Category Archives: Race Reports

Parkrun round up for Saturday 11th November

As we pop around the towns and have a look at what our fellow Areneez athletes got up to at the local parkrun’s this weekend.

First off we drop in at Preston Park parkrun with a huge 442 runners on the course it was a busy one.

1st Arena lady home was Nicky Yeates and 2nd lady overall in 21.53
1st Arena man home was Luke Carter in 19.23. This was a new PB for Luke beating his previous best of 19.24 set last week and was his 3rd PB in 4 weeks. A PB is a PB in which ever time you take off of it so well done Luke.

On to the Hove Prom with 255 runners taking part.

1st Arena man home was Tris Sharp in 20.23 and nice to see Tris coming back to some form again.
1st Arena lady home was Helene Rooney in 20.16 and 1st lady overall.

A new PB dropped in to see Yvonne Patrick this weekend as she secured her new PB time of 24.46 and beating her previous best of 25.08 set in July this year. This is a new milestone for Yvonne as she breaks under the 25.00 barrier for the first time at this course. Really well done Yvonne on your hard work out there today.

Along the coast to Worthing with 225 runners taking part.

Arena had sole representation coming from Emily Proto who was 1st lady home and 2nd overall in a time of 18.13.

Back to the local Brighton & Hove parkrun with some 384 runners taking part.

1st Arena man home was Gary Osborne in 20.05
1st Arena lady home was Martha Sacree in 21.47

There were two PB’s on offer here and both came from the above athletes.

The first one went to Gary Osborne in his new shiny 20.05 PB badge beating his previous best of 20.34 set in December 2016.

The second one went to Martha Sacree with her glittering 21.47 PB badge beating her previous best 22.04 set in September 2017. Now I’m not sure what has happened with her sidekick as Rachael Barker and her normally run as a partnership but as Rachael took a new PB last weekend maybe there is a friendly rivalry going on here which is why Martha decided to go solo this weekend and also put a PB performance in. Looking at the stats here, at the start of the year Martha’s time stood at 24.11 so she has made a huge improvement over the year. Arena training does pay off!!

Looking around the country with Arena representing:

Banstead Woods parkrun
Julie Briggs– 18.55 – 1st

Ashton Court parkrun
Jodie Rigg – 24.39

Ashford parkrun
Jim Watson 3rd – 19.09

Poole parkrun
Ian parsons – 24.55

Kettering parkrun
David Gifford– 18.25 – 2nd

Great Lines parkrun, Medway
Emily Hutchinson – 18.50 -1st

A massive well done to all those with their new PB times and well done to all those out there flying the blue vest of Arena.

Just a reminder that Saturday 16th December is the last of this year’s Super Series challenge which is taking place at Brighton & Hove Park parkrun. This will be an age grading event.

Parkrun round up for 04/11/2017 and a new club record set.

Here is a round up of this weekend’s action from the various parkrun’s.

Brighton & Hove parkrun

Hove Park seemed to be the parkrun to head to for some fine results as three were no less than three new PB’s set here.

Coming home as first male was Craig Isaac in 19.04.

Coming home as first female was Rachael Barker in 21.44. This was also a new PB for Rachael as she beat her previous best of 22.06 set just 5 weeks ago. Excellent progress being made here and I’m sure that there will another one before the year is out.

Next on the PB train is Marc Steene who nabbed his new PB time of 19.39 which incredibly beat his previous best of 19.44 set way back before the wheel was invented in August 2014. The best things come to those who wait.

Completing the hat trick was Joannah Arias in 22.02 and beating her previous best of 23.03 set back in December 2016. It’s wonderful to see Joannah making a new bench mark for herself and she has found herself, in her words, a little off form as of late however she has had some great track sessions of late and nice to see them paying off now.

Hove Promenade parkrun

Plenty of Areneez took to the seaside here and the picks of the bunch went to

Michael Barker as first Arena man home in 18.22 and 3rd overall and 1st Arena lady home was Tara Shanahan in 20.37 and 2nd female overall.

Bevendean Down parkrun

The sole representation here came from Caroline wood who was 1st female home in 22.20.

Worthing parkrun

First male home for Arena came from Dan Vaughan in 19.08 with first female home for Arena coming from the Louise Payne in 23.12.

Preston Park parkrun

We’ve saved this one until last as this is a bit of a special one but before we get onto that we say well done to Luke Carter who bagged his new shiny PB badge with a time of 19.24 beating his previous 19.28 set just 3 weeks ago. Luke has now PB’d here three times in the last 7 weeks so hitting form presently.

The first Arena man home and 2nd overall was Al Silvester in 17.36 and good to see Al making solid progression from his recent injury problem.

We now get to the very special result of the day which came from Chris Naylor. Chris was first lady home for Arena and 4th lady overall in a time of 21.56 which is her fastest time here in a year. However with that time came a new club record for this course in the form of the age grading record.

Chris was previously in 2nd place sitting behind Caroline Hoyte but with her new age grading result of 91.03%, this now places her on top of the leader board. The 91.03% is also the highest age grading result ever as Chris also tops the all-time age grading table as well. Did you know that Arena ladies have 5 in the top 10 age grading results overall and they all come from our VET’s ladies.

Huge congratulations to Chris and here is the new ladies age grading table for Preston Park parkrun.

Age grading
1 Chris Naylor – 91.03%
2 Caroline Hoyte – 90.58%
3 Julie Briggs – 89.16%
4 Nicky Yeates – 87.96%
5 Caroline Wood – 87.78%

Looking around the country at the other parkruns going on;

Frimley Lodge parkrun

Emily Hutchinson was 1st female in a time of 19.36.

 

East Grinstead parkrun

Arena’s token here came from Tristan Sharp, who it seems is trying to bank every parkrun in the southeast. Tris was 4th with 22.50.

Chichester parkrun

Arena was represented by Michelle Saunders who came home as 27th lady in 30.00.

Hereford parkrun

Shawn Buck headed west and was 46th in 25.37.

Congratulations to all of those who PB’d this weekend and well done to everyone else on some fine running out there this weekend with many I know were very close to their previous best.

 

Arena shining at the Bright10

Sunday 15th October is meant to be Autumn but I don’t think the weather gods have quite heard the news yet. The Bright10 race was an extremely mild affair with a bit of a breeze on the return leg to the finish but it made for great running conditions.

As always for these big races, Arena never fail to commit athletes and so it was again that the blue vests were a plenty amongst the field of 2500 runners. 

It’s a spectacular sight as you run along the streets of Brighton to see so many Areneez along the course with many grouped together to help each other along. There are plenty of shouts of support and in fact I even overheard someone say “how many runners have they got at Arena?” such was the vast amount of athletes we fielded.

Now of course this race was part of the Harvey Curtis Cup challenge in which, going into this race, Arena were just holding onto first place with Haywards Heath and Lewes both breathing down our neck. It’s a hard call as to who has come out on top as both of the other clubs fielded a strong line up for this race. We still need the 1 point from either this race or the very last race of the series being the Brighton 10k on November 19th. It all makes for a fascinating series and to even be up there just shows how much Arena have in terms of depth to our club.

The race itself saw some cracking runs from our guys with many gaining new PB’s. The first man home for Arena came from the man who is returning from the ashes again by the name of James ‘Dixie’ Dicks who was 21st overall in a time of 58.42. Second man for Arena in a time of 60.35 and 31st overall came from Jim Risdale who had an outstanding race today. Third man home fro Arena was Aled Anderson who was 40th overall in a time of 61.44.

The women, who have looked impressive all year, continued with some great performances out there today. First home for the women was Emily Proto who continues on the comeback trail and was 3rd female over the line with a time of 62.10. Second lady home with a formidable race today came from Tara Shanahan who really has been in top form all year for Arena. Tara was 7th female in a time of 64.52 and showed real strength and quality with her running out there today and also came 4th in her age group. Third lady home for Arena came from Soulla Wright in a time of 67.26 and was 11th lady home. This really was a stunning run from Soulla who looked strong and dug very deep from mile 7. It paid off handsomely though as she clocked up a new PB time by a massive 4 minutes.

I would just like to also mention Emma Habba on her race today as she was 4th lady home for Arena and 22nd female in. She had an incredible race today and clocked in with 72.59 to completely smash her previous time of 77.27. One of the runs of the day.

To note some of the other results, Jackie Rymell was 5th in her age group in 76.01 with Sue Brumwell 10th in the same age group in 81.19. Laura McKinnon-Clark was 6th in her age group in 73.08. Nicky Yeates topped her age group in a time of 79.52.

After today’s results it looks like this series is going down to the wire and the Brighton 10k will be a big one for Arena 80. If you have not yet signed up for it but think you will be able to turn out for the club then we would urge you to get signed up as quickly as possible. Every place can and will make a difference and it would be an amazing achievement for the club to retain the Harvey Curtis Cup. 

A massive well done and congratulations to all the Areneez that got out there for this one and to those that achieved and excelled, it was a wonderful sight to see.

Dixie enjoying the empty roads.

 

Barns Green Half Marathon 2017 & The 4th Harvey Curtis Sussex Road Race Challenge.

It was certainly a bit of a warm one out there for this half marathon today however the sun did shine and the Areneez were out en-masse for this 4th Harvey Curtis Sussex Road Race Challenge.

It was tremendous to see so many blue vests taking to the race and there was some glorious running from our guys. Arena placed 7 athletes inside the top 50 and 12 inside the top 100 which is no mean feat by anyone’s standards.

First Arena home was Del ‘Diago’ Wallace who romped home in 31st place with a time of 1.21.58. Del looked every bit the part out there, looking very comfortable and sharp and pushing all the way to the line with a strong finish. 2nd & 3rd Arena home came from the usual suspects of Anthony Snelling and Jon Bowditch in 1.24.36 & 1.24.35 respectively so very much working together to get the best out of each other.

The other names to mention who all placed in the top 50 were;  Andrew Bargery 1.25.41; Michael Barker 1.26.27; Aled Anderson 1.27.00; Henry Miller 1.27.07 and again it looks like they were all in ear shot of one another and would have played a big part in their running, great team work.

For the ladies, well that kudos goes to Dani Tarleton with a very impressive 3rd woman placing overall in a superb time of 1.28.26. This is only 26 seconds outside of her PB which she set back in 2014 and is running as well now as she ever has been. Of the other Arena ladies then well done also to Katherine O’Hara who placed 6th lady hone in a time of 1.30.44 and to Soulla Wright who placed 8th lady home in a time of 1.31.41. Scintillating running from our ladies which led to them winning the women’s team prize overall. We should also say a big congratulations to Nicky Yeates who also took 1st prize by winning her age group.

It was a magnificent show put on by the blue vests of Arena and one I’m sure would not have gone unnoticed by many out there today. In terms of points for the HCC we will need to wait fro about 10 days to get all the result sin and ratified. Lewes and Haywards Heath were the two teams just sitting behind us so we await the outcome from today’s race results. The Areneez should feel very proud of themselves after today’s turnout and results though and the outcome from today should end up in very positive territory with the league table.

The next Harvey Curtis Sussex Road Race Challenge.race is the Bright10 on Sunday 15th October at 9am start.

If you’ve not entered yet and would like to keep Arena in with a shout of the title then enter here as there are still some places left; https://register.canbook.me/2017bright10

Well done to all of you that ran today with some dazzling displays of road running, you’ve done the club proud. 

Phoenix 10k and Super Series Race 12.07.2017

As is almost tradition now, Arena were out on masse and a fine sea of 53 blue vests took to the seaside for this years Phoenix 10k, which of course was also the 8th race in the club Super Series challenge. The 10k was also the Sussex 10k Champs and Harvey Curtis Sussex Road Race so it was an important race all round.

Arena placed 15 athletes inside the top 100 which was the best of any other club taking part. Arena also placed 4 athletes in the top 50 with only Brighton & Hove AC doing better by placing 5 in the top 50. A massive well done to our guys on such a great achievement and gaining some very valuable points for the Harvey Curtis cup.

The conditions for the race was an improvement on last years race, where it was a deluge just before the race. However this years race did have a very strong headwind for the return leg so not the perfect conditions for knocking out PB’s.

The race for first Arena man home came from Richard Clayton and Al Silvester. Both of these men are in good form at present and so this was always going to be a tight affair between these two men. The end result was Richard Clayton taking the spoils from Al Silvester in a new PB time of 34.16 (previous 34.22) and surely would have been quicker if it had not been for the headwind. Richard came home in 29th position. Al was very close to Richard and came home in 31st place in a time of 34.24. The third arena man home was James Dicks in 40th place in a time of 35.44.

Of the Arena women, it was Tara Shanahan who was the first lady home for Arena. Tara came home in 4th position overall in a time of 38.37 which was just 2 seconds away from her PB time. Again had the wind been a little lighter for the return leg then maybe it would have been a different story. Tara was also 11th out of the whole field for the age grading result and the winner of the Sussex Champs V40 prize, so this really was a great effort from her. Second Arena lady home came from Tara’s running partner in crime Dani Tarleton. Dani placed 5th overall, and first in her age category of V35, in a time of 38.45 which equalled her PB time set in 2016. Dani also placed 23rd overall in the age grading results. The third lady home came from Juliette Roberts who placed 11th overall in a time of 41.09. These 3 performances were enough to bring home the 1st prize for the ladies team. I will also mention Nicky Yeates who was 24th overall in the age grading results.

Clearly a great day for Arena 80 with some fantastic running from our Arena athletes and well done to you all. It will be interesting to see how this affects the Super Series table once the results have been published.

For the full race results click here: http://www.sportsystems.co.uk/ss/results/Brighton%20Phoenix%2010K/2947

How not to run a 100 mile relay race! by Teo van Well

What an honour it was to be selected by my club for the South Downs Way (SDW) 100 mile relay team. I was given the nod during cross-country season when I was eating hills for fun and skidding around in the mud. Training was going well, my body was strong and results were consistently positive. Why wouldn’t I make the team? Well…………

The 3rd June had been burning a hole in my diary for some time. I could not wait for this day to arrive and to finally experience, alongside my friends and club-mates, an epic endurance race day. But it was never going to be as simple as that was it? Struck down with a virus in February that lasted nigh on a month set me back a long way. My physically demanding job coupled with a return to training sooner than was wise were likely catalysts in multiple re-occurrences and a sustained period out. When I did finally get back into my trainers I was dismayed to find just how much endurance, and particularly speed, I had lost. I felt like I had to learn to run again. But I was on the team and even though it was the beginning of May now, I still wanted to get on that bus with five other team-mates. It had crossed my mind many times that I should forfeit my place to someone in better form than me but as it played out our original team (along with the A team) had to be reshuffled due to other injuries. This meant that, even after a mass recruitment drive, I was still likely able to make the cut despite being seriously off-form and lacking in mileage.

I decided to skip some club training sessions and just get out and practice my legs at every opportunity now that it seemed almost certain I had to run. I allowed myself to get excited and to feel like it was ok to be on the team despite my current form as the most important thing was getting a strong team out there to compete.

And so to the day itself: an early start, lots of excitement and adrenaline amongst us and the first leg of the day – getting from Withdean to Eastbourne for the start of the race. I was feeling good, I had practiced my legs at 75% effort which had me completing leg 3 in 30 minutes, leg 8 in 45.5 minutes and leg 15 in 29 minutes. Even though I was not flat out on my practice runs to get these times I figured they would be decent targets on the day as I would have to budget my energy across the whole day and not just one leg.

What I didn’t take into consideration was what I had done the night before! As a former sports player living in dusty, humid Myanmar where daily temperatures came in at 35 degrees Celsius, I had gotten into the habit of drinking oral rehydration salts regularly to replenish the fluids and electrolytes I lost through sweating. But I had none of this magic powder at hand so I proceeded to load my bottles of water with salt and sugar, as a worthy substitute. What a mistake! Despite the sea water taste I received I still just rolled with it thinking it would help me through this very hot, humid race day. But all it did was to give me an unquenchable thirst that meant I consumed four litres of water before my second leg! I was starting to feel very faint and almost delirious as my stomach sloshed around in the mini-bus as we went from stage to stage at good speed. Given the fact that I have an MSc in Health also, so a decent foundation of knowledge around this area, I cannot believe I did not finely research the correct quantities of salt and sugar to add to my water. I’m not even sure there is hard evidence of it helping but I got it into my head that it was worth a try, especially given my prior experience in the heat when playing football.

My first leg was the only one I ran without being ill and ran conservatively to complete it in 30.07. I had hoped for a bit quicker but it was bloody windy and I had held a lot back as planned. Then the drinking began as I tried to replenish myself and get prepared for a gruelling leg 8 in the midday sun. I felt pretty nauseous within an hour of finishing my first leg but I attempted to shield my teammates from this so that they did not unnecessarily worry. After all, they had their own races to worry about.  I continued to drink, tried to focus on the task ahead but was beginning to worry about how I was feeling. Leg 8 was my favourite though as it is practically all uphill and requires a lot of strength instead of speed. I told myself that once I was out there on the run I’d be fine. And so I set off hoping I would make my mark on this race and further leave our nearest rivals behind. As I started the initial climb I knew something wasn’t right as I just had no engine. I set my cadence and although painful, held it for the entire leg assuming it was around 45 minute pace for completion. I chose not to wear a Garmin though as I wanted to run on feel. Other than being held up by an ambulance on the way – costing about 20 seconds or so – the leg went smoothly despite feeling very weak and dizzy. My cap wouldn’t remain on due to the wind and so I ran with it in hand, but I came down the hill to the finish with purpose. When I looked at my watch after handing Del the baton I couldn’t believe it: 48.5 minutes. I could have walked faster! I was so disappointed and could see from the expression of my team that they were too. They clearly thought the ambulance was for me seeing that I was due back 3 – 4 minutes sooner.

As I got into the van to continue to the next leg I began to feel delirious and everything was spinning. Timmy Gedin was catching a lift with us from the A team and I tried to make conversation with him to keep my focus. But I couldn’t think straight or get my words out. I still have no idea what I was saying (sorry Timmy). I just wanted to vomit – large quantities of salty water. I must add that I was still drinking like crazy (although the salt water was long finished by now) and took on another three litres before my final leg. I had no idea how I was going to get through it and by now my team-mates were well aware I was ill. I could no longer pretend as I was acting strange and irrationally. But they tried to support me whilst still focusing on their own individual challenges. I personally believed I wouldn’t be able to run another leg but was not about to share this. I just prepared as I would normally and took to the start line.

The first km was painful and I wanted to collapse but Butser Hill was upon me and if I was going to finish I had to get up it. I then did something I’ve never done before: I walked some of the hill as recommended by Steve McNealy so as to save some energy. It deeply hurt my pride and I hope never to repeat this but realistically, given my condition, it was sound advice. Once off the hill, although I could no longer feel or control my legs, I gave it my all to get to the end of leg 15 and to pass on to Jim Risdale. My time of 32.15 felt like a stab in the chest but upon reflection it was respectable given the way I was feeling. I had euphoric feelings that I had completed my task despite being so sick but those feelings were quickly overshadowed by huge disappointment at my performances. The first thing I thought of was that I couldn’t wait to do it all again, and this time so much better. Even out of form I am a much better runner than that. I ruined my own day with an awful decision to put salt and sugar in my water in vague quantities, and I nearly ruined my team’s day by not completing my legs.

We came home with the prize and I was a part of that effort but I sit here now wondering how much more fun I could have had without sickness and with some respect for my leg times. I am very grateful that my team-mates fulfilled their own abilities which allowed us still to win despite my off-day. It is an experience I will always remember but one I will never repeat. Now what I need to do is get myself in a position to be selected for the 2018 team and to put my SDW relay experience to good use. It is an epic day and race that is very suited to my abilities. But why o’ why did I have to make myself sick?! Three races a day in hot, windy conditions can do that to you already without a helping hand.

Thank you to Steve McNealy, Peter Knee, Kevin Meegan, Jim Watson, Del Wallace and our captain, Jim Risdale for pulling me through. Sorry I put you all through that.

The Vitality London 10k race report

A race report by Lucy Anderson on the vitality London 10k

The 07:28 from Brighton to London Victoria was the meeting place for many of the Arena athletes for the Vitality London 10,000. There were already a few nerves but travelling up as a group made the journey short and enjoyable. It was certainly going to be a warm and muggy affair with temperatures already in the high teens. Bags dropped there was time for a bit of a warm up – however due to the other 16,000 runners in Green Park and heading up the Mall, it was difficult to warm up as some might have wanted to. Once assembled in the start pens, there was a minute silence to remember those who died, were injured and effected in the tragic events in Manchester a week ago – it was very moving. Runners were invited to wear something yellow in memory, it was fantastic to see so many doing so in solidarity.

3,2,1, GO! The great thing about being slower than most of our athletes is getting to see the fast runners heading back on any out-and-back sections of the route. I managed to see a few Arena tops and there was some shouting encouragement across at each other too. As predicted, it was a hot, muggy and sweaty run. The organisation of the event, however, meant there were 2 very well organised and manned water stops along the route with plenty of bottles of water. Everyone appreciated the showers around the 6km mark – I could’ve done with a personal shower all the way round though! The entertainment along the course was fantastic with everything from African drumming, samba bands, reggae bands to musical theatre choirs – something for everyone! The people of London came out to the streets in force too to cheer the runners on – it’s a great opportunity to sample what the atmosphere must be like on marathon day!

Finally, the finish line appeared and it was over. Chip time removed, goodie bag in hand and medal round my neck I headed to collect my bag from the drop tent – I’ve never seen one more organised and smooth running! I found a group of Arena’s by the tents and we exchanged war stories, all concluding that it was a bit hot out there! A group photo later and it was time to find family and friends and indulge in some post-run refuelling!

Overall a brilliantly organised event with great support, entertainment and facilities along the route. A lovely medal and t-shirt memento and, as always, a great sense of community and team spirit from the blues!

Al Silvester ​​34:16
Caroline Hoyte​35:45
Del Wallace ​​36:30
Maisie Trafford​37:02
David Gifford​​37:21
Teo Van Well​​39:09
Tara Shanahan ​39:13
James Gladman​40:19
Julie Briggs​​45:57
Vicki Clark​​45:57
Lucy Anderson​48:18
Kate Rowinska​51:49

Katherine O’Hara’s race report on her gold medal for GB at Soria 2017

Soria European Duathlon Championships April 29/30th 2017

This time last week Sunday 30th April I was in Spain and raced the European Duathlon Championships held in Soria. I have to admit it all seems like a dream and looking at the weather forecast there today (sunshine and 22 degrees) it reinforces how unpredictable racing can be. When I first qualified in Oulton park racetrack March last year in Chester and decided to go to Spain, I didn’t imagine rain, gusty winds and temperatures below 10 degrees.

The Standard Duathlon race comprises of a 10Km run 40Km bike and 5Km run and the route last week was a complex series of 4 park loops in each 2.5 km which were repeated 2-4 times. The flow through transition is really important to physically and mentally rehearse where losing a minute is easier than a minute in a 5Km run for example. I placed first in my age group at the qualifier in March 2016 which was 8.6km/38.3km/4.3km and at that time my running saved the fact that my cycling was not nearly as strong as it needed to be.

On 11 November 2016 I started the cross-country race in Lancing and the arch of my foot was tight. I had been steadily increasing my mileage and intensity and was ignoring the fact that each morning it was painful. I was a 1km away from the finish line and I felt and heard a pop in my arch, it was as if a car airbag had been released under my foot. Over the next few months I wore a ski boot and was firmly informed by a foot surgeon I could not even think about running for at least 3 months. 

It really helped to be able to see Tom the running physio that Fiona recommended. We started rehabilitation and gradually over the months were able to do specific strength work. I wrote myself a Cross training programme and my goal was to be able to run 10km before the Duathlon. I deferred my place in the Brighton Marathon plus all the other races I had in my diary for early 2017 were also taken out. A combination of the opportunity to represent GB and the expense/time away from my girls etc. I felt the Duathlon Champs had to be my A race for the year. I stretched, did my physio exercises and included hot yoga time permitting. I can honestly say I have never been so strict with dropping out of races and following a physio programme in this way before (my twin sister is a physio and would agree as I have ignored her advice for years).

I was lucky to join in with a group of fit female cyclists training for a ride in Mallorca (thanks Rachel!)  and was able to build my rides from three to six hours alternate Saturdays when I didn’t have the girls. My longest ride was 130km and it had been 10 years since riding that far. A couple of memorable rides to Beachy Head and Tunbridge Wells where the wind rain and hail made me feel incrementally tougher! Without these rides I am sure I would not have achieved the result last week. I also included brick sessions running before and after bike training or spin sessions.

I really missed the social part of Arena and it was fantastic to be able to join in at the Christ Hospital relays in April. One month out from Soria, when I had only started back running, on the 3rd Feb I tested getting up to 4 min/km pace that day. My lungs hurt although my foot felt ok so from there on I built up to short intervals in the weeks to follow. 

Team GB buddies – Katherine and Claire.

The trip to Spain required considerable planning – hiring and shipping my bike plus the expense of kit etc. I went for a Team GB package and stayed at the team hotel which made all the difference. The atmosphere started at the opening ceremony on the Friday night where the whole town came out to welcome us. The team hotel had a mechanic to put my bike together and a physio was on hand. We had to adapt to Spanish time… no evening meals available until 8.30pm so we worked with the fact that lunch was served until 4 pm and just had to go with the flow.

So enough of the story let’s get to the exciting stuff…knowing my fastest 10 km since November was  47 minutes mid-April I checked out my competition before the race hoping I could get closer to my PB’s. I had my Brooks Hyperion shoes which was a risk, trading psychological speed for support. There is plenty of nervous tweaking before a Triathlon/Duathlon which included thinking about which layers to wear as the weather was changing every hour or so and my race didn’t start until midday. Nutrition is also important.

Eva Ribalta is the current World champion age grouper from Spain and, as I expected, she set off at 3.45km pace. I had a race plan to catch up on the bike and was able to catch her on the first lap of the 3 x 13.6 km loop despite being 2 minutes down. Jaqueline Uebelhart was my second main competitor who is a Powerman 2016 winner from Switzerland. I did Powerman (30/150/10) in 2007…in fact it is 12 years since I had competed at this level. 

The race was at altitude 1100m or so and I felt it in my lungs. The Swiss girl flew past me on lap 2.. I saw her thighs before I saw her and my goal was to keep her in sight without drafting (risking disqualification if you get within 10m). I hoped I could outrun her on the 5k…although it’s much harder to make up time in a 5 km run than a 40Km bike. The bike course was hilly which gave me an opportunity to hit 75kph on the downhill. The cross wind took one girl down and 10/80 female standard competitors did not finish the race because of this.

The wind had blown my gels off my bike… luckily I found a couple of clif cubes down my bra (littering is instant disqualification also). I came in to T2 transition and my supporters yelled the Swiss girl was a couple of minutes ahead. I overtook her on the first lap and as I started the second lap my quads started to pull as the inclines of the park were taking their toll. I spotted a German age grouper and panic set in. She was less than 20s behind me and I was at that point where, if anyone was on my shoulder, could have taken me on the line…no matter how much I was talking to myself I could not find another gear.

Showing the men a clean pair of heels.

The finish line was around the corner and I heard people yelling O’Hara… my legs charged for the line and I went through first… turns out the German had another lap to run! My splits including T1/2 – I did the 10km in 42.30, 40km in 1.24 (6 mins faster than the World Champion) and 5km in 21.13. I was the second fastest of the day. In fact for the Sprint distance the winner was a female in the 50-54 age group….How fab is that!

This brings me to my reason why? We all need to focus on this when the wind picks up or the legs are tired… I wanted my 2 girls to know that you can do anything you put your mind to. It was not purely about winning (although it was my goal!)…it was about doing my absolute best on the day. I also thought about my Dad who I lost in 1998 to Cancer. I know he would have loved the fact I did a bike recce with the Irish Team.

One thing I have learnt since I have been racing over the past 18 years or so is how useful it is to reflect after a race. I put so much energy into physically training yet identifying what worked and what didn’t can be a real clue to a marginal gain next time around. It can then focus the mental training that is just if not more important once you have been training for more years than you can really remember. If I can offer any training or racing tips to anyone out there then I am happy to do so. A combination of pre-race visualization, staying calm in the conditions as well as the support of the crowd and my reasons why, got me to the start line.

Next up is the South Downs Relay and I cannot wait to be part of the Arena 80 Team again.

In the words of Spandau Ballet – You are GOLD.

We must congratulate Katherine on such a great achievement by overcoming many problems on the road to Soria. She is a fine example of what can be achieved if you want it bad enough. Sacrifices were made in the short term but it worked for the long term gain. A proud day for Katherine and a proud day for Arena 80. Lovely to have you back Katherine.

If you have a race report you would like to share with the other members of the club then send it to marc.bonaldi@googlemail.com. There will be a prize for the best race report later in the year.