2013 Club Relay Championships

National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham

Relay x 4: 500m swim – 15k bike – 5k run

The Club relay championships are legendary now in the UK, having started in 1991 and growing in size and reputation ever since. In 1991 there was just 120 competitors, whilst last year saw over 2000 lucky athletes join in the weekend of racing.

Advertised as one of the most exhilarating and fun events on the UK calendar, the Club Relays involves teams of four using a tagging format where everyone swims, everyone bikes and everyone runs in a race that looks like a mixture between competition and ‘organised chaos’.

The format of the race starts with a 500m swim as a single lap, with the first member handing the tag to the second team member who repeats the same swim lap – all 4 members do this with the final member handing the tag to athlete number one, who then jumps on the bike which is 3 x 5km laps circumnavigating the boat lake.  Finally, the fourth member of the team gets of the bike and tags the first member to commence the final leg; a 5km run in the opposite direction of the cycle lap.

To compete for a placing in the championships your team must comprise 4 athletes of a particular age category, this can be all female, all male or 2 female and 2 male mixed teams.  There is also the open category – for fun, which is where any 4 members of a club can race together.  This is the format my triathlon club has entered in previous years and this year was no exception.  Shires Triers, a triathlon club based in Tring, entered 2 mixed open category teams – Team Mandy and Team Simon.

Shires Triers is a BTA affiliated Triathlon Club based around the North West Hertfordshire area and attracts members from Bedfordshire , Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The aim of our club is to offer support, both sporting and social, for budding and practising triathletes, the relays weekend has always been used a great way to introduce new or less experienced members into racing in a friendly atmosphere without the stress and hassle of speedy transitions.

This year, the open category we part of, started on Saturday afternoon so all 8 of us was very pleased with our alarm calls at a healthy time of after 7am – as a club with lots of Ironman triathletes, we are well used to 3 and 4am wake up calls for races so this was a pleasant change for a ‘race day’.

The ‘Shires’ all arrived on site by around midday and we were lucky to secure possibly the best site of the day for our team gazebo – just above the transition area so we could cheer on our team mates at the tag handovers on the bike and first run leg.

The day started off with a little stress as we were all a little too relaxed and before we knew it, it was time for the briefing and our first racers, weren’t even in the their wetsuits!  None the less, we got to the briefing and our team leaders, Mandy and Simon were first in the water.  I was taking the third race position for our team and before I knew it the second member Tony was handing me the tag and I was in the lake setting off for the start of my swim leg.  As I’ve been having physio the last 2 weeks for a shoulder injury sustained during my Ironman training I had to take the swim quote easy as I’m meant to be resting so I was quite happy to get around the 500m in 10:41 (one armed so to speak!).

The cycle leg I had been looking forward to, as I’ve really improved my cycling this year and have been working harder on my cycling this year than running and swimming.  This course didn’t disappoint – 3 laps of the lake and its flat all the way. Unfortunately as its laps that makes for lots of corners so you cant just do full on time-trial pace all the way around, particularly as I’m not a very confident rider on the aero bars yet. My time for the bike was a fairly respectable (for me being 3 weeks post-ironman) 26:44.

Once our fourth and strongest cyclist Rob had completed his lap, he handed the tag back to Simon who headed out on lap one of the run.  Now I haven’t run fast for several months as I’ve been concentrating on endurance training with just a few short sharp interval sets thrown in now and again so I was really looking forward to a straight out 5km ‘run my little legs off lap’.  I loved it – I set off fast and feeling strong, and kept a great pace going all the way around slightly increasing so that I finished my strongest. It paid off – I beat my previous 5km personal best by over a minute doing the run in 21:30.  Crossing into the transition box, I handed the tag to runner 4 who completed our last lap and finished under the gantry to cheers of the team and the large crowds.

Overall, both our teams performed very well and we all had a fantastic day.  I have to mention all the members of Team Mandy – Mandy, Mark, Patrick and Jim, who pulled out a fantastic performance and beat team Simon (Simon, Tony, Me and Rob) by just a few minutes.

The club relays have grown in size and reputation over the last 20+ years and I think its fair to say they will continue to do so.  This was my first experience of racing in a team and I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be back for more.

Team Mandy 35th of 170 teams sat afternoon

Team Simon 57th of 170teams sat afternoon

Posing in our new 'Shires Triers' 2013 Team kit

Posing in our new ‘Shires Triers’ 2013 Team kit

Registered and ready to go!

Registered and ready to go!

After my race run was complete, waiting at the finish line for our final runner

After my race run was complete, waiting at the finish line for our final runner

Teams 'Mandy' and 'Simon' after the race

Teams ‘Mandy’ and ‘Simon’ after the race


BACK DATED FROM 6th AUGUST – 2 days post race!

My Ironman journey was meant to start with Ironman Austria in 2014 as my first race, but 10 weeks ago I ‘won’ a last minute entry as part of #TeamSportPursuit. This meant I only had a 10 week training plan for Ironman UK, although I’d been training hard anyway. One of the most experienced ‘Ironmen’ in my triclub – and my now coach – Musty has been an absolute star, and without him I wouldn’t have even made it to the start line, thanks Musty, I owe you big time.

So here is my final blog entry on IMUK2013 and race report;

Swim – uneventful, started front row and hammered it to the first buoy, then just went really steady and relaxed. Got out and started running to T1, turned and saw my friend Amy, did a double take and then we both looked at each screamed so loud in each others face, had a high-5 and ran on – the crowd found this hilarious! The hardest part of the swim was the after the second turn buoy as it was swimming right into the sunrise and impossible to sight on anything, so I just made sure I had plenty of people to the left and right of me and kept going.


T1 – forecast was for rain all day so I put arm warmers and gillet on – putting arm warmers on wet skin is a mission, a lesson learned here for sure!

Bike – fairly uneventful, i enjoyed the bike course but the wind meant I could not use the tribars as much as i usually do. Took it steady as I wanted to save energy for the run. I have a lot more to give on the bike; I didn’t feel like I was pushing hard at any point and felt really fresh when I got off. From 90-miles to the T2 was a bit tedious though, and my backside was looking forward to getting off the bike!


T2 – was just glad to get my runners on and get off the saddle!

Run – I started the run feeling amazing and plodded along really slow for first 20 mins to get the HR down. Felt great and loved seeing all the crowds in town. My ‘stomach issues’ were present again though, and I totalled 7 ‘comfort’ stops; probably didn’t help with overall marathon time! At around mile 11’ish I think it was, the wheels fell off and I started hurting badly! I was aware of my friends Tom and Amy both gaining time on me fast during the marathon and every comfort break was worrying me as I knew it was giving them more chance of overtaking me, Tom very worryingly was really close on the last lap and somehow that spurred me on to pick the pace up and I ran my heart out for the last 2 miles – not that I’m competitive or anything! ;o)

I saw Troy from Team SportPursuit a couple of times and he looked so comfortable and fast on the run, this actually picked me up a little and made me keep going…


Crossing the finish line was the best experience ever – and I somehow I didn’t cry – that really surprised me! I had a minute to compose myself then the SportPursuit media crew grabbed me for my post-race interview – think I was blabbering like a total idiot – we’ll see when film is ready!


Overall it was an Amazing day and I couldn’t have done it without the support and training help over the last 2 years from my club – in particular Musty, Maurice and Mitten – they have all helped me so much and I appreciate it more than you would ever know. The whole club has been so supportive and I thank you all. And a huge thanks to Rob who stood around in the rain all day and has been there to help me through the last 10 weeks training; he has been my biggest help on the bike for sure.

Thanks also have to go out to the SportPursuit team – particularly Juls and Doug who have been doing the blog updates – you guys have made the whole experience more memorable and I cant wait to see the video – no matter how grim I look at the end!! [For 140 miles and 13 hours of racing you were looking fresher than us! – Doug]    0430_40014

The Sportpursuit crew!

The Sportpursuit crew!


Seconds after crossing the finish line!

Seconds after crossing the finish line!


Post race interview - about a minute after finishing!

Post race interview – about a minute after finishing!