On 29 August 2013 In Triathlon News

A brave and select group of BRAT mountain bike enthusiasts (Claire Hotchkiss, Derek Hardy, Geoff Mann and Russ Hall) ventured out to XTERRA Germany last week for an off-road racing extravaganza. XTERRA is an off-road triathlon of approximately Olympic distance proportions – 1500m swim, 40ish kilometre bike and a 10ish kilometre off-road run. Races take around 2.5 to 5 hours depending on ability and weather conditions.

XTERRA Germany isn’t for the faint-hearted, set in the mountains near Zittau the bike course wriggles its way through mountain passes using tight singletrack and big rocky descents – the first climb was nearly 14 kilometres long and virtually all up steep boulder strewn trails. The bike course actually crosses over into the Czech border continuously throughout the race. The run course can be described as undulating to say the least, with steep off road climbs, lots of sand, a river crossing and obstacles to hurdle for good measure.

Claire, Geoff and Russ all made it to the finish line, sadly Derek “Wheel Smasher” Hardy suffered a double puncture and had to walk 14 kilometres of the bike course back to the start. Claire came 4th in her age group after beating most of the pro athletes out of the water. Geoff had a bit of a mishap in the swim, getting confused with the next race wave which was ready to leave the start line and ended up swimming nearly 2500m! Russ came 37th overall and appears to still be grinning about it a week later.

On 26 August 2013 In Triathlon News

The portents were not good - weather forecast, car breakdowns, missed communications, chicken entrails - but against all odds, the BRAT Club triathlon teams competed magnificently, ferociously and ultimately successfully in the 2013 National Club triathlon Relays at Holme Pierrepont on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August.  Saturday morning dawned under leaden skys, but the rain stayed away and the wind was calm as the mixed teams took to the water and hammered it out.  Our mixed A team responded to the minor handicap of being a member down by doing double shifts and still clocking the fastest BRAT mixed team time of 3:21:23 - Dale was first out of the water and then swam again in 3rd spot, Hannah and Colin kept the pressure up, then Dale did a total of 6 laps on the bike instead of his usual 4, and Colin doubled up on the run, ably supported by Hannah.  The performances of our other mixed teams were fantastic - bragging rights went to Brattenburgs, followed by Brat Forest Gateau, Gingerbrat Men, Sticky Bratty Pudding, Apple and Bratbury Pie, Baked Bratlaska, Kitbrat, Bratjack and Bratberry Crumble.  Individual bragging rights went to Will Raiment for the lowest individual total time of 47:29, beating Chris Ashford (who raced in much more testing conditions on Sunday!) by 25 seconds with Colin Irvine a further 27 seconds back - a sprint tri showdown awaits perhaps?  Thanks to Leeds and Bradford Tri Club for the extra carbo loading on Saturday afternoon - pesto pasta and bread rolls - delicious and nutritious (just to reassure athletes that you can't have too much carbo loading while watching others do triathlon - it is a known fact).  Chant of the day (for Tessa who complained that no one cheered her on the bike - just because no one recognised her white BRAT tri kit) - "Blue hat, White top, Angry face, Blue hat, White top, Angry face" as she went past on the run...

In the afternoon, the wind got up a bit and just about blew all our tents over.  Our women's A team of Raiment, Rose, Taylor and Hawtin put in a superb effort but just missed out on the podium by one place (77 seconds behind, total 3:28:48), followed by our women's vet 40+ team and Bratberry Pavlova.  The testing conditions persisted for the men's teams on Sunday morning, but here we saw some performances of heroic status.  The aptly named men's A team (aka BRAT Women's Vet team??!!) had members from the north (Mark Fulwood and Tom Anderton), the south (Rich Lomas) and central (Chris Ashford) - a truly representative BRAT team - and they all performed consistently well to come in Runners Up in one of the premier categories of the National Championships only 83 seconds behind the winners - the best ever performance by a BRAT team in this category (total time 3:15:20)!  The Brattie Dodgers ran in next and then came the team performance of the whole weekend: the Men Super Vets A team (Washy, Geggie, Hirschy and Ballard) who slaughtered the opposition by nearly 5 minutes (3:28:49) to regain the National Championships in this category - well done guys!  Pannabratta was next, followed by Bratoffee Pie, and Creme Bratle.  The bragging rights for the oldest team, however, went to Apple and Bratbury Pie, with a combined age well in excess of 220 years (significance of 220??!) - the men's vet 50+ team were just babes in comparison.  The courage award goes to Simon Pearsall who ordered his wife to hold back on the imminent delivery of their baby until after his race was finished - brownie points to make up there, son!  

Huge thanks to team captains Daisy Wilson and Russ Hall who put in enormous efforts to get the teams organised and entered, to keep everyone calm and informed on both days, and to think up the most original team names ever (although I am told a certain ElQ had something to do with the names too).  Much gratitude also goes to Chris and Mark Hirsch for their warm hospitality in hosting the post event BBQ.  I am reliably informed that the performances on the track during the day paled in comparison with the late night dancing afterwards. The 2013 NCR weekend is one to treasure!

View full results here

On 23 August 2013 In Triathlon News

Eventually I seem to get sucked in to the next level and at some point I decided I should go for a middle distance race (I can’t remember why – perhaps it’s my age). Cotswold Classic is the second of two annual 70.3 events run by 113 Events - which is really Graeme Hardie and his long suffering missus Nicci plus a group of press-ganged chums and family members. Since I couldn’t find an all downhill swim*, bike, run course tri; the flat landscape round the picturesque Cotswold Water Park offered a good alternative.

Whilst the prospect of doing any of the events on 3 separate days seemed absolutely fine to me, putting it all together on one day is a leap into the unknown – how you approach the training, nutrition and race all seemed a bit more important than rocking up and tripping round a shorter tri course. All that’s true but I did find it was mostly doable and if you’re thinking about your first – go for it! Being so flat (they keep quiet about the one hill) it is a popular course with novices or the PB’ers aiming to get home for Sunday lunch.

8 BRATS (Grimley, Chris Simpson, Ian Gibson, Robert Ryan, Craig Gibson, Georgia Croxford, Simon Ellison plus me) took part along with 371 others.

Race day started early on the campsite. Now you just *know* you can’t do a slow, quiet zippppppp on a campsite at night but you still attempt to… ok I admit it was me fellow campers. I’d read to eat your porridge 3 hours before and with a 6:30 start – 3am seemed perfectly reasonable. Apart from a fellow novice from the Netherlands, no one else seemed to agree and it was after 4am when more walking zombies emerged into the breaking dawn light.

Water temperature had peaked in the earlier hot weeks at over 23 degrees and most newbies seemed apprehensive at the no wetsuit prospects however enough rain had then fallen to cool the lake slightly. I’d been looking forward to avoiding struggling with my old wetsuit and decided I’d go without any way to avoid the stress (~8 seconds to remove? Hah! Try my usual 8 minute escapology torture. I’ll take the performance hit thanks!). I was one of a handful of de-rubbered and set off at 06:40 in wave 2… it was going to be a long day for me but then I’d really got nothing better to do on such a nice sunny day.

Marshalls! What a great bunch (almost as good as BRAT ones)! Cheerful encouragement every time you passed one and it didn’t seem to waiver however long you (yes I mean; I) took. There were plenty of day trippers, families, cyclists and dog walkers enjoying the water park area and they too gave us a bit of a cheer. (Marshalls are paid a few quid, get fed and a goodie bag too – if you can’t quite gear up for entering, volunteer for the June event and get a feel for the occasion. Next year they may do a full distance event in August). Graeme is very welcoming and helpful to novices and holds a ‘familiarisation’ day a few weeks before the big day. He’s even open to special requests for food – my jam and cheese sandwiches were delicious.

For the record, Chris Grimley was the first BRAT home in a fine 4h 45m and Georgia our first lady in an excellent category 9th at 5:43. My goals were not to be swept up by the broom wagon and ideally get back before the presentations, which I achieved. I might have been in the rear-guard but the whole experience of my first 70.3 was a great event, great day, great people and…. err when’s the next one!?

In the words of Chris Davy – 70.3?? DO IT!


Thanks to Nik Bettam for this excellent race report!


*Well, according to my Garmin, the swim was uphill!

On 22 August 2013 In Triathlon News

The BRAT Birmingham Triathlons and the National Aquathlon Championships were tremendous successes again.  The triathlons were fully booked out and for once the weather was favourable!  There was great support from many BRAT volunteers and great racing from many BRAT members.  The photo is of John Burnham and Nathan Smith sprinting for the line - thanks to Rory Bate for the photo.  Below is Phil CK's story from the sprint distance triathlon.  

Once again, I was back at the BRAT Triathlon ready to improve upon my previous best time and shave those precious seconds off to get under my target of 1hr 20m.  Arrival at the water ski centre showed a hive of activity but also a great sense of relief by looking across the carpark at the nice, flat and even warm looking lake! Having registered the day before, it was into transition to rack my bike and get ready. Not only was this an efficient process but also re-assuring as I was racking up next to someone I'd met at the last event so we had a quick pep talk ahead of the mornings race.

Race briefing done, it was time to get into the water after a few motivational words from the family, summed up nicely by my son's words of wisdom regarding the swim of "I hope you don't sink!!!" Having learnt from my previous mistakes and the advice of Duncan, it was into the water early and get that cold water into the suit before the start. The horn sounded and the swim was on..... I found myself in a good position in the pack, having not gone off way too fast chasing the fastest people like the idiot I normally am! The extra buoys for this times swim made it easy to navigate and get back to swim exit and into transition.

Transition would have been fine if I hadn't got to the exit only to feel my timing chip slide down my leg as it came loose.... a time wasting action of me faffing with it duly ensued! The bike was good having ridden the route a couple of times over the previous few weeks, so knew well how to pace myself and what to expect at each corner. However, I still missed my target time of sub 40mins by just 2 seconds despite much encouragement from all the marshalls along the length of the course.

 Out of transition and onto the run starts well as I come past Tauny who's clearly having too much fun in his role as commentator and calls out some words of motivation, which also remind my family to wake up quickly as its me coming past! I settle into a nice pace and get ready to face "that hill" before taking the downhill and the push towards the finish line.

Crossing the finish line and collecting my time showed I was 2 minutes down on the day and missed my goal......whilst cursing lots of little things on the day that I could have done better, it's clear the Triathlon bug has hit as I am simply looking at this as a chance to come back next year and beat it!

Overall it was a fantastic event, well organised and well supported by everyone at the club - it makes me proud to be a BRAT !