The Roth Journal - A Wrap

It took a while – recovery evidently lasted a fortnight – but eventually we caught up with the Mysterious Wave, one of the six valiant triathletes, who agreed to write a wrap of their Roth Challenge
 

 The valiant six

The valiant six

Thursday 28th June – Outbound
At Heathrow, Jack bumped into his old school rugby teammate, a certain Mako Vunipola, who was with Owen Farrell and a group of Sarries mates on the way to Owen’s stag do in Croatia. Mako’s jaw hit the ground when he saw his old mate – “Where’s the rest of you, Jack?”. Poor bloke couldn’t understand why the 100kg+ flanker he used to know had turned into a puny 93kg endurance athlete.

We all landed safely at Munich airport between 4 and 4:30pm. The German sky was weeping uncontrollably, presumably as a result of its football team having been knocked out of the World Cup the previous day. The torrential rain caused pile-ups and traffic chaos on the motorways. Our transfer was delayed, and eventually we left the airport four hours after landing, arriving at the hotel just before 10 pm. Not a relaxing start to our build-up; and having to watch England vs Belgium on a small tablet screen on the coach didn’t help the nervous anxiety.


Friday 29th June – Reconnaissance and Registration
We were up early the next day and off to the race venue for a practice swim, followed by a guided tour of the bike course so we could get a feel for what lay before us. Ric, in his usual pre-race scrambled brain state tried to lose his race wet suit by leaving it on the coach not once, but twice. The rain had cleared, and the temperature was rising; close to 30 degrees C, with a cloudless sky and hardly a breath of wind. We were all thinking the same thoughts, but no-one really said anything.

The lads were in good spirits and there was plenty of banter and excitement. Bikes were unpacked and reassembled for a quick spin to loosen the legs and check that the bikes were all OK. Late afternoon it was off to the race village to register, collect numbers, timing chips and goody bags. An amazing buzz in the race village and expo.

It’s all getting very real now…

Conversation is dominated by race strategies, nutrition tactics, hydration plans and weather. Over a pizza and pasta dinner, talk turns to how we are going to get our pre-race caffeine fix at 04:30 on Sunday morning. Mark helpfully points out that one of the numerous, mostly useless, items in the race goody bag was a small plastic bottle containing a caffeine shot. Everyone was delighted by this discovery; the perfect solution. How thoughtful of the race organisers and sponsors. On returning to my room I examine the bottle; my very rusty O-level German told me that it contains some kind of hair product. Should I tell them?

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Saturday 30th June – Run, Racking and Race Brief
An early run, just to loosen the legs, then there’s packing the transition bags before departing for the swim start/Transition 1 to rack our bikes in the correct race-number slot and drop off the run bag. This bag will be transported to T2 and will be waiting for us when get off our bikes in about 24 hours’ time. The packing of transition bags is a time-honoured ritual amongst triathletes. Getting the contents of either bag wrong can be a race-wrecking disaster. Nightmares have been had about opening the T1 bag to find running shoes where the bike shoes should be. Lists and bag contents are checked and re-checked at least 8 times.

Ric manages to leave his phone on the coach.

Back to the race village for the mandatory race briefing. The English briefing was scheduled for 3 pm, but has been put back to 4 so we hang around for an hour, trying to keep out of the sun and stay hydrated. The 4 pm briefing turns out to be in German. Brilliant. We don’t hang around.

Back to the hotel for some rest, more bag-checking (bike bag), early dinner and early bed.


Sunday 1st July – Swim, Bike, Run, Beer
03:45: the alarm.  OMG, this is it. Breakfast; the atmosphere is quiet, tense and electric. On the coach at 4:30 and arrive at swim start around 5 am.

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More checking of lists and bags, bottles and nutrition on bike, continuous grazing on high-carb snacks and sipping of electrolyte drinks.

My faffing is all done by 6 and we don’t start for over an hour, so I wander over to seek out the rest of the lads. Disaster has struck. Mark can’t find his bike. It’s not in his numbered slot where he racked it yesterday. I can see the panic in his face and suspect, understandably, that he is close to tears. If he can’t find it, his race is over before it has started - 8 months of hard training, dedication, discipline and abstinence down the pan.

I start searching with him along with several very helpful race marshals, but we realise it is pointless. There are some 4,000 bikes racked closely together – it will need a miracle. I suggest a plan B to Mark – get himself moved to the final swim wave – by this time, most of the bikes will have gone so his will be easier to find – not ideal but at least he has a chance.

I return to my race preparations feeling helpless and desperately sorry for poor Mark, but I can’t think of anything else I can do to help. Then the PA system announces “…competitor number 1587, we have found your bike…” There is a God and she is German. Mark sheepishly admits that he “may have” racked his bike in the wrong place the day before. Apparently, he has form.

The sun is up the music is rousing and the start of the pro race is announced by a cannon loud enough to make your chest vibrate. Which then happens every five minutes, as wave after wave of starters is released, along with the launch of another hot air balloon in front of the rising sun on the opposite bank of the canal. The goose pimples are like molehills and the level of excitement is off the scale. A last hug and some photos with the lads before they disappear off to join their start pen in the 7:15 wave, 20 minutes before mine.

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07:35: Bang! The last time I hear the cannon is for my own start wave. Whilst these phased starts are generally much less of a bun fight than the traditional mass start, it’s still every man for himself, fighting for space and air. I’ve never actually been in a washing machine, but this is what I imagine it would be like. There’s plenty of contact and I take a couple of glancing blows to the head; one hits my goggles which fortunately stay in place and don’t leak. I probably give as good as I get, and eventually, after 10 or 15 minutes the bubbling turmoil of thrashing arms and legs spaces out a bit into slightly more organised chaos. I am hyperventilating with a combination of effort and adrenaline, but I’ve been here before so, once I find some clear water, I spend five minutes at a slightly easier pace, getting my breathing under control and some rhythm to my swim stroke.

08:54: I look at my watch as I exit the water – a full 9 minutes more than my target time. How did that happen? I get on the bike and start pushing hard to make up the lost time…. But then some sanity prevails and I give myself a stern talking to: “Calm down, stick to the plan, don’t burn yourself out; eat, drink, pedal, repeat. Watch the heart rate and power output”.

The level of support on the two key bike climbs is incredible. I climb the famous Solar hill with a grin from ear to ear, feeling like a Tour de France pro as a sea of people parts in front of me. Towards the end of the Bike I pass Simon, who gives me a shout. First contact, some 7 hours into the race. Hopefully there will be more familiar faces on the run.

14:55: I exit T2 and am out onto the run course. A strong bike leg has more than cancelled out the time lost on the swim. A quick calculation tells me that if I hit my planned run time I will be well inside my overall target of 11 hours 30.

 Two brothers at the Finish Line

Two brothers at the Finish Line

I don’t see George at all until the finish. Simon and I pass each other a few times going in opposite directions on the out and back course until he finally overtakes me, as I knew he would, after about 20km. I introduce myself to Simon’s fan club early on. I haven’t met any of them before, but the Union Flag with “GO GATELEY” painted across it gives them away. I wave and shout “Hi, I’m Wave. Simon’s about 10 minutes behind.” The cheers that I get from these total strangers is a huge boost and they give me a real shot of adrenaline on the two or three occasions that I pass them.

I pass Ric heading in the opposite direction, I calculate about 6km ahead of me. I’m running in a daze by now, but I hear him shout and recognise the familiar look that he always has in the latter stages of a race; the only way to describe it is that of a rabid dog. It’s a saliva thing.

After about 25km I feel the need for a number two. Oh no! I’m still on for my sub-4 hour run target, but only just. Can’t really afford to stop. I resolve to ignore it and hope… The feeling subsides, and I think I’ll be OK, but 5km later it returns and this time there’s no escaping it, so I dive into a portaloo. Wrestling with a skin tight, soaking wet, Lycra one-piece is an activity that is both time and energy-consuming. I eventually sit and… go, back out onto the course, trying to wrestle the bloody Lycra back on as I run. I can’t believe I’ve just wasted 2 or 3 minutes for nothing more than a massive fart. Still, the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. My run time was 4:02.

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Into the last out and back leg and I see Jack, then Mark, then Simon heading for home, which gives me a real lift. With maybe 12km left, I start to feel confident that I’m going to beat my 11:30 target and whilst it’s hard, and hot, and everything hurts, I start to think about the finish, and smile.

18:57:  Just brilliant to enter the finish stadium. First, I see Ric and Kay, then Mandy and Amy, then, waiting at the end, is the rest of the team and big hugs all round. What a day, and what an amazing group of people!


George’s time was phenomenal, and Jack wasn’t too far behind him. Simon put in spectacular Swim and Run times, though more work’s needed on the bike. Or maybe just concentrate on swim-run races? He would definitely be a regular visitor to the podium. Mark may have thought he had nailed his nutrition strategy but clearly didn’t have buy-in from his large intestine. A few less portaloo visits on the run would surely have saved him many minutes.

The support from friends and family was fantastic and it was great to have a few beers with them all afterwards. I have no idea how we all managed to stay up drinking until 2am after all the effort, but the euphoria, sense of achievement and team bond seemed to obliterate any feelings of tiredness. As I switched the light out at 3:30am I realised I had been awake for 24 hours and was still not tired.

 Three Coopers

Three Coopers


Monday 2nd July – home
A few more beers the next day at the airport - slightly naughty but well-deserved - felt great, and a fitting end to our Roth journey. I’ve been through quite a few of these gigs with my good mate Ric, but it was such a pleasure to share this one with Jack and George, who I have known pretty much since they were born, and new friends Mark and Simon.

People keep asking me will I do another one…

 


An Afterword
Ric has had to admit that this is the official changing of the guard, with both sons finishing before him and George beating his time in all three disciplines. That said, the old warhorse was at a bit of a disadvantage, and not only because of his Achilles injury. Exiting the Swim with cramp, his Bike leg was a problem: he came off his bike early on and ended up with a bent pedal and a fractured wrist!

Fortunately I was not in close proximity the next day when I messaged him to say he missed first place in his age category by only 94 seconds.

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The Roth Triathletes Return

Our intrepid ironmen are back, mostly at the office grindstone already, after their adventure at Challenge Roth on 1st July. All six managed to complete the course. Their times were as follows

George - 10:24

Jack - 10:37

Ric - 10.52

Wave - 11.23

Mark - 11.28

Si - 11:32

And to follow, a few essential moments, memories and reflections –

Si had the quickest Swim and Marathon of the six of us (coming within the top 10% overall). Unfortunately was in the bottom 10% for the Bike leg and transitions….somewhat unusual…

Jack won the Clydesdale category for 93kg+ athletes (we think !) as well as a prize for “most emotional rider”, being reduced to tears while cycling through the thousands of screaming spectators up Solar Hill

Mark had more visits to the portaloos on the run course than most of us manage in a week

The swim course was evidently subject to a sudden adverse current as Ric and Mark were finishing… this is the only explanation we can think of to explain why they were so far behind Si, Jack and George

Ric came out of the Swim with leg-rigid cramp, which reduced him to one leg pedalling on leaving Transition 1 and caused a crash into spectators, which in turn bent his bike and fractured his wrist… all resulting in a Bike split that was not up to normal standards

Wave beat his previous Iron Man PB by approximately two hours

All six of us were in a world of pain during the latter stages of the Marathon. George was barely able to speak.

Our 20+ supporters were absolutely amazing, not least in getting to the myriad viewing spots… (some I believed walked over 5 miles !)

And most importantly … we all finished…. That’s four IM virgins getting home in under 11:30 hrs… and two old farts racking up PBs as they approach 60… The euphoria on the finish line and in the bar afterwards (the smiles on Si and Mark’s faces could be seen from Mars) and the life long memories and shared pain and glory… made it a very, very special experience.

….and now, as life returns to some sort of normality (what, no more 5am starts for yet another swim?)… there is immense collective pride… some relief it’s all over… and that most energising of life lessons… that if you aim high, anything is possible.

The Last Supper - at Challenge Roth 2018

Our six intrepid iron triathletes at Challenge Roth are just sitting down to their last supper... before Sunday’s 4 am start. They took some time out from scoffing to send some Quick Quotes :
 

Jack : I’m feeling relaxed ... and nervous… but confident it will go well if I stick to my plan

George : I’m ready to race. Enough talk, now’s time for action... will be hugely relieved when the Swim is done and I can power away on the Bike

Si : my focus is on a strong swim, steady Bike and then ready to run off Bike at pace

Mark : meticulous preparation. Really looking forward to run, just a pity there’s a bit of swimming and running to do first...

Wave : looking forward to 1) Swim exit, 2) getting into bar at the end

Ric : The Bike course looks epic... can’t wait .... just that horrible chaotic swim, and run through a world of pain to book-end a beautiful Bike

The Big Day Approaches, Part 2

And now it's the turn of the old blokes, to express their words of wisdom before the off. Plus, a natty picture of Ric, to show he has all the kit and is raring to go.

 

Wave
Four days to go. Can’t believe that in March I was thinking of packing it all in because of a debilitating neck injury. Bike has just been picked up for overland transfer. I was down to just 10 hours’ training last week - doesn’t seem enough. And still eating the same amount - hope I don’t put on weight. Lots of random thoughts about nutrition plan, packing list, race plan, race weekend checklist - need to write it all down to declutter my brain and make sure nothing is overlooked. Current forecast is 29 degrees C and sunny - pretty much as expected but, though it could change. Mild apprehension already - real nerves will kick in when I get off the plane in Munich on Thursday.

 

Ric
A maelstrom of emotions… thoughts of crossing that finish line and almost certainly tears of joy, relief, and amazing feeling of collective achievement with the team… but then myriad thoughts of what can I do/ should I do during the race, to minimise something going wrong, and to maximise body performance…. and then working hard to banish thoughts of the uncontrollables that could throw a spanner in the works…. But above all, there’s a building excitement and eagerness to get to that start line. Butterflies are ready to spring into action….. probably starting when 5 of us (+Amy) meet at LHR on Thursday afternoon…

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The Big Day Approaches

After the months of training, Challenge Roth is almost upon us. The crew will be heading out to Bavaria on Thursday this week. The event is coming sharply into focus, and the nerves are catching up with them too. As they face their massive test, our indomitable ironman-triathletes look over their training and tell us how they’re feeling. Three of the youth are up first -

 

George
My psyche has decided to take a bi polar approach to Triathlon. One second I can feel like a South American Mountain Lion gracefully bounding through the Lincolnshire wolds on my bike and the next I’m swimming about as gracefully as a disused oil rig through a murky lake just off the A46. Fortunately the former has been dominant of late and it’s left me in a rather unusual position of readiness. The hard work’s been done, the plan’s been set, the fuel is packed and ready. Now just a final piece in the puzzle remains - to nail the logistics and get all of my possessions onto the plane alongside me.

With a track record of losing 8 wallets, 11 phones and 7 sets of house keys, the bookies are confident of an impending slip up.

Bring it on.

 

Jack
Like George, my relationship with the Ironman is best described as Love/Hate. Hate getting into a wet wetsuit at 6am to go and swim in a murky lake, love being accused of cutting corners by Dad after I beat him by 5 minutes. Hate doing shots of beetroot juice in the morning, love the resulting 0.001% increase in the width of my capillaries. Hate abstaining from big days on the beer with friends, love the thought of pouring my first stein of German lager all over my head. Hate when the lens of your Oakleys aren’t quite reflective enough, love buying a fully reflective new pair that co-ordinate perfectly with the tri suit.

 

Si
The phrase I’d use to describe my feelings is “Nervous but excited”. Nervous that I may not get round, excited that I’ve done the training that which means I should. Nervous that I’ve never done anything as big as this, excited that 200 thousand people should make it an amazing day. When reflecting on it, I’m now counting down the days – I can’t wait to be free but excited to hopefully have one of the best days of my life.

 

Stand by for words of wisdom from the senior generation tomorrow...

 

 

Pick your Challenge Roth Winner…

Iron distance Triathlon is a notoriously difficult game to predict. So much can go wrong over 226k, and in particular over the last 10k of the marathon run.

We are a team of six, but we are also six competitive mates of infinitely varied swim/bike/run capability, track record and experience… So, after all the training, much of it related in this very Journal, of course, there remains a burning question. Which one of us will cross the finish line first ?

The half Iron distance Monster Mojo test event on 13th May yielded the following finishing order :

1st – George    
2nd - Jack       
3rd – Mark

4th – Wave      
5th – Si           
6th/DNF - Ric

BUT… all sorts of considerations need to be factored in. Mark and Wave were unexpectedly off the pace during bike leg, Si was enjoying the bike so much he did an extra 22km lap, Ric was leading off the bike but pulled up with a run injury, and Jack spent so long in transition we can only assume he couldn’t find his hair styling tongs. And anyway… as everyone knows…  a full IronMan is a lot more than just double a half Ironman…

Training stats and informal exchanges suggest that all six of our intrepid athletes have got faster since Mojo a month ago. The mysterious Wave is smashing PBs  every weekend and has sourced some go-faster wheels and tyres, which should save him a good  0.0001% on the bike section. He is an experienced long-course racer who will not blow up. Si and Mark are just back from overseas training camps carefully disguised as family holidays. And Ric, though some would say it's a bit late, has started running again, albeit only up to 6 miles so far. Jack and George have been on very good form at recent Copper family training weekends. Ric might even be relegated to 3rd fastest swimmer among the 3 Coopers. Even his advantage on the bike seems to be eroding . On paper George is marginally the fastest now, though to safeguard  other competitors and spectators the organisers have agreed for him to be followed by a launch with on-board portaloo during the swim...

So, who’s it to be? Why not make a choice and let us know. Training stats yield some clues, but you’ll have to read the Journal entries for further gen. Or you can just take a punt on it, basing your choice of winner on, well… family ties, blind loyalty, or who looks nicest in their tri suit. 

Send your vote to  -  contactus @ alifeofadventure .net (you'll need to close the gaps when copying this) -  and we’ll keep a running tally of your choices, regularly updating the scores on the journal.

And for yet more excitement, we respectfully propose that if you do joyously pick the winner, you might want to celebrate by contributing (or contributing more…doubling your stake) to our fundraising for the charity Mind. See our fund-raising page here.

 

 

The Roth Journal 7 - Wave and Peak Training

As we enter the final days now in the run-up to Challenge Roth Triathlon, our intrepid iron-men are tapering their training. But first Wave describes his peak training.

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We have been making some good steady progress up here in Yorkshire since the Monster Mojo. My coach, Suzie, has been pushing me a tad harder than I had in mind when I recruited her, but it seems to be doing the trick. One recent week looked a bit like this:

  • Mon –   2000m recovery swim

  • Tues –   2hr 15 min bike ride, including 30 min hard warm-up for a 10-mile, eyeballs-out, hilly time-trial

  • Wed –   11 km steady run, plus 2250m club swim session

  • Thurs – Rest day, just 1hr Pilates

  • Fri -        2hr turbo session with big gear sweet-spot efforts, then 1hr race-pace run off the bike

  • Sat -       2800m open water swim, plus 24km run straight after the swim

  • Sun -      3.5hr bike ride

This took me a little by surprise as it was a big step up from what I had been doing. And then I realised I was entering an Olympic distance race, the Wetherby Triathlon, immediately after it. In a panic, I emailed Suzie, assuming that she must have forgotten about my scheduled race, but “No”, she said “I want you to know what it feels like to race fatigued…”  Bloody hell, I’m 59 years old… I’m always fatigued!

But then, bizarrely, having flogged myself during the week doing all that training, I produced my best ever Olympic distance:  2:26. I was 4th in age category, so I just missed out on a podium spot. But hey, the three people in front were cheating really, by being much younger.

 Wave, in red trousers and illustrious triathlon company

Wave, in red trousers and illustrious triathlon company

Onwards and upwards. We were building to peak training volume, so the following weekend included a 100-mile time trial, followed by a 10-mile run straight off the bike. It all went pretty much to plan, apart from the torrential rain and a puncture. (Control the controllables, they say).

My last big session was last weekend. It comprised a 4,000m open water swim and then a 100km bike on the Saturday, followed by a 30km race pace run on the Sunday. I was also to practice my race nutrition plan, using the same products that I will on race day. For the 100km bike ride I downloaded a circular route to my bike computer as I was in unfamiliar territory. All very sensible… until the computer battery died about 2.5km into the ride. I’m not quite sure why (perhaps I had a premonition), but I was carrying a hard copy of the route with me as backup. Even more fortuitously, I had decided to wear my reactolite varifocal glasses, without which I would have had no chance of reading the aforementioned map anyway.

The route was quite complicated, so there were lots of wrong turns, U-turns and map stops. Not much of a race simulation, then. And during one about-turn, as I picked up the bike to spin it around, my front wheel caught in a rut in the tarmac. With one foot still clipped in and the weight on the wrong side of the bike, there was only one outcome. And down I went, in slow motion, praying that neither body nor bike would sustain serious damage. I was lucky for a third time: I was left with just a few holes in my elbow and a sorely dented pride, as I avoided eye-contact with the curious onlookers. Controlling the controllables is all very well, but there’s not much you can do about a flat computer battery causing you to fall off your bike whilst stationary.

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I’ve just entered my 60th year, which is a bit of a blow given that I’ll be pitted against young whippersnapper 55-year-olds in my age category. On that basis, I’ve reluctantly taken the “…if you can’t beat them….” approach and resorted to Ric’s obsessive marginal gains tactics. I almost treated myself to some super-duper race wheels for my birthday but a very generous friend from the triathlon club has offered to loan me his – what a star.

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I have, however forked out for a pair of red-hot Continental Grand Prix TT tyres to put on them. The total retail value of that little package would be about £1,900 but should, according to Ric, save me at least 10 minutes on the 112-mile bike leg. Great value, then, at £190 per minute.

I will, however, resist the urge to wear a silly pointy helmet as I don't want to look like a complete, er... Ric.

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A slightly cheaper way to go faster is to lose weight and, as a result of all the training, I now find myself to be lighter than I have ever been, which should help.

Roth is starting to feel all too real now. It’s only 18 days until race day. We’ve been allocated our race numbers and start times.. And tapering has begun.  We’re past the point of useful training - it takes 3 weeks for training to impact fitness, so nothing we do now will actually make us fitter for race day. The next 2½ weeks is about maintaining fitness levels whilst not over-stressing the body and, above all, avoiding injury.

An important note, though. Triathletes are to be avoided at all costs during this taper period. They are typically grumpy because they feel they should be doing more training, they are paranoid about catching other people’s germs, they spend their whole time writing lists, race plans and nutrition plans and they are generally stressy and unpleasant to be around.

Bring it on.

The Big Fat Charity Quiz

Some of you may be reading the Roth Journal and wondering why we are putting ourselves through this Ironman business… We each have our different reasons, but the one we all absolutely agree on is raising money for the mental health charity, Mind. And so last Thursday we got 150 of our friends and family together for the Big Fat Charity Quiz.

George kicked off the evening with an emotional speech about why Mind means so much to the four of us. He explained what mental health is and gave examples of the charity’s work, both to help those affected and to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. A scary fact is that members of the iGeneration (born 1995- 2012) are statistically more likely to kill themselves than anyone else.

The quiz began and the beers started to flow (except for us four triathletes, of course – we were all drinking water…) and so did the money… first for raffle tickets and then as people’s eyes turned to the items in the upcoming auction… We were incredibly fortunate that all of our raffle and auction prizes had been donated, which meant that every penny we made during the evening went directly to Mind. Jack stepped up as auctioneer and was in his element shouting, whipping up the crowd and raising the bids, sometimes by hundreds of pounds at a time. The auction proved a phenomenal success and some incredibly generous amounts of money were donated for some of the top prizes; the largest was a staggering £1,500 for a week at a house in Cornwall!

Despite our success on the fundraising front, there were a few slip ups in the quiz itself, which caused much amusement! Mistaking Dumbledore and Gandalf in the picture round resulted in outrage, and a slightly chaotic marking process had all 4 of us sweating like we were on a watt bike session!

At the end of the evening, spirits were high and our nearest and dearest appeared to have had a wonderful evening. We were blown away by the generosity of the people who came, and we managed to raise a total of £11,055! That - combined with the money we hope to raise with the rest of our fundraising - will make a huge difference to Mind and the amazing work they do.

 

If you would like to make a donation towards the work of Mind, then do please visit our Ironman for Mind page.

 

 

Ironman Triathlon and Bodily Functions : A Marriage made in Hell...

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“Training has to match the event itself…”

It’s a rallying cry. Actually, it’s Ric’s rallying cry, as he rips the unfortunate youth from their slumber again.

“Long swims, bikes and runs, often bolted together over a 5-7 hour session…”, he continues, somehow managing both to ramble and to remonstrate at the same time, to a still comatose audience.

But this is what Ric, Si and George did last (bank holiday) weekend. Some 14 hrs of training, with about 7k in Lake 32 at Ashton Keynes, 240k on the bike across Gloucestershire, Wilts and Oxon, and 29k running… It was probably the best training weekend of the program so far… with one notable incident, as per the title above.

Because you see, for all energy that’s expended, from the energy gels, bars, bananas and cooked breakfasts consumed, not every ounce gets used up... and the body needs to expel some waste. And during a race as long as Roth (11 hrs, more or less) something has to give….

Race organisers have clocked this, so normally there are porta-loos dotted along the run and bike course and in transitions. Also, over such a long distance, most courses pass through open country, where there are strategically situated bushes or hedges… though as Paula Radcliffe will attest, a #2 on an urban course can be a rather public experience…

Some experienced triathletes manage to empty their bladders whilst on the bike, an interesting concept which Ric claims never to have tried… odd, considering that incremental gain is his game. And a #1 in a wetsuit is relatively common, and of course discreet. So to sum up, #1s are not normally an issue whether running, swimming or biking, and #2s generally manageable whilst biking or running. Except when the urge takes you whilst running down the Mall with crowds 10 deep either side…

The nightmare scenario, on the other hand, is being taken short for a #2 whilst wearing a wetsuit and in the middle of a large lake.

This particular “marriage made in hell” befell one of valiant triathletes (identity not to be disclosed… for now) last Saturday. He realised he was past the point of no return and swam gingerly, nervously… to the nearest shore which, unfortunately for him, was populated by walkers and fishermen and had no adequate cover. He pretended to hide behind the largest of a number of small bushes, (literally) ripped off his wetsuit and… well, don’t picture the scene, but you can probably hear it… Quite an embarrassing experience altogether, made worse by the need afterwards to approach one of the traumatised fisherman and get him to zip the miscreant back into his wetsuit. Whereupon he got out of there as fast as he could, and continued his 3.8k swim.  

So urgent was the action that the aforementioned wetsuit (one of Ric’s hand-me-downs) suffered several rips in the process, though you’ll be glad to hear it was otherwise unblemished...

So the moral of this story is…  What doesn’t kill you - can still embarrass the hell out of you.

The Roth Journal 5 - The Musings of an Amateur Triathlete

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A week ago I completed my first ever triathlon. And there are two ways of looking at this, as I build up for Challenge Roth in just over a month’s time. First, you could conclude I am new to this… I managed to do an extra, unscheduled 22km lap on the bike leg, I set off on the run from the bike transition still wearing my helmet and I thought it was perfectly acceptable to chat to fellow competitors in the transitions… Clearly there’s a way to go… On the other hand, you could take the optimistic view. Which is that I completed a half ironman with a bit in the tank on all three disciplines. It gives me confidence for the real thing.

For now it’s back to the training. But before I give rasping commentary on our latest weekend, I should say why I signed up to this challenge in the first place. I’ve always loved sport, and having spent a lot of time swimming and running, I have always wanted a crack at an ironman. I’m also very competitive, so when a best mate tells you he’s signed up, and you’re enjoying a Lions tour in NZ, beer in hand, watching the sun go down…  Well, you can’t just let him do it while you miss out, now can you?!?

Back to our training weekend. And back to Marlborough. Because we base ourselves at Ric’s, which is fast becoming known as the best training venue in the West of England. It has it all: lakes, hills, hearty nutrition and lots and lots of triathlon tactics, a topic of conversation which somehow never seems to dry up over dinner.

 In full flight

In full flight

En route we made a stop at a friend’s for a bbq, which meant a great evening but a late arrival; late enough that the next morning hurt. Certainly we were a little slow out of the blocks…

The main target for the weekend was to bike the full ironman distance, ie 180 kilometres. We were out on the road by 8.15 am, planning to be back for 2.30 (at the latest), when a sports was massage booked. The first 90km was a fantastic ride, if a little hilly. For a local, Jack’s knowledge of the undulating hills was less than impressive: the number of times I heard ‘OK, that’s the last hill, it’s flat from here until Marlborough’….  But then, right around the corner, we were back out of the saddle and climbing again. It’s all good training but Jack might work on his ‘managing expectations’. Little did I know, his knowledge of the topography of hills would be matched by his knowledge of the local road network.

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At 90km we stopped for a quick coffee and to refill the water bottles, and then headed out again at a good pace, still on track for 2:30 if we kept it up. At this point I should credit Jack for one thing – his ‘sizeable’ frame offers fantastic wind resistance, so sitting on his wheel certainly made my life easier, and although I’ll admit my legs were starting to feel it, I was determined and spirits were high.

Not for long…

At about 140 km Jack decided to check the time and the route home… Whoops… some geographical embarrassment... To get back on time now, would mean upping our pace another 2kph an hour… just what you want to hear on your first ever full bike distance, right? Jack was sympathetic for roughly 2 minutes, ‘Stay on my wheel Si, we can do this…’ It was a challenge. I was struggling to keep up. I tried to rationalise with him to go on, enabling me to detour straight to the massage - that way we would both be on time and I could do the full distance at my own pace. Jack disagreed so we cracked on.

And then 5 minutes after that, we took another wrong turn...  The combination of this and me ‘freewheeling’ (desperately trying to have a break) down the hills led to a few expletives. I was battling with maintaining my nutrition, riding the last 30km at a quicker pace and keeping the big guy chilled. By the time we got back, we were late. Luckily Andy, the massage therapist was understanding. And made sure to put us through considerable pain.

I was happy to have done the distance but was certainly feeling the effects. Again, I learned a few lessons:

1.       Give yourself more time when heading out for 180km

2.       Make sure you ride your own race

3.       Don’t ask Jack to be your guide around the local hills of Wiltshire (he only grew up there…)

 Under the hands of the sympathetic Andy

Under the hands of the sympathetic Andy

The highlight of the evening was picking Ric up from his friend’s 60th in the early hours, and a sudden change in roles: the son picking up the dad a few drinks deep from a social occasion… Jack and I were fully aware of the ‘lovely food and divine wine’. We must have gathered this on the 2nd time of mention. By the time we got home we could name each course. Jokes aside, it was Ric who dragged us out for a swim on Sunday morning.

Fantastic. Finally an opportunity to leave Jack in my wake. We all managed to maintain good speed, swimming 3km in the open water. If anyone is wondering, open water swimming is a fantastic way to get rid of the hangover.

Before leaving for London there was time for another short bike session, with 3 x 15 min bursts. Naturally Ric was back at his best and left Jack and me chasing… but given that we’d cycled the full distance the day before, we were pretty happy with our pace. And then, in true Cooper form, we even followed the cycle with a run. The last surprise was a second BBQ of the weekend – it’s fair to say Ric is taking the crown for the best cook out of the Cooper men. The steaks were spot on and perfect fuel for the trip down the M4.

So, whichever way you look at it, it’s another step in the right direction in my triathlon training. There may be a way to go, but with a few more miles done and a belief I can do it, the road to Roth is really hotting up.

The Roth Journal 4 - Just Six Weeks to go

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Our valiant triathletes have been out there working their…. very hard. They have pounded the pavements and scorched the tarmac, and… and… whatever abuse you can do to water. And they have punched the air at their test race, the half-iron distance Monster Mojo. Now the main event, Challenge Roth itself, is hovering on the horizon. There are just six weeks to go. The drama is almost too much to bear. Which is why a film is being produced of the six heroes. You can see a trailer here.

Except of course, the film is not about our six heroes. Still, that person crawling across the finish line should set the scene well enough…


If you have come recently to this journal, we would encourage you to have a look to see who the six characters are, these Six Men of Steel, and how their Challenge came about. Also, now that we have pinned down the Mysterious Wave – perhaps, like a particle of Einsteinian physics, he can exist and not exist at the same time - we have added his profile as well. He claims he’s the housewife’s choice, so for some domestic excitement, here’s a taster…

Swim Style : Lazy, poor technique but energy efficient.

Bike style : Lazy. Nervous descender. People used to claim that he descended like a girl but they have had to rescind that statement as he is often overtaken by women (not only on descents).

Run Style : Lazy. Most improved discipline in the last 3 years. 3:37 marathon PB.

So Wave……Why are you doing Challenge Roth ??

… I got Ric started on his triathlon career so it’s only right that I should be there at the end…


For the non-triathletes among us, here’s a reminder of what the Six Men of Steel are taking on out there in Bavaria on Saturday 1st July. They will (according to the calculations of the ever-optimistic Ric) -

  • Swim 3.8 kilometres (that’s 2.375 miles, or 152 lengths of a regular 25m pool, to you and me) in just over an hour, covering each 100 metres (ie four lengths) in about 1 min 45 seconds
  • Ride a 180 kilometre (112.5 mile) bike course which includes aggregate hill climb roughly equivalent to the height of Ben Nevis, at an average speed of more than 21mph (33.6 kmh)
  • Run a whole marathon in expected 30-35C heat in something like 3 hrs 45 mins
  • …. And rush through transitions between disciplines without even enough time to plug in a hair dryer

 

Below is the form guide. The odds in brackets are their chances of beating one another rather than winning the whole event, but with the way they’re going, you never know... they did pretty well at the Monster Mojo

 

Si (the Birmingham Bullet) : (10:1)

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  • Unquestionably the fastest in the water, drawing on his GB water polo experience. Could easily build 15 mins advantage.
  • Bike could be his downfall but recent progress is proving doubters wrong. Not much meat on the legs but that just adds to his efficiency.
  • Run could be another area he picks up valuable minutes, however his training has been hampered by injury. If he keeps the shin splints at bay then he should be able to bring back at least 20 mins on the rest of the pack.
  • Having barely ridden a bike before training began, the Birmingham Bullet is a real outside bet. And for punters who enjoy a fairy tale story, this is your man.

 

Mark (‘Double M’ Mennear) : (3:1)

  • No weak discipline for Double M, the ex-president of the university Tri club is as steady as they come.
  • Won’t lose or gain much time in the water and should remain in contention off the bike.
  • Expect huge support from the crowd if his torso is revealed, 8-packs like this don’t come along often.
  • Ran a sub 3.30 Marathon earlier this year so the run will be where he makes his ground.
  • Mental strength is sky high after carrying the dying carp through a 4 year engineering degree, unlikely to fade.
  • If the bookies offer each way bets, put your house on it.

 

Ric (Chicken Dick) : (3:1)

  • Form suggests he will be fastest on bike and could build ~20 mins advantage
  • Bookies thought he had swim advantage, but in shock training news George overtook at end of 3rd lake lap
  • Running in lap of gods but very little time to build distance/ resilience
  • Overall, would normally be favourite, but a risky investment vs zero run form

 

David (Wave Daring) : (20:1)

  • If he was a horse it would surely have been shot by now, due to recurring chronic injuries, but somehow makes the start line against all odds
  • Can be ponderous in transition but if he betters his IM PB of 28 minutes he has an outside chance as tortoise to show up the young hares
  • No speed machine in any discipline, but high resilience and plenty of experience, and likes the longer track.
  • Not even the Housewife’s choice at these odds

 

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Jack (the Dying Carp) : (5:2)

  • No clear form over long bike distance, and likely to lose time on this leg
  • Potentially the strongest swimmer if short time trials to be believed
  • Running form a revelation, and if sheds more ballast could hold swim advantage over the Horrace, and recover any bike deficit
  • Overall 2nd favourite but too close to call

 

George (Hopeless Horrace) : (2:1)

  • Recent step change in swim form (in wetsuit), and may not lose any time on this leg
  • Long distance bike form is good, and unlikely to give away more than 15-20 mins to Chicken Dick
  • Has good run track record (Coast to Coast / Sydney half/Cotswold 113) and likely to gain significantly on this leg

 

Race Report: The Monster Mojo half iron-distance Triathlon

Over the weekend of 12-13th May, the Roth Journal crew gathered in Peterborough for a half iron distance triathlon, the Monster Mojo. It is their test race before the real event in seven weeks. The Mysterious Wave gave us a blow by blow account of the weekend, including the race and the crew’s very creditable times and places.

 The Crew - except Wave seems to have disappeared again

The Crew - except Wave seems to have disappeared again


Wave: There was lots of excitement as the team gathered on the eve of the Monster Mojo half-iron distance triathlon, our first real test of race readiness for Roth.

The Cooper tribe and Mark arrived early, to allow plenty of time for bike fettling and kit faffing, before setting out for a short, easy test ride and run – all resplendent in new custom-made tri-suits which left little to the imagination. They were in danger of bursting open in several key areas, and as a result, the youngsters attracted admiring glances from passing females.

We met up with Ella and Beth, who Ric and I met at a Mallorca training camp earlier in the year. Beth and her partner Paul were also racing the Mojo. Ella was entered for the Olympic distance Mojito.

Ric busied himself changing wheels, adjusting brakes and making sure his offspring had all their kit sorted, bottles filled, and nutrition prepared. I was impressed with his dedication; it’s hard enough getting yourself organised for a race, never mind having to worry about two others… particularly when they are mortal enemies (on the race course, at least). Richard Dawkins maintains there is really no such thing as altruism. Surely this is the ultimate sacrifice.

Off to the Pizza Parlour in Peterborough: good pasta fuel but when we clocked the size of the portions we immediately ordered reinforcements in the form of a 36” pizza to share.

Simon arrives later, fresh from his future brother-in-law’s stag do. Poor chap. He had restricted himself to a couple of pints on a night out in Swansea. I can’t think of anything worse than being sober on a stag night in Swansea. In fact, I can think of few things worse than being in Swansea.

 Here he is, with that "I'll get you, you..." look

Here he is, with that "I'll get you, you..." look

There was lots of chat about the weather, which was forecast to be 10-11 degrees C and raining all morning. In true triathlete fashion, we check our weather apps every half hour to see if it has improved… or we look at different apps, to see if they are more optimistic. “Focus on controlling the controllables” is one of the best pieces of advice I have ever had, but we continued to focus on the uncontrollable.

Early to bed and lights out at 2200. As always, the night before a race, I lie awake for what seems like hours. Ric’s robust snoring doesn’t help matters. But it’s OK; I got my own back when I eventually did fall asleep.

Alarm at 04:45 and time to force food into a body that’s not really interested. Strong coffee gets the body and brain working and ready to do battle.

 Racked and ready to go

Racked and ready to go

Bikes racked, wetsuits on, the team assembles for the race briefing at 06:45, and chatters all the way through it, not really listening. This would perhaps prove to be a mistake for at least one of us…

Into the water at 06:55; a toasty 18 degrees C after last weekend’s hot spell. The hooter sounds bang on time and we’re off.

There was lots of chat earlier about swimming together in a group; I nodded in compliance, but knew I’d be doing my own thing, running my own race, not worrying about anyone else, as I always do. I remind myself that triathlon is a time trial across 3 disciplines; who does the fastest swim, bike or run is irrelevant.

The swim is uneventful, and I am incredulous as I look at my watch on exiting the water to see that I have completed the 1900 metres in 32 minutes – that’s a PB by a mile! Of course, I don’t have my glasses on, and I later learn that it was a far more credible 35 minutes. George and I arrive in transition together and he leaves about 10 seconds before me. That’s the last I’ll see of him, I thought…  and anyone else, possibly.

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The bike course turns out to be a lot harder than it looked on paper. Heavy, bumpy road surfaces, with no real climbs but lumps and bumps enough to disrupt momentum, and a block headwind for the first half of the loop that feels much stronger than the 10 mph advertised by our many weather apps. My legs are not feeling good and no matter how hard I try I can’t get my power output to the prescribed level and so resign myself to another average result. Just (another) one of those days; I’m not surprised to find that the 82km bike leg has taken me nearly 6 minutes longer than the 2:30 I need for a shot at my sub-5 hour target time.

Having struggled on the bike, I’m not looking forward to the run, but I set off at a much faster pace than I should. I pass Ric who has slowed to a run walk, to protect his ailing Achilles, on his second lap. By now I am desperate for a pee. I considered relieving myself on the bike but thought better of pissing all over the magnificent Black Beauty. So I stop halfway round the first lap rather than try and execute on the run as I have done once in the past. It requires incredible control to override all the wiring in your brain that stops you from pissing your pants and you inevitably end up with at least one very soggy running shoe. Mid-flow, I hear a cheery “Hi, Wave”, as Mark sails past…bugger! My over-enthusiastic starting pace eventually slows to something more maintainable and I surprise myself by holding a steady pace to the finish, posting a 1:36 for the 20 km run.

I’m not surprised to see most of the team already at the finish line. But my watch is showing 4:50, so I’m pleased that I managed a good shift on the run and beat my 5 hour target. It dawns on me that Simon has yet to finish… I’m quietly pleased that I’m not last.

It turns out that Simon has, in fact, been adopted by Ric and therefore has borrowed one of his bikes. A very sleek (and obviously expensive) Cervelo. Which would have been a big advantage if he had only had the correct cleats on his shoes to fit the Cervelo’s pedals. And if that wasn’t enough of a problem, Simon, the geography graduate, also had a navigational (or maybe counting), error and added an additional 22 km lap to his bike leg. Everyone was of course very sympathetic and understanding. No jokes at all were made at his expense…

 All the kit.. and full of self-sacrifice

All the kit.. and full of self-sacrifice

George took the honours and was 17th overall with a cracking 4:35 and all (that completed the prescribed course) finished within 18 minutes of one another. A successful day for the team with George, Jack and Mark finishing 1st, 2nd and 4th in the 25-29 age group and yours truly also winning his age group. Ric tried to claim that he was “...21.5 mph average on the bike... later corrected to 22.5... and therefore… blah, blah, blah…”, but no-one was listening. Beth not only won her age group but also won £75 for finishing 3rd overall in the women’s race.

As expected, Si was the fastest swimmer, closely followed by Jack, 3 minutes ahead of George and the bunch. Ric had the fastest bike time and Jack managed to pull another minute ahead of George on the bike. But, unsurprisingly, it all came down to the run and Jack’s 4 minute lead off the bike wasn’t enough. George had already gained a minute on Jack in transition and his tasty 1:29 run split was more than enough to get him across the line first. It would be interesting to know what words were exchanged, (if, indeed either of them was capable of speaking), as George cruised past his brother on the run…

All in all a successful weekend and a good early indication of form, but still plenty of time for the team to analyse what went wrong and how to fix it.

 

In the spirit of sober assessment, lessons we learned from the Monster Mojo:

·         Don’t worry about the weather – it turned out fine.

·         George learned to pay attention to the road signs to avoid unnecessary 360 degree revolutions on  round roundabouts – that 15 seconds could have been crucial.

·         Ric learned (for the third time in consecutive events – is that a fineable offence?), that his very expensive aero bottles, containing his scientifically calculated race nutrition cocktail, are very prone to jumping out of his very expensive aero bottle cages attached to his very expensive aero frame, leaving him with no fuel.

·         Jack learned that his little brother is not only a faster runner but also much quicker in transition. Plenty to work on.

·         Mark learned that he had the fastest transition of the day with a lightning 47 second T2, but was still 4 seconds behind George’s total transition time of 2 minutes 50 seconds.

·         Wave learned that there is life in the old dog yet and that a poor bike split doesn’t necessarily mean the race is over.

·         As for Simon… well, too many to mention, but he would do well to follow that old military adage of the seven Ps – Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

·         Oh, and over post-race beers, our friend Ella learned (rather too late), that it was a mistake to engage Ric in a conversation about the technicalities of marginal gains. Fortunately for her, I spotted her eyes glazing over and came to the rescue before rigor mortis set in.

The Roth Journal 3 - Monster Mojo Mayhem

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Today the Six Men of Steel take on the Monster Mojo, a half iron distance triathlon in Peterborough. It’s their warm-up event for the main Challenge in Roth in seven weeks’ time. Ric, self-asserted ‘Wise old Sage, or maybe Boring old Fart’, volunteered a few words of inspiration and some comments on form -

 

“Right, Gents, there’s been lots of talk… And time for training... Now’s the time for deeds. Tomorrow, we shall fight them on the…” to a chorus of yawns and one head thumping on the table as a young un falls asleep, presumably after a heavy Friday night.

But who will win Mojo, and thereby set the expectations for Roth? Here are Ric’s predictions -

  • Ric will definitely not win because he is still run injured and thus won’t finish, but if he is 10mins+ ahead at end of bike he will be extrapolating a virtual win!
  • The course is as good as it gets for Si, with a bike course 4 miles short (51 not 56 miles), and he’s borrowing a fast old Cervelo from Ric
  • Jack is swimming very well, and if he can hang onto Si’s feet and get a 5 mins advantage on George and Mark coming out of the water, who knows? It’s also a flat-ish bike course, so there’s minimal heavyweight disadvantage for Jack
  • George is always unpredictable, but still co-favourite if he doesn’t have to stop for a #2 half way through the run (he has form!)
  • Mark stays clear of the banter, but trains hard and is the best all-rounder

 

Well, that makes five. Who’s missing, we wonder? Ah, the mysterious Wave… Evidently he’s as much of an enigma to Ric as to the rest of us, so ephemeral that he might not exist after all… Until a crackle of static builds up in the ether and, like a missile bursting through the universe’s very fabric, a response roars into our email boxes. Wave is a real person, it turns out.

Wave: Errrr… presumably your failure to mention me is because you are worried….? There is no such thing as a virtual win, it’s called a DNF. I will definitely win the old farts’ category on Sunday.

Ric quickly corrects:

  • Wave won’t be far behind on the swim, and the least likely to blow up on the run, and he will win Old Farts category with Ric as a DNF

We’ll report back as soon as the Six Men have recovered enough to write up their experiences…

 He does exist after all

He does exist after all

The Roth Journal Entry 2 – Dads versus Youth

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So, let’s cut to the essence of this whole Roth thing, then, eh. The competition between the generations. Dads versus the youth.

On the one side there’s Ric, progenitor of the whole Roth idea (and half the opposition - Jack and George) with his old uni mucker, the mysterious Wave [Editor: I should mention that we had a blip in the ether the other day and we think it was Wave trying to communicate, so he probably is an actual person, rather than some vanishing effect of physics]. Both are just shy of 60 and in the vanguard of a new generation of men who just can’t teach the body what it means no longer to behave like a young man.

And on the other side, the youth, are the four lads, Jack and George, and their uni mates Mark and Si. They’re just setting out on life’s journey of sporting endurance, blasting it, using innate fitness and speed. George:

“While us lads are humbled by Dad’s generosity when it comes to kit, advice and training guidance…”

“You what?" chips in Jack. "Every time we enter a big challenge he chews off our ears with advice and stuff about training, even questions our chances of actually finishing… And yet every time, we youths prove him wrong and finish far quicker than he ever thought possible.”

“Er, as I was saying, while us lads are humbled by Dad’s generosity with… well, kit, have you ever wondered why it’s only over 40s who do these river swims and multisport events? Because we’ve got a life! When your mates are dragging you out to socials, drinks and general fun three nights a week, what do you think it's like heading off to an empty gym for an hour and a half on the Watt Bike...” 

 So, who's chances would you fancy? Father and son in the Coast to Coast, Scotland 2017

So, who's chances would you fancy? Father and son in the Coast to Coast, Scotland 2017

So, will it be a leisurely passing of the baton between the generations? In which the one graciously ushers the other ahead, knowing the glorious adventures that await them?

Will it hell. The oldies’ll be gritting their teeth and hanging on as desperately and as long as they can. Or blowing a raspberry with any spare breath they have as they inch their way past.

“It is a simple matter of two crossing lines”, pontificates Ric, during an extensive post-exercise massage. “Dads get slower with age. And yet, with a bit of training, even just a bit of fitness, bless ‘em, kids get faster.”

And let’s not forget sarcopenia. Which, for those who don’t know, is the decrease in skeletal muscle mass due to increasing age. It happens at about one percent per year, from as early as your mid 30s if you’re unlucky, so it’s enough to scare any sportsman - though in fact much scarier than the idea of sarcopenia is the word itself. Any concept formed of the words sarcastic and penis is surely enough to terrify a man.

But will this be the moment of intersection? Will the lines cross at Roth? What’s a sporty, competitive Dad to do?

Well, Ric’s got a secret spreadsheet of course, of things in which he can maintain his spot as top dog, what with all those young ‘uns bounding along at his heels, snapping and ready to take a chunk out of his already dodgy Achilles.  It goes something like this:

·         Cycling. Yipppeee… I’m still ahead, though gifting too much expensive/ aerodynamic kit to Jack and George probably means the writing is on the wall…

·         Triathlon. Yippee again… Also still ahead, mainly because I have accumulated 20-30 race results across all distances

·         Rowing on Concept 2. Jack ahead with 6:24  followed by Dad at 6:42 (19 years ago)

·         Running. Still have family best half marathon time, though that could go this Sunday at Monster Mojito… or on 20/5 as daughter Rosy races this distance in Sydney; she already has family marathon leadership. Rosy and Amy miles ahead on middle distance, George fastest sprinter

·         Swimming. In the pool over shorter distances Rosy and Amy again miles ahead, followed by Jack and then Dad, however Dad still leading (probably not for much longer) over all triathlon open water distances : 1500m, 1900, 3800m

Is Ric just in denial? Or will he pip them at the post at Roth (and then conveniently retire)?

“The odds are completely stacked in his favour”, says George, “home gym, an army of bikes, excessive holiday and three tropical training camps to get into shape…. We’ll see… “

Jack: “He keeps looking over his shoulder for us, but we’re looking only at the road ahead. A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep. It’s just a matter of time…”

And the mysterious Wave? Well, he still maintains he’s the housewife’s choice. Hi advice about transitions being the triathlon's fourth discipline was interrupted by static and something about hair-driers.

 

By the way, all six of the crew are out this weekend at the Monster Mojito, a half ironman distance triathlon in Peterborough, so expect stories of derring do – and caustic ribbing – early next week.

 Wave and well... a mysterious wave...

Wave and well... a mysterious wave...