What a July-ghtful month! – Tom Pollard

Why does this photo look like Leigh has taken a class of schoolkids on a trip to Castle Howard?

As always, you lot never cease to amaze. It seems like everyone competed in at least one place this month, covering pretty much every discipline in the multi-sport arsenal, and across all corners of the north (and Europe!):

  • Beth at the European duathlon champs in Romania
  • Dan Stevenson in the Lake District
  • Chris Worfolk — who never takes a day off — at Allerthorpe
  • Cat McGuire leading a contingent at Redcar
  • Rafet Ongun in Salford
  • …and pretty much everyone else at Castle Howard

With so much to cover, I’ll stop rambling!

European duathlon age group championships Beth Rendall

“The race start has been delayed because of weather warnings”

One of the other duathletes stopped me during my warm up to pass on this information. I’d been training for seven months and flown to the other side of Europe (Targu Mures in Romania to be exact, and no I had no clue where that was either) and now the race might not even go ahead.

Honestly we had to laugh or I maybe would have cried as we watched the torrential downpour of rain, thunder and lightning for around 45 minutes. The officials made it very clear any further chance of lightning and it’ll be called off. It felt like a lifetime but it finally began to ease off and the amber warning of storms was stepped down so the race was on, 90 minutes later than planned but it was go time.

Run 1–46:22

The first run consisted of 4 laps heading out of the motor ring circuit up a steady climb and then doubling back on ourselves. The men and women had been set off just a few minutes apart so I got the chance to see the pointy end of the men’s race tanking past along with the women’s lead who was in a class of her own. I had a brilliant first run, kept it controlled and came in to T1 feeling strong.

Bike — 1:13:51

I do wonder if there will ever be a multi-sport race where I get on to the bike and don’t feel that pit of nerves in my stomach. I think it’s a combination of worrying about getting a mechanical that will essentially ruin my race or knowing that I’m simply not at the level of cycling to be competitive with the women who I run similar times to.

The bike portion of the race is absolutely what I’m most proud of; for once I held my own and pushed hard the entire time. It was a fun course to ride with some fast descents and corners and my confidence grew as I counted down the laps. Off the bike, in to T2 and just a 5k to run.

Run 2–23:26

“You can run 5k, one foot in front of the other Beth keep pushing, two laps and you’re done.” (Me silently giving myself a pep talk, it works wonders!)

That steady climb on the run course I mentioned earlier now felt like a mountain and I had used a lot of energy on the bike course. My legs were heavy but the metres chipped away and I was coming in to the home straight soon enough. Sunglasses on top of my head I turned to the finish line and genuinely thought I better hold it together so I didn’t get finish line photos of me crying my eyes out haha.

I crossed the line and the announcer said

“Beth Rendall from Great Britain, your 20–24 European champion”

Ok now I was crying!

I’m beyond delighted with how I raced but I’m looking forward to next year’s European and World (aahh) championships where I’m almost guaranteed to be up against a bigger field, much tougher competition and I’ll be an age group older. Proud but never satisfied, I best get to work!

Ullswater Triathlon

Dan Stevenson – “The Try Athlete”

The Ullswater Triathlon is based at the ‘Park Foot Camping and Caravan’ site and features a fully chip-timed 1.5K swim in Ullswater lake, an undulating 26-mile bike ride via Askham and Lowther, before a final 10K run along the shores of Ullswater. The bike and run take in some spectacular views of the Lake District.

The Ullswater tri was something which a close friend of mine Jack signed me up for over a year ago, as some sort of twisted birthday present. After trying to immediately duck out of doing it (which fell on deaf ears) I then just tried to ignore the thought of it, convincing myself that “it’s ages away it’ll be fine”.

With about 6 months to go it suddenly wasn’t ages away, and I wasn’t feeling as fine about it at all. At this point I still didn’t even really know what was involved in doing a triathlon. Plus, to make it worse, Jack had done this actual race the year before with his brother (and managed to lap him on the run) …so I was feeling the pressure and needed a plan — and quickly!

First thing I did was join the HPH triathlon club! This gave me structure to start cycling more, and to try and get some swimming practice in. The last time I swam competitively was when I was about 6 years old — and managed to win a silver medal at a swimming gala, doing back stroke. Through hopeless optimism I actually half-convinced myself that I would just pick up where I left off all those years ago (which I can safely say was not the case).

I really didn’t want to go into the Ullswater triathlon with it being my first ever event (especially as I subsequently found out that Jack had signed us both up to the Olympic distance, even though the option was there to do the sprint distance, which everyone else in our group went for). So, I desperately needed to complete at least one other Triathlon before Ullswater. Cue the Leeds ITU Sprint Tri.

My introduction into triathlon at Leeds was a bit of a ‘baptism of fire’ to be honest. I was completely unprepared for the challenge of open water swimming. It turns out my swimming ability is not what it was back at that under 7s gala, and the combination of water temperature and the race environment nearly ended my race before it even began. My brother was also kind enough to send me some encouragement the day before the race, in the form of a photograph (below), which was simply captioned “Waterloo lake — enjoy your swim Dan”.

Although I had a massive ‘wobble’ in Waterloo lake during the race; I did complete it, and was fairly happy with my bike and run. The support from the club after the event was fantastic, so much amazing advice given, and trips out to the Blue Lagoon with Graeme and Leigh massively helped my swimming confidence.

The weekend of Ullswater tri arrived. The race was scheduled for a 2pm start on the Saturday forecasted to be an absolute scorcher in the Lake District, so it was easy to justify a few pre-race beers the night before.

Jack is very laid back, and always has been, and true to historical form, I knew I’d be facing other challenges anyway (of the logistical nature) before the race even began. Prime example — somehow he had managed to completely cancel my registration to the entire event (how this is possible is anyone’s guess), but he hadn’t realised, so on the day I had to race as his brother (Tom) — who it turns out did successfully manage to duck out of the event, and was on a yacht somewhere near Monaco at the time (lucky Tom).

Tom’s ID somehow worked at the registration, even though I am clearly a lot older than him, look nothing like him (arguably better looking), and had “Dan” clearly visible on my tri suit (which was actually noticed by the woman at registration)…

Everyone heaped into a warm Ullswater lake (19/20 degrees) at around 13.45, which was actually quite pleasant — a stark contrast to the Baltic conditions at Leeds. I initially felt my heart racing a bit, maybe a bit of nerves, but I did manage to calm myself down, and then just chugged my way round the swim at a consistent pace, mainly doing breast stroke.

The only hiccup was that my timing chip actually broke off my ankle during the swim (must be that powerful kick of mine…), and I had to nose-dive under the water to save it, which I somehow managed to do. Not sure what the bloke in the kayak made of this manoeuvre; I surfaced to a very confused look on his face… but I had neither the breath, nor the inclination to try and explain to him what had happened… so I shoved the chip in my wet suit sleeve and cracked on.

I was pleased with how the swim went, but also relieved when back on dry land. The run to T1 was all up hill, from the water’s edge into the camp site, about 300m away. Crowds of supporters had gathered by the water and along the route, which is just as well as I had a major wetsuit malfunction — I just couldn’t get the zip down! I also managed to break the cord on my tri suit during the struggle. A random spectator finally intervened… and saved me from the tortuous rubber straitjacket!

I entered T1 and Jack’s bike was gone — which I was expecting, as he is a good swimmer, and so I knew I had all the work to do if I was to catch him (and this is obviously the only thing I was bothered about)!

I got the wet suit off, holding my broken timing chip in my hands thinking “so what do I do with this”. The only place I could think to put it… was down in my pants in my tri suit… so that is where it went, and that is where it stayed for the rest of the race…

When I got on the bike, my legs felt completely empty for the first 3 miles or so, I was never going to catch him up at this pace! I don’t know whether that’s a disadvantage of breast stroke; is it harder on the legs? (Editors note — yes, yes it is.)

I worked hard on the bike once my legs finally woke up, hoping around every turn to see the back of Jack’s bike. I didn’t know how far ahead of me he was out of the water, but I was working as hard as I could nonetheless. The bike route was gorgeous and although under the pressure of the race, I did try and take in my surroundings as much as possible and to enjoy it a little. Even though the race was on open roads, there was hardly any traffic at all, just amazing views of sun-draped hills and valleys.

I arrived into T2 absolutely knackered, but as I trotted down the hill towards the bike racks, who do I see only 10m in front of me… I thought my eyes were deceiving me but as I approached, he turned around, clocked me and panicked! T2 was quick for me, I had my bike racked, trainers on and out, whilst he was still messing about with his cycle shoes… this was very pleasing indeed!

The run was four 2.5km laps of the park adjacent to Ullswater. Cramp in both legs massively affected my run (that will serve me right for putting everything into the bike leg), but I limped through, albeit in an uninspiring time, but crossed the finish line, and handed an ice-cold beer! Victory was mine!

A truly fantastic event which I’d encourage others to try. I really liked the atmosphere of this small rural triathlon. Rest of the evening spent firing up the BBQ, beers, and views over Ullswater lake!

For the benefit of others — it turns out that the timing mats don’t register timing chips if they are stuffed down your pants. After all that effort, I still didn’t even get a time in the official results (or should I say Jack’s brother Tom didn’t get his official PB 😉). Then again, there’s always next year!

Allerthorpe sprint triathlon – Chris Worfolk

On 7 July, I headed to Allerthorpe for the sprint triathlon, with a target of beating last years 1:30:17. Only being two weeks out from my first ironman, this was probably a silly thing to do. But I did not want to miss my chance to race in my club tri suit for the first time!

Allerthorpe lake is pretty shallow; you can run a lot of it. Onto the bike which tours around the flat roads of York. Finally, I donned my flat cap in T2 and headed out on the run. I tried to avoid looking at my watch as I knew if I was around the 1:20:00 mark, I should push myself harder than I wanted to go in what was officially still my recovery period.

I finished in 1:20:10, which I was delighted with as it put me in the top half. Was it racing in club colours that gave me the speed boost? We can only assume so.

Redcar sprint triathlon – Cat McGuire

After a storming race at Leeds I had been suffering with a real blip in training, it’s just been going through the motions for a few weeks without much passion so my coach (the fab Mark from Hard and Smart coaching) recommended doing Redcar ‘for a bit of fun’. Being from the North East and spending many childhood Sunday’s on the beach in Redcar or having an ice cream from Pacitios I agreed and signed up. (Editors note — what about a lemon top?!)

With the prospects of a ‘fun race’ to do before Helvellyn, training turned a corner and I started to love it again. Roll on to Sunday morning!

With threats of rain and storms and the possibility of the race being a wash out, arriving at Redcar in beautiful sunshine was a pleasant surprise. Thanks to some great organising skills we had our own table in the club room in the comfortable Tuned In building. As usual for Tri Hard events everything was friendly and well organised and we even got a box of Yorkshire tea during registration!

During briefing we were informed that the swell was between 2ft and 4ft (Yorkshire flat) I didn’t really understand the impact that would have until the race started.

The start of the race was a beach entry where you run as fast as you can into the sea until it becomes deep enough to swim in. I loved this! Splashing around, spray everywhere, giant waves crashing around until swim time! As a strong swimmer I was near the front but everyone was going the wrong way! The battle with the current was dragging everyone the opposite way to the buoy. Eventually it all became sorted and the swim settled down. The way back to shore was much more fun, you could feel the waves pushing you back towards the shore.

When back on the shore it was quite a long run up the beach to transition. Plenty of time to get your wetsuit down and be prepared for transition and be cheered on by the crowds! In which was my tiny child who was more interested in filling his pockets with beach debris to cheer on his mummy dearest.

On to the bike, 4 laps of a flat, fast sea front course, also draft legal! It was the kind of bike course where you can just power down and keep going hard for the entire 20km. This was my strongest ever bike leg, it played to my strengths of just going out hard! When it came to drafting I never really got onto a pack, the race wasn’t a sell out and there were only 40 women altogether and they seemed to be spread out through the course .

At one point I was working with a women from Cleveland Tri Club but on a tight turn a man dropped in between us and I had to drop back. Due to the course consisting of so many laps, the support and crowds were fab! Again, my biggest supporter was too busy chasing seagulls or eating ice cream to notice mum flying past unrecognisable in glasses and helmet.

On to the run, after usual shout of “whose legs are these? They definitely aren’t mine,” to anyone who would listen, I felt like I settled down quite quickly. The run itself was a 3 lap run along the sea front and around the boating lake – lovely.

I managed to get on the heels of a Darlington Tri runner and stuck to him until the last leg when it was time to ramp up to the finish. He had the same idea and we battled our way to the finish, I got him on the final sprint! Woooo!

At the end you got your own medal and drink and a voucher for 10% off fish and chips! At the end I met up with Greg and we stood and watched Chris cross the line and we reminisced on the race. All in all this was a fantastic race and definitely one for the race calendar — flat, fun and fish and chips!

Triathlon on the wrong side of the Pennines (Salford Triathlon) – Rafet Ongun

Having done the Go Tri at Leeds last year and enjoyed it so much, I have been wanting to do a sprint distance. I finally had the opportunity after a very busy year and signed up for the Salford Triathlon.

The event was very well organised. Most of it took place in the modern grounds of MediaCityUK. Therefore it is a compact event which makes it easy to get around for registration and set up your transition area. It’s also convenient for friends and family who are there to support, because there are many shops, cafes, restaurants. The fact that bike and run courses are both in laps (4 and 2 for sprint) makes it even more interesting for the supporters.

Castle Howard Triathlon Weekend 20th & 21st July Naomi Lynne Kellett

Castle Howard was a weekend of triathlon celebrations for Hyde Park Harriers Triathlon with 15 of us (including a few honorary members) competing across the weekend covering the full range of multi-sport events.

The weekend kicked off with the sprint distance events:

Aquathon; 750m swim, 5k run, which saw Naomi and Rosie smash the field apart finishing first and second lady! (I promise there were more than 2 of us in the race)

Triathlon; 750m swim, 23k bike, 5k run, Leigh continued his preparation for Helvellyn Triathlon at the end of the season finishing in a respectable time for 1:39:56.

Aquabike; 750m swim, 23k bike, honorary member for the weekend James Brown took the win narrowly avoiding being beaten by a girl!

Duathlon; 5k run, 23k bike, 2.5k run, Graeme got lucky and avoided having to swim in the ‘stinky lake’ but instead got to do 3 reps of the hill!

Mile Swim; the Fulton’s however opted for extra time in the lake both completing their first mile swim.

Mixed Team Relay: to round off Saturday the main event; the fast and furious Olympic style mixed team relays. We had three mixed teams taking part and for most of us it was the first time we’d ever competed in a triathlon relay. The format is simple — swim, bike, run, handover to your team mate and REPEAT until all 4 of you have finished! An added challenge at Castle Howard was the 600 metres between the lake and transition (up a hill, obvs) making it more like run, swim, run, bike, run!

The teams were evenly matched which made for a close-run exciting race with lots of action in transition and positions were gained and lost during this critical 4th element.

After a big day of racing we headed to the pub for a cold pint and some dinner before camping under the stars.

Sunday brought the longer distance event:

Standard Triathlon; 1,500m swim, 45k bike, 10k; Only a few weeks after completing the Yorkshireman Ironman distance, Chris was back to much more manageable standard distance. He’d finally got the sensation back in his legs so what better way to lose it again than spending 3hours punishing yourself?

Robin and Charlotte had been preparing for this race with as many as 2 swims and at least 1 bike session. The lead changed hands several times with each of their respective strengths giving them the edge until, in a scene reminiscent of Alistair pushing Jonny across the line, they finished hand in hand

Standard Duathlon 10k run 45k bike, 5k run; Jack cleverly avoided the out of date beer the night before to ensure he was fresh and ready for the race ahead. He was clearly feeling fresh and took an early lead sprinting off the front of the pack on the first run only to be reeled back by the guys in full aero gear on the bike. He kept pushing hard on the second run finishing in 3 hours 22 and 6th place.

Half Marathon; despite the hot weather and undulating course Roz added a sub 2hour half marathon to her collection equalling her sisters-in-law’s performance at Ilkley the weekend before — nothing like interfamily rivalry for motivation.

It was a really cool weekend of multi-sport events and it’d be great to add one into the calendar for next year. We’ve also been in conversation about holding a relay event closer to home- watch this space!

And that’s it!

I’ve already got one report for August in my inbox —ping over your thoughts after your race to be one of our featured triathlon stars!