Bude Quadrathlon European Championship’s

There were 120 competitors, from as far afield as Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, at the Lower Wharf, Bude Canal, for an morning start for this ultra-extreme event. The race makes the most of the dramatic North Cornish coastline and the historic canal.

Photo: Paul Carvill, Alison Deykin, Dan Broughton, Steve Dolby, Phil Binch, Steve Clark & Josh Hook

The course begins with a 1,000-metre sea swim, within the partial shelter of the Bude Breakwater, then a 30km cycle ride, including some of the steepest coastal hills in the country, then onto the canal for 10km of canoeing and a final 10km cross-country run to finish.

The athlete’s braved the tough conditions as the remainder of Hurricane Irene hit the South West coast of the country making all 4 stages of the race a real challenge.

This year’s winner, Michal Hasa from the Czech Republic, completed the course in two hours, 33 minutes and 11 seconds to be crowned Europeon Champion closely followed by Czrch teamate Lous Rousavy 2nd and Steve Clark GB in 3rd.

Steven Dolby (aka Dobber) tells his story…

After being persuaded to compete in this event after already signing up for the Great North Run I was actually looking forward to it, being my 3rd points scoring event for the nationals.

A long drive down to Bude, followed by a reccie of the course left one thing to do!! Eat some of Em’s award winning Lasagne as a pre race carb boost. (Forgot to say that the reccie of the course left me with a rather sleepless night, having nightmares and cold sweats about the 30% Hill/Mountain climbs)……

Awaking bright eyed…ish to such a relaxed atmosphere was positively strange. No transition set up!! No markers on the course!! No competitors mingling around!! Talk about laid back….Must be the Cornish style…  It was now time for the pre race breakfast and getting ready. This was followed by a relaxed meander down to registration and transition set up. Race briefing was next followed by “You all need to be in the water in 10 minutes”…..I hadn’t even got my wetsuit out at this point, so a quick dash back to the cottage to sort that bit out. Paul Carvill shouted over to me “Have you got a spare swim hat?” “I’ll bring one over”. In to the cottage I went greeted by Steve Clark, just putting the finishing touches to his race face!! Wetsuit in hand I realised that I had left my goggles in my swim bag…..340 odd miles away… Wow, this was going to be fun, Sea swim in 27mph wind with white horses as big as I’ve seen……..with no goggles!! ……….Few!! Clarky had a spare pair….problem being they was back in transition and the race now started in about 4 minutes!!

Off Mrs Dobber ran like a gazelle to retrieve the spare set only to have missed the start and off I went with my eyes closed!!!!! (Not much fun). Swimming in the sea with the current/wind/waves etc is something of an experience. The feeling of swimming as the sea drew you back was nothing less than a tad scary but with lots of RNLI bods around I knew it would be OK in the end….

Lap 2 soon came with Emily holding out Clarky’s spare pair of goggles for me! Nice one I thought, get back in the sea and give it all I had!! How wrong could I be, 5 seconds in and the right lens had filled up. 10 seconds later and the left lens had steamed up.  Oh well, off with the goggles it was and just grin and bear it!! Thankfully the bike leg was next.

Bude Sea Swim

When I finally got into transition it was a quick off with the wetsuit and on with the bike helmet. Steve Hook (GBR Quadrathlon Team Manager) was stood watching me. His exact words to me were “So is the bike your strong leg then”? I guess he had noticed that my bike was very lonely on its own still standing in transition and that swimming was not my favoured discipline!! Well those words rung in my ear for the next hour as I set off on the mountain expedition bike route!!

Over taking quite a lot of people I had made quite a bit of time up!! Dan Broughton was one lincsquadder who was now in my sights. We had a great battle over the next few miles with Dab steaming past me on the up hills only for me to take advantage of the downs. I did however manage to put a minute or two in to Dan at this point. Another learning point for me was not to change the saddle before a race without trying it first!! I’ll learn one day!!

Low bridge made paddling difficult!

Off the bike and into the Kayak (above one of the low bridges you have to go under)…..Well a little more haste and less speed was required here as SPLASH……I was in….. Looked up as I got out of the water to the applause and cheers of all 500+ spectators….Boy did I feel stupid!! Oh well, nothing I could do about that now. Nursing my pulled shoulder (this happened as I fell out) I had to crack on with the 10k canal route. I’ve never seen a canal with white water on it before!! That’s a first, and it certainly was trying to keep up right as well. Thankfully I did manage to stay in the boat until diving for the bank at the end. I’ve got to say that a little commando role out of the kayak is the way forward!! The good oldmarshall’s dragging your kayak and paddle out of the water worked for me!! Not a bad Leg after a dismal start, maintaining my position with just a few position swops up and down the water.

On to the run I went and I managed to track a couple of people down. It wasn’t long though before Dan had got his revenge as I heard “Now then feller”. Yep that was Dan……..There goes Dan and it wasn’t long before he was out of sight. I only had the hills and the wind to battle against now as I started to cramp up. It must have been the most scenic race I’ve ever been in. Not sure I should have been taking the views in but hay!!

I managed to get in to a rhythm and paced myself against another competitor. Over taking her on the uphill’s and losing ground on the downhill’s, knowing that the flat canal finish was when I was going to put the hammer down. Cheers from the support crew and indeed the Lincsquad massive (who had already finished). Spurred me on to a sprint finish and over the line it was!!

It was over…….My first season of Quadrathlon had come to an end. What a fantastic event and indeed a superb season.

Huge thanks to all who have been with me on this journey!!  Here’s to 2012…….Bring it on!!

Overall Winner and Lincsquad results



Sea Swim






Michal Hasa







Steve Clark







Phil Binch







Paul Carvill







Dan Broughton







Steve Dolby






4th (fem)

Alison Deykin






Below: Podium, left Lous Rousavy, Michael Hasa, Steve Clark

This race was also the last race of the British National Ranking series and the World Ranking Series.

2011 final standings can be viewed here.

British Standings


World Standings


Overall Results in Full