Men of Steel. Well, possibly...

Six Blokes take on Challenge Roth, the World’s Most Popular iron-distance Triathlon

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We'd encourage you to read on, but here you can skip straight to -

 


Challenge Roth.... Europe’s most fearsome triathlon. An event for brave men and true. A dragon that demands a man step up to huge physical endeavour, to push himself right to the edge, take risks even to finish, ever in the knowledge that the course might rear up in its turn and savage him. It's a contemporary quest for modern-day knights.

So why, you might ask, would we write about this motley crew? A Dad who bluffed his two sons (no pressure, then…) into one of the most hideous races in the world, who in turn persuaded a couple of their mates. And then there’s Wave, about whom we can find out very little. Well, they offered, that’s why. And beggars – we at A Life of Adventure - can’t be choosers. Nor comedians without an audience.

 The young and fit members of the team

The young and fit members of the team

On which, we jest of course. Just to finish this event is a magnificent achievement. The six of them have been training like maniacs since December, prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to improve their chances – such as Lanzarote and the Balearics in Ric’s case (a holiday, you assume, but any triathlete knows this is just further self abuse, in training camps). And to think, there's nothing more than the dream of some Bavarian beer hovering in the far distance to keep them going.

Some facts, then. The 226 km Challenge Roth will take place on 1st July. It starts with 3.8 kilometres of swimming on the Main-Danube Canal, follows with 180 km of cycling, including two fearsome hill climbs, Solar Berg and Greding, and tops off with a full length marathon. Now in its 35th year, it’s a magnificent race of its kind - some 3500 people will take part in 2018 and at the front of the field will be some of the fittest men and women of their generation. You can see the official information about Challenge Roth (and get an idea of how hard it is) at their website.

So, for a story of 21st Century endeavour, a blow by blow account of men preparing to slay a modern beast - snicker snack - of girding their loins through doubt, exhaustion and punishing training schedules, a tale of glamour and glory in other words…  you should go elsewhere.

Meantime here’s the story of Jack and George and their Dad Ric, and mates Si and Mark, and the mysterious Wave, as they struggle to squeeze their training into normal life, stealing time and side-stepping family concerns, all the while knowing that the hardest event of their lives is looming ever closer… To find out more about the motley crew, see below.

 

Ric has written a serious look forward to the race in our INTERVIEWS column. But for those who would like a light-hearted look at training, the Six Blokes (doubtless in a careless moment), have promised to send in a weekly journal. We’ll do what we can to hold them to it...  See the...

First up was Jack (if you would like to start at the beginning), who told us about how it all came about in the first place.

 

To be serious for a moment -

IRONMAN FOR MIND

A few years ago, Phillipa, a university friend of Simon's, sadly lost her battle with depression. Since then, her friends and family have worked closely with Mind to help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental health issues and to help the thousands of people affected each year. Phillipa and Si played water polo together at the University of Nottingham, and the team stages annual memorial events highlighting both how much they miss her and the significance of the work Mind are doing. With the money we hope to raise, they can continue their amazing work increasing public awareness and challenging traditional social norms that have previously stunted progress. If you would like to read more about our fundraising, please see our Ironman for Mind page.

 

The MOtley Crew

 The guy who caused it all, working hard

The guy who caused it all, working hard

RICHARD COOPER

Other Name : Chicken Dick
Profession : Sells chicken enzymes
Chronological age : 59 ish
Relationship Status : Marrying the very understanding Kay in Nov
Behavioural age : Somewhere between 15 and 65
Triathlon experience : Lots; some big wins and a similar number of disasters. Go big or go home. Leave nothing on the track.
Swim Style : Lots of energy, lots of wash, very little forward momentum
Bike style : It’s all about marginal gains. Recently adjusted the pitch of his pointy helmet…. All the gear and no …… etc
Run Style : We have no idea as he’s always run injured
Other (non-triathlon) interests : Bird Watching and windsurfing
Famous for : Dancing, in which every joint in body can simultaneously rotate through 360 degrees (with no connection to the music)
Perfect day : Being outside wind in face
Bad Day : When other stuff gets in way of another perfect day
Favourite adventure buddies : Jack, George, Rosy and Amy
Currently reading : Matthew Walker : Why we sleep

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

 ….Because Jack and George decided they needed to do a major Iron Distance triathlon event before marriage (Jack, not George) and career complications make the dream less feasible…… and they need :

  • Competition
  • An equipment advisor and benefactor
  • A source of endless useless information/advice
  • Someone to buy the beer at end

 And is there any competition between the 3 of you :

… of course not… May the best man (Cooper) win……….

 

JACK COOPER

Other Name : The Dying Carp
Profession : Management Consultant
Age : 26
Relationship Status : Engaged, to be married 2 months post Roth (after I have put 2 stone back on at fiancé’s request)
Behavioural age : Triathlon age = 1, behavioural age = 18-40
Triathlon experience : Minimal, handful of short distances and 1 half Ironman a few years ago.
Swim Style : Relatively efficient providing I have some buoyancy to stop my legs/bum sinking.
Bike style : Heavy, hills are my nemesis.
Run Style : Heavy, years of playing rugby in the back row are not a good formulae for marathon success.
Other (non-triathlon) interests : Outdoors, Organised fun/fancy dress, sport.
Famous for : Extensive fancy dress collection and master of organised fun.
Perfect day : Being on Daymer Bay with those close to me, ideally after playing golf in the morning.
Bad Day : England losing rugby, golf going badly, brother beating me at Fifa.
Favourite adventure buddies : My fiancé Chloe and all 6 members of the Roth team
Currently reading : Phil Knight (Nike Founder): Shoe Dog

 And Jack why are you doing Roth… ?

  • It is one of the hardest things to do in the world, the ultimate physical challenge.
  • Have wanted to do one since seeing Dad doing a triathlon at Bolton. George and I committed to do it before 2020.
  • Opportunity to do it with my Dad, brother and two of my best mates pretty rare!

 

MARK MENNEAR

Other Name :  Double M, Ape-Man
Profession : Sports Technology Consultant
Chronological age : 26
Relationship Status : Just got a girlfriend to help me get through this training
Behavioural age : Triathlon age = 4, Behavioural age = 5
Triathlon experience : Considering I was president of a triathlon club, it’s unexpected that I have only done 3 sprint tri's before...yes, only 3... but I did somehow manage to get into the GB Duathlon age group.
Swim Style : A lot of splash and need competition to really push myself in the pool. I can tumble turn, not that it matters in a canal swim...
Bike style : Not slow… but not fast, just below average; hills kill me, they only excite me so I go as fast as possible down the other side, only to then get tired on the next one.
Run Style : Favourite disciple out of the three, a 10km run around a new city really does it for me.
Other (non-triathlon) interests : Football, tennis and then every sport under the sun that I can relate to.
Famous for : Extensive fancy dress collection and master of organised fun. Will do anything for someone to become a Reading fan, just ask the Dying Carp...
Perfect day : Morning run, followed by some oats, a game of tennis and then watching football with a BBQ and a few Dark 'N' Stormies.
Bad Day : England/Reading losing football followed by being stuck indoors all day.
Favourite adventure buddies : Pat Bruce, Holly, the Roth team and tropical house music.
Currently reading : Harvard Business Review

 

SIMON GATELEY
Other Names : Lego ; The Birmingham Bullet
Profession : Management Consultant
Chronological age : 26
Relationship Status : Single
Behavioural age : Triathlon age = 1, behavioural age = 18-40
Triathlon experience : Soon to complete a Half iron…
Swim Style : Competent swimmer, looking forward to the packed start.
Bike style : Slow and steady, still to show form on the longer rides
Run Style : Nimble and relaxed
Other (non-triathlon) interests : Sport – especially a love of rugby, music
Famous for : Excellent rugby union knowledge, progressive cook
Perfect day : Watching Leicester or England win at rugby, some sort of sporting activity and a few drinks
Bad Day : England losing rugby, golf going badly or being stuck in work.
Favourite adventure buddies : Extensive list, but to pick out some groups: The pride (Lions’17), Lake District group
Currently reading : Blue Ocean Strategy

 

GEORGE COOPER
Other Name:  Horace.
Profession: Commodities Trader
Chronological age: 24
Relationship Status: Single. Definition; only one, not one of several. Synonyms; unmarried, unattached, free, wifeless, partnerless, a bachelor. Yep, all of those.
Behavioural age : Triathlon age = 2, Behavioural age = 14
Triathlon experience: 2 half Ironmans. Learnt a lot from both; without sufficient food, the best you can hope for is a hallucination free finish. Pacing is key, resisting urge to hunt down brother on bike imperative no matter how great the temptation…
Swim Style : Rather like a disused sewage system; unattractive, inefficient & incredibly unpleasant to be around. 
Bike style : Strongest discipline. An unintentional natural high cadence seems to offer up numerous benefits. Keen to get out the saddle as much as possible, the more hills the better!
Run Style : Consistency the issue here, leg strength on the day remains a mystery. Sometimes feels effortless, others it’s like running in treacle. Longest run to date is 13 miles, so the step up could be lethal…
Other (non-triathlon) interests : The great outdoors/ mother nature, socials with mates & sport.
Famous for : Being late, getting lost and getting lucky. It’s not uncommon for all 3 to happen at once!
Perfect day : Morning exercise, preferably something in the sea followed by a full english brekky, a long dog walk and then a day pub session with mates, ideally with Newcastle winning the champions league that evening.
Bad Day : Having to stare at a screen all day (most days), being late out of bed to find brother has eaten all the Crunchy Nut Clusters and unwanted sports results (England Rugby/ Newcastle Football)
Favourite adventure buddies : Family, Team Roth & several mates.
Currently reading : Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens (2 years & counting...)

 

And the sixth profile which, although it came in way after the others, is obviously no attempted predictor of results on the day, is Wave.

 

DAVID WARING

Other Name : Wave
Profession : Software Executive (Pretired)
Chronological age : 59 years and 23 days on race day.
Relationship Status : Married to the long suffering and very understanding Siȃn.
Behavioural age : Varies, depending on company and environment.
Triathlon experience : Plenty, from sprint to iron distance. A few age group podium finishes but never a win. Looking forward to turning 60 next year when he will be youngest in the 60-64 age group and will pick races carefully to avoid any serious competition. Certainly won’t be racing with Ric.
Swim Style : Lazy, poor technique but energy efficient.
Bike style : Lazy. Nervous descender. Used to claim that he descended like a girl but has had to rescind that statement as is often overtaken by women (not only on descents).
Run Style : Lazy. Most improved discipline in the last 3 years. 3:37 marathon PB.
Other (non-triathlon) interests : Golf, skiing, walking, sailing, avoiding bridge and dance classes.
Famous for : Flamboyant wardrobe and shoe collection. Calling a spade a spade.
Perfect day : A day out with the family. Something outside, followed by a few beers and a good meal. Watching my boys play rugby.
Bad Day : When I have to go to work. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my bank manager, there aren’t many of those these days.
Favourite adventure Buddies : Jake, Toby and Adam and the Cooper family.
Currently reading : Just finished Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari) – took 3 years (good luck, George). Just started Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen) and There’s no Map in Hell (Steve Birkinshaw).

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

….Because when I did Ironman UK in 2015, I said it would be my first and last…then the pain wore off and I started to think that my 13:26:52 was not my best effort, particularly as I went too easy on the bike and spent some 28 minutes in transition. When I heard the Coopers were doing Roth 2018 I thought I was safe because it had already sold out…unfortunately Ric put me in touch with some fixers who managed to get me a place. So now I’m committed to an Iron distance PB…

…and anyway, the rest of the team need someone to make them look good.

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

 

     The dream - the finish line party, courtesy Challenge Roth

    The dream - the finish line party, courtesy Challenge Roth