Gr8events make gr8 proud parents

About a 3 weeks ago Mya, 11 decided right out of the blue that she would give a triathlon a go.   Gr8events were hosting an age grouped event on closed roads so we let the training begin!   Mya does like a challenge and completed the park run not so long ago, and has been able to swim quite well for some time – cycling however was not really her thing.

We did a few sessions and took her swim time for the 200m to be around 5:30 plus a few bike to run sessions and got used to the “Jelly leg” feeling.   On the morning we went through the what to wear, when to put it on etc.  Mya decided that gloves, shorts and socks  were all necessary items.

Setting up in transition was challenging as each child had at least one adult telling them where to put their stuff and how to rack their bike, however it was quickly done and the necessary items were laid out in order.

Once the children were in starting order, the swim started – Mya starting 6th and holding her own in the pool.   Out into transition and she decided that none of the necessary items were necessary at all, setting off sockless, gloveless and no shorts!   The older and faster kids raced past on their road bikes, knocking out a good pace on the fast course.  Mya transitioned well though and was out on the run in her swimming cossie – elite athlete style!   A 2 lap run course on the grass soaked up any energy that was left in the legs, but 2 young lads provided a spectacular sprint finish and every kid was digging deep with no slackers – great to see.   Mya came round to the end and put a good finish in – making a great day and a proud dad.

Having been to many triathlon events,  I felt that Gr8events got this one spot on.  The kids were organised well by friendly marshals in the pool and cheered on by everyone on the well thought out course – no one going the wrong way here!   The race brief was good and kids could ask questions and have them answered.    It certainly felt like a fantastic race that catered well for those who were in it to win it and those who were in it to finish it.

Will she do another?   yes!

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Newbiggin 2012. The last race and the bespoke fingers



After last years hurricane powered sandblaster,  it had to be better conditions – I set myself 3 targets:  beat Mick n Pro, finish 6+mins faster than last year and run 4:12 pace.   The day started very relaxed, up early and whereas Im usually mega early, I turned up last out of our bunch – Mark Head couldn’t believe it.  If there’s one thing that is consistent with Triathlon its the toilet situation  – massive queues and closed toilets!  I took the stroll along the beach in my wetsuit option.  With warm urine inflating my second skin, I took in the near perfect conditions with 2 sighs of relief.

I swam to the start, the water was fine – no excuses for bottling the swim I thought, and remembered how last year this was my first one and I swam to survive.   I felt the swim go quite well, I wasn’t too exhausted but not in the comfort zone either.

The transition was so much better than last years 3.5 min debacle and I was away on the bike far happier.  People passed me on the bike more than usual, this could mean 2 things – I was higher than usual by having a good swim or I was having a crap bike,  my garmin said I was going at a good pace so I cracked on with it.   I lost more places in the headwind up the bank but I was still on to beat my time easy – or even by 10-12 mins I thought.

Target 3 just never came,  I ran 4:08 pace until I hit the bank and the legs just couldn’t keep it up.  I did get back a fair amount of places lost on the bike, but turning the dirt track for the second time I was running 4:20!    I did get a glimpse of Pro’s stealth like black tri suit and the Wiggins hairstyle – I was well ahead so Target 1 was on, but where was Mick?

Mya high fived me at the finish and Joanne congratulated my effort.  It seemed everyone had a slowish run  on what wasnt the hardest course.   All was good, taking advantage of the freebes from Vo2,  and then Mick came in  with his hand looking like a butchers bin.  He had caught his hand in the spokes and this was serious – off the hand clinic.   By the time we all met for end of season drinks he was fine and once again prayed for an injury free “Next Year”

It was great to see everyone at the end – all appeared to have enjoyed the race and indeed the season for whatever differing reasons – well done!!!

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Sun, sea, sand and pain. Tri ing with Tim!

The 5pm start was a treat – a lie in, plenty time to eat and get ready, or so I thought.  In fact I had prepared everything anyway and spent most of the day twiddling my thumbs with nervous energy.  Our “Eco hut” that provided our accommodation was impressive, 4 bunks and a table for Mya to sleep under, in the beautiful  Budle Bay Campsite.

On arrival the setting was impressive.  The fortified Bamburgh Castle guarded the transition area from the sea with  the world famous view of Lindisfarne, Holy island  just beyond the dunes.  Whilst this depicted a Northumberland postcard to many, it was also a picture of pain to the athletes.  The run to transition was to be a ‘through the dunes, uphill soft sand challenge’ once favored by 1960’s football coaches.

2006 world and 5 times British champion Tim Don arrived, great to see a top athlete being also a top bloke – just chatting on to everyone, getting pics and raising the atmosphere to 10.   Joanne took many pics paparazzi style as she took a bit of a shine to the man we had watched on TV.

“The 3 Musketriers” – Charlie, Emma T and Emma L were ready to start their first triathlon as a relay team and anxiety steadily built as the crowd started to pull on the rubber, and make the journey to the beach start.  I could see by Dave’s unusual enthusiasm, that he had prepared well for the swim and was keen to put training into action.   After a short warm up with the Jellyfish, we were ready at the line in the sand.

From the off I felt like the whole swim was taking place in 1 pool lane, a few kicks and elbows connected and I could see Leigh getting the same.  Although it was a 750m swim – it felt hard all the way, is that good? I asked.

As predicted the run up the dunes was hard, my legs moved like they were in a bad dream but the feeling looked mutual.   I could  feel the burn very early out on the bike, not due to cadence or speed – must have been the sand.  It soon subsided and I rolled up and down the course. A Durham city triathlete set a good pace for me to chase almost all the way.  I was out about 7k and Tim came flying past the other way with a huge lead on everyone else.  On the way back I had to undertake 2 cars, 2 emotions – “fear” and “cant wait to check my top speed”

The run was back over the dunes, by this time the kids playing with buckets were skipping quicker than I was moving.  I’d been picked off a bit on the bike but as soon as we hit the hard sand I made some places back.  This was the only run that I wished was longer,  out and back on the beach was amazing.   Once back over the dunes again and the rest was over quick.

Dave and the 3 Musketriers  came in afterwards, all with smiles – Well done!   But a big  shout has to go to Leigh “pro” Procter who chased me all the way putting in his best performance.  Its great when there’s that close rivalry – no doubt i’ll be chasing him down in the future!

The race was over and the free beer flowed,  both myself and Dave had spotted the starting air horn in the bar and dared Mya to press it.  I knew she wouldn’t do it  but just as I poured the pints “EETOOT”  everyone turned to the 11 year old menace – fortunately laughing along!

After the drinking Dave and Emma decided to partake in the fourth discipline of the day.  Emma succeeded in the most repeats of “What’s this drink?  where do you get it?”  Emma it was REKORDERLIG from MORRISONS!    And Dave decided to base jump in the middle of the night from his bunk, using his face as a parachute!  Ouch!

A great weekend with great friends!

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Defecation, Dedication and Northumberland Tri


Its always a gamble how you prepare for a Triathlon, after catching a stomach bug last weekend I opted to train really lightly thereafter as ropey at best and producing more methane than a heard of cows at a chili eating contest.  Feeling a little unprepared, myself and my blazing saddle were itching to go on race day, trumpeting enthusiasm to the world at 4:30 am.

10-4 rubber duck. Our convoy, well Paddy, Lindsay, Joanne n me, left at 6am and in plenty time to get sorted.  The poo queue was enough to put anyone off, but as the man next to me pointed out “Its never enough to just go once at home, its always followed by a pre race one that lurks behind until you register”

There was 2 races – sprint and standard, we started first in the standard followed by the sprint.   The water was tepid and brown like the cup of tea you left too long,  but still pleasurable – we were off!   I may have set off a little fast and found myself breathing out of rhythm.  I wasn’t feeling it at all until near the end id caught up with some of the sprint swimmers, I couldn’t have been that slow?

In order to get video on the bike and run, I put the velcro  camera on my belt no problem and set off, however when I turned it on – it ended up in my hand!  I tucked it in my pocket and forgot it.  The course was fast and straight with no way of getting lost – just my thing!  A headwind one way lead to me riding around 22kph one way and up to 50kph the other, during which – the camera came out and died with the other road kill.

Being a lapped course, you could see exactly where you were in the race.  Mark Head was well ahead as he waved.  Paddy was not far behind me.  Compared to recent races Paddy was playing out of his skin here.  Now im never going to win anything, but im also not a “Im just enjoying it” person either.  I  knew I would have to run into pain, or watch Paddy go past me.

I did hold him off on the run and made up a couple of places too.  I looked at  my results and was ecstatic to do a 30 min swim, 1:12 was a fast cycle for me and the run maybe suffered a little for it at 48:21.   Mark Head had come 11th with Chris Wright just behind him in 12th – excellent sun city results.  Leigh Proctor was happy to complete his first standard, well done.   No cramp held Paddy back today, who crushed his previous race time a class act finding form, although his secret is out – wearing magical Sinbad velvet pants is maybe just the ticket for recovery and performance.

The sprint lads had been in some time cheering us on after their own efforts, and what an effort it was Sean Lavender taking 3rd place and Michael Lavender taking 1st – both in the senior category.  Michael getting the 2nd fastest bike split overall.  It was great seeing them up on the podium.



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Cleveland Short (I beg to differ) course


This year I set myself a few targets – one was to complete a Standard or Olympic distance triathlon.   I did feel that Cleveland was a little early in the season but it was also a popular event and had plenty mates entering, so I entered.   I trained well for the early season sprints and now had to up the distance in little time.  A few good bike to run sets and I was fine with that, but the swim was always going to be difficult.  Without ever doing the full distance in training, I found myself in deep water.

Paul n Katrina were with me at the start, and this felt familiar and therefore good.  The race started and at least this time, I was in the water.  Unlike any water animal, the random paths of humans began.  How can so many people take a different line from A to B, leading to crossing and climbing over each other?  At the midway buoy I could see I was around mid table and swam the next lap very happy to hold that position.  Yes the mile was long, but with allot more to concentrate on than that “black line”.

Out on the bike I dried off quick and made some ground up.  Unlike the 20k sprints there’s  so much time to notice the race.   I really enjoyed the cat n mouse racing between myself and around 4 riders, as we would attack pass and then get dropped as the next rider found their legs.

My cat n mouse game on the bike had resulted in me the “Tom” and others being the “Jerry” as I came into transition behind them.   I did manage to pick them off with a good run by my standards – through the ankle breaking puddles and paths out n back.   Coming the other way were the top athletes, and amongst the top 30 were some of our lot – we all managed to find some breath to acknowledge each others achievements and I was soon at the turn point.

Towards the end I found a little bit left to up the pace and finished feeling like Id give it 100%   speaking of finish, it was great to be joined by my daughter Mya for the last 100 yards!   It was great that Joanne and Mya had kept a count and gave people positions as they came in,  some great results considering how strong the field was and that for allot of us, this distance was not the norm.


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The beach start, the Lavenders and the final straw

With short notice myself, Mark Head and Mick Richardson decided to join in the Cleveland Triathlon friendly event.  No timing chips etc, but im the first to admit I was racing regardless,  I set a target to beat Mick Rich in any event this year!  Given he was returning from injury this was my chance haha.  The journey took me back 25 years, when I would often travel to play rugby with the tea split in 2 estate cars.  3 bikes n 3 men it was indeed cramped!

On arrival everything was pretty normal for any triathlon: people complaining about the cold, others worrying that the swim is longer and everyone donning lube and neoprene on the edge of the tailgate.   The Lavenders were all in attendance Paul, Mick and Sean and met us in the carpark to discuss which way to get lost this time.

Now im not the most organised person but I even surprised myself as I watched the race start, without even a toe in the water.  No acclimatisation, no getting goggles on – I made a run n dive for it.  Luck for me the water was fine, no shock to the system.  It was starting 60 places from pole!  At the turn buoy I saw Mick Rich!   I was out the water and on the bike desperate to make up time and headed into the wind, knowing.   After passing a few people I was out on my own – hoping I was going the right way.  At around 10k the wind hit my back and I was hammering under the Jubilee bunting from village to village.  Just before the last turn I was informed “LEFT” by another competitor and I swang wide to get back on track.

Out on the run, I enjoyed running behind the pace car and through the caravan park, however this was the “Lost point” Lucky for me Micky Lavender was on his second lap and          he got me back on the right track.  “Faster” he instructed in a spit of dust.  I had a good feeling about this, he looked good and looked first.   Pot holes, stiles, nettles and puddles made this another country affair.  My second lap was quicker and the Lavenders and Mark cheered me to the line.   Id finished 8th  so couldn’t wait to see how they had done, after Micky’s unlucky flat tire at Keswick – I hope this made up for it a bit.  He came 1st!  followed by his dad Paul then Mark Head in 3rd and brother Sean in 4th.    Indeed Mick Rich finished and took it well that id beat him – and immediately planned his comeback!!

A big thanks to Cleveland Tri for getting all this at a cost of £3.50 each!!   there was just enough time for Mark Head to run another 2 miles to find the straw that came off his aero bottle before heading back up home.

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Keswick Triathlon May 20th 2012

It was a year ago when myself and Dave climbed brown slabs arete at Shepard’s Crag in Borrowdale,  the following day we pledged that we would complete Keswick Triathlon in 2012.   Today was that day.

Almost every time I have planned to climb in the lakes, the weather gradually gets worse along the A66 until we reach the perma damp Lake District.  Not this time, as Charlie said “You could tell we had brought no climbing gear”   As the sun sparkled down and warmed the land.

After watching Chelsea win the champions league, I was soon asleep – happy that preparation had gone well.   We all met the next day either in transition or around the briefing, and shared our pre race nerves like men do – high fiveing, taking the pee and kicking each other!

The hooter went and I was glad to be in line with the buoy on my first sight – I seemed to be in with a large pack as we went round the buoy and took a good slap on the back and elbow to the head!  a couple of splutters and I was fine – soon in the draft of a similar speed swimmer.   Just as I was thinking of having a look, my hand hit ground and silt hit my face – I was there.

Transition went well and I was out on the bike.  Being a slower swimmer, this was time to get some positions back, the bank up to the A66 provided this nicely.  The ride was so pleasant, there were times I had to remind myself it was a race.  Belting back through Borrowdale, under the high crags we climbed last year, was a high point.  Changing places almost peleton style, with 2 girls seemed to urge the pace.  One of them shouted at a rider walking his bike as we flashed past.  Then it registered, that the rider was Micky Lavender – Nooo!

After the longest journey to transition, I went out on the run.  A complicated cross country affair that got a little confused with another marked run route.   I ran with 2 lads from Lakeland Tri club – hoping they knew the way.   The finish line eventually came and I gave Joanne the thumbs up, wiped the spit off my face and took a look at my foot.  I did go head over heels on my way to T1  by tripping on a rock, but it hadn’t bothered me until now.  St Johns had to give it a clean and stick on a plaster as it started to swell.

As we re gathered at the finish it was clear that myself, Leigh, Paddy and Dave were all happy with ourselves and had enjoyed the race.  Unfortunately this was not the case for Mark Head – who ran a longer course.  A competitor did vouch for his case, stating Mark had been well in front of him.  Micky was victim to a flat tyre.  Both were in contention for medals and both had endured rotten luck.  Their grumpy faces didn’t last long, good for them.

After all that – a  night out in Keswick was had by myself, Mark, Joanne and Sarah.   A chilled evening quickly turned to a night of cutting moves, beakdancing, piggybacks and Mr Soft – Job Done!


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Early May Events!

Early May brought some great events  – Sunday the 6th was the marathon of the north.   A sunny day brought the crowds out to cheer on the runners as they took to the streets for the first ever Marathon.   The winding route undulated from coast, through town, country and back to where it all started,  the Stadium of Light.   As you can see in the video there were some great efforts and for my sister, who im sure would not mind me stating she’s not a natural athlete, an achievement I never thought she would do.   I couldn’t believe that after 5hrs 38mins she appeared to be in good humour and pleasantly joined hands to rally the girls to the line – well done!

Ashington  triathlon on the 7th was also good conditions, to the contrary of prediction.   Mark Head knocked out a cracking time, 1:04  – im sure it would be 1:05 had he not bought that aero helmet.   I hit my target 1:14 and pro (Leigh) did extremely well to come close behind, in his first event.   The best thing for me was that it looked like our training had been put into practice – no 4 min transitions or going off course like the first one last year!   here’s the vid

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April – how wet can you get?

April showers?  if France had the same as us, im so pleased I didn’t visit Font at this time of year.  As buses ironically roam the land with “Drought warnings” on the sides, the North East was in deluge.   So little in the way of climbing, although Angela did get up the Barrel at Sunderland – well done!

I myself have to say, im less motivated to climb than ever before.  I can break this down into 3 main reasons :  1 – Cost   – gone are the days of a cheap day out to Shaftoe now that petrol prices are an all time high.   2 – Weather  – although March was great!  climbing is so dependent on weather im less inclined to take the risk.  3 –  Time – Triathlon training takes up a bit of it and therefore something has to go!  However really its the combination of these things for instance,  I can bike, run and open water swim  at no cost – Seaburn lending itself more to the sport than it does to climbing!  That said my aim is to catch that September / October weather should it repeat last year, and get some good days in.

Late April / May is busy and the races start – Dave in the Durham Duathlon,  Julie doubles the distance of last year in this years Marathon,  Im in Ashington Tri  and then…….We hopefully achieve what we set ourselves last year – the Keswick Tri at the mountain festival.  Yes that was a nearly year ago!!!

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The March Vid

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