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Weekend Round Up 29th 30th June

The race action from Tuffs continues unbated and we have a further bumper Round Up edition to share:-

We are proud to report on a success achieved by Sarah Jouault. Most will be aware of Ironman UK, but unfortunately that full Ironman at Bolton was discontinued last year. Sarah finished as second in her age group at the new Ironman 70.3 Bolton and we are delighted to report that she has qualified for a VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Qualification Slot. We hope to bring a report from Sarah soon to celebrate her success.

Simon – first Tuff home.

The fourth and final event in the successful debut of Run The seasons at Cowdray. With a choice of 10k or 5k plus Cani races this one took place on Friday evening.

The largest event was the 10k comprising 64% of the evening’s runners. Our first Tuff home was Simon Thistlethwaite in 7th position overall and 1st in his age group. Dave March was our next runner, another one finishing high up the finishing order. A bonus for Marchy was picking up a spot prize at the presentation. Adrian Oliver, conscious of his second run looming the same weekend crossed the line together with Colin Simpson who came 1st in his age category. Leah Simms was close behind and then Nina Tully who has raced each of the four seasons races. another regular runner Janet Shepherd was next with Kate Evans completing our Tuff eight runners.

In the 5k race we had one competitor with Sue Simpson flying the Tuff flag.

In the 5k Cani race Hazel Tuppen was in great form as she and Blue raced around the course finishing in 3rd position overall. Sue Pinky & Kylo were also running.

As usual we had some Tuffs on the Raw Energy race team comprising – Debbie Boxall, Andy Rossiter, Andy Ward, Grant Smalley & Sheila Bailey

Thanks to Adrian for reporting in:-

What an event!!  Beautiful summer’s evening in the middle of the amazing Cowdray estate’s hill overlooking the huge polo field, with Beer Tent and Australian BBQ.

The only challenge – having signed up for the series at the end of 2023, I won (or “lost”) a Tuff Awards Celebration raffle prize of a free entry into the Fortitude Denbies ultra…so Cowdray 10km Friday night, Denbies 50km ultra Sunday…

Of the many enjoyable parts of these REP events, my favourite is exploring different trail routes, and this did not disappoint.

But my favourite part was chilling out over a beer (alcohol-free!  I’m not THAT crazy before an ultra!) and a delicious (and reasonably priced) pulled lamb burger among fellow Tuffs.  Even if you don’t fancy the other 3 races in this series (all will have options for 5km now), the 4th summer event is one not to be missed!


Niki, leading out

The Cardiff Triathlon comprised several Tri and Duathlon distances. The Sprint was significant as a world Championship age group qualifier. It is pleasing to report we had two entrants. Stephen O’Donnell (who was racing here for the second consecutive year) and Niki Treacy and there is nothing better than to share their thoughts. NIki reported in first and then Stephen’s.

Great to see Niki getting her mojo back racing well

Just back from my second trip to Welsh Wales ‘boyo’ in as many months. This time to Cardiff for the World Champ Sprint tri qualifier. Three words sum up the event; wow, wow and wow!!! This event was kicking!! It had a BIG EVENT vibe; the blue carpet, the huge scaffold constructed finish arch, the huge transition, vibrant event village, marshals galore, and the location -bang slap in front of the Millenium Center, heeps of nice restaurants and cafes close by. There were lots of different events on, not just mine I hasten to add. 

The swim gets a humongous tick. It was in Cardiff bay, a huge freshwater bay, on the coast. No pollution, currents or sea conditions to worry about. The bike was closed roads, draft legal, and 4 laps that actually came past transition 8 times. This made it really spectator friendly (great for my better half and chief supporter Steve). The run was out and back around the edge of the Bay. Both routes were pretty much flat and super fast. Weather conditions were perfect; 18 degrees, not sunny, not windy, no rain. Every duck possible was obediently lined up. What’s not to like? 

I didn’t like any of it, I loved it! The bike especially. I got in a nice group of 3, which swelled to about 7, and we all worked well together shouting encouragement as we each did our bit on the front. There was one small downhill bit which was super fast and we were railing it round the corners. Loved that bit! The run was, what the run always is, Hard! I knew, thanks to Steve, I was 1st in my category on to the run course, but had 2nd close on my heels. So I was running hard to the far turn. Thankfully I could see I had opened up quite a gap on her and I could ease back just a little for the return leg. I was hanging on to a top10 overall for some of the run, but getting older can be quite annoying, as a few young whippets overtook me. It is what it is. I’m really delighted to have won my age group and qualified fastest in the age group I move up to next year (don’t ask!), and I’m philosophically happy with 14th female too. Can’t wait for another Always Aim High event in Cardiff to put in my calendar!

Stephen’s medal an view of Cardiff Bay

‘Weather on the day was a bit overcast and drizzly which resulted in slippy surfaces for the early tri events. They has half iron-man standard, sprint and super sprint and the Age Group event was last Not kicking off till 1120. So early bike guys were cycling right by my hotel as I was having breakfast which was a first. Normally I’m up at the crack of dawn.

Racking was by 1030 with safety brief at Swim start at 1055. Swim start was 500 m walk away from transition. Swim was a simple loop from a pontoon back to another pontoon and 200m or so back into a huge transition area. Weather had dried up by the start and no wind so Swim conditions were ideal. Due to my lack of training found my old wetsuit must have shrunk lol which didn’t help my breathing during Swim and had to breaststroke after 300m to catch my breath. Not a great Swim leg unfortunately.

Transition was quick for me and out onto the bike. It was a draft legal race which was not something I’d done a lot. Lots of big Orleton out on the course which was 4 x 5km laps around Cardiff Centre. With a turn around a cone at each end of the lap which slowed stuff down. I was on my own for a bit when one AG went by me and he said tag on to him. That helped a lot and we took turns at the front. We were then joined by 2 or 3 other guys we picked up and the 5 of us stuck together for the rest of the bike. Reasonable time for me of about 35 mins and an average power output of 214 w. Again for me that was good.

I knew the tough part was coming up as haven’t run properly in almost 18 months and 12kg overweight the run was tough. Despite that was managing about 4.30 pace but I should have been 3 mins quicker. The run was a flat out and back along the pier that seemed to go on forever. Overtook a few runners but got caught by one or 2 AGs at the end of the run which pushed me into a very average 10th overall in my AG. On the plus side if I get my run back to normal that would have shaved 3 mins off my time and put me into 3rd. Sorting out my wetsuit should shave another 1-2 mins too. Despite my lack of conditioning still managed it about 3 mins quicker than last year in 1hr 16 and change. Huge effort and very sore afterwards and the next day. Conclusion don’t get old and fat it sucks lol 🙂

Tuff Fitty are equally proud of all of our members, but it is so inspiring when some identify, and complete a new challenge. The following – tackling their first half Iron distance (1.2 mile swim; 56 miles on the bike and 13.1 mile run = 70.3) certainly ticks the boxes. Vicki Hedger and Simon Grundy were the ones setting themselves this challenge. We have a report from Vicki which is a riveting read but it needs to be pointed out that this is not just any 70.3 – there was 5,915ft of total elevation – congratulations to them both.

‘So, last year, when my brother Simon said ‘I want to do a challenge for my 50th birthday’ little did I know that he meant me as well! Fast forward to this year and we were on our way to the Kielder Forest in Northumberland to take part in The Northumbrian (70.3 distance)’.

‘We used to spend holidays in  Northumberland so it was a trip down memory lane. To start the weekend off we decided to do the Tyne Green Parkrun to loosen our legs. Simon had Covid the week before the event so he was keen to see how his legs would work. One thing I’d say about the people up north is that they are super friendly! We thoroughly enjoyed our scenic 5k run followed by coffee with the locals’.

‘In the afternoon we registered for The Northumbrian and got our first taste of the course (plus a practice swim). Kielder is the largest man made reservoir in Europe’.

‘The big day arrived bright and early (got up at 4am). Upon entering the event village we realised we had a bigger problem to face (other than 70.3 miles), there were swarms of midges!! They were everywhere, I now understand why the locals dress up like bee keepers!

‘The swim started at 6am and we set off in small waves. From here on in this my story…. I approached the swim from the back of the group at a steady pace and was surprised that I overtook a few people! The water was great, really fresh and I could hear the music playing from the event village (who doesn’t like a bit of Harry Styles whilst swimming). Got it done in 1hr 1min so I was really chuffed’. 

‘The ride was interesting! Because there are not many participants you end up on your own for the majority of the 56 mile loop. Crossing the boarder into Scotland I was greeted by the legend himself: Steve Cram (Steve and his son are the founders of the event). I settled into the ride and tackled the never ending hills (who knew, Scotland has so many! 🙂 ) the scenery more than made up for the tough course. Dodged a few sheep resting in the middle of the roads and rode over many cattle grids! I passed a poor chap whose chain had broken so I stopped to see if I could help.  I carried on another 3 miles to tell the next Marshal who radioed for the bike mechanic. There were no other incidents just gorgeous views and great flapjacks!

‘I finally arrived back after 4hrs 45mins on the bike. I set off on the run not feeling too bad. The run was 2 laps of a wonderful forest trail. My first lap went well and I was surprised how good my legs felt. However, the 2nd lap took its toll on me and I had stomach cramps and a tension headache (I think it was from being hunched on the bike for so long). I slowed down and walked/jogged the last couple of miles’. 

‘Finally I saw the finish line and my wonderful family! I was elated and very emotional. Especially when I realised I completed it in under 9hrs (8hrs 52mins to be precise!).

‘The celebrations were short lived because we needed to get away from the pesky midges so we decided to carry on at the Airbnb (Prosecco, chocolate and an England game awaited me!).

‘Simon absolutely smashed his race in 6hrs 48mins)’.

‘In summary, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I loved every moment of it!’

‘I’ve come home with not only a cool medal but with lots of lovely midge bites and a dose of Covid!!!!

The JLL Property Triathlon was back for the 17th year at Dorney Lake at Eton where last year almost £200k was raised for WWF. Held on the Friday James Mapley was on the start line representing his work company for the sprint comprising 750m swim; 22km bike and 5k run.

James finished fifth overall last year but his race didn’t start well as he explained a rogue marshal sent him around the wrong buoy in the swim adding almost three minutes to his swim time from previously. Not to be deterred James used his traditionally rapid bike to push himself back up the order. James finished in 5th overall in his very competitive age group of almost 150 athletes. Taking a positive stance he stated it was ‘good training’ and conscious he had another event looming later that weekend – see the ‘Swanage report’

James & Anthony

With a 6:30 start, different events proceeded until 8am, organised by Challenging Events we are pleased to report we had two successes. Firstly we have a report from Anthony Towers (who neglected to say he came 4th overall) and then James Mapley on his second race of the weekend.

‘Friendly low key event, choice of middle, standard or sprint triathlon, aqua bike or aquathlon. Opted for the aquathlon. Watched the other events go off, aquathlon was the last wave. Went non wetsuit , bit chilly plunging in. Calm , clear sea, 750 swim, well marked with buoys I could see without glasses. Transition on Sandpit Field.

Out on the run. Slight uphill straight out of transition, felt like hard work. Then downhill for a bit. Out towards Studland on the Ulwell Road. After about 3k turned off the pavement onto footpath which is a steep ascent up a flight of steps to the top of Ballard Down. Burning legs. At the top turned east and continued to gain a little more height. Fantastic views. A runner ahead had come into view. Shortly after the start of the descent , began to close the gap on the runner ahead. Back on the relatively flat last couple of k wondered about passing the runner in front as I wasn’t sure I could maintain the pace.

Went ahead but didn’t open up much of a gap. Last half a k and the steps behind were closing in. Thought that was it. Saved a little for the last incline and then started to pull away. Pushed from the top of the incline for the last 150 meters to the finish and held my place. Tough but fantastic location. 

Watched James finish the standard , third overall. Excellent result in a strong field. 

James reports:-

‘Sunday, I raced the standard distance. A cracking setting for a triathlon. A calm and warm sea swim, a lumpy bike leg and a monumentally hilly run. I walked the run partially the previous day. Some tough steps to climb to reach the top of the hill. (above) A cracking race, and pleased to finish 3rd overall. I overtook the chap who won on the bike but couldn’t keep with him on the run. Training will step up now as we head towards the European’s in September.


Next up another new challenge taken on by a Tuff – this time by Adrian Oliver who explains everything below:-

I love trail running and am happy with runs up to around a half-marathon distance, but the thought of running a marathon or anything further has never featured on my horizon—and a marathon still does feature in my far-distance aspirations—but I am doing this Fortitude Denbies ultra again!

When I won (or “lost” depending on how to view this prize…) the bottle of wine at the Awards Celebration raffle from Mike, he mentioned some event name that completely escaped my mind until I looked it up later…a 10-hour ultra!

The event format is to run one lap every hour for 10 hours.  Each lap is 3 miles, with options to extend to 4 or 5 miles.  Your shortest lap determines what colour event shirt you are awarded.  So the minimum distance is 30miles/50km, and maximum 50miles/80km.  Each lap starts and finishes at the event village, which is next to where you park your car (many brought gazebos, tents, etc).

I knew I could easily walk 3 miles/5 km within an hour, so any amount of running/jogging/shuffling would buy me additional time back at the event village and car to eat, drink, and pee.

Having consulted with several ultra-runner specialists in and out of the club, the consensus was that ultras are just one big eating party interspersed with walking and running between feed stations. Verity, Ross, and my experience in the 2023 Castle-to-Coast run taught us that any incline greater than 1% is deemed a hill and, therefore, has to be walked.  So, how hard can this be?  What party food do I need to bring for 10 hours?  Lots!  A thought crossed my mind – I had never run further than 28km, and had not done much distance running recently…hum…oh, and the Cowdray Run the Season Summer 10km run is 2 days before…

Like FullSteam’s Castle-to-Coast event, it was very well organised and relaxed. Not being a race, everyone was supportive and encouraging, celebrating those on their first ultra adventure (like me) through to those attempting the epic 10 laps of 5 miles!

With a count down to 8:30 am for the start of the 1st lap, we all were in a buoyant mood, even though we could see the route disappear up into the forest.  I later discovered that this 1-mile section contained a Strava segment – aptly named “B’stard Hill of Death”…  with 15% gradient, few ran this!  Although it was a hard walk up 130m elevation, my legs soon made peace with it but were still relieved when we finished the 10th climb.  The challenge, which built up over the day, was the 130m descent over some 3km with some steep sections – soon, the “walk the hills” was updated to “walk the hills, but especially the descents!”

The first lap completed in 37 minutes, the next 5 laps were spent trying to slow everything down until a group of us settled on 47 minutes – 13 minutes recovery to eat, drink, pee/poo, stretch, etc.

My two carpark neighbours were attempting 5 or 4 miles respectively.  To start with, they would be back before I was – gradually, that slipped until both dropped to the next level, with the now 3-miler struggling with painful feet due to the constant pounding on stoney trails.  To get our money’s worth, our final 10th lap was a celebratory rear-guard party shuffling around in a record 52 minutes.

Yes my quads are sore, but I was delighted that the rest of my body held up to this nearly 11 hour 50km ultra.

This IS the perfect event for someone contemplating getting into ultra running.  Never more than 1 hour/5km from the nearest feed station, surrounded by encouraging supporters and fellow competitors, this is a safe event to give it a go!

Who wants to join me next year?! (Photo album below)


The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Half Marathon is a challenging race as well as having a very long title! This year was the 15th staging of the event (together with a marathon and 10K); what is pleasing is the event is a major fund raising event for the North Devon Hospice attracting over 700 runners this year.

The race has become an annual ritual for Trevor and Clive Harvey who treat it as a wider family reunion, meeting up with elder brother, who is also a runner, with all three running the half as well as squeezing in Barnstaple parkrun the day before. For the 7th year in succession they embarked on a route through the sand dunes at Woolacombe before the ascent around Baggy Point on the South West Coastal path (on the horizon of the above photo. Running across the soft sand on Croyde Beach always attracts stares from the sunbathers – conditions were very humid. Around to Braunton the big ascent back included 150 big steps and slopes across to Croyde Village. This accounted for most of the 1,500ft ascent, before a final leg sapping route back through the sand dunes to the finish. A very scenic & enjoyable, if tough course, Finishers receive not only receiving the obligatory bling, but a cream tea.

The Downland Dash is held up at Hassocks as fixture six in the West Sussex Fun Run League. Comprising an approx 5 mile multi terrain flat course through fields, footpaths and woodland trails, we had two runners representing their running clubs. Well done to Kate Cooper running well. Sue Pinky gamely ran after Cowdray but had to cut the distance down due to discomfort.

Littlehampton parkrun saw Emma Hinton out on the promenade as first Tuff home. Steve Bridgeman was our next runner. Bob Rogers followed with the 7th best age grading and reaching his 99th parkrun – the one hundred landmark is close. Alistair Evans returned to his home parkrun after two consecutive runs in Scotland. Next Chris Evans who not only gained a PB shaving one second off his previous best, but he gained a volunteer credit as well. Sue & Colin Simpson ran together as part of their training plan, now on 490 parkruns between them – an awesome total. well done to all seven

Worthing parkrun saw Paul Howie in action crossing as our first Tuff home. Paul Fielder also finished in Beach House Park completing all five parkruns in June. Ed Lay was our next runner on pacing duties this week as he notched up his 175th parkrun. Les Pearce continues his build up on return from injury and hit a significant milestone with his 200th run at Worthing – congratulations.

Bognor parkrun saw Marc Flinders run around Hotham Park, but this time pushing his daughter in a buggy, still accruing a strong 20:34. Sister, Amy Flinders wasn’t getting left out as in finishing her 4th parkrun at Bognor she shaved over 3.5 minutes off her previous PB.

Steve Fryer was back in the West Country near Exeter at Killerton parkrun, a course he has now completed eleven times and completed in a strong 21:18.

Vicki Hedger and Simon Grundy were ‘oop north’ for their Northumbrian 70.3. Perhaps they should have been resting up for Sunday, but nope, they both completed the Tyne Green parkrun near Hexham, running along the River Tyne

Also in a different county, for a half marathon race the next day, Clive and Trevor Harvey were in North Devon and visited Barnstaple parkrun running around Rock Park.

Well done to all Eighteen.