Cross Country part two…eyes on the prize!

The excitement of the Cross Country season continues….

We learn about the debutants, the speedy drivers, the prize winners and see the smiley happy faces of those representing the club. 😊

At the halfway point of season 14 ladies and 16 men had represented the club with 2 ladies and 2 men with 100% participation records. There had been some excellent performances before Christmas that had laid sound foundations for the rest of the season. 👏🏼

Burnley – Fixture 4

After a extended break around the festive season it was time for the 4th Mid Lancs fixture held again at Towneley Park. A flat parkland course within earshot of Burnley’s Tuft Moor ground, on occasion we have run during a game and been cheered on by the crowds! Now I’ll be honest, the Burnley course is not anything too exciting and the last few years has often been a low point in terms of turnout but it’s important that points are scored at every fixture so kudos to everyone who competed.

A dull overcast day but thankfully no rain although the new tent was getting a little battered by the wind!

For the ladies we had the Three Amigos..Jayne, Marie and Lisa.

Leading the Ladies home was Marie in 22nd place and 24.02. Then we had Jayne in 68th (26.46) and Lisa 90th (27.51). Thankfully only 3 ladies are required for the Senior Women’s team so they were able to score vital team points. Well done ladies!

For the men it was the “Magnificent Seven” (Nothing like using a few film titles!), sounds better than Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White couldn’t make it!

The men ran to form and leading them home in 42nd was big Jon in 38.12, another great run, In 2nd place for the men only a few places and seconds further back was John in 52nd 38.36 which also made him 3rd V50. After 10 days of illness Cross Country was always going to be an interesting challenge but I was pleased with my 42.42 coming in 4th behind Stuart who took 3rd place for the men in 41.54. Mike Casey came next in 48.41, then Tony in 49.44 and then Jeff made up the 7 with 55.50. A decent turnout and performance by the men.

The best part of the day is always coffee and cake and after using the car park of the Garden Centre it seemed rude not too!

 

Northern Athletics Cross Country Champs – Camp Hill Estate Bedale, Yorkshire

Five Senior men were in action, John Heyes, Jeff Darbyshire, Stuart Towns, Mike “Debutant” Vose and my good self Mike Harris.

The course was an interesting mix of decent solid ground and some awful muddy sections that sapped your strength. I have to say though compared to the Northern Races in folklore this was relatively easy! (Memory jogger….Knowsley x 2, Witton Park were all stinkers!)

We were all under orders to run fast as the Harriers Do was on in the evening plus Driver Jeff needed to go out early, more of that later.

We first managed to watch Harriers speedster Tim Hartley run in the Junior Men’s race. Tim had a great race managing to come home in 34th place in 29:04. Well done Tim. 👏🏼

The quick getaway planned meant no tent or flag just some alfresco changing into race gear outside the car. Numbers collected, warm up done and we were on!

A decent field meant there was the usual Zulu charge as 100’s of runners bounded off enthusiastically to the first bend.

The course had been really well thought through and was a decent mix. It was however one of the courses that you didn’t quite work out the laps from the map. Add in the fact it was long, very long and you get a tough race!

First back was John in 256th place in 54:37. Next was me in 57:46 350th place, then Stuart in 407th in 1:00:32, 4th was Mike Vose in 565th place in 1:15:58 with then Jeff in 574th place in 1:19:11.

Jeff very quickly realised he had about an hour to do a 2 hour journey so the Harriers were then plunged into the 2nd race of the day – Jeff going for it. Pleased to say we managed to get back in one piece and John and myself made it to the Harriers do in good time!

 

Vegas (Blackpool) – Fixture 5

Time to go exotic and take a trip to the Vegas of the North – Blackpool! Wind that was a common theme of post Christmas races and not the type caused by the Sprouts. Another tough outing for our tents resisting the blustery conditions. The wind had helped dry the course out and apart from a few sections conditions were decent underfoot. It was starting to hot up in the Ladies league with the Harriers in contention for the top spot. 😀

It had been a few years since we raced here (Dave Collins ran last time – that’s how long ago it was!) It’s a short course but the distance made up by doing more laps! It’s a pancake flat mixture of rough grass and playing fields, the wind turned up the difficulty up a notch but otherwise it was fairly benign.

Leading the ladies home in a fantastic 16th place (the track sessions obviously paying off!) was Marie Jarvis in 27:42. Next home and continuing what was turning into a fantastic season was Jacqui Jones in 29:23. 3rd lady was Jayne Salloum 29:58. Lisa Heyes 32:00, Carla Taylor 34:03, Dee Hughes 34:24, Rachel Lawton 36:08, Pauline Foster 36:55 and Michelle Jones 39:22. An absolutely brilliant nine turned out – well done all.

Nine was the magic number for the men. Leading the men over the finish line was Jonathan Kearsley in 39:11, well done Jon on another excellent showing of 46th place. Winning his battle with a Preston Harrier and taking 2nd place in the team was Mr Speedy aka John Heyes in 40:02. Not too far behind the younger Jon.

There was then quite a battle between myself and Steve Nicholls with Steve putting in a decent sprint finish to take 3rd place in 41:21 with myself Mike Harris in 41:24. The vets kept coming with Stuart Towns next in 41:56, Mark Morgan-Hillam 42:07, Mike Casey 49:23, Tony Foster 50:39 and Jeff Darbyshire in 55:00. It was a decent scoring performance for all the teams.

Here’s 5 of the men looking suitably pleased with their efforts.

 

Nottingham – The English National Cross Country Championships 22nd February

The Nationals returned to the fantastic Wollaton Park venue in Nottingham in February. The rolling grounds make a great course, made super challenging with the addition of loads of thick gloppy mud! Horrendous rain in the build up threatened the cancellation (seems a lifetime ago now!) and much of the normal grass field parking was closed. The surrounding streets were very popular but we managed to get the team bus 🚌 close to the action!

The course hadn’t handled the rain too well!!

Steve Nicholls, Mark Morgan-Hillam and myself had raced here a few years earlier so were excited to be returning and had vowed to bring additional numbers. A keen fan of Cross Country over the last few years has been Jeff Darbyshire and he was straight on it when the club email went out. Stuart Towns joined the party along with the speed twins Kearsley & Heyes.

Representing the Ladies was Jacqui Jones who was having a great season in the Mid Lancs League. Jacqui is one of the founding members of the Endurance Group and it was fantastic to see her running so well and so strong. Well done on 460th place in 48:00.

Sandwiched between Jacqui’s race and the Senior Men’s race was the Junior Men’s race that featured Tim Hartley. On a 10k course it was tremendous opportunity for Tim to test himself against some of the nation’s finest XC runners. It was also his last chance to race the Nationals without having to swerve all us slow old men as he lapped us. Tim had a great run managing 84th place in 41:41.

Our warm up consisted of scouting out the course whilst trying to see Tim and Jacqui in action. What we didn’t do on the warm up was experience the full horrors of the mud, just viewing the drier sections of the course, by accident! (Later that evening I saw a Facebook video which made it look like a clip from Zombie Apocalypse!)

A carefully arranged tree provided an additional challenge. Hurdle it or step on it – that was the choice.

John goes for the “Camo” look in attempt to sneak up on big Jon. 😊

Pink arm sleeves aren’t compulsory club kit but they get you noticed!

Attempting to hover over the water…no chance, it was deep!

Mark’s game face, I think he was enjoying it! Sharp eyed will spot Stu Towns attempting to find a drier line….there wasn’t one!

The finishing straight will be a little drier, err no I don’t think so!

The Nationals for the Senior Men are run over the 12k distance and are a tremendous test of fitness. Bringing the Harriers men home was Big Jon in 602nd place with 56:12. Next was John Heyes, 785th in 59:10.  I had my regular battle with Steve Nicholls, after Steve made his usual explosive start to the race acting as a target to keep me working hard on the 2nd lap. I finished 892nd in 1:00:36. Judging by the photos Mark and Stuart spent part of the race stalking each other. Stuart triumphed in 1:01:45 (967th) with Steve (1029th, 1:02:54) tucking in between them in. Mark finished in 1:03:03 in 1036th place. Meanwhile a little further back Jeff was getting into a real battle which even including runners being tripped up. Jeff stayed on his feet so I’ll leave the story at that! Jeff finished in 1673th place in 1:24:19.

I’m having you, Jeff on the charge!

Regrouping in the tent a quick squint on Strava told Mark and I that the course was longer and slower for us than three years earlier. On reflection no surprise bearing in mind the difficult conditions. There were 1716 finishers with plenty not able to hack the horrendous conditions. When the results came out it revealed the Men’s team were 81st.

If you ever get the chance, do the Nationals, there aren’t many sports where everyone has the chance to compete at a National level. Well done everyone!

 

Lancaster – Fixture 6

The last fixture in February – unheard of but with what was coming a few weeks later it was perhaps just as well the season was all wrapped up before March. By now most runners were deep into their marathon training and Cross Country was a tough distraction.

Seven ladies made the trip north with a very serious chance of claiming a league medal or even the title if results went their way.

A dry day but the wind! Both tents were flattened by the wind. In the end we persevered and pitched one behind a huge oak tree for protection. A few tweaks to the course to when I last ran there but enough in it to keep it reasonably interesting.

It was the return of the Magnificent Seven for the ladies. Vera Schleiffer joined the stalwarts with her Harriers XC debut!

Apart from the wind the conditions weren’t too bad for decent running with just a few patches of mud to dampen any over enthusiastic running! 😊

Vera made an impressive start to her Harriers XC running coming in just under a minute behind super Jacqui Jones. Jacqui was 39th in 29:18, a great result to cap off a fantastic season, clinching the Silver medal with a 2nd 🥈place in the L55 category. Well done! 👏🏼⚫️🔴⚫️👏🏼

Vera was 51st in 30:12, hope you enjoyed it! Next was Lisa Heyes in her 5th outing of the season coming in 68th place with 31:55. Dee Hughes was 90th in 33:38, Rachel Lawton was 10th in 35:29 and Pauline Foster was 109th in 36:08. Great running from our ladies team.

Leading lady for the season was Marie Jarvis who ended up overall in 17th place, well done! 👏🏼

The performances from the ladies were very consistent over the entire season and they were well in contention for the prestigious Gold medal. In the end they were only denied that on countback of race times as their points tally matched eventual winners Blackburn Harriers. A big congratulations to the Ladies on winning the Silver medal.🥈

Representing the men in the final outing of the season were Paul Carter, John Heyes, Tony Foster, Mike Harris (scribe), Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Jonathan Kearsley, Steve Nicholls and Mike Vose.

The Ladies did a fantastic job of capturing the men in action.

There was some swapping of positions in the middle of team.

Mike Vose wasn’t put off by his Northern XC outing and was ready for more action.

As ever John kept his happy face on, he loves his XC that lad! Going into the last race John was well in the hunt for a medal in the V50 age category.

Amongst the men there was some trading of positions a few times between Sanjay, Steve and myself. Always good racing against team mates as well as other clubs, as it forces you to push on with some extra effort. XC is more about places than times so each athlete you pass boosts the team position.

Inevitably Jon Kearsley led the men home again in 29th place with 37:49. This gave Jon a great 22nd place in the season’s standings, a brilliant set of performances.

Next in was John Heyes, clinching a bronze medal 🥉with 50th place in 39:17. Next was myself in 40:40 in 70th place (Really enjoyed that season!), closely followed by Sanjay in 74th in 40:53 and Steve in 76th in 41:02. Nothing much between the three of us. In 186th place was Paul Carter with 49:07, Tony Foster in 192nd with 49:58 and finally new regular Mike Vose in 212nd place with 54:50.

For the season the men did enough to retain their position in Division two but with a strong showing from their old codgers managed an excellent bronze medal 🥉in the V40 league. Well done Gents! 👏🏼

I would like to take this opportunity to do a shout out to Juniors and parents who turned out for the Harriers this season. I’ve not mentioned them in the reports but it was always great to see them amongst the results. Well done all.

Finally with a word count approaching 2,500 I would like to thank all the senior athletes who turned out this season. We wouldn’t be a team without you. ⚫️🔴⚫️

Ladies roll of honour in no particular order (numbers are XC appearances)

Vera Schleiffer 1
Rachel Lawton 4
Katrina Hamilton 1
Jacqui Jones 6
Kelly Anne Towns 3
Lisa Heyes 5
Laura Dootson 1
Marie Jarvis 4
Pauline Foster 4
Danielle Brearton 2
Sarah Coates 1
Jayne Salloum 3
Davina Hughes 3
Carla Taylor 2
Michelle Jones 3

Men’s roll of honour in no particular order (numbers are XC appearances)

Steve Pendergrast 1
John Heyes 7
Mike Harris 8
Steve Nicholls 6
Jon Kearsley 6
Stuart Towns 6
Paul Fitzsimmons 1
Tony Foster 4
Mike Vose 2
Sanjay Bisnauthsing 2
Stuart Fairclough 2
Jeff Darbyshire 6
Mark Morgan-Hillam 4
Chris Simpson 1
Mike Casey 3
Darren Jackson 1
Paul Carter 2

 

Cross Country – The first half!

I was always determined to write the end of season Cross Country report before the end of March. Why? Well if it was anything like my recent attempts to blog it wouldn’t happen otherwise. I also associate March with being the last month of the season so it was rather surprising we were all done by the end of February. One month on it was just as well we had finished as March turned into the most bizarre month (with more of course to come!)

Added note – it of course took me ages to complete this blog!

A very wet and muddy and muddy Cross Country season, that is probably the biggest understatement ever! It was just as well we started the season with a couple of brand new tents. Thankfully they survived the season and were reasonably clean when we put them away but more of the last fixture later!

Ulverston – Fixture 1

We started the season with a September away day to Ulverston. We ended the previous season there so it seemed strange to be back there so soon. Now my memory is getting poor with old age but I do recall the savage weather forecast being incorrect and we were treated to some decent sun. A course shoehorned into the space available at Glaxo sports ground, it was the 3rd time we had competed there and it was a decent benign opener to the season. With it being further afield it’s always a good place to earn good team points if you can get a team out. The ladies got their season off to a great start with a brilliant 3rd place overall and 3rd within Division one. Blackburn Harriers taking the win.

Ladies team – Laura Dootson, Kelly Anne Towns, Jacqui Jones, Lisa Heyes, Rachel Lawton and Katrina Hamilton.

The men were able to watch as the course got slowly churned up. There are a few sections of hard ground so it’s one of those courses where the jury is out on which shoes are best.

The men were starting to sweat on whether for the second year running we would only have 5 and not the 6 required for a team score but thankfully 6 rolled up! Steve Nicholls running with a cough, any thoughts of suggesting he sat it out being put on the back burner!

Jonathan Kearsley got his season off to a flyer with a great run although he was aided by some pacemaking for the first 200 metres from Steve “Go out real hard” Nicholls.

Bringing the men home then was the Harriers blond bomber Jon Kearsley (big Jon) in 35th place. His love of the mud only rivalled by his love of his dry robe. Of subtly different dimensions but not lacking any speed was the other John – of the Heyes variety. Apart from a small scare at the end of the first lap John had 2nd place covered off for the team. After briefly surprising John I held onto 3rd place. Although I was reasonably fit from Autumn marathon I have no recollection of actually feeling it as I made my way around multiple laps. A good reminder of how good Cross Country running is for your fitness! 4th for the team was Steve, then Stuart Towns and Steve Pendergrast. I may have remembered this incorrectly but I think it was Stephen and Katrina’s first XC race and it was great to have them there as without them we wouldn’t have managed complete teams. Well done, a great effort as it’s a decent drive for your first outing.

Men’s team – Jonathan Kearsley, John Heyes, Mike Harris, Steve Nicholls, Stuart Towns & Stephen Pendergrast.

It’s at this point I cheat slightly as I wrote a report for the second race, although John Heyes and Stuart Towns said I only wrote one to illustrate they weren’t there! (They were off trying to win the Warrington Way pairs relay)

Hyndburn – Fixture 2

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!

Ladies team – Danielle Brearton, Marie Jarvis, KellyAnne Towns, Jacqui Jones and Pauline Foster.

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 Derbyshire and Mark Morgan-Hillam were the male line up.

It’s fair to say that the going was heavy and after a series of races to churn it up downright horrible in parts. There were a few runners who examined the mud in closer detail, Simmo not wanting to be outdone by Pauline doing a bit of a face plant too! Apparently the mud is good for your complexion!

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.

Men’s team – Jonathan Kearsley, Steve Nicholls, Sanjay Bisnauthsing, Mike Harris, Mark Morgan-Hillam, Chris Simpson, Stuart Fairclough, Paul Fitzsimmons, Tony Foster and Jeff Derbyshire.

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

Sefton Park – 3rd fixture

Sefton Park, one of the bigger fixtures on the calendar. A combination of leagues, a National series of events and a European Championships qualifier draws the athletes and spectators in decent numbers.

A fairly flat parkland course that drains well resulting in only a few patches of mud after poor weather. NOT THIS YEAR! After the wet weather we had in the autumn it was muddy on all of the course and very very heavy in parts. It certainly changed it from a course where it’s possible to run at your “road race pace”. It was only looking at the photos that reminded me how bloody awful the mud was!

Danielle had another great run coming home first place for the team and 10th in the ML race. Recovered from her cold was Marie Jarvis in 2nd place (21st) and final place on the ladies A team was Jacqui Jones who was having an excellent season. Overall we had 12 female athletes competing which was a fantastic turnout with a great 6th place.

Ladies team – Danielle Brearton, Marie Jarvis, Jacqui Jones, KellyAnne Towns, Jayne Salloum, Lisa Heyes, Davina Hughes, Carla Taylor, Pauline Foster, Rachel Lawton, Michelle Jones and Sarah Coates.

Now the men got to enjoy the course after everyone else had given it a right good chewing over. One time we should get to go first!

Check out the orange shoes and white socks sported by Jeff “Keen as mustard” Derbyshire. New on for Sefton, it’s fair to say they lost their glow after a battle in the trenches!

It was a tough day at the office but leading the men home was Tim Hartley with a fantastic 33rd place. Next home and 1st Vet Harrier was John Heyes with a super 52nd, this helped the Men’s Vet team to a great 3rd place, We had a strong team out but there was some serious switching around of finish positions from previous races!

Full Men’s team was Tim Hartley, John Heyes, Stuart Fairclough, Mark Morgan-Hillam, Steve Nicholls, Mike Harris, Chris Simpson, Darren Jackson, Paul Carter, Mike Casey and Jeff Derbyshire.

Next was a long break until the January races and a chance for Mother Nature to rustle up some extra mud!

To be continued……

Wigan Trail 10k postponement

Due to the current COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic we have taken the decision to postpone the Wigan Trail 10k to next year – Sunday 9th May 2021. Any existing entries will be carried over to 2021 and anyone who can not make the new date will be able to transfer their place. We have suspended new race entries and will reopen later in the year. Like all event organisers (and we are runners too) we have made this decision with heavy hearts but have no choice and we hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

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!