Tri, Tri and Tri again

Emma Bexson on top of the podium.
Blimey, a bit like buses, you wait ages for a triathlon report and then several come along at once !

This week we’ve got detailed reports on Emma Bexson’s superb gold medal at Ironman Dun Laoghaire 70.3, Victoria Jeffs realising her dream at Ironman Sweden and both Oscar Barbour and Rich Shephard’s success in the British Middle Distance Championships.

Lewis Byng was in action again at the weekend, this time in the British Championships where our U20 top ranked UK shot putter was only bumped out of the medals in the last round. He finished 4th behind 3 senior athletes.

We hear of Eleanor Johnston’s continuing remarkable comeback from injury, winning 4 gold medals at the Civil Service Association Championships.

Tara Lambert completed another Ultra marathon. This time it was the 86 mile Ridgeway Challenge. Lisa Dallisson completed the Wynchcombe Hill Climb and Becks Pridham realised a long held desire to compete in the Thorney 5 near where she grew up close to Peterborough. This meant her parents were able to see her finish 5th in her age category.

There are also details of the Club Championships, to be held at the High School track on 9th September.

I know several of our Vets T&F squad have said to me that it is such a shame that they clash with the Stratford Big 10k. but with that race starting at 9.30am there will still be plenty of time for you super fit runners to get to the High School and knock out a quick 100m, 200m, 800m or maybe even jump or throw.

Our own Club Championships really are superb, enjoyable and well organised events and as many as possible of us should try to support them whenever possible.

Enjoy the rest of the week.

Best Wishes

David Jones
Ironman Dun Laoghaire 70.3

Report – Paul Hawkins.

Tri Club member Emma Bexson travelled to Ireland for the Ironman Dun Laoghaire 70.3.

The race featured a 1900m swim from Sandycove, home to the famous Martello Tower, in the clear waters of the Irish Sea in Dublin Bay, before taking athletes on a spectacular and challenging 56 mile (90k) bike course.

The course travelled through some of the most scenic areas in the region, including County Wicklow, home to the Wicklow Mountains National Park and its glacial lakes, rivers and abundant natural beauty.

Athletes took in stunning coastal views and weaved their way through the streets of the charming seaside town for the 13.1-mile (21.1k) run, before finishing with Dún Laoghaire Harbour and Dublin Bay as the backdrop.

However, it was a race fraught with controversy with tough conditions and a challenging environment. The sea mist rolled in and visibility was reduced to 10m on the 1900m swim making for a interesting race, as the pros and first 180 athletes including Emma raced the full distance.

However after the first 180 started the race was halted and deemed unsafe to race.

The organisers let the first wave carry on while holding the others on the start line. The rest then swam a 950m shortened course instead of the full 1900m.

Equally the first 10k on the bike was in thick fog making it difficult to see the road ahead. Then as the triathletes climbed, the mist lifted and the sun shone. The bike course proved technical and hilly, climbing relentlessly into the Wicklow mountains and once again rain and mist descended making the bike conditions challenging.

If the the bike wasn’t hilly enough, the run its self was set to challenge, with just over 1000ft of climbing, although the run along the sea front and around the harbour had spectacular crowd support.

Emma finished fourth over all but was the first female athlete to finish who had completed the long/full course with the exception of the pros. She also won her age group in an excellent overall time of 5 hours 47 minutes 28 seconds.

Emma said “Making the climb to the finish line and completing the race was all the more rewarding after the tough conditions. I had a solid race with great preparation for the full Ironman Tenby in three weeks time which has been the main focus of my season. A crazy race with every type of weather you can imagine.”
Victoria crossing the finishing line.
Ironman Sweden

Victoria Jeffs in her own words.

On 17th August I completed my first Ironman race. The journey to this has been long and challenging, having started my quest back in 2015, however, injury and illness got in the way but after regaining my health in 2018 I was able to start 2019 enjoying my training again.

I didn’t realistically think I had any hope of competing in a long distance triathlon this year but my body thought differently and having kept all my training at a slow and easy pace it was encouraging to find my old endurance genes were still alive and kicking.

Suddenly, I was doing 100 mile bike rides over 1 hour 30 mins quicker than I used to, this was very encouraging. I had an entry for Ironman UK, which had been deferred from a previous year but I managed to change that to a more exciting location and thus competed in Kalmar, Sweden.

The race itself was amazing… I’d only ever done one sea swim before so it was a novelty going into the Baltic Sea for a dip.

After the calm of the harbour the waves soon started to rise and sighting became a problem, however, once I’d got use to the rise and fall of the waves I really enjoyed it, a bit like swimming on a rollercoaster. The 2.4 mile swim disappeared in just over 1 hr 36 mins.

The bike is always my favourite part, and the 112 miles were going to be interesting, we knew there would be a cross wind and head winds for the first 40 miles but I hadn’t appreciated how challenging this would be over the iconic Oland bridge which spans 6 miles. The gusts were around 20-25mph which made it interesting and the torrential rain at mile 80 was a bit rough but it only lasted about 45 minutes, as it was so warm, I was dry again by the time I finished the 112 miles in 6 hrs 59 mins.

I was so excited and jumped off my bike knowing I could have easily cycled the whole thing again… I was buzzing and felt amazing at this point.

Just the small matter of a marathon to go.

My strategy was always to run walk the marathon but I was so excited coming off the bike I went out and blasted the first 5k in just 34 minutes, not far off my current 5k parkrun time so I knew I needed to get sensible, and pace it a little better.

Things were going well until the blisters started, there was lots of running on gravel paths and I accumulated lots in my shoes throughout the run, by mile 16 I had to stop and empty the gravel out but struggled thereafter to get into much running as the blisters were so painful.

It was time to get the head down and just get on with it.

I finished to an audience of 100’s of supporters cheering at the finish line and the trip down the red carpet will remain with me for always. I raced none stop that day for 15 hours and 24 minutes and loved the entire day, despite the pain. I have never encountered any such finish line quite as magical as that day but will certainly be back for more.

Going forward, I have 3 Ironman races in the plan for next year… not a feat I believe anyone in the club has yet achieved.

The 3 events are an Ironman in New Zealand in March, Copenhagen in August then Australia in December.

It should be an eventful year.
Above: Eleanor with her 4 gold medals and below, in action in the relay.
The Civil Service Athletic Association (CSAA) Championships.

Report – Paul Bearman.

This is one of the oldest annual athletics gatherings in the country and held its first Championships in 1864. It draws athletes from the various branches of the Civil Service to compete in a full T&F programme. The events encompass a departmental team championship with points awarded to successful teams and individuals.

This year’s event was held at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre and after her success at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) championships, Stratford AC’s Eleanor Johnston was selected to represent DEFRA at the CSAA Championships.

This has been a comeback year for Eleanor after her serious ACL injury and reconstruction and she surprised herself by coming home with 4 gold medals by winning the 100m, 200m, Long Jump and as a member of the mixed relay.

After a frenetic journey from Bristol to London to get there Eleanor said afterwards “times and distances weren’t great but it’s been fun and winning my events and 4 gold medals was a nice surprise”.

Club member Lewis Byng was in action at the weekend at the British Championships in Birmingham.

Lewis, who is the number one ranked U20 shot putter in the country and number 2 on the all time list, threw 16.71m to finish in 4th place behind 3 senior athletes.

He threw 1.5 metres further than the next U20 athlete.

He said that he was really pleased with his performance but was disappointed to have been bumped out of the medals in the last round. He also said that in 2 years time he is planning to be on top of the seniors podium
Rich Shephard and Oscar Barbour.
British Middle Distance Triathlon Championships.

Report – Oscar Barbour

Tri club members Oscar Barbour and Rich Shephard were in action in Aberfeldy recently, competing in the British Middle Distance Championships.

Oscar, competing in just his second middle distance race, finished 5th overall and 2nd in his age group in 4:27:12.

This was a strong performance behind the first place competitor in his age category, who was crowned overall race winner and British Champion.

Rich had an equally successful race, placing 10th overall in 4:37:21 and first in his age group, thus winning the British Middle Distance Age Group crown, which means that he currently holds both the British and European age group champion titles.

The two athletes of Team Pool Care are supported through racing and training by CS Physiotherapy and John Atkins Cycles.
Tara Lambert
The Ridgeway Challenge 86 Miles.

Report – David Jones.

This is a fully supported continuous running event that starts at Ivinghoe Beacon near Tring and ends at the Avebury Stone Circle.

The route is 86 miles along The Ridgeway National Trail, a 5000 year old trackway through the Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs, along Grim’s Ditch for several miles, with Barbury Castle and Liddington Castle en-route.

The route has 1929m (6328 feet) of ascent and 1991m (6532 feet) descent.

For club member Tara Lambert, this is exactly the type of challenge she revels in.

Earlier in the year she completed the 107 mile Dublin2Belfast event, last month she competed in the 50k Wendover Woods event. She’s also found the time to do a couple of marathons this year as well.

The difficulty of this race is best summed up by the fact that of the 163 who started, just 98 finished, a 40% drop-off rate.

As anyone who knows her would attest that Tara was unlikely to be one of those who did not finish. Indeed, she finished in 40th place overall and her time of 22 hours 40 minutes and 39 seconds secured her 5th place in her age category.

The race was won by Matthew Ma in a time of 15:05.37 and the first female finisher was Lisa Walbridge in 7th place with a time of 16:52.37.
Photos of Becks Pridham courtesy of Kate Pridham.
The Thorney 5.

Report – Becks Pridham.

This race is a flat and fast, out and back road race in the Cambridgeshire fens near Peterborough.

It’s a race that I have wanted to do for a few years now, since I joined the athletics club, mainly because it is close to where I grew up and it meant that my parents and sister could see me race.

I finished 5th out of 24 in my age group (WV45) in 40:39.9 (chip 40:32.3), which exceeded my expectations, as I was hoping for a sub 43. I was 34th female out of 135.
The first female was Phillippa Taylor from Helpston Harriers who finished in 30:42.

It’s a super race and I bumped into a family friend who I hadn’t seen for 25 years (and who beat me in my age group!) which was absolutely lovely. Fab vegan flapjack, a lovely race.
Lisa Dallisson.
Wynchcombe Hill Climb.

Report – David Jones.

The route of this multi-terrain event climbs over 650 feet to the Neolithic long barrow Belas Knap and affords competitors spectacular views.

There is nothing club member Lisa Dallisson loves more than running up hills. She was returning to this event after a 5 year gap and she was 12th female finisher in a time of 61.03, with an overall position of 40th.

The race was won by George Beardmore in 37.34 and the first female finisher was Petra Vymetalove in 21st place with a time of 50.14. 122 competitors finished the race.
Club Championships.


The Club Championships is the single most important competitive event of the year for SUAAC because the whole club has a chance to get together and compete.

It is also the one event where, after training all year, the coaches hope all club members prioritise the champs and support the club.

The date was originally published in early spring and so hopefully it’s already inked into your family diary.

The championships are open to everyone in the club, seniors and juniors, including the children on the waiting list and hopefully more of our senior athletes, particularly from the very successful Senior and Vets T&F teams will be competing this year.

The event is UKA permitted with trained officials running it and whilst the event is competitive, in some cases this is the first opportunity for an athlete, particularly the youngsters, to enjoy the thrill of being involved in a competition and to pit themselves against their peers.

The Championships for the juniors will be run on a Triathlon Multi Event basis i.e. athletes are required to compete in 3 events i.e. 1 Track, 1 Jump and 1 Throw.

Senior competitors can compete in as many events as they wish.

The champs are a big logistical event for our volunteers and whilst we are the envy of many clubs insofar that our Club Championships is considered to be a well organised and successful event. However, it is based on the collective effort between everyone involved in the club, not just the regular volunteers. The success of the event for the athletes relies on people helping before and on the day.

The details of the event are on the attached documents including how to apply and if you have any queries please contact your respective Junior Age Group Leaders or coaches…U11 Carolyne Johnston ; U13 Elaine Ledden & Jenny Sheppard; U15 Mike Sheppard ; U17plus Paul Bearman ; Endurance Paul Hawkins.

For further details and an entry form please contact Jo Burn

And Finally

From Paul Bearman.

A few weeks ago we asked the school to top up the Long/Triple jump pits at the track with silver/play sand to bring them up to a safe level.

They did just that but filled one with building sand!!….the stuff you mix cement with to produce mortar for laying bricks!! This sand is hard to land in so there was a safety issue and apart from anything else it leaves the athletes looking as though they have a poor fake tan and it also stains clothes.

In Yorkshire, it used to be said, “If you need a fast bowler, holler down a coal mine.” In Stratford AC, after sending circa 250 emails out, if you call for help we’re fortunate if it’s a few familiar faces (and this time a couple of new ones) who usually put their hand up.

Last Saturday morning at 9am, Sandy Green and I were bracing ourselves to be digging out the builders sand and barrowing it away to the perimeter bushes and replacing it with 4 tonnes of the correct soft sand ready for the Club Champs on 8th September.

But the daunting thought of at least a couple of hours of graft on a very sunny day soon evaporated into smiles when one by one about 20 folks turned up with tons of “enthusiasm” to start shovelling and barrowing and were also armed with loads of good humour and banter.

With many hands making light of the work, we were finished before 10am, with the new sand dug in and spread over the main pit and the other pit had had the sand dragged from the back to the front, both ready for another top up this weekend.

As I said in my original email, Sandy and I do have other things we would prefer to be doing on a Saturday morning (he was supposed to be in Derby to put a roof on his brother’s house) but we said afterwards that hour or so showed again what brilliant supportive folks we have in the club and the help was hugely appreciated; although as one Dad said “after all it is for the benefit of our kids”.

Many thanks

Sandy and Paul
And Finally Finally.

A lovely photo from one of Jean Hill and Chris Whateley’s popular Saturday morning runs.