The sky in the above banner photo sums up the weather perfectly – warm sunny weather for a short period, often dark, cloudy with drizzle, and at other times torrential downpours leaving everyone soaked with bikes arriving back in transition covered in grime. The back to race rules meant there was a significantly reduced field but the upside was the Lido was completely covered in bike racking providing plenty of socially distanced space for all competitors. (thanks to Sussex Sport Photography for the pics.)
It was a very early start for the standard racers, and out of a total field of 132 finishers 17 of these were Tuffs. To be Covid compliant the swim was drastically reduced to 250m, but if competitors thought they were in for an ‘easy ride’ the cycle saw competitors climb up to Whiteways Lodge, descending to Slindon and back along the A27 – before tackling the route for a second time to complete 35km. Then it was on with the running shoes for the undulating 9k to South Stoke and back.
Despite the weather there was plenty to smile about in the Tuff results. It is rewarding when our club can play a small part in helping anyone achieve their goal, and we have a cracking report from Vicky Cooper on her first tri, and what a tough one to chose – congratulations Vicky from us all:-
“The swim was over in a flash as it was only 250mtrs, something I was quite pleased about. I walked casually to my bike (despite the marshals telling me it was a race), threw on my shoes and waterproof and was on my way”.
“Around two thirds of my way up the A284 on my first lap the rain and hail hit. I kept cycling through squinting eyes thinking “this is madness” and “what am I going to do on the down hill section coming up”. I then reminded myself that today was about completion and that I just had to make it round safely. On the second loop the rain had subsided and I began to feel a bit more confident about going quicker”.
“I was relieved to return back to the lido on my bike in one piece. I was soaked through and had made a terrible error in thinking I could cycle and run in my running shoes. This would have been fine normally if it wasn’t for the heavy rain which had turned my feet into bricks of ice.
With no change of shoes I left transition hobbling with feet that seemed to not belong to me only grabbing my sunglasses as the sun had come out and I thought I might need them. Two miles in and my feet felt normal. It was then I discovered the sunglasses were not required as we were caught in yet another downpour. I pressed on regardless”.
“Grinning to myself as I returned down my nemesis hill on the grassy side I suddenly realised I was doing it, I was completing my first Triathlon. I’d been stressing about it for weeks and now I was on the downhill to the finish. Elated, relieved and slightly emotional I stormed back down to the Lido smiling at everyone I passed”
“Smiling through the finish at my achievement and also at comment from the marshal who informed me I didn’t need my sunglasses after all…….I had noticed it was raining again”.
“Arundel couldn’t let me leave that day without another soaking as I packed up my sopping wet kit and I tried to keep dry under a tree. As many have said, who knew the swim would be the driest part of the race!”
First Tuff home was Tom Goddard who would clock up the quickest Tuff swim split, by some margin and the quickest Tuff bike leg. Mark Walford was our next clubmate home depriving Tom of the hattrick of splits by recording a very impressive 39:32 run split. Dave March was next along with Jon Babbage and Nick Bolding (3rd in age group). Next home were Dana Robertson, Phil Scales & Les Pearce (4th in age group). Clare Worgan was our first Tuff lady in a list of female Tuff finishers that comprised almost 20% of the ladies field – very impressive. Sharon Tidmarsh traded places with Jo Meaney as they were separated by just 9 seconds at the finish – just one second between them on the swim, with Sharon taking the honours on the bike and Jo quicker on the run. Adrian Oliver must have enjoyed it as he returned later that evening for the club swim!. Then came Ed Lay, Janet Shepherd, (2nd in her age group), Vicky Cooper, Leah Simms and Jenny Oliver.
A big thanks to Jenny Oliver for her thoughts on the Standard distance:-
“In preparation for the Cotswold 70.3 we had signed up to other events as a training opportunity. At that time I was unaware that I would be undergoing a total thyroidectomy 3 weeks prior to the Arundel Lido standard”.
“Thankfully I recovered from surgery well, however the tumor had invaded a nerve which had to be partially removed leaving a paralysed right vocal cord. Not only does that affect my voice, but also more substantially my breathing, such that the harder I breathe (e.g. on exertion), the harder it is to breathe. Even so, I felt I had nothing to lose by “TRI”ing although I anticipated that it would be neither fast nor pretty.”
“The shorter swim was a bonus and I set off as one of the first, going slowly and breathing carefully. I was overtaken a couple of times”.
“A slow and steady T1 and then off on the bike. Hill climbs can leave me gasping and so I was a little nervous about the double Whiteways climb. Adrian had started the swim much later but we were both surprised that I was already on the 2nd Whiteways climb when he caught me up on his first. There was a fair amount of rain and when trying to ride around a large puddle, I was drenched by a flying wave from a car driving through water on the other side. I was happy to complete the ride reasonably uneventfully”.
“It was nice to have a brief exchange with the legendary Jon Babbage in T2 where I took the time to put on a dry pair of socks in preparation for the run. It was a fantastic boost to see Tuff marshals and supporters along the way including the PL’s in the car park. At that point I excused myself for a “wee stop” (CPL’s words), a brief opportunity to sit down!”
“Then off on the run. In my most recent attempt I had been virtually unable to sustain a run without getting into breathing difficulties, so I was anticipating having to walk most of the way. Setting off at a slow jog I was happy to find that I was able to sustain a gentle run on the flat, slowing to walk up the hills. Adrian passed me when I was on the return from Stoke and then caught me up when I reached the final turn point up the hill from the gates. Adrian said he would stay with me from there so the last stretch went quickly. As we entered the Lido I said “Shall we hold hands to the finish?”. He was thinking the same so we ran to the finish together. I feel a bit emotional even writing this because it was such a huge sense of satisfaction and joy to have been able to complete the course. I know that my performance is greatly reduced from before and I won’t deny the disappointment of that, especially since I don’t know what level of recovery will be possible. But just knowing that I can still get out there together with Adrian and our dear fellow Tuffs gives me the strength to keep going and to face whatever further challenges may come.”
There was also an Aquabike standard distance race. Whilst the field was fairly small, Steve Woodbridge wasn’t there to make up the numbers as the second fastest swim split and fastest bike split saw him romp home in first position by quite a margin; almost 3 and a half minutes ahead of second place – congratulations Steve.
Andy Crawford has been trying to shake off a running injury so he elected to complete the Sprint distance Aquabike, notching up very strong swim/bike splits in the process.
95 competitors completed the sprint, over the 250m swim, 19k (one lap) bike and 5.4k run course including 6 Tuffs. First Tuff, 7th overall and 3rd vet was Mike Barrett who recorded the three fastest Tuff split times. It was excellent to see such a strong performance from Dom Amey despite having only just returned from a recent injury. Next home was Catharine Western who flew through transition on her way to being 6th female overall. Great credit to Shelley Babbage who has done such a great job promoting club kit which was prominent throughout the morning. Claire Moyle was 3rd in her age group and what was so fantastic to see was Joe Pascoe.
It is hoped Joe won’t mind being singled out, but it was so evident that the illness Joe has been afflicted with picked the wrong person to mess with. The weather alone would have, and did, deter many from starting, but Joe presented himself at the start with his usual positive attitude and it was clear his great stance & style was still intact as he completed the swim smoothly. Even Arundel hill could not deter one of Tuff Fitty’s true champions, although by now the wet and cold meant that Joe sensibly decided to undertake a shorter ‘victory lap’ on the run. It was so humbling and inspirational to watch. The whole of Tuff Fitty are so proud of ‘our Joe‘ with his positive can-do attitude.
Congratulations to all 25 Tuffs racing. Once again the Raw Energy event manager was Debbie Boxall who encouraged fellow club members to help officiate around the course. Well done to Becky, Clive H, Dan F, Glenn, Phil, Jane, Jon R, Matt W, Sheila, Tiff, & Trevor, for completing team duties in the wet. That was 37 club members on site and with at least three more around the course giving support, it proved once again to be a great morning of ‘Tuffness’ – well done to all.