Straggtri News

Straggtri Newsletter 25th August 2017

Feature photo: Well done to Mandy Astill and Mirella Genziani seen here at the start of the beautifully located Hertfordshire Triathlon. There is a short and sweet event report from Mandy (below).


Hertfordshire Triathlon 20th August June 2017

by Mandy Astill

Like all Triathlons, Hertfordshire Triathlon started bright and early hitting the lake at 07:30 but it was a lovely day and the sun shone on us throughout! The lake was calm and Mirella even spotted a fish whilst swimming round.

The bike course was beautiful country lanes, the sort of quiet spots we look for on our Surrey rides. The run was on grass two laps of the gently undulating course, some sunny and some shady spots.

This is definitely a triathlon i would recommend and not too expensive at £50, less than an hour away, with a beautiful lake and ride.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and on the day...


"We were both fabulous!!!"

Mirella and Mandy (below right)



Straggtri Newsletter 30th June 2017

Feature photo: Jackie Balfour (left) celebrates her 1st in age group placing with fellow friends and competitors at the Blenheim Triathlon

Blenheim Palace Triathlon 3rd-4th June 2017

by Jackie Balfour

The Blenheim triathlon took place over the weekend of 3rd-4th June. Blenheim Palace is a stunning setting for a triathlon and the whole event takes place within the grounds of the palace which means that the bike stage is traffic-free. The weather was perfect which helped to make it a great day and the course is very spectator-friendly, supporters having the opportunity to view the competitors several times during the event.

At the start of the swim competitors have to swim from a pontoon to the start buoys, one tip is to make sure that you are not last in the water from the pontoon as a few swimmers hadn't reached the start buoys  when the gun  sounded for the start. The lake water was very clean and was at a comfortable temperature. After getting out of the lake there is a short but fairly steep hill to climb to get to the bikes in transition which can be a challenge! Transition entry and exit points were clearly marked.

The bike course consists of three laps of an undulating course. At the start of the bike stage it was a bit crowded but this soon became more spread out. The run stage is two laps of a flat course with a great finish lined with spectators and someone on a loudspeaker announcing the names of people as they ran in. The organisation of the race was excellent and the different waves started very punctually. The event takes place over two days with sprint and super-sprint options and mixed and women-only waves.

It is a triathlon that would suit experienced and novice triathletes and there were competitors for whom it was their first triathlon. I was very pleased to be the first lady in the V55 category and took three minutes off my swim time from last year so a big thank you to all the Straggtri swim coaches.

I would highly recommend this event. I stayed with some friends and fellow competitors in a cottage about six miles away from Blenheim in the Cotswolds and it was a lovely weekend.

Jackie (right below)

  Head Coach Barbara says: Awesome result!!! I am so delighted
  and made up to hear the event went well and how marvellous
   that your hard work in swimming has paid off


Windsor Triathlon

by Mike Lapworth

Two years ago I did my first Olympic distance triathlon at Windsor, an event which I really enjoyed and wanted to do again and see if I could go better Saturday afternoon and it’s taken me three hours to drive from Kingston to Windsor on the hottest Saturday of the year to rack my bike and register on the day before the event which the organisers insist on. I have to admit getting close to turning around and giving up but after all that training and the cost of entering………

I just got there in time, collected my numbers and finishers T-shirt (!) and being the dedicated athlete that I am I went for a pint in the pub overlooking the Thames to contemplate my swim in the morning. Fortunately I’m staying the night in Maidenhead with friends so don’t have to even think about driving back to Kingston. 5.15am and I’m feeling sick after forcing down a bowl of granola that my body doesn’t think it needs yet. 6.15am and I’m squeezing into a wetsuit with lots of other middle aged men in my wave.

Into the water at 6.35am and I’m in my element. Great to start in the water, others seem nervous but I always look forward to the swim. There’s 180 guys in my wave and I don’t have too much difficulty finding space in the wide open spaces of the river and get into my rhythm. 1.5K feels like a short swim after 10K the week before and I’m out in 26 minutes well ahead of most of the pack (later find out I exit the water in 20th but it all went downhill after that!)
It’s such a big event that it takes 6-7 minutes to do transition, thousands of bikes, where’s mine?!. I’m not great in transition and find time to stuff down a banana and put on some socks. 

Then it’s off on the bike, I’m still happy, it’s nice and flat and I’m trucking along at a steady 20mph. It’s 41K on a gently undulating course, not too technical with nice long stretches of good quality tarmac, I’m picking off a few riders, feeling strong as I usually do on the bike and only being overtaken by the pros in their pointy helmets and expensive bikes. Stay in my big ring all the way round with a nice downhill slope to take us back into Windsor town centre. Pleased with 1 hour 16 mins, but held back a bit to save some energy for…..

The run. It’s no secret amongst Stragglers that I don’t really like running. I like it even less in the heat. And it was too hot for me even at 9am in the morning. It’s scenic route, up from the river to the castle then down the famous long driveway between the trees but it’s quite up and down and the dead turn seems to get further away on each lap. On a good day I can do 10k in about 50 minutes. This wasn’t one of those and I have to stop to drink properly and pour water over myself several times. I’m thinking that I would rather be back in the Thames rather than shuffling around Windsor in the heat. Wishing I had done a bit more run training instead of having fun in the water or out on the bike. So relieved to finally see the finish line. At the end of three laps I get a  run time of 56 minutes. Try to re-hydrate in the heat.

Better journey home for a proper second breakfast 

My overall time was 2 hours 52  minutes which was the best I could do on the day. Maybe faster next time if it’s not so hot.

Mike Lapworth

Photo thanks to Melanie Miller  


Straggtri Newsletter 24th June 2017

Feature photo: Shepperton Open Water - how can you resist.


Straggtri Coaches

We are lucky to have 3 fully qualified level one coaches for 2017. If you need any tips just ask one of them. You will find the coaches out and about at the winter swim sessions, Shepperton open water on Wednesdays, Parkrun Bushy on Saturdays and with the Stragglers on Monday and Thursday nights.


Barbara Crow, Head Coach, centre. Mike Lapworth, left and Dave Olsen, right


Southport Sprint Triathlon - 21 May 2017

My reason for doing Southport was to try and qualify for next year’s European Championships. This was the first qualifier of the year and I had no idea what the competition might be like. Mark came along with me to take part in the event as well as giving me much needed moral support!

We managed to recce the bike course the evening before - flat and straight along the seafront - and prepared well for an early start by eating a burger at Wetherspoons! My wave went off at 7:45 and Mark’s 15 minutes before. It was very cold and windy that morning and I got quite cold waiting as our briefing was as 7:15.

Finally into the water which was inky black and very muddy - soft and squelchy underfoot! Quite the nastiest lake I’ve ever swum in. After a very poor swim, I exited colder than when I had started - not usually the case, as the swim normally warms me up. I was so cold that I had difficulty getting my wetsuit off with no feeling in either hands or feet. Fortunately I had put a top and gloves in transition, so put them on in T1. I did eventually warm up on the bike.

As the course was flat and straight, I was able to just get down on the tribars and get into a good cadence. Before long I was back at transition and doing my flying dismount (getting feet out of shoes before throwing leg over saddle to dismount and run into transition while pushing bike).

I knew I had to push on during the run as my swim had been so poor. Fortunately I was feeling good, having eaten a shot bloxx on the bike and stuck another one in my cheek at the start of the run. I started at a steady pace in order not to blow up and managed to keep a good pace all the way through, with a time less than 30 secs off my PB at the Hawker Centre handicap.

In the end, I managed to qualify for Strathclyde next year as 4th in age group, so I am delighted to have achieved my main ambition for this year. Mark was happy with his performance and it was more experience for both of us. The best part was the hot shower when we got back to the Travelodge - and the pasty and choc chip cookie from Greggs on the way home!

Strathclyde Triathlon - 27 May 2017

I had entered Strathclyde as it was the second of the three qualifying races. As I knew I had already qualified at Southport, my only reason for doing it was to get a feel for the course, which is the one that will be used for next year’s European Championships. The event takes place at Strathclyde Country Park, which is located around a beautiful loch to the east of Glasgow. It was also the venue for the triathlon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The most difficult part of the operation was getting to and from the event.

As I was going on my own this time, I had to take two days to drive there and two days back. The
water in the loch is well managed through the use of a “curtain” which inhibits impurities from the remainder of the loch entering the section used for the swim. The organisers made much of this on their website by quoting the levels of various bacteria against EU maximum levels to show how clean it was.

The organisation at the event was pretty shambolic with a huge queue greeting me at registration. Fortunately there was a nice man from a Cambridge club to talk to as I waited. Eventually the wave starts were put back by about 30 mins as they hadn’t been able to process the registrations in time! It was a lovely warm day - too hot to sit out in the sunshine, so I sat inside the boat house at the side of the lake talking to a woman I know from Kingfisher Triathletes and also to Dave, who was also there to try to qualify.

I had to agree that the loch water was very pleasant to swim in, and I had a much better swim than the previous week. However, the bike course is extremely technical and I fared less well on this. There is no flat on it at all, with a steep hill almost directly out of transition and then several other hills with twists and turns on the downhill that made it difficult to get up enough speed. I couldn’t use the tribars here as there wasn’t enough control round the corners, so had to rely on the drops. The course was four 5k laps with a long, steep downhill just before the dead turn on the out, which was followed by a long, steep uphill, of course!

Feeling pretty tired after the bike, my run was nothing to write home about, but now I know what I’m in for next year and can train accordingly. At least I have over a year to work on it.

Helene Hill


Straggtri Newsletter 18th June 2017

Feature photo: Many congratulations to Helene Hill  (right) who bags a bronze medal in the National Aquathlon Championships, Leeds. See report below.

The Triathlon season is in full swing and many of the Straggtri members have been participating in events round the country. This week we have reports from Helen Hill and Mirella Genziani. There will be more reports to follow but if you have enjoyed an event, please let us know with a short race report and photos.

All the kit bought with the grant money has now arrived and we are proud owners of a Hero4 GoPro camera, a bunch of Tempo Trainers, two Tec Toc Trainers (Which measure hip movements with audible feedback improving efficiency in the water ) and various other bits of kit.

The Shepperton Lake is very popular this year especially with the fantastic weather we have been having, so don't miss popping down to the lake on Wednesday evenings for an unforgettable swim round this idyllic lake. Swimming starts at 5pm. Traffic can be heavy during the rush hour so it may be worth going earlier or a little bit later.

National Aquathlon Championships - Roundhay Park Leeds, 10 June 2017

by Helene Hill

I had raced this event last year and found it tough. This year I decided to try it again, not because I thought I had much chance of a good result, as I am at the top of my age group, but because it fitted in with picking up my younger son from university in York that weekend.

The event is at the same venue as the elite triathlon in which the Brownlees et al participated on the Sunday, so if you watched that on TV, you will see the lake I had to swim in. After a 750 m swim, which wasn’t too bad apart from I couldn’t sight the finish after the last buoy (there was no flag) and went off course a bit, the hard bit starts when you exit the lake and have to run uphill for 400m to transition (muddy field!).

Then you run uphill to exit transitionand continue uphill for quite a while on a tarmac path. Just when you think you have reachedthe top, it goes up again! The rest of the route is undulating and pretty as you pass a small lake with ducks. Then you end up right down near the swim exit and have to do all that uphill again on lap 2! Eventually the purgatory comes to an end and the finish arch is in sight.

I was the oldest woman in the race, but managed to end up on the podium as 3rd in my age group. What amazed me was the swim times people are able to achieve - for example the winner of my age group did a 12-min swim! I was told that quite a few of these people were very high standard swimmers in their youth. Nevertheless, it was a good experience to be there and compete against some very good athletes. I’m savouring it as I’m sure there won’t be many times when I get an England Triathlon medal.

Blenheim Sprint Tri by Mirella Genziani

This event took place in grand and stunning settings. It felt like a once in a lifetime experience. The transition area was huge. There was some nice upbeat music being played to motivate and encourage competitors. At times it seemed like people were rushing around like headless chickens! It was a bit confusing as to where one should go. And it felt a bit odd to ask the marshalls for directions for exiting to the bike and run legs. It is all part of the learning experience!
The lake is serene and not normally used for open water swimming. We entered by jumping off a jetty and had a few minutes to warm up. At the start there was a bit of weed, but the temperature was fine. I was initially apprehensive being quite a slow swimmer but decided not to let that bother me and go with the flow. Tried to remain slightly to the back of our wave and sometimes tried to draft off some of the swimmers in front of me, but the last stretch of the swim to the finish jetty felt a bit of an effort. The lake was around 400m away from the transition area. We had to jog up a steep hill to get there. I saw that people were removing the top part of their wetsuit and swim caps whilst jogging up the hill so I did the same.

The cycle course was the best part for me. Despite being 3 laps, it was undulating and quite nice within the grounds of the palace. Seeing sheep and geese along the way made a pleasant experience rather than looking at the backs of the other competitors. I felt a bit more in control of keeping a steady cadence throughout. Spent a bit longer in T2 as I needed some nutrition and may have wasted a bit of time getting tissues and other bits!

The run section was also quite nice. It started off relatively ok and tried to maintain a gentle steady pace. Into the second lap, my legs felt slightly heavy and I slowed down a bit. Tried to pick up the pace slightly on the very last stretch with the best part of the palace facing me and the finish in sight. I don’t have a lot of experiences with triathlons but have come to really enjoy taking part in these events. I have learnt not to go in with expectations about my performance or time, but to do my best, make the most of the experience. So this was a well-supported event, open and welcome to all abilities. Would recommend to anyone whatever your Tri experience.

Photos thanks to Melanie Miller (right)

Thanks to co-training buddy Melanie for your company and well done – a strong finish! I am looking forward to doing the Hertfordshire Triathlon late August.


Our Thanks to Helen Brett

Helen Brett is retiring as treasury to Straggtri in order to take advantage of her new found freedom having stopped working full time.

Her work as both treasurer and administrator has been invaluable in keeping the Straggtri section running smooothly and we will miss her tireless work. We welcome Franz Werndle has very bravely agreed to step into the breach.


Straggtri Newsletter 19th May 2017

Feature photo: Dave Olsen becomes part of the Straggtri Coaching Team

Dave Olsen

Many congratulations to Dave Olsen who has successfully gained his level 1 Triathlon Coaching Badge on 14th May. Dave is a leading member of the Stragglists, a longstanding and speedy Stragglers runner as well as an excellent swimmer so he will be a great addition to our squad. This means Straggtri now has 3 qualified coaches and might well make us one of the Triathlon clubs with the highest proportion of coaches to members!

IntoTri Event 7th May 2017

Straggtri Entrants: Mike Lapworth, Helen Brett, Stephen Penpraze, Franz Werndle, Barbara Crow, and Melanie Miller. (Julie Haworth was a late withdrawal).

Straggtri put out a very respectable contingent of 5 people for the IntoTri May event. It was generally agreed that the event was perfect for both training and initiation as your first Tri Event. The number of Straggtri entries was noted by the organiser and we left an positive impression on the event with great performances and the new Straggtri banner, proudly flying at the finish.

The morning was decidedly chilly and the large number of entrants coupled with an inter school event meant that there was a little too much time spent registering and then waiting outside in skimpy swimwear for the the race briefings and the start but everyone was smiling and there was a exciting vibe in the transition area.

Competitors lined up on the sides of the pool with youngest Juniors first following by Seniors and then the older Juniors age group. Without exception everyone started at high tempo and it was clear from the spectators viewpoint that all but the best swimmers slowed visibly after the first couple of lengths. The moral being - Pace Yourself! Mike Lapworth was first in the pool for Straggtri and finished strongly. The more skilled swimmers were doing tumble turns and diving under the ropes into the next lane in one smooth action. The Friday night tumble turn drills suddenly made a lot more sense!

Mike Lapworth

The event policy was for no official time on the first transition with a walk only rule to prevent swimmers from running along the slippery poolside. This had the double benefit of making the first transition more leisurely so competitors were able to dry themselves and even have a proper change of clothing if they wished. Everyone was out the pool in very good time although there was a nailbiting moment when the first adult was closing very fast on the slowest and probably youngest competitor in the event whose mum was cajoling her to finish. Credit to the organisers who let the tiny girl finish as the leading man swept past her in the last few metres giving her a wide berth.

Barbara Crow

All the cyclists got off to a good start and Helen Brett had a particularly smooth transition. I vaguely remember Barbara having a gear selection issue or it may have been a missed cleat, but not much time was missed.

Helen Brett

The transition area was chaotic, with Juniors and Seniors and being clocked out and in, but somehow it all worked. Cyclists set off in all directions with the seniors completing two laps from Walton to East Molesey. Curiously Mike Lapworth unexpectedly swept past the transition area going the wrong way half way through the cycle leg. It transpired Mike had missed the U turn on the second roundabout thinking the U turn was back at the start area. In Mike's own words "It seemed a bit dangerous letting us going round the same roundabout as the juniors". Anyhow Mike paid for the mistake as he added a k and a half on his cycling leg to get back on course. Strangely there were some traffic lights for road works in between the course and the leisure centre. I didn't see how many competitors stopped at the traffic lights, but there were few cars about at that time of the morning so I imagine there was some running of the red light.

Stephen Penpraze (left)

Stephen Penpraze showed some race nous when he teamed up with Becky Thurtle for some mutual drafting and came into very strongly.. We assume there was no restriction on drafting in this event! Stephen then made up lots of ground in a very strong run  whilst Mike, Helen and Barbara and Melanie all finished with a big smile and seemingly ready for another complete lap! two competitors (we know of) mistook the turn point and one of them a young girl of 16 managed to run as far as walton Bridge - 5k off course. there were a few concerned moments until she turned up but another serious lesson was learnt -  listen carefully to the briefing and make sure you know roughly you are supposed to be going. Helen B made sure by recceing the course a few days in advance.

Barbara and Franz

All in all it was considered a great day as everyone scoffed their cooked breakfasts at the local grasy spoon. We hope that this is the starting point for more regular Straggtri group participation in events and encourage everyone to Tri one out. The next event is 18th June - its FREE!

Melanie Miller


Straggtri Newsletter 28th April 2017

Feature photo: Congratulations to Helen Brett and Franz Werndle who successfully completed the April IntoTri event recently.


Straggtri Newsletter Friday 23rd September 2016

Feature photo: Congratulations to the Mark Pattinson, Helen Brett and Grahame Mortimer who gave Straggtri a strong showing in the Tri Project Thorpe Triathlon. See story below.

Tri Project - Thorpe Park Sprint Triathlon

Helen Brett {middle) listening carefully to the pre race briefing

It was a good day for Straggtri with three competitors at the Tri Project Thorpe Park end of season event. Helen and Mark tell their stories.


I really enjoyed the Thorpe Park triathlon, despite having to set the alarm for 4am. Registration packs were handed out on arrival and all was quite relaxed as just under 250 people were taking part.

Three waves set off at 0700 - mens under 40, 0710 - mens over 40; 0720 ladies and teams. The swim was quite straight forward although my wave were wearing yellow hats which made the yellow buoys a bit difficult to distinguish!

The cycle was well sign posted and flat apart from a couple of slight hills as we crossed motorways. As it was still early there was very little traffic.

Once back in transition, I set off on the run ; 2 laps round the park. Running with the roller coaster rides towering above us was an interesting experience. The park wasn't open to the public, but I think the rides were being tested and warmed up, ready for the punters. As part of the package, you could have entry for the day. Although I decided the Nemesis inferno wasn't for me.

We were all awarded a nice medal at the end. No goodie bag, just loads of power shot electrolyte drink tablets. I wasn't concerned as I usually end up throwing away most of it.

I was pleased with my times and we were all done and dusted by 9.30!



A great local triathlon worth getting up early for. A fabulous 750 metre lake swim of which at times we were close to the weeds at the bottom. Apparently better than previous years. There were 2 bouys 15 metres or so from the finishing ramp of which several swimmers missed and went straight to the exit. Something the organisors should tighten up on.

The 21 km cycle was on familiar local roads; out to Staines and back and then out to the M3 flyover and back. This meant you could always see other cyclists on the other side of the road so you were reminded that you were in a race. And then, bizarrely, a 2 lap 5 km run through the Theme Park! I did well in my age group (2 age groups put together again) but no hope of coming first when Richard Stanhope turns up!

The time difference between 3rd and 6th was 45 seconds and sadly I was at the bottom end of that split. Just shows how important 'marginal gains' are. To sum up a roller-coaster of a triathlon, a colossus event but certainly not my nemesis.

Well done to all for a great race.


Straggtri Newsletter Friday 29th July 2016

Feature photo: Start of the Wales Triathlon, Pembrokeshire. Vaughn Howells is in there somewhere! See report below.

The Wales Triathlon, Fishguard, 23rd July.

Perfect conditions for the WalesTriathlon (750m sea swim, 13 mile cycle, 3 mile run) and Ocean Lava (1.2 mile sea swim, 56 mile cycle, 13.1 mile run – MAD!) events in Fishguard on 23 July, slightly overcast, not too hot and only a slight wind.

The sheltered out and back sea swim was way more enjoyable than I’d been anticipating/dreading, though I did stay at the back of the maelstrom that was the Ocean Lava athletes – it was a bit like a washing machine!!

The bike route started with a steady (their words not mine!) 3 mile climb out of Fishguard then along the beautiful, rolling (for ‘rolling’ read ‘hilly’) roads towards St Davids (0-400m elevation) before turning and heading back down to Fishguard (thank God, finally hill nearly killed me) and reaching 55kph on the way down at one point (sorry Mr Policeman).

The run headed off along the breakwater before heading up to the headland (0-200m elevation). Beautiful views of the coastline along the run if you were able to keep your head up from the ‘sorry’ and ‘really sorry’ messages written along the path at various points - the organisers clearly had a sense of humour. Back down to the finish and a very respectable time given that I don’t do hills!

Really well organised event, very friendly and though a tough course, I’d highly recommend it to anyone. I’ll definitely consider doing it again but with some serious hill training next time. It’s a beautiful part of the world – make a weekend of it!

PS we even had some celeb participants – Ryan Jones and Shane Williams (with TV crew in tow), both ex-Wales rugby players (they were doing the Ocean Lava – FOOLS!).

Welsh rugby star Shane Williams prepares for the Triathlon

Vaughan Howells


Straggtri Newsletter Friday 22nd July 2016

Feature photo: Marlow Half Ironman Ladies swim start, photo Jacky Balfour. See report below.


The Fugitive Half Ironman, Marlow, 17th July.

The ladies didn’t have the best start to this event because for safety reasons at the last minute the swim was changed from a one lap to a two lap course and instead of starting fifteen minutes after the men as planned, we had to wait until the men had finished their swim which resulted in standing for 35 minutes at the edge of the river in our wetsuits and it was a warm day even at 7.45 in the morning ! The race organisers were very apologetic, they did provide some water and the atmosphere amongst the ladies was very jolly.

The swim was a 2 lap course in the Thames at Marlow.

The bike route took us out on the road from Marlow towards Henley. Just before reaching Henley we turned off into the Chilterns to do 3 laps of a route that was basically 5 miles of gentle uphill cycling with a short, steep climb at the top followed by 5 miles downhill. The views were beautiful and the conditions were good. Then it was back to Marlow for the run.

The run route was 4 x 5km laps on the towpath and the road and it was a flat course. It did get very hot towards the end of the run and the delay at the start meant that the ladies were running in full sun.

At the finish line you were given a plastic medal and offered some hot food, rather

disappointingly there was no t-shirt or goody bag !

A couple of negative comments are that the swim exit from the river was a bit awkward with just a mat covering a sharp metal barrier at the edge of the river. The marshalls were helpful but they were very young and inexperienced and I wonder how they would have coped with a crisis. Along the course water and gels only were provided.

The positives however did very much outweigh the negatives. It was a very scenic route, the atmosphere was great and because of the laps it was a good event for spectators.

There were 269 competitors in the Half Ironman and there was a Standard and a Sprint distance triathlon on the same day.

Would I recommend it ? Most definitely.

Jacky Balfour


Straggtri Newsletter Friday 17th June 2016

Feature photo: Jan Franks looking good in the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds. See report below.

Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds – 12 June 2016

On paper, this seemed to be a great triathlon to enter.  Firstly, a hilly course, on closed city centre roads.  Then, there was the anticipation of support from those crowds we’ve seen watching the TdF Grand Depart and two Tours de Yorkshire.  Finally, there was the opportunity of a grandstand seat on the finish line, watching elites battle it out on the UK leg of the ITU World Triathlon series.  What wasn’t there to like?

Well, my dad always told me that if I can’t say anything nice, not to say anything.  I’ll follow his sage advice in this instance.  If you want to know more, have a look at the many and various comments on the event’s Facebook page.  So, I’ll stick to the positives, and leave out the many negatives.

The race started from Roundhay Park, with split transitions, and finished in Leeds city centre, on the blue carpet where the Brownlees would take gold and silver later in the day.

The swim, bike and run were great experiences.  The swimmers were set off in batches of 100 at two minute intervals.  Whilst the elites would dive in from the blue pontoon later, the age groupers started in the water in a line, holding onto the pontoon before the starting klaxon sounded.  I couldn’t help but wonder which elites would start from my spot (24).

I loved the bike leg – all along the way people were cheering us on, with a superb party atmosphere.  Us age groupers rode on an undulating route from Roundhay to the city centre, and then back uphill towards the start before a 180 turn to T2 in the city centre.  The elites would do the same trip to Leeds, but rather than going back out of the city, would finish with multiple laps around Leeds.  They missed that lovely hill on the way out of the city!

The run was along crowd-lined short, hilly laps around the city centre.  Once again, there was a superb atmosphere, with a finish in front of the grandstands –thoroughly enjoyable.  Particularly the final finish along the blue carpet, with the commentator calling out our names as we came in.

Because of some of the pre-race “opportunities for improvement”, David decided that it was not feasible for him to race (quite a few people fell into this category – it would have been extremely difficult to do this event without support, as it turned out).  For the three of us who did complete the route Helen finished in an overall time of 1.43.17, coming eighth in her age category, I managed 1.47.03, fifth in age category (position reflecting a benefit of being old!).  In the longer Standard distance, Vaughan was 3.01.20, 63rd in age category.

Sadly, also because of the aforementioned “opportunities for improvement”, I only managed to use my grandstand ticket for the final hour of the elite ladies race, and Vaughan and David missed it completely.

Would I do this again?  I’d love to, but only if there were significant improvements to the administration and logistics of the whole event. 

What have I learned from this?  Always follow an event on Facebook, and don’t assume that you will receive all emails sent out.  Or that organisers will ever answer emails.  If an event has split transitions and multiple places to visit the day before a race, carry plenty of water and snacks to keep well hydrated and not get hungry.  And you can never put too much talcum powder in your shoes …. but that’s a different story!

Jan Franks

  Straggtri Newsletter Friday 29th April 2016


Helene Hill reports on a fantastic result at the Bicester Triathlon

After the cancellation of the Thames Turbo event on Easter Monday, the Bicester sprint triathlon was going to be my first one of the year. So when I started getting a cold a couple of days beforehand, I was determined not to let that get in the way of competing. At least the day was sunny and dry, if not warm. We arrived in good time: the start time for the swim was 12:40 - much later than any other triathlon I have ever done.

After clambering out of the pool you had to run quite a way to transition. I put on a couple of layers on the top and then off on the bike leg which was on quiet roads but seemed more uphill than it had when we drove it! I felt fine coming off the bike but didn't pick up on the run which I would expect to do. Instead I felt sick all the way through it and had to grit my teeth just to keep going.

The run was 5 laps round a playing field which was pretty boring! I could hear Mark shouting at me to ease off so I could pick it up again on the last lap, but I thought if I slowed down I'd stop and then I'd never get going again! I was very pleased to finished and quite surprised to find out the next day that I'd won my age group. I am now looking forward to the next one at Thames Turbo on May 2.

Helene Hill

Woking Sprint Triathlon

The Woking Sprint Triathlon took place in Woking Park on Sunday 24 April.  As I left my warm house early on Sunday morning my car was telling me that the outside temperature was 2 C.  The wipers were also sending me a message as they cleared sleet and rain from the windscreen!  The appeal of turning around and getting back under the warm duvet was very very appealing!

It hadn’t improved much by the time I arrived in Woking, so I just got my gear out and got on with it!  Only 84 of the pre-registered 100 or so entrants turned up.

Pool in the Park provided the venue for the swim with a 25m pool and swimming in a lane with 4 others seeded by predicted time. After the swim it was a short run through Arctic air to transition.  No mucking around here, the best part of 3 minutes spent clogging–up and then out on to the open road with a 23 km 2 lap bike course over slightly undulating terrain. Three sets of traffic lights in total and 5 encounters with roundabouts to contend with.   To finish up there was a crappy 3 lap course of dubious distance (5 km) around the park which included running through various sitting areas and up and down a few steps.  It was a mixture of tarmac paths, gravel paths, crazy paving, short grass, mud and bog!

Plenty of fruit and bananas at the finish with results instantly available.  I finished 48th overall and 4 in class (10 year splits which disadvantages me as I’m in the upper percentile).  However, it was a fine little pool based triathlon; a great opportunity to kick start the season with a well organised local event which was also spectator friendly.

Mark Pattinson



  Straggtri Newsletter Friday 22nd April 2016

Feature photo: Wishful thinking perhaps but congratulations to Mark Pattinson in Finishing 3rd in age group at the Bicester Triathlon 2016. Story below.

Bicester Sprint Triathlon

A well organised early season Sprint Triathlon.  Not the usual early morning start as there are a lot of junior and novice races before the main event.  A good field of nearly 200 quality athletes in the Sprint (some GBR Triathletes).


Standard 400 metre pool swim with only 3 in each lane.  The down side was that you had to count your own laps without the aid of someone putting something in the water to say you only had 2 left or were finished.  The swim time included the run out of the pool to the transition area, which took me 1 minute 20 seconds.  I personally took my time in T1 as I didn't want to be cold on the bike - quick rub down, 2 upperbody layers, socks and gloves. 


div dir="ltr">A flat almost traffic free bike course with a couple of roundabouts and a s2 sets of traffic lights and 2 pedestrian crossings.  The down side of the bike course was the road surface, it had the typical country-road rough topping, although it was fairly pot-hole free.


The worst part of the event was the 5 km run - 5 laps of the school sports field!  Once again you had to count your own laps without the aid of bands or similar to drop.  Some competitors lost count and were disqualified (or gained an unknown advantage!)  Not sure of the accuracy of the 5 km as you had a long lead-in to the laps and then a shortish (300 metre) run to the finish (after completing your 5 laps).  In addition the start of the 5 course wasn't easily identifiable from the lead-in run.


Plenty of water, gels bananas etc and plenty of marshals and officials around the place (except counting swim lengths and run laps!)

Mark Pattinson



Straggtri Newsletter Friday 25th November 2016

Feature photo: Straggtri participants in the Club La Santa Aquathlon. The whole contingent of 13 Stragglers and Straggtri members took part in the Club La Santa, Lanzarote Sprint Triathlon last week. A magnificent achievement to have so many people be both present and fit to take part unlike the litany of injuries of the previous year. Read a race report below.

MyFirstTri - Club La Santa Sprint Triathlon

by David Worth

There are two things I am not keen on. Getting up early to exercise and swimming under pressure. So the prospect of taking part in a triathlon where I had to swim 400 metres (farther than I had ever swum non-stop before) at 8am in the morning was not something I welcomed. The feeling was less of nervousness but more like attending a funeral - my own funeral. There was resignation that it was happening and nothing I could do about it, so the gallows humour crept in and i actually felt quite relaxed in a dead man walking type of way. Two days previously I had taken part in a Aquathlon as a wet run for the real thing. Over 200 metres I was last out the pool by nearly a length so I wasn't feeling hopeful of much improvement over double the distance.

Looking at the photos there was a certain grimness amongst most of the participants at least on our side of the pool - the slower lanes. Having done the Aquathlon, I knew it was important that we tried to grade the swimmers so that the fastest went off first and we didn't impeded one another so I took it on myself to sort the 5 in our lane according to their previous performance.

In all Stragglers had 7 individuals and two teams taking part. Grahame Mortimer, Mirella Genziani, Helen Brett, Chrissie Glew, Anne Woods, Ian Robertson and me doing the individual race, the last three doing their first Triathlons, and two Stragglers teams of Trish, Steve Brett and Sandra Worth and Ann Coward, Ray Coward and Glynda Mortimer.

I had learnt from the Aquathlon, that the start was sudden and gave little warning given so I was prepared. In our lane a very manageable 5 people nicely sorted but just as we settled, we were suddenly joined by 3 latecomers who slid into the pool at the last minute. 8 in our lane! This needed some organisation but as I quizzed the newcomers on their likely speed I heard the starter shout GO and suddenly found myself stranded at the back of the pack in a maelstrom of thrashing feet and arms. They weren't going particularly fast, some breast stroking others trying to beat the water to into a foam but they formed a wall of white water which confounded my best attempts to swim my normal gliding leisurely crawl. After one length of constantly being held up, swallowing water and generally being put in my place, I decided to revert to breaststroke and enjoy myself.

Ann Coward sets the early pace in Lane 8 followed by unidentified Stragglers including Ian Robertson, Mirella and David plus interlopers who spoilt the party. Note lane 7 swimmer already nearly a length ahead.

Now being able to look around and take in the opposition I could see how rapidly i was falling behind. The first were out the pool long before I had done 4 lengths of the 8. I think I was lapped by a young lad about 11 years old doing the breast stroke. Eventually it went quiet, the spectators had left, I saw the last swimmer climb out the pool in front and breast stroking a tranquil last length hauled myself out the pool nearly two minutes behind the next competitor and ran gingerly to my bike.

Now which way does this helmet go

It took what seemed forever to pull on a top and cycle shoes (mental note buy a Tri Suit) even though Helen had lent me her talcum powder to puff in the shoes (thanks Helen for that secret tip). I had forgotten my water bottle (mental note - make a list of everything you need and tick it off before you leave home) but luckily my back-up team (Sandra) thought to bring it for me later. It was a curious feeling being in a race but with no one else around. I jumped on the bike - doh, why didn't I leave it in a suitable gear for the first downhill section. My legs were weary from the breaststroke (mental note - learn the crawl better). Pounding my way through La Santa I glimpsed a cyclist in the distance praying that it was someone in the event who I might catch up.

The cycle route took us up a long drag to Tinajo a local village at the top of a hill. I eventually caught the distant cyclist and eventually, nearer the top, offered encouragement to Anne and Mirella as I crawled past them with some semblance of an overtaking move. Meanwhile the leaders were flying past us going downhill at a rate of knots. Turning at the roundabout, it was with relief that I sailed downhill pedalling madly in top gear but making no impression on my speed. I had no Garmin so couldn't judge my speed but soon realised that this was not a good place for gaining time on those in front who were still specks in the distance.

Coming into transition or perhaps I should call it transmogrification, I fought with my shoes which remained glued to my toes and then wouldn't lace up (mental note, get some shoes that have a wide entry and those knotty laces), I set off 200 yards behind the woman I had overtaken 5 minutes earlier. Trying to emulate a runner, I thought this would be my best section but, surprisingly, my arms and chest felt like concrete and I struggled to breathe freely and run with any kind of freedom. I decided later that it was the combination of the effort of breaststroke using my arms (mental note, learn the crawl better) followed by my body getting chilled coming down the hill on the bike which had chilled my muscles. After a couple of k I loosened up enough to start hunting down people in front but it was too little too late and all i remember was greeting fellow runners already on their way back from the turn point including most of the Stragglers who were running.

As we came into for the lap of the stadium I saw Anne Woods ahead and felt I might catch her. I gave it my best shot, overtaking two other male runners who looked like they should be a lot faster than me, but Anne was flying and I saw her finish 50 yards ahead only then to be re-taken in a sprint by one of the two men who obviously felt indignant that some old bloke had just gone past him.

But it was done and dusted and I was elated to finish. Overall I felt the sum of the parts were less taxing than running the whole thing. The bike gave a chance for a rest. The swimming allowed me some thinking time and assessing the field in front but the running was hard as always.

It was a steep earning curve - not dissimilar from the hill we went up.


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