Race Report :: The Adventures of Captain Keith and Hop-along Harry

(AKA Paris Marathon 2018 Race Report)

Right Captain, you’re running for both of us this weekend (no pressure) are you sure you’ve got everything? I’ve got my trainers, passport and a credit card, anything else is a bonus! [sigh] it’s going to be one of those weekends….

0450hrs – remind me whose idea the early train was? Mine? Errr… right…. Well is was loads cheaper and we get the day in Paris to explore! We both feel like we have a hangover though and blearily make our way up to Ashford. Did we book a car park? No? Should we have booked a car park? We’re running late…. Let’s book a car park…. We should really be more organised.

The Captain is realising that Hop-along has packed a great looking picnic, however with crutches and escalators to navigate he’s going to have to carry it all. It’s still not even 6am and we’ve been up for too long. Remind me again why we’re doing this? Mandy texts, their later train isn’t leaving from Ashford and they have to go to Ebbsfleet to get a train that’s going to go back through Ashford again. Hop-along is quietly vindicated that she dragged them on the predawn train.

Gare-du-Nord. It is chaos! Head for the metro, the hotel have sent directions: Magenta RER to Haussman.

Dark pink and light pink metro signs point in pretty much every direction. Magenta is dark pink, Hop-along confidently states and we (The Captain) starts dragging bags down the concourse and into the subway. Several subways later it turns out that Magenta is a station not a line. Magenta station is closed. The pink subway lines (either of them) don’t go anywhere near the hotel.

Welcome to Paris!

Finally at the hotel, is it really only 10am?! Bags dropped, let’s head to the expo, we reckon it’s going to be quieter Friday than Saturday. Metro to the Eiffel Tower (surprisingly easy to navigate once you have a route guide and are not half asleep). Feeling hungry, Hop-along’s picnic turns out to be a fabulous idea as we drink champagne out of plastic glasses and ponder whether we should eat the cheesecake or the croissants. Well, when in France!

Gorgeous day for going up the tower, bright sunshine, but as we wander over the realisation that it’s school holidays starts to take a hold, dear Lord, are there really that many children screaming? Shall we just go sit in the park and drink more champagne? Should we have saved some for after the race?

Expo is a piece of cake. They don’t even look at the medical cert apart from to check your name on it despite the fact that Hop-along is having to lean on the desk while she shifts her crutches to get the form out of the rucksack. Entry stamped, number collected, branded rucksack donned and it’s on to the shopping zone. Hop-along notes that this is the most expensive rucksack she has ever bought so she’s not buying anything else. The Captain is already going doe-eyed over the new hoka trainers.

Mandy and Ian arrive and plans start to form for the weekend; where are we eating, any nice pubs, shall we do a river cruise? Hop-along is grumpy as the painkillers are wearing off. No one has
mentioned the run yet. Mark texts, he has just realised there are train problems, it would seem that this is not going to impress Mrs Mark and he is in the dog house before even leaving to UK.

There is a Park Run in Paris. Mandy is going to be a Parkrun tourist. Or at least that was until she had to get up and go…. It would seem that no one was keen to do Saturday morning!

Vic and Family, and Ruth and Dan have arrived to complete the crew of the good ship ATC. We all meet at the expo again. Hop-along is slightly perkier having discovered codeine. Lunch and river tours seems to be the plan for most. Carb loading begins and table booked for pasta party. Race talk begins… is there a beer tent at the end?

Vic has irritable child syndrome and can’t make the pasta party, Mark is tired and going to eat near his hotel (turns out later to be about 200yds from the restaurant the crew are in). Hop-along has been working hard on a support plan: Paris metro doesn’t do lifts and has a dubious track record of working escalators.

The Captain, Vic and Mark are in the 3.15-3.30 starts. Mandy, Ruth and Dan are in the 4.30 start which frustratingly leaves almost an hour and half later. This means that the boys
will be at the opposite side of the city to the others for pretty much the whole race. Still, rucksack full of jelly babies, Hop-along sets off at a steady 20-30 min/mile pace with a hope she can get to the 2km mark before the race starts…

The Elite athletes are incredible. They just cruise past looking like they’re on a park run, 5km completed in under 15 minutes, Hop-along feels a bit tearful as she scowls at her crutches. It’s 16
degrees already, the band start playing, The Captain, Vic and Mark wait for the signal, and they’re off.

Hop-along and Mrs Vic start leapfrogging down the course watching the boys through (well Mrs Vic and mini Vic’s may have been leap frogging, Hop-along was just shaking her crutches at impatient people who kept pushing past on the Metro).

Mandy and Ruth are getting ready at the start, mildly amused that the boys are nearly halfway already. Ruth is happy though, as if you run too early the fit firemen aren’t in position for you to high 5 and swoon at.

Everyone is keeping a cracking pace. Hop-along follows the crowds through the grounds of Châteaux de Vincennes, gosh it’s stunning, must remember to put it on the list for visiting on another trip. It has a moat. The crowd starts jumping down into the moat and out the other side. Hop-along sees a flaw in this plan. Some time later, moat navigated, The Captain and Vic seen, can’t wait for Mark as the moat will take some time again and on a tight schedule.

The metro is getting crazy, people running in every direction with flags and placards. Is that person wearing a race number? They don’t look like they’ve dropped out….

Ian has managed to see the girls at several points. No one seems to know where Dan is, Hop-along rather guiltily realised she didn’t know his surname so can’t track him, damn not being on Facebook!

Searching for Mr Ruth didn’t work.

Hop-along makes it to the finish with minutes to spare to see The Captain finish. The tracker app worked perfectly, unfortunately it also shows that Vic (who started after Keith) is going to finish in
about 5 minutes and beat The Captain to the winning club time. Should I tell him straight away or let him enjoy his PB for a while?…

Vic finishes, looks a little sore but strong. Hop-along and The Captain head to the recovery tent. Wee before wine, Mandy had sagely adviced before the start. It’s beer though, so The Captain gets stuck in.

Hop-along keeps looking out for Vic, it’s taken him ages to get to us, is the bag pick up queue huge? No? Mrs Vic hasn’t seen him either. At least I haven’t had a call from the medics, she nervously laughs. It’s been half an hour, this is ridiculous, it’s only 400m from the finish, where is Vic!!! They won’t let anyone back down through finish area. Mrs Vic is getting stressed, we decide to
relocate to a central location to plan the search and rescue mission. It’s been 45 minutes, Hop-along can’t decide if Mrs Vic is worried or just really mad that they might miss their train home! Don’t panic, Vic has called, he’s on his way up, (Mrs Vic is definitely furious now if there was any doubt before). Mark finishes, Vic makes a dash for the Eurostar and we wait for the rest.

Mandy and Ruth have been barely 4 minutes apart at almost every 5km checkpoint but neither of them knew! Both were looking strong but towards the end injuries were worsening and the sun was really hotting things up. They finish within a couple of minutes of each other. Hop-along and The Captain screamed them across the line and then dashed as fast as a pair of crutches and marathon burnt legs could carry them to the recovery tent and ordered 4 cold beers.

We were going to be the best support pair ever when they come out of the competitor area. We stand with outstretched beers, but they both appear to have been sucked into the same vortex as
Vic. My knee has gone, Ian is carrying me back to the hotel, came the first response. The Captain looks sympathetic…. and starts on Mandy’s beer. I’m having my feet syringed, eeugghhh, Ruth that’s disgusting! The Captain looks a little ill…. I’m not sure I can drink 3. Well the nice couple from Mersey Tri helped with that as the crew fell back to their hotels to nurse various wounds.

A race of mixed outcomes, hot, slightly longer than 26.2 miles according to all watches, but a great club achievement to see 6 determined ship mates navigate the streets of Paris.

After a few hours of recovery, celebrations are in order. It turns out that agreeing which pub we are going to meet in is the hardest thing the crew have done today! Rehydration complete, Mandy and Ian makes sure Mark gets back to hotel as his sense of direction appears to be degraded by the marathon effort. We all wonder when he’ll discover all the pictures on his phone after he foolishly left it on the table.

The crew finally disband, having promised to (maybe) do it all again next year.

Hopefully a few more will join the good ship ATC and cheer the Blue. Bring on Paris 2019.

Bon Voyage.

HaH

Post Race Report :: Alex Milne :: Bedford Autodrome Duathlon

Race 2 – 2018 ETU Sprint Distance Duathlon Qualifier taking place in Ibiza

5k – 20k – 2.5k on the traffic free Bedford Autodrome motor racing track.

A fast start in a good quality field had me into T1 in 51st place before using the totally flat bike leg to gain 36 places and back into 8th.

After maintaining my same run pace as the first leg lost 1st place on the 2nd run to the person that would finish top in my age group.

Overall finished 9th and 2nd in AG with the following splits 0.17.38 – 0.29.11 – 0.09.32 – 0.57.38.

Post Race Report :: Brighton Marathon by Becca Ashby :: 2017

I hadn’t planned to do Brighton Marathon for the second time, but I won this place courtesy of the ‘raffle’ at the ATC awards night.

I completed the course in 5hrs and 30 mins which is a PB for me! Pretty pleased with that considering it appeared to be the hottest day of the year, I stopped at every water station (apart from the 2 that ran out of water!) and stopped for a wee 4 times!

My training was pretty lapse sadly. I had over trained for a marathon a couple of years ago and ended up hating running and getting injured, so kind of went completely the other way this time!

My ‘training plan’ consisted of a 10 mile run, a 14.5 mile run and a 22 mile run! Not sure this low level of activity is recommended but hey shows anything is possible if you are stubborn and put your mind to it! lol

Probably could have gone a tad faster as well but I got lazy in middle and walked a lot more than I needed to! (Plus I enjoy chatting to people too much as I go around!!)

The last 6 miles flew by and I finished pretty strong! Enjoyed it so much that i’ve already entered for next year! Might even join my ATC team mates for some training sessions this time! 😉

Post Race Report :: Cranbrook Triathlon by Cullum Parker :: June 2017

Super Sprint Tri No 2 of 2017

So it was my second Tri, slightly longer distances this time 450m pool swim, 22km ride and 5km trail run in the woods (with hills!!). Overall times, well only professional/serious triathletes worry about those; I’m more interested in T-shirts and medals!

Quite a few ATC members took part in this Tri based in rural Kent.

They say life is about the journey and learning as you go along. So what lessons did I learn form this Tri (and apply from the first)?  Well here’s a few…

Lesson one: Gravelled/hardstanding transition areas hurt feet. A lot.  Remember to pack spare sandals/flip flops/trainers.

Lesson two: Be grateful when the ATCer in front (you know who you are Peter Heckel) is so zoomy in the pool you have a free run for you own version of freestyle x breast stroke x doggy paddle, and the zoomy ATCer behind (you know who you are Sarah Spencer) gets delayed with a missing timing chip so you have nobody behind you for a lane or two – though to be fair they quickly caught up!

Lesson three: Enjoy staggered starting positions. There is no way of knowing where you came in the ‘race’ when you all start at different times (like Hythe Bay). I like this set up!

Lesson four: Do not take as long as your last tri in transition. Having a family member or friend giving you a pensive/stern stare surprisingly reduces time spent in transition!

Lesson five: Always stop at a ‘Stop’ sign. I don’t care if it adds 20 seconds to my cycle ride. I want to complete and get home safely. Not worth the disqualification, or worse.

Lesson six: Save time on the bike ride by not saying hello to fellow supporting ATCers riding to Cranbrook. 🙂 But to be fair that gave me an extra boost! And never mind I’m only completing not competing, I’d rather be friendly when Tri-ing in ATC club colours 🙂

Lesson seven: Running. Probably best to do some actual running before the event…

Lesson eight: Never underestimate the secret weapon of triathletes. This takes the form of supporters.  Support was focused to the transition/finish areas and the extra boost this provides is immeasurable. And don’t forget those who race with you and the race marshals can also be a source of this strength. The extra ommpf having a fellow triathlete giving you encouragement is but another reason why triathlons are so great.

Lesson nine: Make sure you have family or friends to take group photo at the end – see pic!

Lesson ten: Try to remember lessons for next Tri. Especially lesson seven and eleven.

Lesson eleven: Have fun!

Lesson twelve: Go home and start looking for your next event/adventure 🙂

Here endeth the lessons.

Post Race Report :: Hythe Bay Tri by Cullum Parker :: May 2017

This was my first dip into the ‘tri’ scene, and what fun it was!

Somewhat irrationally I decided in early 2017 to sign up for a super Sprint Tri (250m pool swim, 16km and 5km run); no idea what came over me.  But as is often the case with triathletes, it is best to sign up first and ask questions later!

So in time honoured fashion I signed up with no idea what to expect except having to cycle in wet clothes.

Luckily help was at hand with the various members of Ashford Tri Club.  Not only did they run an ‘intro to tri’ session before the event, but I must say that it is one of the best Super Tri I have taken part in. Luckily the weather helped; sunny with light winds. But more than that, the Tri had what I would call a family-friendly feel to it. No showing off or feeling that you didn’t fit in.  People of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and from all over; there to take part in the best sport I know!

It was well-organised, with ATC’ers, family, friends and members of the public cheering you on. It is hard to express how important such support is when you are trying to complete your first proper 5km ‘run’ ever.

Thankfully a friendly answer to where I layout my transition gear from Alex Keenan, a stern but comprehensive talk from Julia Abbott at the swim (you know I’m only joking it was quite rightly important and you delivered it excellently), friendly ‘come ons’ from Adey Porter, Garry (I’m the Chairman don’t you know) Curley, and Paul Barron on the bike leg, and a Jelly Baby from Claire Brooker for the final leg, to name but a few (sorry those I have left out), and the cheering support along the way all helped me.

Indeed, such was the support that not only did I sign up for further Tri’s in 2017, but I joined ATC. The support, coaching, guidance from all members, whether coach, committee member, or plain ‘ole ATCer is phenomenal 🙂

And back to the main bit, if you’re thinking about giving a Tri a go, there are few introductions better than Hythe Bay – roll on 2018!  (Oh and a pretty decent medal too)

Post Race Report :: by Cullum Parker :: August 2017

Its the taking part that counts: that’s what I told myself for my first Sprint Distance Triathlon – that’s 750m (first open water swim too), 20km bike and a 5km run.

Swim was hard, I felt a bit wobbly getting out of the water and onto terra firma. Bike ride was pretty good; except for skidding on the descent from Peter’s Bridge owing to a quickly appearing van.  But recovered, straightened up and flew right.

The run? Well that was almost a disaster, the Achilles or something in that area, twinged after the first 100 metres, so was more a ‘jalk’ than run. But I got over the finish line and importantly the medal – what more could you want?

Lots to learn, improve, focus and succeed on next time. But without tri-ing we’ll never know if we can succeed!

Marathon du Medoc :: Mandy Cooper :: 10th Sept 2016

Back in September a few of us travelled by train to the city of Bordeaux in France to take part in the highly acclaimed 32 nd Marathon du Medoc. We were staying at a hotel in the City centre, but the marathon starts and finishes in the little town of Pauillac in the heart of the Medoc region on the right bank of La Gironde. Travel to and from the marathon and expo (for bib collection the day before) was organised by a local company Tutti Quanti.

The marathon is famed for its love of wine! The 26.2 miles actually takes you through some 21 vineyards, where the aid stations are stocked with wine, water and various food items. An unwritten rule of the marathon, also, is that participants are encouraged to dress up – this year’s theme being tales and legends.

So, the day of the marathon dawned and the hotel provided its usual buffet breakfast at 5:30, as most of the guests were actually taking part in the marathon. Most of the guests were either British, Australian or Chinese. A rather surreal sight in the breakfast room with the colourful costumes and outfits being worn by marathon runners as they tucked in to bacon, eggs, coffee. And cake (OK, just cake for me then?).

At 6:15 we boarded the coach and headed for Pauilac, Dave dressed as St George, Vic and friends wearing their “carry me” outfits and me dressed as Ziggy Stardust (despite the purple make up being “waterproof” it was already getting hot, at 25 degrees, so I did wonder if it would last even until the race started). We made our way to the start line in the centre of the town, surrounded by just about everyone in fancy dress – Cinderellas, wizards and witches, Dorothies, Flintstones, even Jesus! Gathering at the start line I thought the lady next to me was dressed as Pippa Midddleton. Then realised that actually it was Pippa Middleton, with her boyfriend dressed as French footballer Zidan (there were quite a few Zidans). Some of the costumes were amazing, there were chariots and floats and to be honest I forgot that we were about to run a marathon as I thought we were in the middle of a carnival! But suddenly the race started and we trotted over the start line some 15 minutes later.

The race took us through the town, and the first “aid station” appeared a few meters up the road, but due to the bottle neck at this point we had to miss this one. The plan was to get the first half completed and then make the most of the aid stations, as there was a strict time limit of 6 ½ hours to complete. But, I’m hopeless at sticking to a plan, and we were stuck in enjoying the aid stations by mile 2. At most of the chateaux the wine was given out in plastic cups, and there were only a few mouthfuls in each cup, but some vineyards had several different types of wine (all red) and it seemed rude to not to try a few. Some of the vineyards had live bands playing, too, so there was a bit of dancing to be had. Dave and I managed to do the first half in well under 3 hours, which was pretty good going, with the heat, the wine and the dancing.

Vic and the boys were way ahead at this point. From about 32km the food at the aid stations became a bit more adventurous than the cheese biscuits, fruit and cake that had previously been offered. There were barbequed burgers, meat platters, oysters to name a few. Then, 1 km from the finish when you were just about to flake out with the heat, they were handing out ice creams!

Heaven!

We managed to cross the finish line in 6:25 (with a chip time of 6:12). Very well timed to get our medals, souvenir rucksack, bottle of Cru in a souvenir box and a rose for the ladies! Just over the finish line there was a huge tent with yet more wine, and beer, as much as you could drink for all marathon finishers. We then hobbled back to our coach to get transported back to Bordeaux, where we were joined by a group of Aussies from the hotel and we finished a fantastic day in style! (“Lets go Daaaancing”!)

Battle of The Somme :: Ruth Goddard :: 18th November 2016

ruthgoddard01On Friday the 18th of November I took part in The Battle of The Somme Challenge at Samphire Hoe.

6 hours to complete as many 3.8 mile loops.

This year marks the 100th year anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles in history, of which there were over 57 thousand casualties. The first day being on the 1st of July and the last on the 18th of November. We were reminded about this at the race briefing as some of the runners had completed the same challenge on the 1/7/16 and the time between, men had fought bravely for their country.

We all stood on the slope that leads out from the visitor centre at the nature reserve and listened to The Last Post and paid our respects. I was shaking due to the cold and I reminded myself of those heroic souls. I also looked up and saw Julie and Mandy in front of me amongst other faces from my running family.

The race began with the blowing of a trench whistle and we were off.

I toddled up the hill and was faced with an issue immediately. COWS. Now they all got a fright too and started cantering all over the place as multicoloured / fluorescent runners were closing in on them. I felt like cantering in the opposite direction and getting out of there!

I spent the first lap with Louise, who I know from Ashford Run England. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and we caught up on general chit chat as I de-layered. I looked up and hoped for a bit of cloud as I prefer it cooler. There was no wind so a lovely sunny start.

After the 1st lap I had some pigs in blankets pringles and went off for the second lap. This was an out and back and the wind started to pick up on my way back in.

By the third, the clouds were looming and I could no longer see Dungeness Power Station. I also saw lightning over France. For the following three laps it was a case of covering up as much as possible so only my eyes could be seen as we were treated to stabby rain in one direction and in the other, a cold wind on the back of my neck. Like I said earlier though, no complaining and my aim was to stay cheerful and smiley.

There were lots of high fives and the cows didn’t attack me so that made me enjoy it even more. I had a cup of tea on the way round on my penultimate lap and that was lovely jubbly. I enjoyed my last lap as the sun came out and I sang and felt proud of myself and everyone else that stuck it out in the rubbish weather.

Marathon distance done and dusted.

Chilham Castle 5km, 10km and Duathlons :: Sunday 16th Oct 2016

swabbotts-chilhamOh my, what a wet day, but it was the muddy underfoot that made this race what it was. Trail run I was told but no, cross country which the occasional swim in the mud. I would say this has to be one of the most fun races I’ve ever done but I reckon it was running with Dora that made it was it was. The first race I’ve had solely with participants running with dogs. What could be better?

Joey Chasseaud took part in the standard 10km. Team Swabbott were out in tow of their canine team mates.

Ruth Merry and Iggy also took part in the Cani-X, “Wearing his medal with pride after his first 5km race. He stopped at every puddle and tried to make friends with quite a few dogs regardless of how much of a trip hazard that made him. Then he felt we had run enough by 4km and walked the rest. He was also perplexed by the duathletes who kept running behind him and would stop to watch them approach and then overtake us. I don’t think he’s very competitive.”

Event information can be found here