A busy weekend of racing saw many a Lincsquad member embark on the journey up North to what has now become (for some) an annual pilgrimage for the Cleveland Steelman. This event has always proved popular with the Club and as its title suggests, is a toughie. If the free T-shirt is to be believed the swim and bike distances are slightly more than your standard Half Ironman races at 2000m and 58 miles. The half marathon run is somewhat off-road as you vault 6 gates and two stiles whilst meandering through woodland and lakeside trails. Another unique appeal to this event is the cost of the entry fee. A budget price of £45 for an Half Ironman event! This has surely got to be the cheapest triathlon in the country? Massive respect to the Cleveland Tri Club for hosting a quality race whilst keeping prices so low.
Unfortunately, something the Organisers couldn’t control was the weather and of course some pesky temporary 3-way traffic lights! Doing a reccie the previous night it was evident that some people could be lucky but others would find themselves staring at a red light counting the precious seconds as their previous hard efforts were being whittled away! As it’s a two lap course it’s ‘Swings and roundabouts’ I suppose?………………….but it isn’t is it? Some people can get lucky twice and others unlucky twice! Oh well! Introductions, handshakes and pleasantries were passed pre swim between the club’s old and ever increasing newbie contingent. Right on cue, the heavens opened and the klaxon indicated the start of the mass swim/paddle/splutter fest! Thumbing through the results sheet it was the old-hands of Steve Grocock (4th), Rob Wood (20th) & Tony Philbin (22nd) using their experience to feature at the pointy end of the race. Using this as a training session for next week’s Outlaw Rob found himself having to play catch-up to follow Tony’s much improved swim. Hanging on to Tony’s blistering bike leg before putting in a measured run saw Rob, on this occasion, just getting the better in this friendly rivalry. Second out of the water for Steve Grocock with a rather flattering time of 26 minutes suggests the distance wasn’t quite the full 2000 metres, sorry folks! Pushing too fast on the bike in the rain resulted in a heavy crash for Steve. A tough few miles followed trying to resist the urge to throw in the towel whilst coming to terms with losing his hard earned advantage. Leaving T2 with the race leader may not seem the end of the world but a healthy buffer off the bike was always going to be needed to fend off the nippy runners. A comfortable 3rd place unfortunately went pear-shaped in the final furlong as out of nowhere some Ussain Bolt like character took the final step on the podium & even worse, age group gong!
David Gibbs, David Gibbs, David Gibbs (64th)! What has this boy been eating for breakfast? With so many admirable performances by the half Ironman newbies Dave’s result still gets the ‘Man of the Match’ award. I’m sure Dave would be the first to agree that a quick google search of his previous results from times gone by would not have seen him challenging in such a lofty position. Coaching and damn hard work certainly paying dividends for this athlete. Less than two minutes separated 79th placed Mark Clements and 81st placed Gareth Crabb. Both stepping up to the longer distance for the first time the ex-mountain biker & ex runner certainly made the jump to multi-sport look easy. Both athletes cashed in on their preferred discipline to set up a close finish.
It was our pleasure as always to have Paul Ralph (85th) back racing with his old chums. Paul, fresh from his Tour de France trip still found the time to go back to his roots despite recently dining with several notable VIPs, Actors, Politicians and TDF dignitaries. A solid performance saw Paul finish comfortably within the top half of the result sheet. Paul wasn’t available for interviews afterwards as the Champs de Elysees beckoned.
Apologies to our next Club member Kev Jackson (100th) for not receiving the usual warm Lincsquad hearty handshakes. Kev has recently joined the club but wasn’t donning the instantly recognizable Lincsquad (or OTCF) kit. Three very respectful disciplines saw the marathon runner’s target time of 6 hr 30mins smashed by almost ¾ of an hour.
Stuart Grocock (107th) another making the big jump from sprint tris managed to achieve both of the goals he’d set himself. Raising over £500 for the cancer charity and getting under his 6 hour target time by a good 5 minutes was mission well and truly accomplished for the Gainsborough man. What he described as an absolute nightmare first open water swim (in a race) didn’t appear too bad to most as Stuart posted the 3rd fastest Lincsquad swim.
The second fastest Lincsquad swimmer was keep fit instructor and ex Euro Champs kick boxing expert Adam Johnston (113th). Unfortunately Adam’s race was marred due to chronic cramping during the run. Adam ( Ah, Grasshopper) managed to chop a few bricks in half to help block out the pain! After a bit of spiritual regrouping he rallied and still found himself sneaking under that 6 hour barrier. I’m sure it won’t be long before Adam finds himself featuring at the sharp end of these races as so many of those that have competed at a high sporting level often do.
Heavy work demands weren’t enough to deny Steve Beevers (115th) his day in the sun (or rain)! The popular Scotter Squadder used his tried and tested tactic of talking to every competitor in the vicinity to help pass the time. The recent disruption to training didn’t stop Steve from posting a respectful bike time and certainly wasn’t going to prevent him from racing wearing that broad grin.
Next up, was Sam Martin (137th), another newbie that threw himself straight into the Half Ironman deep end with no previous triathlon experience. A clever move to introduce himself on the forum just prior and wear the Lincsquad livery ensured Sam got his fair share of cheers and extra encouragement. Sam’s running off the bike seems to be his strength as his half mara time puts him into the top half of the field.
As well as Mark and Amanda Clements Gareth Joseph (142nd), was also following in his wife’s footsteps at this family friendly event. Gareth, another mountain biker, making the step up to Half Ironman has clearly got the bug as he’s already planning his new training schedule to include the bigger distances. Gareth was probably being a little harsh on himself in his post race summary. These events aren’t easy, at least not as easy as he appeared to make it look.
Everybody’s favourite cycling coach Steve Cannings (161st) received the biggest cheers of the day. Still nursing a broken toe, Steve surpassed his own expectations by destroying the time he’d set himself. An achievement that was made to look all the more impressive when you consider the extra weight Steve was lugging around the course as he used this race to trial his nutrition for his upcoming ‘around the world trip with no stops’. The crowds went home happy as Steve tossed them free energy supplements from his multiple drink holders and ‘Tommy Walsh’ utility belt. (Sorry Steve but it’s captured on film).
Even more so than usual (as the weather was absolutely lousy) big thanks goes out to our supporters. Standing all day in the rain you must question why you give up your weekend to follow us around the country. We do appreciate it.