4.45 on a very cold quiet and overcast morning, deep in the Welsh hills, the 3 Sittingbourne Striders; Joseph Lovelock (Captain) David Valenti and Jacob Beaney gathered with trepidation and cautious excitement at the challenge that faced them. They were about to take on the mighty Dragon of Ironman Cymru. An arduous course of a 2.4 mile swim in the Irish Sea, a 112 mile Cycle over the Pembrokeshire hills and a Marathon run to finish the day. The Tenby Trio eagerly set off to the start line with 2000 other competitors. As a ray of sun broke through the clouds the rolling start of the swim began and they were off. Little did they know that was the last time they would see the sunshine. 2 laps of a 1.2 mile swim in the sea saw a good start for the 3 Striders with their first lap all being completed in just over 35 minutes. The winds picked up and the sea got rough but could only slow the three down marginally, all three of them leaving the water within a minute of each other at the 1 hour 15 mark. What followed was a 1 km run into the transition areas to get ready for the next leg of the journey.
112 miles through 8000ft of ascent on the hills was always going to be tough but the weather made it punishing. The athletes were battered with 45 mph winds gusting higher with horizontal rain coming in from all angles. The ascents were steep and lengthy and the descents were littered with slow signs due to the rain. Valenti made good progress storming up the hills and maintaining a high average speed, pulling away from the other two. The weather was relentless even wreaking havoc with the Ironman Trackers, reportedly the worst conditions that Ironman Tenby had seen. Lovelock was with Beaney from the word go until another competitor caused a crash that took out his gears. With 35 miles to go and only 1 gear to choose from the rest of the ride just got harder for Joseph Lovelock. The Captain had to dig deep in his fight against the Ironman, but his will would not be broken.
The medieval town walls and picturesque beachfront provided an impressive back drop for the final push of the day, the Marathon. With nearly 3000ft of ascent the run was a spectacle by its own right. 4 laps of the town, running through the cobbled streets to the applause of people cheering the competitors on from every road side, street corner and pub doorway. The fans were wild with excitement creating an incredible atmosphere that spurred on the entire Ironman community. Even when darkness fell the noise and the cheer and the Ironman party continued, willing the participants to the finish. The marathon proved to be Valentis best event, completing a 4 hour 12 run; with Beaney and Lovelock coming in at 4.50 and 4.52 respectively. Ironman Cymru is considered one of the toughest Ironman race sin the series made harder by the fierce weather. The challenge that the 3 Striders faced was demanding emotionally, mentally and physically and will be one to remember for years to come. Walls were run through and barriers brushed aside, the three let nothing stand in their way on the road to glory. They even had the energy to smile for the finisher’s photo.
Ironman 70.3 World Championships : 9th & 10th September 2017
The World Championship is the culmination of over 100 qualifying events involving 185,000 Athletes. Sittingbourne Striders Lynne and Neil Hacon qualified for entry into the event at Weymouth in 2016 and had been training for it for several months.
More than 4500 people from over 90 countries participated in the event that included a 1.2 mile swim in the Tennessee River, a 56 bike ride (including climbing local landmark Lookout Mountain) and a 13.1 mile run through the streets of Chattanooga.
Lynne finished in a time of 6 hours and 24 minutes placing her 98th out of 144 in her age group.
Neil finished in a time of 5 hours 23 minutes, placing him 219th out of 340 in his age group.
James Brincat, Nick Bayntun, David Forman, Geoff Tyler, Neil Hacon, Lynne Hacon and Luis Diaz from Sittingbourne Striders Triathlon travelled to Holland to compete in Ironman Maastricht. The single day endurance event consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike race and then finishes with running a marathon. At 07:15 the cannons sounded and the 1600 competitors dived into the River Meuse to begin the race. Neil Hacon was the first Strider out of the water in a time of 1hr 7mins, followed by James Brincat 2 minutes later. All 7 Striders completed the swim comfortably within the 2hr 20min cut off.
Safely out of the water the triathletes swapped their goggles for bike helmets and started the 180km bike leg. The challenging bike course took the athletes out of Maastricht to the scenic surrounding Limburg landscape and through the iconic hills and mountains of Bemelerberg, Geulhemmerberg, and Hallembaye.
Despite James Brincat crashing on the bike course, by 4pm all 7 Striders had successfully made it to the third and final discipline, the marathon! The athletes were cheered through the historic city streets by friends, family and the superb support of the locals. Neil Hacon was first Strider home in 10hrs 35mins, followed by James Brincat 11hrs 14mins, David Forman 12hrs 31mins, Geoff Tyler 12hrs 46mins, Lynne Hacon 12hrs 53mins (4th in age group), Nick Bayntun 13hrs 05mins and Luis Diaz 13hrs 21mins. Full Results
Event: Ironman Vichy
Date: 28th August 2016
Location: Vichy, France
Distance: Swim 2.4mi, Bike 112mi, Run 26.2mi
5 members of the Sittingbourne Striders made the 600mile journey to the historic French spa town of Vichy in France. Glenn Davies, Bradley Clayton, Ross Pilcher, Joseph Lovelock and Lucy Hewett were to compete in the iconic Ironman, the first full triathlon for them all involving a 2.4m swim, an 112m bike and a full 26.2m marathon.
Let’s go Swimming
With the water temperature a balmy 25degrees their fears of a non-wetsuit swim were confirmed. Undeterred, the self named Vichy5, lined up for the new rolling start method which has been trialled with good feedback at other Ironman races as a less stressful start for swimmers involving 3 athletes entering the water every 4 seconds. After 40 minutes all 1837 athletes had entered Lake Allier to tackle the 2.4miles, 2 laps that had to be completed in 2hrs and 20mins.
Get your wheels on
All 5 Striders were out of the lake for 2 laps of a fast flat bike course taking in exceptional views of the pretty French villages and rolling fields of sunflowers. Bradley Clayton had a job to catch up Glenn Davies who had made good ground from his quick swim finally finding him at mile 70. Joseph Lovelock thought his race was over when he was crashed into at one of the feed stations this cost him 25mins but luckily not the race as he continued trying to make up lost time.
The bike and swim have to be completed within 10 hours.
Off the bike and onto the run for 4 laps along the shores of the lake and through the centre of Vichy to shouts of ‘Allez Allez’ from the spectators whose support was gratefully received as the Striders ran in the hot French afternoon sun. Red band for the first lap, yellow for the second and finally the prized blue band meant they knew they were on their final lap and on their way to becoming Ironmen!
All 5 Striders were delighted to finish the race within the 16hour time cut off with Bradley Clayton claiming the title of first Strider home in an amazing time of 11h 45m 33s placing him 155 in his division (M35-39) and 799 overall.
Event: Outlaw Full Triathlon
Date: 24th July 2016
Location: National Watersports Centre
Distance: Full Ironman
Paul Bowditch took on his first full Ironman distance triathlon to try to become an Outlaw. The 6am start had him blinded by the rising sun as he tackled the 2.4m swim in a time of 1:22:21 then onto the 112m bike ride which he did in 6:04:59 and despite being unable to take on any fluids managed the 26m marathon run in 6:05:01 putting in a total time of 13:44:33.
Event: Ironman 70.3
Date: 12th June
Paul Bowditch took part in the iconic half ironman in grim conditions in Staffordshire. He completed the 1.2mile swim, 56mile bike ride and 13.1mile run in a time of 6hr 21m 58s placing him 187th in his division and 1190 overall in a field of 2331 athletes. Full results.