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Triathlon England Middle Distance Championships – IronBourne

Tribourne have built an excellent reputation with Tuffs having raced their portfolio of events, so the Eastbourne 70.3 event proved a good choice for Tuff’s club championship event. The field was of a high standard doubling as the English Middle Distance championships.

Tuff Fitty had ten participants all producing excellent results, particularly with the heat building throughout the morning. Notable performances also came from Jon Roper and Tiff Orton who had come down for the weekend to cheer. Riding across Beachy Head on both days amassing over 75 bike miles popping up around the course with Jon’s actions photos in the album at the end of the article.

Swimmers heading back under the pier before swimming around it and heading for transition at the Wheel in the background

Eastbourne Pier could have been in the Mediterranean as it was sunny, warm, with an exceptionally flat sea. The event has a unique dramatic opening with a jump off the end of the pier. Last year the drop was circa 8 foot but with a different tide the Tuff collective estimated a jump of 14 foot!. Motivational music came from the end of the pier…………… including Van Halen’s ‘ go ahead Jump’ and with a queue of people behind, when the starter said go…. well you just had to jump! Swimmers had to self seed so many went straight into the queue to not get held up by slower swimmers whilst some loitered. Captain Analytical (Adrian) had been researching the current/tides/wind etc and decided to wait towards the end to get maximum tide assist.

Once onto the bike the route was well marshalled & signed, cycling past Polegate & Hailsham to Halland before meandering down to cross the A27 by Drusilla’s Park. Cuckmere Haven signified the start of the climbing over Exceat Hill, Birling Gap and Beachy Head before the descent back to transition.

The run was described as an out and back route but the tough part was the inclusion of the hilly loop around Whitbread Hollow – picture in the album.

There was an exceptional performance from James Mapley finishing as first Tuff home. James returned the quickest splits across every segment from our squad. The only Tuff to have raced here before, he was out the water a couple of minutes quicker, and despite the hot weather punched out improved times. Jamess run split was almost 2.5 minutes quicker than last year, incredible when he realised the changed run route took him off road out to Whitbread Hollow; a tougher course. Finishing in 18th place overall matching 18th last year, but against a very high standard as a BTF championship, to improve his time by over two minutes in those conditions was superb. As Tuffs were congregating later at the finish the announcer gave a summary of the age group results and a huge cheer went up from the Tuff collective as James was mentioned on the podium. However the formal England Triathlon results return James as fourth, but the race results do not show the third place finisher as a BTF member (which is a requirement). Ratification of the position has been sought but this doesn’t detract from an immense performance. The only downside to such a tremendous performance was that James was already speeding down the zig zag back into Eastbourne as the Tuff photographic crew (Jon & Tiff) were cycling up so unfortunately there are no pictures of our ‘Top Tuff’

Clive Harvey & Janet Shepherd

The Triathlon England Middle Distance Championships became clearer as two medals and trophies were confirmed on the day. Our sole female racer that morning Janet Shepherd who won gold in her age group (tradition dictates you don’t show a ladies 5 year age group). Another medal followed as Clive Harvey won bronze in his ‘old git’ five year age group.

Well done to all the Tuff Ten on a ‘Tuff day in the office’. James Mapley, (4 hours 50) Pete Littleboy, (5:24)& James Togneri (5:40) as our first three home. Next two notable results as Adrian Oliver was next and then Phil Scales – both completing their first full middle distance – congratulations. Mark Dinsdale did well in his competitive age group then Ed Lay, Clive Harvey, Trevor Harvey & Janet Shepherd

Following are a variety of reports from the Tuff collective in the order they were received:-

Adrian (Cheerleader Tiff in the background

“GERONIMO!  SPLASH!  Goggles slipped up – quick swim out of the way before someone else lands on me!  Roll on my back to quickly reposition the goggles (good thing the swim hat was over the goggle strap!), reset bearings and start swimming to Greece…no wait!  This may feel like the Mediterranean (warm, flat), but that’s Eastbourne Pier I’ve just jumped off!  Settle into a steady stroke, focusing on smooth technique – no point trying to sprint the next 1.9km as this is going to be a long 70.3 triathlon.  Left at 1st & 2nd buoy, watch vibrates telling me 500m done, under the pier, left again at 3rd and 4th buoy – another 500m done… Now straight – next 500m spent focusing on “warming” my wetsuit – ah – and relax…left at 5th buoy, head to exit.

Transition time!  1/2km run uphill – bother…forgot to let some water into wetsuit to help get it off round the feet.  Bike found…hum…wetsuit came off surprisingly easily…oh!!  Shoes on (will need to wash that drying towel!), helmet, bike, RUN!…out of T1 and off on to what turned out to be a beautiful 90km cycle ride around the East Sussex countryside, including a white chalk horse.  Final hill up Beachy Head, cheered on by Tiff and Jon before the final plunge back down into Eastbourne to T2. 

Despite the heat, must have well hydrated…not going to survive 2 hours to jiggling…quick break…and off out of T2 and feeling really good.  Turn right along the prom…slight incline, seems fine – these next 21km might not actually be too bad.  WHAT?!  Mount Everest assent?!  Was NOT on the route plan!  Still 20km to go and…WHERE HAVE MY LEGS GONE?!  Going to be a long day!  Walk ALL hills including any slight inclines.  Finally after 5km, legs return and begin to settle into steady pace with a Horsham Amphibians runner (Ian) until the end, keeping each other motivated throughout the 2 hours of gruelling sun, cheering crowds, thousands of marshals, plus motivational coaches Tiff and Jon (THANK YOU!).  Having taken full advantage of all 100 well stocked aid stations, the finish line! 

FINALLY I have completed my first complete 70.3 triathlon in 5:50:51 (S:29:35|T1:06:48|C:03:04:43|T2:04:43|R:02:05:00).  All those swim coach sessions (plus Captains Sea Swims), Hobbsie’s Zwift sessions and long slow rides had well prepared me for the swim and bike.  But I needed to do way more long hard hilly runs, especially off completely jelly legs.  Next time?!



“Well my 15th Middle Distance Tri……and sadly the slowest by some margin, but then again it was a tad warm, undulating, and I probably shouldn’t have even done it whilst awaiting a hernia operation!

“However, a great event with a fab bunch of Tuffs with James storming for first Tuff home. Superb weather for the 14- ish foot jump off the end of Eastbourne pier at 6.00 am, but with each person jumping separately it made for a nicely spread swim through a flat sea without the usual bun fight . Off on the bike with remarkably quiet roads before hitting Exceat Hill at 50 miles over Beachy Head before down and up again over Birling Gap to total 2,569 ft of ascent. The run also included a new cheeky addition off road and up hill on the lower slopes of Beachy Head before up and down the prom – by which time it was rather warm!!.

Some great results from Tuffs, but as a proud brov, (and I’m sure Editor is too modest to mention), Clive was third in our age group, gaining a trophy and bronze Triathlon England Medal. Having returned home we both had also received an email from Human Race with race vouchers for Clive’s 2nd and my 3rd age group place at Windsor Tri – so a weekend of booty!!

A very well organised event, well signed & marshalled, with numerous potholes clearly marked on the road….AND superb support for the Tuff collective & from Jon & Tiff. (Editors note – Trev was 4th in age group)



“I had missed the shut off date set by the organisers for Eastbourne Triathlon after debating too long over doing another so soon after Wales. Fortunately for me a place became available days before the event after Mark Sole unfortunately got Covid and offered up his place which I gladly took. 

I emailed the race director with only three days left to race day and was pleasantly surprised when he replied to tell me he could change the place into my name without a problem. That’s a big thumbs up from me. 

When registering on the Saturday I bumped into Clive , Trevor and our very own Tiff and Jon who were kindly there to support us on race day. 

The sea swim was an absolute dream with such calm waters on such a beautiful sunny morning. Thank fully Philip Scales lent me his leaky goggles as I’d left mine in my hotel room to create a last minute drama. 

Spotting was easy in the calm sea and the swim was over in no time at all. Heading into T1 people were walking so i picked up the pace into T1 to lather up on sun cream and prep properly for the very hot weather.

Left my pump behind again second time in two races but luckily no dramas on the bike – got my nutrition spot on again and had a great time mixing it up with Pete Littleboy and a few fellow racers from other clubs as we constantly exchanged position through the entire ride. 

Unfortunately lower back pain set in for me again 20k in which prevented me from riding harder but it was a great course and I enjoyed the company. 

Heading down the final stretch before T2 I passed Adrian Oliver and thought how good his race must’ve been to be so far ahead of me on the bike. 

Into T2 and I had a marshal glaring at me so remembered to make sure everything was back in my box and I wasn’t touching the bike without a helmet on (if that’s still a thing). (Editor – Yes it is Simon 🙂 )

It felt good being able to stretch out the back and I felt stronger heading out onto the run course. The first lap was hard heading up into the hills over gravel surface and I wondered if Id made the correct shoe choice for a moment. 

Jon and Tiff were in fine form and made a massive difference to us on the run giving us big cheers every time we passed them. 

To my pleasant surprise and I’m sure Pete’s too I had visibly started to catch him a little but my hopes were dampened after I got cramp in my left foot which felt like I was running on hot spikes. The last 16k was painful and even though I had plenty of push left in me I couldn’t bear more suffering than I had so I had to stop the chase and pace it back. 

Another PB for me on a tough, but stunning course so some positives to take next year. 

Loved seeing all the Tuffs and the banter was as to be expected”. 



“I write this still recovering from sunburn as this all started with a visit to rack the bikes on the Saturday ready for a 3am alarm on the Sunday to arrive back in time and this was only made possible by Captain Fantastic Ady Oliver and so we arrived all in good time as we meet and greet and have great bants with fellow tuffs.”

“We then prepare to jump off the pier, yep jump off the pier for the sea swim. Conditions where near perfect and onto the bike and apart from the traffic it was a  lovely scenic route and well sign posted and marshalled. The miles went by quickly as most of it was spent with not only my friend but fellow Tuff Simon T.

“However the last few miles over beachy head is tough and I knew I was 3rd tuff going into the run where I knew I would struggle against Simon & Phill, so I concentrated on catching James T as James M would eventually go sub5hrs and was long gone. So it proved more difficult as having the last part of bike going up so the 1st part of the run also went up with no shade making it much more difficult to fend off the ever approaching Simon. I knew this because the course is  up and down the sea front and up the finishing shoot only to go round again so I dug deep and spurred on by Jon & Tiff on spectator duties, I manged to hold Simon off by 4minutes and we both loved it as triathlon is an individual sport but  it’s a team game!

Peter “ace” Littleboy

Jon’s photo album, plus a few more garnered from other Tuff is below. Such a well organised event from Tribourne who have 255 Goodwood looming and then Brighton & Hove Tri for sprint, super sprint and standard on the 18th Sept

Transition Ironbourne