Newsletter – Apr 2020
It feels like a long 8 weeks since writing my last update! I sincerely hope that all club members and all those close to you remain safe and well over this incredibly challenging time.
I do not wish to repeat too much of what we are hearing from the 24/7 news cycle; however, if you are one of the Tri2O team who work in health care or are a key worker of any kind, I would like to sincerely thank you for all that you are doing.
The Tri2O committee has held an interim online meeting to discuss the potential impact of the current situation on the club. Priorities were training sessions, the Reading Triathlon, finances and of course how we can help, support and motivate each other through this time.
All coached swim sessions have been put on hold until further notice. Pete and the Reading Triathlon subcommittee are continuing to plan for our club run event to go ahead on the 13th September, with entries significantly up on last year until C-19 hit. A final decision will be made in June.
The Reading Triathlon provides a significant subsidy to the club’s forecasted income, fortunately the club’s finances are currently in good shape with some modest reserves. A big thank you to our Treasurer, Stuart Jay, for providing up to date reports & forecasts to the committee.
Thank goodness for the internet…!! What would we have done in “lockdown” without it?
Despite not being able to meet up physically it has been great to see what our coaches and clubmates are doing….
- Jennie’s dry land swim sessions and spinning sessions look like “fun” (I use that word cautiously!)
- Our Head Coach, Sean Stewart, is keeping other runners and dog-walkers amused by zig zagging around the University pitches to spell words on his Garmin route log!?!? (So long as he can out run the men in white coats!)
- Our Social Media Officer, Justin Watkins has been brilliant with:
- His weekly “10 Questions” giving insights on our clubmates. I loved Ros Wilks’ race tip in last week’s post “just be brave enough to start training in the first place”
- The club Zoom get-togethers are a great initiative, to chat / socialise with clubmates – I look forward to joining in on the next one.
- Actively encouraging us to share photos / videos to keep us all engaged & amused!
- Thank you Justin & Lucy – keep up the great work please.
As there are no events to promote or races or socials our Facebook Group seems to be full of friendly banter which I hope you are enjoying as much as I am – do get involved with your own comments / posts.
I have also found myself on Strava a little too much lately giving and receiving “Kudos” plus sadly comparing my bike route segments with club mates in the Tri2O Strava group. I cannot see many KOM’s & QOM’s but there are some very high achievers in the club (please correct me if you are a KOM or QOM).
Keep exercising and training within the limits, as I know for me this habit is going a long way to holding my spirits up and I hope you are finding this too.
Tri2O is a wonderful club that I am proud to be part of, with such a great bunch of positive people. Let us all keep this going over the next few weeks and I really look forward to seeing some of you soon.
Until then, keep safe, keep healthy and look out for each other in every way we can.
Reading Tri 2020
Update from Pete, Georgia, Jamie & Neil
The Reading Triathlon is due to take place on Sunday 13th September. We are currently planning for the event to go ahead and as such registration remains open. We are hopeful that by this time life will have returned to normal and that we will be able to deliver our club run event this year. As we all know this is a very fluid situation and things are changing all of the time. Many events have already been cancelled and some rearranged for later in the year. We will be further reviewing the running of our event in June.
We welcome the following new members who have joined or rejoined the club since the last newsletter. We hope that even though our club sessions are currently paused you are able to make use of the closed Facebook group to get some ideas for training opportunities during this period of lockdown.
- Anthony Rodriguez
- Callum Hughes
- José Tendero
- Marie Kaing
- Nicki Godbold
- Rowena Wilks
As you are all probably aware, the club is transitioning to a new membership tool this year, ClubSpark, which has been offered to clubs as part of their BTF affiliation. You will be sent an email with details of how to renew your club membership via ClubSpark as it becomes due. We are sending these out on a monthly basis; we will manage the renewal dates in the tool to ensure that your renewal date is as it should be. As with all new tools, there are inevitably teething issues, so please do let us know if you are having any difficulties with the system. We are here to help 🙂
Everyone with a March or April renewal date should have received the email, so if you think you should have received it and haven’t, then please let me know to avoid being removed from the tool, the closed Facebook group, the Strava group and the email list.
by Sean Stewart (Head Coach)
Without a doubt life has changed for all of us since the last club newsletter and no matter what you had planned for the year ahead those plans will be morphing into something new; this applies to all aspects of our lives including our sports. We are fortunate that for the moment our government has not placed an outright ban on exercise, provided we abide by social distancing guidelines, and exercise has been encouraged.
We all know how important regular exercise is for our physical and mental wellbeing and whilst we cannot provide the regular swim and run sessions or group rides and your planned training is disrupted, now may be a good time to try something new such as:
- Yoga – to improve your flexibility and core control. One of our club members, Ben Du Bernard, is offering online yoga classes – contact her via her website: unstoppablerhythms.com/
- Kettlebells – this combines strength training with a high-intensity cardio workout, giving you an overall full-body workout in a relatively short amount of time. Another of our club members, Vanessa Elliott, is offering online classes – find her on our Facebook page or check out her website: vanessapt.com/kettlebells/
- Dry land swim training – using elastic cords to simulate the forces we experience in the water. One of swim coaches, Jennie Jones, is providing online dry land swim training – find her on our Facebook page or contact her via her website: tribirdsportcoaching.com/
- Spin classes – using a static bike for a high intensity interval session. Jennie is also providing virtual spin classes – contact as above
- Pilates – to relax muscles and improve muscle control
Swim fitness during lockdown
by Susan Martin (Swim Officer)
With no training sessions for the foreseeable future, most of us are not able to do any actual swimming at the moment but to help maintain some of your swim fitness keep your SHOULDERS FLEXIBLE and your CORE STRONG.
- Shoulder flexibility is particularly important if you have a desk job. Do the warm up exercises that are done before each swim session at regular times during the week. These are making the Y, T, W and L shapes with your arms, monkey swings and arm rotations. Even simple shoulder shrugs and neck stretches will help. Here are a couple of links that will give you some more ideas.
Stretches – https://outdoorswimmer.com/guides/five-top-stretches-for-swimmers
Exercises – https://www.facebook.com/globaltriathlonnetwork/videos/2266617533423811/
- Core strength is incredibly important to swimming and most exercises can be done at home without any equipment. Here are two websites that you may find useful. Again, mix it up and do it regularly.
Bike fitness during lockdown
by Simon Barbour (Bike Officer)
In the current situation we are lucky that cycling is something that has been specifically called out as being able to continue. Below are a few tips for cycling indoors and outdoors and my view on training goals during this challenging time!
- If you don’t own a turbo trainer or rollers and you’re thinking of pulling the trigger, do so quickly. Supply chains are getting pretty heavily disrupted so once the current stock is gone that might be it for a while. Unsurprisingly demand has increased, and second-hand prices are rapidly increasing with some chancers on eBay asking for more than RRP. Alternatively, ask around and see if any friends or clubmates have one you can borrow.
- There are many different ways to keep motivated whilst working out indoors. Oddballs like me can be perfectly happy staring at numbers on a Garmin with some headphones in, but I appreciate I’m in the minority here! If you have a laptop, tablet or phone you just need speed or power sensors (or a smart trainer) to enable you to get started with the plethora of apps that are out there. Zwift, TrainerRoad, Bkool and Rouvy are some of the more popular ones – they all offer the opportunity to do structured workouts and have different visualisations to keep indoor riding a bit more interesting. Most of the apps are currently offering extended free trial periods and then charge a small monthly subscription once this is over.
- Think about how you are going to keep cool. In winter it’s bad enough but now temperatures are increasing, it can get very sweaty very quickly! Set the turbo up near a window if possible, and consider mail ordering a fan or two – these can make a real difference to your comfort. Also remember that the salt in sweat is not kind to bike components, so I recommend draping a towel over your bike to catch the worst of it and make sure to wipe any excess moisture from your bike after every session.
- Please follow the government advice and if you are riding outdoors do so alone or with members of your household only. If you are concerned about safety there are a number of apps for GPS devices, phones and smart watches that can be set to detect a sharp deceleration, such as a fall, and ring a nominated emergency contact. The roads are currently very quiet, however some drivers are not observing speed limits as carefully as they should, so please remain vigilant.
- Government advice on time spent exercising outdoors is not hugely clear, although 1 hour per day has been mentioned on occasion. Ultimately you’re very unlikely to be stopped whilst out riding solo, but please consider the impact of going out for 6 hours.
Reassessing the season ahead
- Many of us were probably starting to ramp up towards race fitness when the lockdown was announced, coming as it did around 6-8 weeks from the start of the season. The question now is what to do with your programme – go back to base, try to carry on with what you were doing, or try something else entirely? With events not likely to start until late summer at the earliest, the science probably leans towards re-calibrating your year and getting back into a base programme, however I think your own psychology and goals are really important here. Personally, I enjoy the longer low intensity work, and my biggest race limiter is still my weight, so it makes sense for me to go back to base work, keep to a calorie deficit and try and shift a few more kilos
- If you can’t stand the idea of yet more grind then there’s no harm in setting some different fitness goals to build towards when your event would have been instead. Perhaps a PR on a Strava segment or if you have some outside space seeing how quick you can get your transition time! There’s also now loads of time to do all that stretching and core work that we all know we should do but never seem to find the time for…
Running fitness during lockdown
by Edwina McDowall (Run Officer)
As spring races are cancelled or postponed to the autumn and with so many new challenges around us, I feel this is a time to be very flexible with any run training. I love the process of training and we can continue to run during this time. If you can, take some time out to enjoy some solo running.
Here are a few ideas to keep you running safely and motivated.
- Keep getting some easy runs in (harder runs could suppress your immune system).
- Try running off road and at times when there are less people about.
- Integrate some drills and core work into your runs. Pre-run – side skip, grapevine, A skip and dynamic stretches are great to warm you up. Post-run – planks and other body weight exercises further challenge those deeper, smaller muscles!!
Club Captain’s Report
This year’s Winter Running Competition (WRC) was certainly an eventful one I’m sure you will all agree 🙂
From flash floods cancelling events, hilly mud soaked courses testing even the toughest of shoes, to global pandemics cutting the competition short, nothing stood in the way of the 70 club members taking part in the events we had selected, a very well done to you all!
Congratulations to Clive Alderson for winning the Tri2O WRC 2019-20. The final standing are:
1st Clive Alderson
2nd Sean Stewart
3rd Christopher Webber
Full results can be found at https://www.tri2o.club/club-championships/
Looking ahead and the with the current racing season on hold I am working on bringing you a new and exciting WRC for 2020-21 (if we can all go outside by Winter 🙂 ) so watch this space.
In the meantime, please stay safe and don’t forgot that one special physical activity a day you’re allowed! Enjoy 🙂
My First Half Marathon – Vitality Big Half
by Amber Van Poppel
When I didn’t get a place for the London Marathon through the ballot I thought I would sign up for the next best thing, the Vitality Half Marathon. I got a charity place supporting Wellchild, the national UK children’s charity helping to get seriously ill children and young people out of hospital and home to their families.
As fate would have it, two months later I got a club place for the London Marathon through my local running club. Already having signed up for the Half Marathon was very fortuitous as it fitted perfectly with my training plan (which has now completely fallen apart!).
I had never run a half marathon before, or attended such a mass participant race, or for that matter ever run 13.1 miles. It was definitely a test of my training so far and my fuelling strategy. Despite Storm Jorge forecast to bring strong wind, rain and hail I woke up to beautiful sunshine and blue skies on the morning of the race. I had stayed in Greenwich the night before so jumped on the DLR and made my way to Tower Gate where the Green Zone G starting area was located. The train was full of other runners and I got chatting to a few people along the way, many of whom were running for charity and had really inspirational stories. One lady was running for Dementia Revolution as she had been recently diagnosed. You never would have known but she told me that she couldn’t remember what she had done the day before, or how to get to the start line. Thankfully she had an amazing carer with her and a good support crew.
My biggest concern before the race was not so much the running but the logistics in the lead up to getting to the start line. What time should I eat? Would that allow enough time to get to the baggage trucks before they closed? How will I keep warm in the hour and a quarter I had between the baggage trucks closing and the race starting (I failed badly with this and was absolutely freezing!). Where would the toilets be? How long would the queue be (very long as it turned out)? Despite all my concerns the process of getting to the baggage area, eating my final banana, checking my bag in and getting to the starting zone was extremely smooth. Then to my delight I noticed that there were toilets located in the starting area. Irritatingly I made the mistake of waiting until as close to the start time as possible before using the toilet so found myself at the back of a 30 minute queue.
While waiting in the starting zone I tried to huddle in like a penguin with the other runners. The blue sky and sunshine deceived the three degree morning temperature and icy wind. Despite extra layers I was completely shivering by the time the barriers were removed and we began walking towards the start line. The excitement and energy levels of the runners starting rising (along with our body temperatures). We could hear the commentator at the start line encouraging runners in other waves as they set off. Finally we were at the front. We were the last wave to set off and the DJ counted us down to the backing song of Reach for the Stars by S Club 7. I was so excited to get going.
Once over the start line the crowds cheered and our feet pounded to the beat of drummers lining the first mile. The energy and excitement pushed me along and I realised as we entered the Limehouse Link Tunnel at mile two that I was going too fast. I am not a fast runner anyway but was getting carried away with the atmosphere. Thankfully the slight incline coming out of the tunnel helped me to slow my pace and I got back to what I had planned in my head.
After emerging from the tunnel we wound our way through Canary Wharf. With buildings towering over us and crowds shouting support I felt such elation and hardly noticed the occasional head wind which would normally have me groaning.
Heading away from Canary Wharf we made our way back towards Tower Bridge. Crossing the bridge at mile seven was the absolute highlight of my race. It is such an iconic structure and I have watched the marathon runners cross it so many times on TV. I could hardly believe that here I was running across it on the closed roads of London. What made it more mind blowing was the sheer number of supporters all going wild. Their cheering and whooping didn’t stop the whole way over the bridge. I felt like a superstar and could not stop grinning as I ran.
During miles nine to eleven around Rotherhithe my legs started to feel tired and tighten. I had to plug into my music and motivate myself to keep going. There were less spectators and no bands or DJs to run to the beat of. Passing mile eleven was a mental boost, I told myself just two miles to go. As I passed the pacer for two hours twenty minutes I was fairly sure that I would also finish within the 2.15 time I had set myself.
At mile 12 I ran alongside Frank Bruno for a little bit. Then as we turned into Greenwich thousands of supporters lined the streets cheering us onto the finish. The last bit of energy in my legs kicked in and I picked up the pace. We turned the corner and saw the Cutty Sark ahead of us with the pink arch of the finish line in front of it. What a sight after the longest run of my life. I crossed the finish line in 2.08.17 punching the air and high fiving other runners around me.
Once through the finish line we were corralled to collect bottled water and our medal. There was then quite a significant queue and delay to get to the baggage trucks. Shuffling to the front of the queue we resumed our penguin huddling as we quickly cooled down and noticed the icy wind again.
Once warm clothes had been retrieved from the trucks we were given recovery items including fruit, lentil chips, and Lucozade. Then we were out into the festival.
One of the aims of the Vitality Big Half is to showcase the very best of the local London communities. The festival includes sporting, cultural and musical performances from up and coming artists. There is a wellbeing area where you can get a free leg massage, take part in a yoga class to stretch out aching muscles, or boost energy levels by enjoying an array of culinary delights.
Having no previous experience of this type of event I thought it was brilliant. I loved the running and felt so proud of what I had achieved. Two years ago if someone had told me I would run a half marathon, and love it, I would never have believed them.
What made the day was the support of the marshals and spectators. Their shouts and cheers really kept me going along the route. Everyone I encountered during the day was so friendly. People chatted on trains, discussed their race, and informed non-runners about what we had been up to for the morning. A mother with a small child in a pushchair, completely unrelated to the race, boarded the train at London Bridge and was overwhelmed with how many people offered to help her onto the train. She commented that she had met the most wonderful people that day and I felt not only proud of what I had accomplished that morning but also to be part of such a wonderful community of runners.
Despite it being postponed until October, I am now completely pumped for the London Marathon. And for anyone looking to do a half marathon I would highly recommend the Vitality Big Half.
Lost and Found, My New Gadget
by Andrew Barrett
I wanted to share something with fellow Stryd/or other footpod users or potential ones. I have a Stryd footpod, and was wearing it on Sunday for a 9k walk (rest day). Unfortunately it fell off and I only noticed a day later when I wanted to run the same course. They aren’t cheap so I wan’t too happy. The irony was I upgraded my watch to support the Stryd pod and weeks later I lose it! However all was not lost (pardon the pun ;-). My smart son said to try and find it with the Stryd app as it was Bluetooth. Unfortunately I didn’t activate the footpod in hike mode so no luck on the Stats. I then looked at apps for locating Bluetooth devices and found ‘Bluetooth BLE finder‘, which I then installed on my phone. I then went out and retraced my steps in reverse and found it in long grass not far from my home. The app managed to get to within 0-0.5 metres of its location and then became red the closer I got. Even that close it must have taken 10 or more minutes to find, but at least I have it back now. The app finds any Bluetooth device, so any sports equipment using Bluetooth can potentially be found, so even if lost in the house you can track it down.
I used the demo version but have since purchased for less than £5. I thought well worth it since it’s almost £200 to replace the pod!!! The paid for version actually shows a radar type pic! This is my new favourite gadget 😀
Down Memory Lane…
Sept 2012 – Nottingham Men’s Relay Championships
Thank you Pete Gough for the trip down memory lane.
This was the second year of the National Club Relays run at the National Water Sports centre in Nottingham (home of the Outlaw Triathlon). For the second year Tri2O sent an elite squad of athletes to fly the flag for the the club over the weekend.
On the Saturday 2 teams entered the Men’s Relay Championships, placing 26th & 46th in a very competitive field. The winning team contained Tom and David Bishop, who have represented Team GB at elite level.
On Sunday a further 4 teams raced, with the Tri2o Olde Boys gaining the result of the weekend, finishing a creditable 6th position in the V50 category.
The weekend at Nottingham was a great club social occasion too, with most people camping over the road from the race venue and enjoying a BBQ and a couple of beers on Saturday night.
Down memory lane is going to be regular feature in our newsletter, if you have any old photos/articles of Tri2O you would wish to share please email them to email@example.com. We have quite a few members who have been with the club since its inception and would be great to share some old photos.
Grizzly 2020 Hills Aplenty… no kidding!!!
by Sunil Fernandes
“You do not run The Grizzly“, I was told. You hope to run it. But you also inevitably slide, stumble, plough and slip. Every year, this ‘run’ takes on a new motto, for 2020 it was “Grizzly 2020 Hills Aplenty” and yes there were plenty!!! And in between the hills were valleys of bogs, 20 miles and a bit over 3,300 feet of climbing! The Grizzly includes stretches along Seaton and Branscombe beach, various bits of wading, lots of hills, the famous Valley of the Bogs and the ascent of the cliff know as the ‘Stairway To Heaven’.
I had heard of the Grizzly legend from my running clubmates, some of whom have been doing it since 1988. It was on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time, but it always clashed with some other event and the thought of driving all the way to Seaton in Devon to do a race did not sound appealing. This year was different as one of my friends from Reading Joggers moved to Seaton and he offered me the chance to stay at his place for Grizzly… so no more excuses.
Luckily we had glorious sunshine on race day, a little bit nippy but no rain or strong wind meant it was a enjoyable day to run. All the rain we had in January and February made the course very interesting – the bogs were knee deep and it was challenging keeping upright on the sideways hills.
The race starts on the Seaton seafront. Running on the pebble beach for half a mile at the start is soul destroying. Once you have recovered from that there is a hill to climb, once you reached the top there is bigger hill waiting for you … and all this is in the first 3 miles. Then comes a big downhill which goes on forever and has a minus 20% gradient, as I was hurtling down that hill my only thought was ‘OMFG! I hope I don’t have to run UP on the way back’.
The hills kept coming, and for most of them you had to run sideways. You try to run but the best you can do do is walk. I found it mentally tough at mile 16 when I had to run on pebbles again for almost half a mile at Branscombe beach. After navigating hills, streams, mud and bogs, the pebbles were just torture. At this point I was thinking to myself that the person who designed this course must be some kind of a sadistic evil person.
Once the beach challenge was accomplished, what stood ahead of me was the famous ‘Stairway to Heaven’ … 400 ft of climb … just big stairs … steep vertical stairs along the cliff, there were coast guards stationed along the way in case you suffer from Vertigo.
Once on the top of Stairway to Heaven the views were amazing and the final half-mile descent to the finish line, was a mixture of relief and exhilaration.
The Grizzly is neither about winning nor personal bests which is why the route is slightly altered every year. Whether you are at the front, or the rear of the snaking chain, you enter a struggle between your own inner boundaries and the terrain.
20 miles of slippery sideways mud and brutal hills should not be fun, but I have to admit I enjoyed every bit of it. Huge thanks to Axe Valley Runners for putting on such a great event. The support and fabulous marshals all the way round make it very memorable event.
Photos from Left to Right – Valley of Bogs (left), To the Finish (centre), On top of Stairway to Heaven (Right)
Results & Achievements
Dinton X-Trail Night Run 2020
- Female : W60
- 1st Sally WATERMAN
- Male : M60
- 1st Andrew WEBBER
- Male : M50
- 1st Sean STEWART
- 2nd Christopher WEBBER
If you want your names in the highlights, please email with your event and results details. It is not a requirement to have a podium finish to shout out about your achievements.
Dinton X-Trail Night Run
by Sean Stewart
So who on earth, when they sat down at Christmas to plan their race calendar for the year ahead would have thought their biggest race of the year was going to be the Barnes Fitness Dinton X-Trail Night Run on the 5th March. Not me! And no disrespect to Barnes Fitness who always put on wonderful events my sights were firmly set on European and World Championships at the back end of the summer racing season – I still hope those events can take place but as each Covid-19 day goes by they are looking less and less likely.
So this could turn out to be my report for this year’s A-Race; the race we want to do our very best in and as it turns out I didn’t do too badly!
To add a bit of spice to the event it was also one of the races in this year’s Tri2O Winter Run Competition (WRC) and because of the flooding (does anyone still remember the flooding? It seems so long ago now!) which caused the Bramley 20/10 to be cancelled I had to quickly enter the X-Trail. I had no idea who else from the club had entered, but I was conscious that the top of the WRC Leader Board was a crowded place and I made a conscious decision to race as hard as I could from the outset to try to gain maximum points in my bid to close the gap to the overall leader.
So I’ve mentioned the flooding and anyone who knows Dinton Pastures will recognise that it is prone to a bit of water-logging and so it proved on the night. As we drove into a pitch-black car park, we were lucky to find one of the few remaining spaces that wasn’t in a massive puddle and made our way rather gingerly to the registration building. All very efficient (a Barnes Fitness trademark) and we were soon wondering what to do before the race briefing – it was grim outside so a warm up run didn’t appeal but it was also getting very crowded inside so in the end I opted to go jogging in the dark and the drizzle.
After a mercifully short race briefing we were led to the start/finish arch and we were soon on our way. The first 100 m was very fast and everyone around me was plunging through the puddles and we were immediately soaked. Running using a head torch can be quite disconcerting as you lose almost all your peripheral vision and your focus of attention narrows to the small patch of light a few feet ahead of you. You also lose your depth perception and until you relax into the terrain you can find your feet making contact with the ground a fraction of a second earlier, or later than you expect which can be quite disconcerting.
After the initial sprint the lead group started to pull away and I found myself running with another guy who was setting a good pace, so I stuck with him. However, whenever we got to muddy bits or tight slippery corners he slowed dramatically and I found myself pulling away from him each time; but he’d pass me again on the straights. At one corner he almost fell over and I realised he was wearing road running shoes and for this reason alone I made up my mind that I had to beat him!
The course was a mix of wide hard packed gravel tracks, tiny little paths and a random field (with a knee-deep stream running through it) and all of it was relentlessly muddy, twisty, turny and testing. I managed to finally get away from road-shoe man on the one uphill section and ran the last couple of km’s in splendid isolation. I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me or behind so as I approached the finish line I had no idea where I had placed. Turns out I was 5th which is the best I’ve ever done in an A-Race; so I’m happy with that!
All photographs courtesy of Chris Drew
Catherine Leather providing much needed encouragement whilst marshalling toward the end of the course.
Fun Fact 🙂
What do you think treadmills were used for first in the 19th century?
Not really for a workout actually… It was a way to usefully employ convicts.
At first it was called treadwheels and prisoners were forced to continue stepping along a series of planks! The power generated by the treadwheel was commonly used to grind corn and pump water, although some served no purpose at all other than punishment.
Country to Capital 2020
by Stuart Jay
So, this was going to be the first race report for the inaugural Run to the Sea 50k ultra which was to be the first of 3 long runs I had planned over the next 7 weeks, with Brighton Marathon & Thames Path 100 to follow. However, with all races being postponed to September, this is now a race report on my 2nd running of the Country to Capital ultra which took place in January 2020.
Country to Capital is a 43 mile ultra that starts in Wendover and finishes at Little Venice, London. It really is a race of two halves with the 1st half being countryside and trails and the 2nd half being canal path. I “ran” this for my first ultra last January (2019) and finished in 7 hours & 42 minutes.
Leading up to the race I hadn’t done the volume of running I had done the year before but felt good and was looking forward to the race. This year I had the added benefit of a larger support crew as Andi (my partner) was coming to support at various parts of the course with my three girls.
The race starts at 8.30, but as Andi lives in Wendover I was able to take advantage of going and registering early then going back to hers for breakfast before heading back to the pub for the race start. A colleague from work was also doing the race but I failed to meet up with him before the start.
Photo : At the start with the girls
The race starts with a race to the first gate at the bottom of the high street. There were 402 starters and I made the mistake of starting a little too far back so got caught and had to wait for the crowd to go through. This causes a knock-on affect as there a couple of other gates to the first check point (CP) which creates a bottleneck.
The wet conditions had made the course muddier than last year and I really struggled to get going, together with the waiting at the bottlenecks, but I was happy to be running as it was a nice day.
CP1 is in Chesham at about 8 miles in, last year I didn’t stop at this CP but as I ran in I could here the girls shouting “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy”, who wouldn’t stop. I stopped and asked if Andi had seen my colleague, Piers (who she had only met once before!). As I left the girls started to cheer again which prompted others around them to start chanting, that was all the motivation I needed.
We stay in the countryside and head towards Chalfont St Peter for the next CP in about 10 miles. I was still struggling to get into a natural rhythm but knowing I had Andi and the girls waiting was keeping me pushing on. I arrived a CP2 (17.7m) but the tracker was a little out so the girls weren’t expecting me. Re-fuelled and hugs all round and I got going again.
Photo : Hugs at CP2, Coming to CP5
We had arranged to meet just before CP3 (22m) at a country park as this was easier – I was still struggling but nothing a few hugs and a strawberry milkshake couldn’t sort out! I knew this would be the last I saw them until CP5 with 10k to go. After this point we get on the Grand Union Canal, where I managed to get into a better rhythm on the tow paths.
I had a strategy for the 2nd half of the race which was a walk-run method that worked for me last year. I would walk for the first 3 minutes of a mile and run the rest. I was happy doing that and pulled a couple of others along with me who seemed to be struggling. We started chatting as you tend to do with these type of races, this was their first ultra marathon so I was able to share a little advice (being a veteran of 2 UM now!!). We are through CP4 (33m) now and on to the shortest stage to CP5, only 4 miles. I knew the Andi and the girls would have made their way there and I was running strong with a girl I got chatting to. Eventually I could see a familiar sight in front on me…Piers. I jogged alongside and said fancy seeing you here, what a nice day for a run. We exchange pleasantries before he told me to push on as I was running stronger than he was. This was about 2 miles before CP5, as I ran in I could hear the girls chanting my name. It was great to see them and now I knew I only had 10k to go.
Just as I was leaving I could see Piers coming in so told the girls to give an extra loud cheer.
Exiting CP5 I went back to my walk-run strategy but knowing that I still had something left I changed to a walk 3 min and run to the end of a 2 mile loop strategy. That was the first time I had looked at my watch all day, if I got a move on I might just make it under 8 hours. As you get closer the night draws in and you get a little more support the closer you get. I even had a couple in a flat shouting down which was nice. I knew the finish was close so pushed on.
The finish is great, just under a bridge at Little Venice and I’m done, I had run the last 10k quicker than it took Andi and the girls on public transport! My official time was 8 hours and 5 minutes, but my moving time was the same as last year. I got my stuff together and eventually Andi and the girls joined me, I also found Piers’ wife and we waited for him to finish. I bumped into a few that I had chatted to on the way which was good. After Piers had finished we went and got a well deserved pint in the pub at the finish.
Photo : At the Finish
This really is a great event, the winner finished in an amazing 5 hours 15 mins with the last coming home in just over 11 hours (388 finished) – the support from the crew and friends & family of those taking part is amazing. If you fancy running long I highly recommend it and, as with most things, once you’ve done one you get hooked so expect this won’t be the last time I run this event.
Looks like I will have a summer of training now rather than a summer off. With the Thames Path 100 at the beginning of September followed by Brighton Marathon 2 weeks later and then finishing up with Run to the Sea 3 weeks after that.
I had thought I might even do a triathlon this year having not done one since the Lakesman in 2018! Looks like that has now changed but it does mean I get more time to train and a little time to relax. Stay safe people and hopefully get to see you soon.
Dates for your Diary
- All Tri2O social events are currently on hold
- 13-Sep-2020 : Reading Triathlon 2020
Tri2O Triathlon Club Strava Group
We will be restricting the Tri2O Triathlon Club Strava group to members only from 1 May and changing the setting to private. This will enable us to make the group more secure and any recent activity, discussions, and private group events will be hidden from non-members.
If you use Strava but are not a member of Tri2O Strava Club group, you can join at https://www.strava.com/clubs/Tri2Oclub
While on the topic of Strava and privacy, you might want to check the privacy settings on your Strava account and add a Privacy Zone. By its very nature, when you upload a ride or run on Strava you’re publicizing a detailed GPS route from your start/finish point, usually your house. You are thus sharing where your bike is stored for others to access over the internet.
Setting Privacy Zones will hide the portion of your activity that starts or ends in your zone from all athletes. For example, if you don’t want anyone to know where you live or work, you can set up a privacy zone of between 200m and 1km around your home address and/or your office address by entering the post code. The link below provides further information.
We would love to hear from you, particularly if you have taken on a new challenge or are new to triathlon.
The next newsletter will be June 2020, please send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org before 15th June 2020.
In the meanwhile maintain social distance and be safe!