Thursday 22 December 2011

Looking forward to a bit more road in 2012

        I did two crits in 2011. One at Hillingdon and one at Paulhaguet in Central France. I loved the French one so much (despite the kicking..) as it took me back to racing there in my early 20s and so in 2012 I'm going to be riding in a few select races for VC Riom back in the Auvergne. 10 years on since I was last out there, I'll only be doing a few races but now that I am accustomed to life in the mud there's a part of me that just cant wait to feel the roll of tarmac again. 
        The smell of melting tar in the July sun, the ding of the last lap bell, the old boy who steps out into the bunch on his way to get his pastis, the fading light of a nocturne in the middle of nowhere, the prime that never was and the roll call of people you befriend in hope of being fed.
Class of 2001, I salute you!

Saturday 3 December 2011

Asics Mudman - Fail.....Doh!

        So, having yacked up my chances at the first round I put in a whole 10 days of really good sessions and was feeling great again right up until I came down with a cold 3 days before the Mudman. It's Saturday afternoon now and the race will have been and gone and I have to admit I feel pretty miffed that it's got away from me again having had to retire with a mechanical in the same race a year ago. 
        In these situations I have to ask myself what I would be saying to one of my own athletes and as always it would be about taking the rough with the smooth, enjoying the troughs because without them there are no peaks etc etc...  I suppose I've been doing it long enough to know better but that's what keeps us coming back isn't it?  There's always a "what if?" and an "If only" and that's what makes sport so addictive I suppose.  Still. I've filled my morning with periodically emptying my head of the cheese farm's fresh produce and in between incessant snout wipeage I have managed to plot of the rest of my winter Cross Du programme. And here it is:
18th Merida Brass Monkeys 4hr  enduro -Ash Ranges C
NYEve: Hillingdon winter series D
8th Herts Cross Country champs  C
15th Waddenhoe Quadrathlon (xc run, river kayak, MTB, xc run) C
21st  Asics WILDMAN (10/18/5 Cross) A
4th Asics TOUGHMAN.  A
11th  Chiltern League XC, Wing C
19th Sunday Lge XC Royston.  C
26th Friston Forest Cross Du. B
10th Asics TRAILMAN series finale A
18th Mud and Mayhem Cross Du, Thetford  B                                             
                                                                             It's a nice mix of run, bike and cross Duathlon races and the Quad should be great fun but really it's all about the 3 Asics races. I don't know what my chances are with the series now after this bad start so if anything it means I'll have the freedom to go all out to try for an individual win and what better place to start than on the sands of Hankley Common where I won last year.  I hope to see some of you there. It's going to be an exciting year in the sport of cross Duathlon. Although I cant say anything yet I am involved in a number of new initiatives that are aiming to bring cross Duathlon on to yet another level. Humanrace have got it spot on with their Asics series and thankfully other organisers are sitting up and taking note.           

Sunday 20 November 2011

Asics Iceman - Fail

Race report : Returned with race number 1 as last years Rd 1 winner.  Felt awesome, started strong, got gap, went wrong way, rejoined, surged, puked, rejoined, puked, dizzy, stopped.  DNF 

On the plus side, I came 4th in the evening's World Pudding championships with a zingy Chocolate orange cheesecake.  

Sunday 13 November 2011

Cross prep building pace

          With a week to go to the start of my beloved Asics offroad series everything seems to be heading in the right direction. After a 1st, 2nd, 1st, and 2nd  in the Cross Duathlons in September and October my final phase of preparation has seen me mixing it up with some intense training and unusual races. Last weekend I competed in the Herts league 7k Orienteering and despite knowing the venue like the back of my hand and running like a loony between checkpoints I still only managed 4th place. These top orienteers are something else to behold. They're running as fast if not faster than me but reading a map and navigating at the same time where as I was virtually standing still reading the map and then legging it.  Still, when you consider that there were about 25 controls there is no way I would have run 25 intervals that hard on a Saturday morning so it's more wood on the fire which is good. The next day I decided to take to my mountain bike for the fast Sunday ride from St Albans and boy did I pay for it. Thanks boys! ;-)
            This weekend followed a similar structure with an 8k cross country race yesterday and then the same group ride today. The cross country was incredibly hard (which was nice) and for the group ride today I opted for the road bike and some payback for all the pain they put me through last week. How very dare they! It's Sunday afternoon now and as always it's following a familiar Espresso fuelled structure : once I've finished writing this I'll be tapping away finishing off this week's training programmes as I look after the Cox stable of ever improving athletes. As always I enjoy reading the texts and emails of how people have done in any scheduled races this morning and this week it was great to read that Carl Ferri is back with a bang winning the Hillingdon duathlon having been unable to race Du all season with calf issues. He's had fun becoming a road racer under my tutelage and now it's great to see him back in the king of sports and a win is always a great boost. Well done Carl. 

Monday 24 October 2011

ASICS Off Road Race Series Promo

Black Park Cross Duathlon, Iver Buckinghamshire. 2nd

                  Sunday saw yet another glorious Autumnal day which set the perfect scene for the inaugural Black Park Duathlon. The organiser, Chris Denman and his West Drayton MBC crew had stuck closely to the tried and tested XC MTB loops which they often promote on and this made for an exciting bike lap.  
                  I knew there were some really good mountain bikers in the field such as Barry Stewart, Karl Norfolk and Jay Horton so I had no option but to really hammer it on the opening three mile run. Having done that it was a case of settling into the four lap bike leg and trying to not get caught in the technical sections. In the end, I was caught on lap 3 by Barry and then Karl came storming past on his cross bike (which seemed a good option in the bone dry conditions) and so it came to the manic chase back over the final 3 mile run. I was able to catch Karl but couldn't reel Barry back in as he had a really good final run in which I was only able to claw his winning margin back to 39 seconds. 
                    It was a great event and just as importantly for me it was a chance to go back to somewhere I used to spend so much time as a teenager.   In the days before the Hillingdon Circuit the 'Black Park loop' was the place to train and the chain gangs were legendary there on a Tuesday night. The off road scene now rules the roost at Black Park with a great set of forest trails which are not dissimilar to Thetford Forest really. It doesn't yet have a great reputation as a trail centre but it shouldn't be over looked if you're a West London based mountain biker looking for some sideways action and a chance to get lost in a beautiful woodland without having to drive far.  
                    For me there's now a bit of a break from racing for a couple of weeks until I get nearer to the First Asics race, the Iceman. The build up to the series is looking great and things have never looked healthier for the UK Cross Tri/Du scene. 
Have a look at the video above to see what you're missing out on. I mean, who wouldn't want to face plant into a muddy puddle on a Saturday morning?  It beats going shopping!

Thursday 20 October 2011

GB Medals glistened in the Asturian sunshine. World Champs, Gijon

2011 has seen me taking on the position of Great Britain Duathlon team manager. Here is my report:

The Great Britain standard distance Duathlon team took yet another impressive haul of medals at world championship on the 25th of September.

Here is my unpublished report as GB team manager

The Asturian city of Gijon, set back from a long golden beach on Spain's North coast provided the picturesque setting for the championships and the impressive rolling hills surrounding it was a pointer to the bike leg which would see the biggest gaps open up in most of the races as the riders tackled a 4 kilometre climb heading East.  

The Run course was an entirely flat affair but one in which the many turns began to take their toll as the changes in pace were felt over the four laps.  I'm pleased to report that I heard nothing but praise for the bike course which took in two laps of a long climb which was followed by a descent that was seemingly the perfect blend of speed and thrills to leave competitors with a smile on their faces. 

This year's event saw the most newcomers to the team for some years and this injection of fresh blood is undoubtedly a great thing for the sport.  Equally pleasingly for me personally was the ever increasing number of young athletes in the team who see Duathlon as their primary sport and this can only be a good thing as the sport continues to grow.

With 21 medals in total it goes without saying that the medals ceremony was peppered with athletes draped in Union Jacks (ok, and the odd Saltire!). The GB athletes, aparently famed for being the brainiest athletes on the world circuit were as calculated with their medal count as they were with the training in that the 21 was made up of 7 Gold , 7 Silver and 7 Bronze medals.

It does have to be said that despite a great men's team performance it was the ladies that had the upper hand with golds coming from Danielle Stewart (25-29), Gillian Palmer (30-34), Christine Howard (40-44), Hillary Ross (55-59), and Elspeth Knott (60-64).  Stewart was second overall in the whole race and was only prevented from being the overall winner by an outstanding performance from the American, Gail Kattouf who had relegated Esther Evans and Julliette Minter to the still highly prised silver and bronze spots on the 35-39 age group. Silver medals were also taken by Lucy Commander (25-29), Louise Bardsley (30-34), Mel Varvel (40-44) and Jan Farmer (60-64).  Taking the final podium steps for the ladies were a delighted Becky Glover (25-29) and two very popular team members, Penny Edwards (55-59) and Barbara Law (65-69).

The men were no slouches themselves with 'the Ross's' Fawcett and Landon taking Gold and Silver respectively in the 18-19 category leaving Stuart Hall's super fast 1:51:30 time to give him the other male gold medal.  After a build up plagued by injury Pete Wheddon took a defiant silver in the 55-59 category and 'uber-bikers' Richard Wilder (35-39) and Robert McLean (50-54) rode through the field to take Bronze medals in their age groups.  Finally, for the men, the ever reliant Arnott Kidd added to his medal mountain with a bronze in the 75-79 category. 

The build up to the event was not the smoothest for quite a number of the team who's airline had decided that perhaps it was best to fly them out without bags or bikes but if anything the kit-swapping and bike borrowing in the days proceeding the event just seemed to make the team cohesion even stronger on race day.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Mud and Mayhem surprise

I had the very pleasant surprise of being emailed by Guy Travers of Go Beyond Ultra yesterday to say that I had won the Mud and Mayhem series overall this year after my win at Thetford in the Spring and then my 2nd place to Cedric 2 weeks ago in Swinley.  It's great to see an organiser who has truly embraced the world of off road multisport as Go-Beyond have and I know they have big plans to keep expanding their off road Duathlons in 2012.  Keep an eye on for announcements of their 2012 series and if you are in the area I'd seriously recommend a crack at their Brentwood off road running festival on the 29th and 30th of October. I did the 10k there last year and it was a really rewarding morning. They also do a half and full marathon also off road in the park for the truly mad!

Monday 17 October 2011

Essex Duathon. Beautiful sunshine and a 1st Place

               Hylands Park in Essex is just the perfect place for running and riding with its mix of wooded singletrack trails and flowing open parkland. The day once again reminded me how much I like Essex. It's a county with so much to offer the outdoorist and yet so often it gets a certain type of press which seems unfair. Having said that, the Essexians do seem to encourage it: After the race I commented to one of the locals about how lovely the park was to which he replied "The only way is Essex!".   He had a shaven head, tatoos, fake tan, a Staffie and he drove a lowered Ford Fiesta which actually had...... (please don't think I'm joking) but it actually had.... his name and the name of his laydeee (colloquial) friend (at least I hope she actually exists) on the window above their seats.  It was just perfect. Almost too perfect. Mr Essex man (let's call you Dale) We Salute you!
               Back to the race. It was something of a shock to have to scrape the Ice from the racking which had been up all night in order for the bike to stay put when racked. It really was a jolt like change from the warm weather of late. Having been beaten by about 3 seconds last year I was determined to push hard and make it stick this year and Graham Lee's ( idea of setting off the Ladies first, then Vets 6 minutes later and then then my group, the seniors, at 12 minutes down actually worked out well. Everyone ended up pushing so hard to catch those in front that there were PB's all around for the course.
               As it drew to a close coming up the final long climb through the park I could see First Vet, Jamie Bishop in 1st place and then the lead two women just behind him and I just could not catch them. The format worked really well and I ended up taking about of a minute off Hugo Hocknell's course record from last year. Well done to Ross Welton in second place as well. I went for a jog with Ross afterwards and got to hear about his adventures on the Ironman Circuit. It's always good to see guys like him coming over to the dirty side. Good lad.  

Thursday 13 October 2011

Mud and Mayhem Cross Duathlon, Swinley Forest, 2nd

           Last year I was beaten by my buddy Cedric Lassonde. This year I was beaten by my buddy Cedric Lassonde.  Doh! In fact, I've never beaten Cedric in the 3 times I've raced with him so I'll have to work on it! He is super fast on the mtb and we're fairly well matched on the run.  I won't bore you with the details but I had to post the fastest final run split in order to make up places and get back into 2nd having missed a turn on the bike leg. Some dastardly mountain bikers had decided to take home course arrows as souvenirs you see.
I do hope they don't trip and fall onto the pointy bit on their way home.        ;-)

Anyway, I felt like a sack of spanners on the bike and a Gazzelle on the final run such is the unpredictable nature of the human body....   Next up, the Essex Cross Du and then the brand new Black Park Du. Hope to see some of you there!

Boneshaker Duathlon. 1st Place, (New course Record)

I first competed in the wonderfully unique 'Boneshaker' Duathlon back in 2006 and was immediately struck by how little I knew of the Oxfordshire end of the Chiltern Ridge. It's such a beautiful part of England and the little village of Ardington where it takes place is just the most wonderful place in an Inspector-Morsey way.

The organisers are great and the course has always suited me well being fairly non-technical and mostly off road with some nice long climbs in it.

  This year there were some excellent relay teams that I knew were going to push me all the way if I was to win and the first run showed this as I came in third and fighting to keep the leader in my sights but I did feel really good on the bike, having not long been back from the Alps and the Pyranees and I set about working my way back through into the leda up and over the chalk hills of the Ridgeway.  I actually enjoyed the final run for once and felt quite fresh. I'd have to put this down to having a running injury all summer which has prevented me from overdoing it while in France. It was nice to start my winter cross Du season with a win and beating my 2007 course record by about 40 seconds was a surprise too so all bodes well for the winter season! Check out the race ahead of nest year. I'd seriously recommend it: Even if you are going to watch, the fresh pig baps make it outstanding!

Summer Update

Summer Update:  It's been another long gap since my last update so here's another late one just before I head off to the Alps for a few weeks!
It's been a fairly routine June and July of Mountain biking, getting over achilles tondonitis and doing a wee bit of Road racing ahead of some Crits I am riding in France the next few weeks (mainly so that I don't get a serious hiding out there!) Before that there was the Glorious victory for my team in the Hellrider 8 hr Enduro Duathlon, the first of its kind in the UK.
Here are the results from recent races:
Thetford mud and Mayhem Cross Du 1st
 Lotts Wood Cross Du, 2nd
Lanzarotte 1/2 Marathon 1st
Beastway XC 5th
Summit Lotts Wood XC 4th
Beastway XC 4th
Hellrider 8 Hr Enduro 1st
Summit MTB XC DNF (punc)
Areyoutoughenough? XC Enduro 6th    

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Early season 2011 update

April Update : It's been a long time since I updated so here's a quick one!  Mud and Mayhem, Thetford - 1st.       1st point Du, 2nd
March has been a good duathlon month with a win in the Thetford round of the Mud and Mayhem series and then a second place in the 1st Point Cross Duathlon in Amersham behind a good buddy of mine, Sylvain Garde who's in my crack team for the Hellrider this year. The third member of our team will be a long term athlete of mine and a big dog on the Duathlon circuit, Carl Ferri.    Be Afraid Hellriders, be very afraid..... (we're doomed now aren't we!)

March News:    I'm really pleased to announce that I have been appointed as the GE Great Britain Duathlon Team manager for this year's World Championships in Spain in September.  It's going to be a great adventure and I look forward to helping GB come back with hopefully the biggest medal haul yet.

Thanet Cross duathlon, Kent. 1st Place and 60th Duathlon win since starting out. (crikey.. I feel old...)

One of the best athletes I coach and something of a revelation on the UK Duathlon scene in 2010, Carl Ferri had to drop out of the Thanet race on January 2nd and very kindly gave me his entry in exchange for a manky old gear leaver (don't ask...!)            And so I found myself, parked up in a car park overlooking the North Sea lighting the fire in my autosleeper and contemplating the race ahead which innovatively combines a tarmac first run, boggy mtb bike leg and a killer boggy long final off road run.  the runs were a formality for me as I am running really well this winter but the bike leg was a real scrap with a couple of the VC Invictica guys on their cross bikes not only catching me but giving me a really hard time. It was great because we all pushed it so hard on the bike. I had a really pleasing final run to take the win and put some more really hard racing into my prep for the Iceman which is in just a few weeks.
It was great to see so many people enjoying a new year event and with the customary good cheer and eyeballs out attitude that is common of du and tri the world over.   It doesn't matter where you go the world over for multisport events there's always the feeling of a collective sense of not just purpose but a sharing. A sharing in the suffering and a sharing in the satisfaction that we are all taking the path less travelled and challenging ourselves to do something many would never dream of.   there's me banging on about winning but Here's top Thomas Flitch who came last. He was 90 minutes behind me but you should have seen how far he was ahead of the millions of able bodied people who wouldn't have dreamed of even starting. Miles........  This new year,  if you are reading this and thinking of challenging yourself then go for it.  You only get one body and you only get one chance. Enjoy it!   

Asics Mudman Cross Duathlon series rd 2  DNF (mechanical)
Is it on? Is it cancelled? These were the words on everyone's lips as the Mudman approached. But no. This is the race series that prides itself on being crazy tough so there we were, racing on slowly melting snow and as we'd have it, it was actually pretty cool.
My race was simple: Colin Dixon, Jim McConnell and I got away on the first run with Colin then pulling away on the slippy descents. Jim and I ran together and exited T2 together in 2nd place and that's when my race ended. As soon as I started to pedal my chain slipped and wouldn't grip in any gear. I had replaced the chain the day before but because of the snow hadn't been able to go out and try it. Race over. I should have checked it so it was entirely my fault.
As a result I've lost my series lead and it's now looking like it will be a best 3 results count series which means the final two rounds will be a big head to head between me Jim and Paul Davies. May the best man win! And may the best man be me! hee hee. Should be fun.  If you haven't a clue about the series check out the video below.  If you're still not tempted there's an excellent face-plant crash in the middle. here it is :

Asics Wildman  Cross Duathlon series (   Mission Accomplished! 1st.
I'll spare you a report just yet but to suffice to say it was very hard and very hilly. I ran well and rode quite well on too down on the sandy hills (and really, I mean HILLS) of Hankley Common near Guildford this was probably mostly due to having been stuck in the sand of Lanzarote earlier this year when the glorious ash cloud struck. I knew all that running and riding in the sand would have a purpose. It was a shame to see Paul Davies puncture whilst the pair of us were leading on the bike and I genuinely mean that. A good fight is always a fair fight.    There's some pics in the 2010 gallery (click gallery tab above) which depict the suffering and the glory!

so- I'm leading the series and next up, my chance to defend that lead at the Mudman. Hope to see some of you there.