GO TRI – Try a tri

Yesterday morning at 8am our club held a GO TRI event at Bannatyne’s Health Club in Wellingborough.  The idea was to give people that hadn’t experienced a triathlon before the chance to get to know a little more about the sport, practice having a go at each of the three disciplines and transitions without too much pressure or tiring them out over a long distance.

For the adult event competitors swam 200m followed by an 8km bike ride and then a 1.4km run before heading back through the finish gantry.  The children were split into different categories, but swam either 120m or 160m, followed by a 900m cycle for all, and then finished with either a 600m or 900m run dependent on age.

As I’d volunteered to help several weeks earlier, I was down to time with a team of three others and was given the job of timing the bike course.  All four of us grouped around the side doors to the swimming pool so that we could start our stopwatches at the same point before dispersing to our positions on the course which were all within 100 metres of the pool.

Go Tri timing sheet

I think I was more nervous about messing up the timing on the stopwatch than some of the entrants were at being in the event!

Stopwatch started and I ambled over to the ‘Bike Out’ section of the course.

Although the event was put on by our club, we were able to use a lot of the Go Beyond triathlon equipment, as Steve (the owner of Go Beyond) runs for WDAC.

WDAC Go Tri bike racks

Swimmers would head out from those doors at the front of the pool and along the red and white tape to the left, where the bike racks had been placed.  From there they needed to add their race number, get shoes on, hop on their bike and run past me over the line they had to cross before leaping on their bike for the cycle part of the course.  As they passed the flag I would note down the time on my clipboard sheet so that we would be able to relay to them once they had finished how long they had taken over each of the three disciplines and also how long they had spent in transition between each event.WDAC Go Tri Bike out flag

Because the swim was held across two of the lanes within the indoor pool, swimmers were set off two at a time (one in each lane) every 90 seconds which meant it gave me a chance to grab their numbers as they raced past me pushing their bikes.  One by one they all came rushing past, although it wasn’t long before the first of them were shooting back in from the other direction to rack their bikes back up and head out on the run.  I had to also jot down the time they passed me on their way back in too!

WDAC Go Tri start gantryOne of the other time keepers was noting the times that competitors went back out in their running shoes and overall times as runners headed off in the other direction under the start gantry for the final of the three parts, so this freed me up to cheer people coming over the line.

The event had just 19 adult entrants, which meant it was fairly easy to manage, and the last of the entrants was back across the line within 40 minutes, giving us enough time to set up for the junior event which was due to begin at 9am.Go Tri completed timing sheet

Because the direction the kids headed out on the bikes was different to the way they came back in, I was only able to record their bike out times and someone else caught them as they came back in again.  It was more confusing with the kids event though, as depending on their age, they ran a different number of laps around the leisure centre, which had been drilled into them before they set off!  (Mainly I think to help us when it came to timing…so we knew to record their time if they stopped when they came over the line!)  I’d slightly overestimated how long it would take the kids to finish, and they were all back within 8 minutes of starting!

Quick photo of the adult finishers with medals around their necks…

WDAC Go Tri finishersI had arranged to run with a friend after helping at the tri and had said I should be able to head back home again somewhere around 10:30am, but in actual fact we were done and all packed away before 9:30.  An efficient club, us!  😉

Although I’m not as clued up on triathlon rules as I am of the rules at pure running events, I always seem to learn something new each time I marshal at a tri and it makes me more enthusiastic about the sport.

Did you watch any of the Olympic triathlon at the weekend?
Does your club contain many triathletes?

The Welly 5 and a 999 call

Sunday was our club’s annual road race – the Wellingborough 5, or ‘Welly 5′ as it has become known to locals.

I was down for my usual job of marshaling at the top of the track leading into the Old Grammarian’s Sports ground car park heading to the start/finish line.  This time with Nic, another lady from my club.

{Previous Welly 5 marshaling recaps: 2013 * 2014 * 2015}

For 2016 we were no longer able to park runners in the large farmer’s field opposite the Old Grammarian’s (OGs) as they have started developing this site into an industrial estate.  It meant that all marshals and all runners would need to park in the OGs (much smaller!) car park instead and this required lots of organisation!  After the stress of being placed on car parking duty at the South Downs Way 100 a few weeks back, I was glad to see that my marshal position remained at the top of the track and that I wouldn’t need to be directing cars into spaces on the day, but instead merely pointing them in the direction of Colin, who would be indicating exactly where they were to park.

As we knew there would be limited car park spaces I headed down with Tom, who needed to head out with the van and lay the signs for the course out on the route in the morning.  Because it was still too early to direct runners into OGs when I first arrived, I helped set up signs and start lists inside with those who were on registration before heading out to my marshal point a little before 8:30am.  The race didn’t begin until 10:30.

Race numbers at the Wellingborough 5

Dan had decided a few days earlier that he would quite like to run the Welly 5.  Despite not having trained for it he has been going to the gym twice a week for the past month and regularly going to footy training for several months.  He managed to snag the last remaining place of the 300 on offer.

This year the t-shirts for runners were polyester technical tops.  If you haven’t yet tried a polyester technical top I suggest that you hunt one down immediately!  They are so light-weight and cool for Summer running.  I picked one up for marshaling at Pitsford Triathlon the other week and am hoping there are still a few Welly 5 tees going spare as well next time I’m at club.

Polyester technical tops at the Wellingborough 5The road that the OGs is located on is locally known as ‘The Mad Mile’.  It is one mile of straight road with nothing on it but the turn into OGs.  Cars really pick their speed up coming down this little country road and I was surprised at how fast-moving the traffic was even at 8:30am on a Sunday morning.  There is no way that we would be able to run the race if we were disallowed a road closure for the Mad Mile for the hour the race takes place.  At times it got a little hairy when runners were waiting to turn their cars in to the car park from both directions and other road users were trying to squeeze through the middle of cars turning in!

Miraculously the car park team did a great job of slotting in all of the cars and the race began on time once the road containing the start had been closed off.  I had been asked by our Race Director if I would take photos at the start and finish from my marshal position, as I had done in previous years, so I took my camera along to get a few shots of the runners setting out.

The start at the Wellingborough 5

Tom had been posted as tail runner so jogged along behind the final two ladies as they made their way past the car park track and then the 249 runners that had turned up for the race, the lead bike and Tom disappeared off into the distance.

It was perfect race weather – quite sunny yet still with a slight breeze.  Much nicer than last year when it tipped it down for the entire race!

We had a good 23 minutes or so before we would be able to see the front runners heading back round the corner in our direction and several other supporters from the club had gathered by this point with Nic and I.

It probably wasn’t much more than 10 minutes later when a car rushed down the track from the car park towards us at full speed.  Hazard lights were flashing and the horn was honking as the car approached us.  Despite us not supposed to let any cars out of the car park until the road reopened, we could do nothing but leap out of the way of the speeding car, which then sped off to the left past us.  It wasn’t until it passed that we realised that the guy sat behind the wheel was dressed in a St. John’s Ambulance uniform.
He was driving with too much urgency for it to be something as straight forward as a sprained ankle or broken leg.  I glanced up to see Colin running from his marshal spot over to us and immediately thought that something must have happened to one of our club members.  Colin though, hadn’t been aware that it was the guy from St. Johns, and had actually been running over to remind us not to let anyone out.

A further few minutes and the car came racing back down the road in the other direction – heading towards the way the runners would be coming towards us for the finish.  Not long after, he was followed by a paramedic vehicle and closely afterwards, a police car.  We were very worried over by the finish now, especially after having seen the police car speed by.

The front runner came past, and my job as photographer began.  So that I could begin photographing the runners I passed my phone to another club runner so that she was able to call the Race Director and tell him what little information we knew – that there had been an incident on the course.  He was already aware.
Lead runner at the Wellingborough 5The first guy (Mark Ryall of Milton Keynes AC) won by a huge margin.  He had been leading from the very beginning of the race.  There had been no chance of anyone catching up with him and beating his very impressive finish time of 26m 49s.  Second place belonged to one of our green vests that you can see way back in the distance of the above photo.

The end at the Wellingborough 5

As our finishing club runners started to filter back out to cheer where we were stood it became apparent that the majority were not aware that there had been an incident, and of those that were, knew no details.  We worriedly ran through names of our own who were still out on the course and mentally ticked them off as they came past one by one.  There was one obvious runner missing, but it wasn’t until Dan came to find me after crossing the line that we learned of any further information.  (Dan had a very consistent race and had finished in 49m 51s.)

The person that had suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest had gone down before Dan had passed through and Dan was able to inform us that it was a male runner from Northampton Running Club.  Although instantly relieved that it wasn’t the one of our own we were still missing, we were still very anxious to know that all was OK, especially as an air ambulance now droned overhead in the direction of the course.

Team Balancise at the Wellingborough 5

Our lead bike had headed out to pick up the tail runners on delivering the front runner across the line.  He returned now, along with the back runners and informed us that the road had been closed off completely so no cars were to head in that direction.  Nic and I remained at our marshal post to ensure all cars turned left out of OGs rather than headed to the right where the incident had occurred and where the road was now closed.

A gentleman came over to me and said that he hadn’t seen his friend finish the race yet.  Had all the runners arrived back now?  Only he didn’t think that his friend was normally this slow.  I asked what club vest his friend wore as a way to sound out whether or not I needed to share what limited information I had been given so far.  I was told that his friend didn’t run for a club but he couldn’t remember what colour top he had been wearing that day.  Tactfully I was then able to say that there had been an incident on the course involving a male runner, and that it had been confirmed that the incident involved a club runner from one of our local running clubs who would have been wearing club colours.  By this point I had also been told that a few runners had stopped to help when the runner first went down, including our missing club runner so I shared this information as well.  I was told by the gentleman that his friend was a policeman and he was sure that he would have stopped to help if he could.  He thanked me and left to make a phone call.

A few minutes later a marshal car came past and they could confirm that amongst those who remained helping on the course were a nurse and a policeman, so I headed over to reassure the man where his friend was.

It wasn’t until 20 minutes or so later that I saw Tom walking back towards us with another runner who was walking alongside him.  This chap was the policeman who had stopped to help.

The Northampton runner had collapsed very early into the race.  Tom was first to reach him and was able to call for help.  So many members of our club and runners out on the course were quick to think and react with everybody jumping into roles such as slowing traffic, performing CPR, reassuring the man’s wife who had also been out on the course, calming other runners and giving instructions to the ambulance crew.  They ended up performing CPR for half an hour before the Northampton Road Runner (also called Tom) was airlifted to the local cardiac unit.

Although things didn’t sound too good to begin with, we received an email from his wife on Monday afternoon and it appears that things have now started to improve.  She was able to tell us that he woke from the induced coma himself, recognised his family and when given a pen and paper managed to ask what time he had clocked for the race!  Apparently he was rather upset that he had DNFd!  Although still in intensive care and not yet ‘out of the woods’ everyone is remaining positive.

Hopefully it looks as though Tom will make a good recovery, but it made several of us think about ensuring our first aid qualifications were kept up to date and highlighted the importance of carrying a mobile phone at all times on a run.

Are you first aid qualified?
Do you take your phone out with you when you run?

A Grim supporter and feeling inspired

Friday was the Grim Reaper ultra, held in Bourne, Lincolnshire. Grim was my first ultra distance over 50 miles back in 2014 and I’ve run the race twice now, smashing my 70 mile PB last year by more than three hours and coming third lady in the event.

Grim Reaper 70m ultramarathon medal

Obviously at this stage in my pregnancy I would be stupid to attempt a 70 mile ultra, but even if I wasn’t pregnant I probably wouldn’t have run the Grim 70 for a third year to be honest.
The first year was all about just ticking off the 70 mile distance.   Last year was all about taking what I had learnt from the previous year, combined with adjusted training and concentrating on beating my previous time as well as ensuring that I felt better at the finish.

I’ve proven myself at Grim, and over the 70 mile distance now. I need a new challenge, hence why a 100 miler is the next big target and one I aim to work towards post baby for 2017-18.

Having said all this, I was still rather jealous of all of the Wellingborough club runners who arrived in force for what was the fourth turn out at the event for the club.

We had three runners attempting their first seventy mile event and nine entered for the forty miles. Seven of who would be completing their longest distance to date.

Sleep has continued to be rather rubbish this week so by the time I got myself round and over to Grimsthorpe Castle on Friday morning, I was seeing the front runners through on their first lap of ten miles. Most were rather jolly at this point, still full of energy and buzzing from the adrenaline of the event.

Kev at the Grim Reaper ultraI joined a couple of supporters at camp and between us we helped prepare snacks, refill drink bottles and make sure our club runners had everything they needed as they came through on each lap of the course.

Guy at the Grim Reaper ultra

I managed to see the majority of our runners through until at least mile 30 on the course, with a couple having already completed 40 miles before I headed home for tea.  Because we had so many runners out there, of all different abilities and completing races of different distances it meant that there was a steady stream of club runners stopping by the campsite for supplies and we never went too long before another runner would join us at base.

Supporting makes for a long day, but I really appreciated all those that had been out to support me when I was on route to completing my 70 mile ultra last Summer and I wanted to give anything back that I was able to other runners from within the club.

Kev at the Grim Reaper ultra

Our club went on to do very well, with all but one runner completing their chosen distance.  Helen came away with first lady in the 70 mile ultra, and third place overall, with Kev taking 6th male in the same distance event (8th overall).  Helen actually ended up finishing just 24 minutes behind the leader and finishing in an amazing time of 13h 35m 34s.  I held the title of furthest female distance runner at the club for two years but there’s no chance of me regaining that now!  Helen is a machine and did an amazing job on the day.  She actually didn’t pull in to stop and refuel on course until mile 40, when I let her know that she was standing as first female with a huge gap between her and second place – she was sitting in fourth position overall.

Helen winner at Grim Reaper ultra

As sleep wasn’t particularly good that night either, I happened to wake up around 3am, just as Kev was finishing his 70 miles – the last of our runners out on the course – so I was able to check that all had gone well with him via Facebook and return to sleep happy in the knowledge that all runners were back safe and happy with no injuries or illnesses.

It was a busy weekend for our club runners and the following day one of our members ticked off his 100th marathon, meaning that he was presented with his 100 Marathon Club vest and cheered on by a large number of members from our club around the multi-lap course in Milton Keynes that he had chosen to complete his milestone marathon at.  I wasn’t able to attend this event, but wow – another amazing achievement!  He only ran his first marathon at the end of 2011, with the bulk of his marathons having been completed in the last two years.

I already cannot wait to start setting targets and achieving goals post baby.  That time can’t come soon enough at the moment.  One of the things which I love about running is that there are so many aspects that you can choose to improve on when it comes to your running – times and distances and types of course…It’s all about the ultra for me though.  The further the better and I’m looking forward to challenging my body to run further and for longer when I return later this year.  Feeling super inspired by everyone this weekend I can’t wait to get back out there.

Does your club have any ultra runners?
Have you ever been to help crew/support at a race before?
Do you know any members of the 100 Marathon Club?
What inspires you to run?

The pre-Welly 5 BBQ run

Our club holds a 5 mile race annually on the outskirts of our home town of Wellingborough.  The ‘Wellingborough 5‘.  A tradition 10 days beforehand is to hold a ‘test’ event, known to our members as the ‘Pre Welly 5 BBQ run’.  This fell last Thursday evening.

The original idea behind the event is that the race organisers can check the smooth-running of the event and it also gives those who will be marshaling the event on the day the opportunity to run the course.  Our chosen club ‘teams’ of runners for the actual race on the Sunday head out on the course to marshal the BBQ run.

And…it gives us a chance to grab a yearly photo of a large majority of our club runners too!Pre Welly 5 BBQ runMy 5 mile PB of 45:55 was actually set at last year’s BBQ run.  I had a great year of PBs last year.  I’d put in a lot of training and obviously selected the right races to perform well at!  The Wellingborough 5 is a fairly fast and flat course with a lot of PB potential.  It was actually my second 5 mile PB of that year, having secured my first improvement just a couple of months earlier.  2014 wasn’t such a great BBQ run though.  At the time I had been struggling to handle my new addiction to running ultra distances whilst still being able to convert my pacing to short road distances.  You can read about the horror of that run here.

As I’m marshaling at the actual Wellingborough 5 event next Sunday I wasn’t required to marshal at the BBQ run as well.  However, following a lot of thought I decided that it would be wise for me to volunteer to help with the timing on the finish line.  If I raced the BBQ run I knew there would be a good chance that I would push myself too hard, knowing all of the other runners in the event, or that I would be disappointed in trying to pace myself but being unable to do so if the baby wasn’t playing ball.  Both ridiculous at nearly 30 weeks pregnant, but both things I wanted to avoid if possible.  I’m very happy to still be able to run and if that means no races for a few months, just chatty parkruns and social trail running then so be it.  I’m still running!

Pre Welly 5 BBQ runAfter the group photos the runners were started and I moved along to the finish line along with Laura and Lucia who would also be on the timing station with me.  Laura had the stopwatch, so would call out the times as runners crossed the line and Lucia would chase up anybody whose name we weren’t sure of for me to match the two up and list in the results table.

BBQ run results

Although I know most of our own members, it is also tradition for us to invite neighbouring club Northampton Road Runners, and this year, for the first time we also invited our even closer neighbours, Redwell Runners to join us for the event.

Redwell Road Runners

There were a couple of members out on the course with cameras during the event.  I love this shot of some of our runners at the halfway point.

Group 6 at the Welly 5 BBQ runThis runner took some really good pictures.  (Photo envy!)  I shall have to enquire about what settings he uses on his camera!

Runners usually finish anywhere between 32 and 62 minutes – with our faster runners marshaling at the BBQ run in order to save their energy for the real race the following week.  Once the last of the runners has crossed the finish line we head inside the Old Grammarian’s Sports Club for drinks and to put food on the BBQs another non-runner has been busy lighting whilst the rest of the runners are out on the course.

With the course all packed up it’s time to concentrate on refuelling and drinking, and then there is always the club raffle, famous for it’s multitude of prizes (pretty much just bottles of wine, with the occasional multipack of fags on the table too!)

Does your club hold any events with other local clubs?
How do you decide when it is best not to race an event?