to pb by almost a hour and 20 minutes, getting f**king running he screamed, finishing in 5:13 I broke down, 5 mins alone with my hat firmly over my face.

This is my favourite race and would recommend to any triathlete as a go at the longer distance tri.

You don’t always get the medal!

Manchester Marathon by Lisa Heyes

Rain, wind, constant dark nights, the training companions of a spring marathon. I racked up over 600 miles during my training plan. My mantra was ‘follow the plan’, I lived and breathed running for over 4 months, as did everyone else in the Heyes household. This isn’t a personal pity party, I actually enjoyed the training, yes sometimes I was knackered and yes the disastrous dark run in Haigh Hall frightened the life out of me and who wants to be called a ‘F***ing Running W***er’ whilst minding their own business running through Hindley, but, the rest was actually great and very enjoyable. Training had been going really well. I’d come through the ‘tired all the time’ stage and was starting to grow in confidence. That was until 2 weeks before Manchester when we went down to London for the London Landmarks half. To be honest a great, well organised race, but for me this race started with a slight niggle and ended at 13.1 miles with excruciating pains shooting down my leg and a broken medal! The next 2 weeks were spent in constant fear, trying to protect my injury, whilst stupidly trying to run the taper miles (well it’s on the plan) what a novice I am!

Sunday I woke up early, kit was out but I was still not sure whether to run, I’d had lots of lovely good luck messages and John brought me my race day breakfast of porridge and a cup of tea, he’s a keeper! I made the decision to go and give it my best shot. Then came the most hilarious car journey curtesy of Paul Fitzsimmons with entertainment provided by ‘Simmo’ so I arrived very chilled out and not my usual nervous wreck. There was time for a quick toilet stop, club photo and the runners ‘magic banana breakfast’ top up. I then made my way, with some fellow Harriers, to my start pen and waited for 10 agonising minutes until we could begin.

Gun went off, wished good luck to my fellow team mates and I set of running only to pass ‘Dubai Jayne’ in the toilet queue! The first 5 miles felt fine, I found myself running with Dave and Lee, we were chatting and keeping a good pace, though as usual at the start we felt we’d gone off too fast! We went through a water station and seemed to come out the other end without Lee.


Mile 6 to 7 my hip started to give me some jip, but nothing major, so on I went, still with Dave.

Mile 8, pain is getting worse and now it’s in my hip and knee, it’s sore and really uncomfortable, but not unbearable, so being the novice I am, onwards I go!

Mile 9, Dave has pulled away slightly, he keeps checking behind for me, I tell him I’m ok (I’m not really) and to keep going, he’s running really well and had a cracking first marathon with a brilliant finish time. Around here is where I see Dave and Jacqui, cheering me on, I should have stopped here as it is really hurting now, which I shout to them, Jacqui makes signals for me to stop and I do think I’m going to but the stupid devil on my back urges me to try a bit further, you never know it might stop hurting, as if?

Mile 10, yes I’m still going! I see Julie’s Joggers shouting and jumping around enthusiastically. I tell Julie I think I’m going to have to stop but they’re so enthusiastic and seem to think I’m just having a wobble and they are so encouraging, so I just carry on past.

Miles 10 – 12, I’m now having to run, walk. The pain is excruciating and shooting all the way down my leg every time my foot strikes the floor. I need to stop and I start looking around for anyone I know or a marshal. Runners are a great bunch and I’m constantly being asked am I ok, do I need help. At this point I see Paul Carter then Alex Roberts on the switch back, they are both looking really strong and in front of the 3:29 pacer, I shout encouragement and hobble on.

Mile 12, I round on to the main street in Altringham. There on the corner is the best sight ever, the Harriers flag! I burst in to tears. Jonathan scoops me in to his coat as I sob my disappointment out. Mike, Katherine, Serena, Rayford and Jonathan were brilliant with me, offering comfort and invaluable advice as even at this point I was still questioning myself and wrestling with carrying on and walking the last 14 or so miles, luckily Mr Harris put his foot down and told me this was not happening! Now this will tell all you runners the state I was in, I still hadn’t stopped my Garmin!


It was decided the best course of action would be for me to go back to the start with Serena, Jonathan and Rayford. Jonathan then carries me to the tram stop, one of them commented it was like the scene from ‘Officer and a Gentleman’, it really wasn’t, it’s him carrying a crying, snotty, middle aged women, poor Jonathan, he’s a good ‘un, my hero for the day. My 3 RACE ANGELS then got me to mile 25, luckily we got there just in time for me to see John well on the way to his sub 3 hour marathon and cheer him and others on. John you did amazingly well and I’m really proud of you.

So, there you go, my experience of this years Manchester marathon, very different to last years euphoric experience. It’s hard to put in hours and months of winter training, then not finish a race you put your heart and soul in to. I really struggled for the first few days after the race with the disappointment I felt in myself and the ‘what ifs’. All the messages I had off you lovely bunch meant I was never far from tears. Family Heyes spent 24 walking on eggshells and poor John had to try and keep the sub 3 smile hidden!

So no ‘meggal’ or t-shirt for me, gutted! But I won’t be the first or last person this happens to.

Moving forward the 4 week ‘lay off’ I’ve had to endure so far has been far worse than the DNF. I have missed being out in the fresh air just putting one foot in front of the other, pain free, with likeminded people, who support each other and who I’m lucky enough to call friends.

GO TEAM HARRIERS