Weekend Round Up 26th 27th September

Whilst the weather has taken a turn for the worse, it is pleasing that for another week we have had Tuffs in race action at Covid-aware organised races. Firstly though, a Covid update. Whilst we are planning for the future, we remain alert to any further restrictions that may come from the Government. British Triathlon have just released further guidelines in the last few days which underpin our training sessions. Further discussions have taken place with our home pool – The Littlehampton Wave and we are pleased to announce we are to resume Saturday swims (important to note the changed times) alongside Thursday swims. Please ensure you read the article on swimming below as well details about our Annual General Meeting

Drew adopts a racing pose.


There were a range of events at Hever Castle across the weekend, ranging from Sprint Triathlons, Aquabikes and Swims on the Saturday with Half, Standard, & Relay options across Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquathlon, run and Aquabike on the Sunday. After our glorious summer the weather had started to turn. Saturday was 6C air temp and 13.1C water temp; Sunday was 11C air and 12.1C water meaning that the Technical Official had little option than to shorten the swims. Ordinarily this would be a disadvantage for our resident dolphin, Drew Gowland who had entered the Standard Aquabike, scheduled as a 1,500m swim to be followed by a 45k ride. Drew stated he felt his swim was off but the recorded time of 11:23 saw him first out of the water by 15 seconds. Whilst his transition was ‘only’ the third fastest, off he set on the bike storming around the course in 1 hour 9 minutes. This was 33 seconds ahead of the second quickest rider. So two top splits meant Drew would finish 3 minutes 26 seconds ahead in first position overall, placing him on the virtual podium; what a terrific result. Drew being the modest man he is was reluctant to share his win, so this falls to the editor to explain. This was the first 2020 race for Drew which was actually staged and the win was all the more remarkable as he stated ‘the swim was a brain freeze’ and the bike leg was windy and hilly, but fun.


We had two Tuff representatives in The Gauntlet out of 346 starters which was the first race off on the Sunday morning. Danny Cunnett had raced the full Iron distance event in 2017 and this year entered the Middle Distance. He came out of the water in a strong position and we can always rely on Danny to produce a great run leg. Overall Danny finished in a time of 6 hours 24 – 21st in his category – great work.

Simon’s hoodie and medal

Our second Gauntlet entrants was Simon Thistlethwaite who has reported in as follows:-

“I’d planned to do Hever Castle in 2019 after hearing about its testing bike route from some of the lads but this was sadly taken away from me when I was hit by a car 3 days from the event.

With a long period off the bike and a struggle back to full fitness I finally decided it was time to get back on the push iron during the quiet lockdown period. Thanks to Phil Lintott Clarke I also had the pleasure of riding a different but better suited road bike which gave me the extra boost I needed.

My running was going well and my miles on the bike were much more frequent and more hilly so I just needed more swim time which was difficult with no pools open, but two weeks in the warm French lakes and a couple of sea swims came just at the right time.

I wasn’t hoping for a spectacular at Hever this year but knew that if I knuckled down I could get through it and that’s all I wanted.

I was in wave 1 7.45am start and with lake temperature on the Saturday at 13 degrees I knew the swim would be a challenge. As we were setting up in Transition the marshall informed us that the temperature had dropped a degree and that they were cutting the swim in half to prevent a risk of hypothermia on the bike leg.

With social distancing the order of the day we were away with a ten second gap before the next swimmer was allowed in. When I jumped in I immediately felt the coldness on my face. It was a shock at first just how cold it was and for the first 100metres I tried to swim with my face out of the water but it was slowing me down. My face soon became numb and then it was all in for the rest of the swim although at this point at least 3 others had managed to swim past me. I settled In after about 500mm just before the turn around buoy and could feel my hands and feet becoming more numb. I remember speeding up slightly in fear of claw hands heading in to T1

The exit out of the water here was a nice smooth ramp but its a long run back to the bike.

Once in T1 I decided I wasn’t concerned about how long it took me to change only that I wanted to be warm so I took my time putting on socks and a warm cycle jersey. 5 attempts on the zip with freezing cold hands and I was off.

The bike leg was hard work with long climbs over 1600m covering two circuits of the course. The winds were high and the descents were fast but with twitchy wheels you had to have your wits about you. Unfortunately for me I developed lower back pains 30minutes into the bike and was having to stretch out on the descents for the entire route. My fault for riding on a new bike i’d had for just a week.

Even though the back pains were hampering me and my pork pie chunks were bouncing out of my feed bag I found the funny side of it and remembered thinking I have two litres of carb drink and i’d had a scotch egg for breakfast so just had to stock up with some sweets for the run.

The bike course was a bit tatty in places with a poor road surface at the edge but its a testing route and just what I was after so I was not put off by the continuous climbs over the 56 mile course.

Heading into T2 back over the speed humps and long gravel section I decided once again that I was going to take my time getting ready and ensure I had food and a good drink having lost half my stash on the bike. I also opted for another thicker pair of socks to alleviate some of the pain from my ever so annoying left foot blister

Into the run I felt it in the legs and knew any chance of a sub 1.40 were now pretty slim. With plenty of decent brick runs this year I knew the bike had taken more out of my legs than I’d hoped for and then at 4k I thought it was game over with the most painful cramp i’ve ever had. My right calf had gone and then the top part of my leg as I tried to run it off . Several attempts at this and then I was on the floor stretching it out . I honestly thought I was finished at this point and felt a wave a disappointment even anguish at not being able to continue.

Luckily stretching had worked and I was away again. I remember having to pass the runners that had passed me while I was down and just hoped i’d keep it up for the duration but it was hard work although the run course was fairly flat with little over 200m elevation throughout the entire course.

I latched onto a couple of lads on Team Jameson who seemed to have good pace and I thought it would be a good group to run with for a while. I was 16k into the run and just as I suspected my left foot started to hurt in the same spot that hampered me in the last 5k of the corona cup. From now on every step was painful so I tried to run on the side of my foot for a while which proved to be a bad idea. With this I took a tumble on some uneven track and ended up on the floor and hey presto the cramp came back for good measure. As painful as it was I had a chuckle and thought I was nearly at the end and was still enjoying myself thoroughly. The cramp cleared quicker this time and the last 4k seemed to pass without much bother. I even managed a sprint finish for the fans and collected a well deserved medal and tech Tee for my efforts.

Points to note for next year !

  1. Get some TT miles in – get more Aero
  2. Find some good running shoes that don’t set your feet on fire after 15k
  3. Swim faster
  4. Have fast T1 and T2

With that in mind there’s at least 30 minutes to wipe off my 6hr 23 seconds



Outlaw Triathlon is a brand Tuffs have been racing at across either their half or full distance almost as long as their events have been running. 2019 saw a new location Outlaw X which was staged at Thoresby Hall up in North Nottinghamshire. With so few races being staged this year it attracted a host of top triathletes including Tim Don, Adam Bowden and our very own Matt Whittaker. Unfortunately the change in the weather affected ‘Oop north’ as it had at Hever with the Middle Distance swim of 1,900m shortened to 750m because of the cold.

After a very cold swim in which Matt reckoned he saw an iceberg, he had every opportunity to warm up with a massive journey from the lake to transition – over 0.5 miles away. This was used to good effect moving well up the order before mounting his bike. Matt stated this didn’t bring any respite as the wind was brutal. He also played down his achievement modestly neglecting to point out this took him even further up the order as his average bike splits improved around each checkpoint. Thankfully T2 proved quicker to reach and then out onto the half marathon route. A very impressive run split time of 1:44 saw Matt overtake 26 more people to finish in a fantastic 5 hours 2 minutes. Whilst always a rapid Tuff, Matt has taken big strides forward this year and fabulous to see him doing so well

Matt on his way to great bike and run splits
Woolacombe beach; the route out to and around Baggy Point on the headland.


Next up a report from Trevor Harvey

“For the third consecutive year, a Harvey reunion was scheduled to coincide with the North Devon Half & Full marathon.

Clive, Stu & Trev

Not surprisingly, the original June date had been deferred, eventually taking place at the end of September.  Luckily, it was a group of six that travelled, with four Harvey’s running – three Tuffs; Clive, Stu, myself & our big brov.   The event is the main fund raiser for the North Devon Hospice, and so to ensure it went ahead strict rules were in place – and they were great.  Everything was sent in advance with a set start time with runners told to arrive shortly before that; as runners entered the field, wearing masks, a gentle stroll past the toilets, (& therefore no queues), and on to the start line for a rolling distanced start – all very civilised.

We all went for the half m – that’s tuff enough with almost 2,000 ft of ascent – with the route taking in sand dunes; compact beach sand, (with streams running through), rocks, paths, steps, more steps and many stiles, albeit with stunning coastal and country views.

Great weather saw Clive as FHH (first Harvey Home), who improved his time over last year and managed to just beat Stu.  I came in next, sadly slower than last year, but given hamstring issues earlier in the year, quite happy……..it is of course all about the time you have not the time you get, and a great visit to North Devon was had by all.   (Incidentally, a popular place, 5 other Tuffs were separately doing their own thing down Devon way the same weekend).



Following our first swims back on a Thursday, a key club aim has been to return to Saturday’s where we can have more lanes. Saturday’s had proved difficult as the centre has been operating reduced hours but from Saturday 10th October an extra hour’s opening has been arranged. This is earlier than we have previously swum – 4pm for one hour. Whilst this earlier time may prove difficult for some, we hope that being able to get back in the water with more lanes will appeal. We need to be careful not to exceed The Wave’s & British Triathlon’s number constraint so once again we will be taking bookings on our Tuff Fitty Swimming Facebook page. If you don’t have access, please request approval, or for non-facebook users, contact Clive Harvey to secure. As with all our bookings, if you find you cannot attend, please ensure you advise in plenty of time, and if you have any illness, save your swim for another time. Just to re-iterate Saturday swims from 10th October 4pm until 5pm


Tuff Fitty is a club run by its members, for its members and therefore it is important that how the club is performing, operationally and financially, is open to all its members. The end of October is traditionally our Annual General Meeting, and in the absence of any large scale meetings or social events, such a meeting is more important than ever. The provisional date is the 24th October at 6:30pm. With the pandemic the meeting will be a virtual one held via Zoom. Further details will be published nearer the time, with dial in details, but for now we ask that you note the date and if you have any items for the agenda, please advise one of the committee. We have a strong committee who are willing to stand for a further term so you can link in without remaining on mute 🙂 for fear of being press-ganged into service


The Tuff Fitty website has just been migrated to ensure we can offer a more secure website to view. It is pleasing to report we now have a secure certification enabling us to operate from a https: URL rather than the previous http: address. It is likely that any links to the website you hold from PC’s or mobile devices may adapt on it’s own, but if not please change to https://www.tuff-fitty.co.uk

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