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Tribourne – Eastbourne Triathlon

Whilst the same day as the major AJ Bell World Triathlon in Leeds, there was a very strong field as Eastbourne was the host to two GB Age-Group qualification events; the 2022 World Triathlon World Sprint Distance Championships and the 2022 Europe Triathlon European Standard Distance Championships. The course is stated to be one of the most scenic and challenging triathlons in the country, swimming against the backdrop of Eastbourne’s pier, cycling a challenging and scenic bike route over Beachy Head on 90% closed roads and finishing with a seafront run along Eastbourne’s promenade. Whilst there were Relay, Aquathlons & Swims in the morning’s events, the premier events were Standard and Sprint with just under 800 finishers across the two.

Tough course & qualification races so it was not surprising that several Tuffs participated, and you will see from the race reports that despite the undulations the event received high praise from competitors (apart from hydration issues).

Dave, Niki, Maisie & Tom


In the standard distance our first Tuff home was Tom Goddard in just 2:21:12. Tom was followed by Dave March, Lee Bishop & Andy Crawford & we are pleased to have two reporters out on the course, First we have Tom’s thoughts and then the chronological order from Marchy as follows:-

“Race morning arrived after one to many grande Peronis the night before. The sun was out but mist hung ominously over Beachy Head. With no water on the course and temperatures rising rapidly everyone was panic drinking whilst setting up transition. This led to some early wetting of wetsuits in the holding pen prior to the swim. A rolling start to the swim was very civilised though didn’t diminish the shock of the cold water. Marchy and I exited the swim together exchanging friendly banter on the 300m run to T1. Marchy beat me out of T1 and I broke a cleat on my bike shoe on the run out but that didn’t stop me promptly overtaking him as he faffed around trying to get his feet in to his shoes after his ‘flying start’.

Climbing from the start there is no time to find your bike legs before the hairpins up Beachy Head begin. Cresting the top, we were greeted with stunning views of the South Downs and a rollercoaster of a ride down to a dead turn at Birling Gap. Being two laps of an out and back course meant plenty of opportunity to encourage/ heckle fellow Tuffs Andy and Lee who were both biking well. With not a meter of flat or straight road the course was brilliant fun, a particular highlight being the carving decent of the hairpins back to T2.

I approached T2 with my feet on top of my shoes ready for a quick dismount, but I’d forgotten my left should wasn’t clipped in. This led to a hurried shoe retrieval and a broken number belt. Out of transition and tying a double knot in my number belt it was time for the run. Fortunately, I was through T2 before Lee who spent an unusually long time sat down putting his shoes on and left the grass a little less parched.

The run was a bit of a game of chicken, seeing how fast you could go in the heat with no water, but was  a beautiful, well supported route with steep kick up on each lap to test what you had left in the legs  after the hilly bike. Being out and back it was another great opportunity to see the rest of the Tuff contingent. By the second lap I could see Marchy eyeing up the ice-creams and drinks being clutched by spectators.

A sprint up the blue carpet to a raucous finish and one of the best courses I’ve raced on was complete. Despite a few hiccups I thoroughly enjoyed the race, finishing 7th in my Age Group, with 108% of the winning time, meaning I have a good chance of qualification for the Euros. Not that the course is likely to be as good as this one!


Saturday – Spend ALL day slowly organising kit, fretting over things, cutting an extra inch off wetsuit legs, re-lacing trainers, prepping breakfast etc etc.

10pm – bedtime

11pm – still up because not ready

11:30pm actual bedtime

11:31pm get back out of bed to check I’ve put race belt in my bag……yes, i have.

11:32pm Final bedtime


5am – alarm goes off – jump straight out of bed because it’s race day, therefore mega-exciting

Breakfast = Black Coffee and a banana on top of 2 waffles. The black coffee went in a mug, not on the waffles.

5:30am – Car pre-loaded the night before so set-off promptly.

6:20am – arrive in Eastbourne via Beachy head which was shrouded in fog, I wondered if there might be issues with the swim but Eastbourne itself was clear & sparkling in the sunshine.

6:30am – zip through registration and into transition, rack bike & layout kit whilst chatting to Lee Bishop.

7:00am – all set, 2 hours to go until Standard race start so way too early to get wetsuit on. Started familiarising myself with the bike & run entrance/exits and looking for landmarks near my transition spot.

8:00am – Watch Sprint Race start (delayed due to the mist over the bike course) then head back to transition to make final preparations. Apply Huub Luub and baby oil and slide into wetsuit. Talc socks, balance helmet on bike, check elastic bands on shoes.

8:30am – Myself, Lee, Andy & Tom, all in Tuff kit, wetsuits half on, head to the starting pen. Warm Up consists of some half arsed arm swings. Race briefing on the beach, take masks off and throw them in the bin provided. 

8:57am – “3 minutes to go!” we’re on a countdown, athletes whoop & cheer.

8:59am – “30 seconds” everyone’s shuffling forward – can’t wait to start, I think there was a siren

9:00am – “GOGOGOGOGO!”

It’s a running start over the timing mat on the beach, dancing over the stones and diving in to the sea. First thing to note here is that no-one looks good dancing over the stones. And also that the sea in Eastbourne is noticeably colder than the sea in Worthing. I had a remarkably good swim which I’m putting down to lots of Lido sessions and recent practice in the sea.

9:22am – Run from Swim exit to T1 – some very hurty tarmac to run on here, try to stay on the grass where possible. Take this moment to unknowingly drop my favourite goggles on the floor and lose them forever. (have sent organisers an email, they’re going to look for them in lost property)

9:23am – Bike out. PEDALPEDALPEDAL

10:01am – Halfway point. 180degree turn. Big crowd here, all clapping. I apply the brakes too late and the back end of the bike slides out as I go into the corner. Crowd gasps. I hold it together and power off, out the saddle, onto lap 2. Crowd goes wild.

10:02am – I sit back down, composing myself,  “that was a close call”

The rest of the bike was pretty uneventful but hugely enjoyable. Fantastic course, savage hill, lovely roads and some real superbikes on show. Secretly pleased that I didn’t get overtaken by as many as I thought I would.

10:40am-ish – approaching T2, take my feet out of my shoes way too early, still got that 180 corner to do again, some confusion over where the descent line is so make sure I’m off before all of them. Run into T2 with what I believe are my own legs but I couldn’t be certain of that.


10:45am – I’m hot. This is hot.

10:47am – Should have drank some water in T2, my mouth is sticky from that gel on the bike

10:48am – eurgh, this gravel hill is never ending.

10:50am – Turn point, just up that last steep bit. Then back down the gravel hill and out onto the prom.

10:55am – I’m actually on fire.

11:00am – Looking for taps

11:04am – Lap 2 – back up the gravel hill

11:15am – Emergency water anywhere? 

11:16am – Toilets YESSS – gahhh, fenced off.

11:20am – That family has got drinks, maybe they want to share.

11:21am – That dog has got a drink – maybe he wants to share.

11:25am – Gonna do a Jonny Brownlee in a minute 

11:31am – Tom shouts encouragement at me. Blue Carpet, sprint finish.

11:32am – Cross the finish line and immediately empty several bottles of water in me/over me.

That was Awesome. Join Tom on the final corner to chat about the course and cheer in fellow Tuffs. 

2:32 and bits for me, 10th in 40-44 and a bit outside what I was hoping for. But on the positive side I was really pleased with my swim & bike, and I know what my next training focus should be. 

Bring on the next race!




In the Sprint race, there was further fantastic split times and more qualifications. Mark Walford was first Tuff home in a time of 1:13:20. Next Niki Treacy (pictured above). Maisie Johnston followed and it was fantastic to see Catharine Western continuing her strong run of form finishing 4th in her age group. We have two race reports on the Sprint – first up Niki & then Mark

Maisie and myself kept our participation under the radar as neither of us were expecting great things following both of us having health issues, but I’m delighted to report our results were pretty good 🙂 Maisie finished 4th in her age group, & I won my age group. I was 12th women overall – quite stunned by that.  We both qualified for the 2022 sprint world champs – Yippeee !!!! It really was a fabulous event. Lovely route and well organised. Weather couldn’t have been better which was a huge bonus. The bike route is stunning, it runs along Beachy Head to Burling Gap and back. It was 99% closed roads- if this is the norm it may be worth thinking about as a future club champ event ?”


No doubt the first of many Triathlon awards for Mark

Next we have an inspirational report from Mark Walford on what turned out to be a fabulous result.

“I entered Eastbourne sprint triathlon as the Aquathlon I wanted to do there wasn’t available when I went to book. Because I now had to do cycling I had to do much more cycle training, especially hills. Work over the last 3 months on the bike was finished off by a session with CPL for his coaching qualification, teaching us how to get on the bike. On the day I was there early and my only triathlon experience in recent years was Arundel Tri which was wet and cold, Eastbourne wasn’t; it was warm already at 6am. Setting up transition not really knowing what I was doing I just copied what others where doing. Wetsuit on going to start line we was delayed due to fog on Beachy Head. Because of this I had a dip in the sea before to cool down rather than warm up. Once the race started it was a rolling start, I held back because if I’m honest I didn’t know where I was going, the route round wasn’t clear to me so when I got in I just chased down people to keep me moving forward. Long transition of 300m run went well, cherry on top was overtaking someone as I got on my bike due to CPL session. The bike was instantly uphill and it didn’t seem to stop for a very long time, up Beachy Head was a long slog, but downhill was very fun, quick turn around and slog back up hill. After the pain had finished I learned a valuable lesson going into transition someone in velcroed their cycle shoes and I though it was a good idea coz I could then coast to dismount line, what I didn’t know is we had to go past dismount line do a tight turn and back to the line, which was rather tricky with very loose shoes. Run I felt ok on but it wasn’t flat, up gravel incline to start with then a short sharp hill in the middle. Best part was getting to the final corner before finish line. My kids shouting encouragement pushed me up the final stretch which again was uphill. Very pleased to finish I looked at my watch and was amazed I was 5 mins quicker than I thought was possible. Much better than that when results came in, I was 1 min quicker than my watch, then unbelievably I was 3rd in age group which was beyond what I thought was possible, but being a world age group GB qualifier I believe my position and time will be enough to qualify for my age group. I won’t believe it till I get the email to confirm. Very pleased with the weekend but the hard work starts now to move forward to the world’s if and when they happen.


What super results from the whole Tuff contingent – congratulations to you all.