Meet the Triathlon Committee

Clare Eastop

I started running with Strider’s Beginners in January 2017 and remember the first AGM; looking at the tri-section as if they were strange for wanting to swim in lakes and rivers for fun! I attended various 10k races and then during August 2017, my husband bought us second-hand road bikes and we joined the beginner’s rides. After a few outings, we were inspired to commence swimming lessons in January 2018.
My first tri was Leeds Castle’s Sprint in June 2018, where I finished 75th woman - 10th in my age group. Un-deterred by the duck-poop-filled moat, I was left feeling exhilarated and on ‘cloud 9’ for a good few weeks to follow. I had run the Folkestone and Hastings half marathons and also endured the mighty Beachy Head marathon – but running alone doesn’t fill me with the same buzz; triathlon definitely has the feel-good-factor.
I took part in the Hever Castle Olympic Distance Tri in September 2017 but unfortunately omitted a whole loop of the bike course (lesson learnt; check route) and was left feeling like an utter failure. I went on to complete the Grafman Middle-Distance Tri in May 2018 – finishing (inc. all of the bike route this time!) 70th woman - 15th in age group. Then came the penultimate… July 2019, Ironman Hamburg. I managed to finish with just 8 minutes to spare; a lovely swim, gruelling hot bike and a 26.2 speed-walk (no running, as I hurt my calf on the bike). On completion, I swore never to do another. However, upon watching the highlights video the next day… we all agreed we’d book Vichy 2021!
Quite simply – I love being part of this wonderful group; they are the most supportive and inspirational bunch of people I have had the fortune to meet. I would encourage anyone to get involved.
Ian Gower

Ian Collingwood Gower was born in October 1953 in Canterbury. However due to a mix up with his birth registration, he is listed as only 60 in 2019. At school he was noted for his mastery of chemistry (more of that later) but not geography (more of that later) whilst on the sports field he proved to be a top sprinter – known on the track as “Gower the Flyer” and in the high jump the “Gower Scissors Gyrate” method impressed many although results were largely disappointing but at least SF2 was still able to father two children.

After school he applied for the Royal Marines but was instead selected for a hush-hush squadron that carried out special operations that today are still “for your eyes-only”. On training in Norway, Ian earned his colours and became known at the age of 22 as “Silver Fox 2”. (The original Silver Fox is a story for another day). So even now; you drop Silver Fox 2 on an ice-field in Arctic Norway, he will be comfortable making snow holes, cooking reindeer, sleeping on a bed of lichen; smoking a herring…. whilst you drop Silver Fox in a park in Central Sittingbourne and straight away an emergency flare will go up for Mrs Silver Fox.

He later settled in downtown Sittingbourne and although not one of the founding fathers of Sittingbourne Striders, SF2 was there when numbers on a Tuesday night sometimes comprised 3 men and a dog.

As cover for SF2’s special duties he took up undercover work in various industries, including modelling foe a number of high profile fashion shops. Over the years many Striders have commented favourably on his dress sense. Some have tried to copy, no one comes close.

SF2 is a stalwart of the Striders cross-country team – racking up over 90 races, including a very impressive 50 consecutive outings. This includes one at Knowle Park where he unfortunately scored a 2.8% rating when he turned up an hour late having forgotten that the clocks changed the previous October night.

However it is in the field of Triathlon that SF2 has truly shown his metal. He appointed a professional swimming coach although regretfully dismissed him following his swim time falling by 15%. Questions have also been raised over the $$$$ spent on the sports psychologist whose main contribution was to recommend SF2 listening to Pink Floyd and Supertramp songs on route to an event. Regretfully this contributed on at least one occasion when SF2, on route to the Sevenoaks Triathlon, missed the turn off the M26 and not realised his error till the outskirts of Brighton. At a recent Hever Castle Tri he narrowly avoided serious injury to himself and 20 competitors when taking too sharp a turn at the first swim buoy and headed directly into the oncoming next wave of swimmers.

All in all it is a story of “every day in every way I am slower and slower”.

Sadly in later days although he still competes, he tends to fall off his bike more than staying in the saddle – occasionally not actually able to get on the saddle in the first place - and several times bits of kit have dropped off along the A20 on the Leeds Castle Tri. During the Cranbrook Tri bike section he double backed several times looking for his dropped car keys that he later found tucked into his baby grow. On another occasion, his timing chip became dislodged on the pool lane ropes so he received a DNF at White Oak Tri. His competitors were quick to claim they had officially put the Fox in his place on that day!

Having said all this, SF is living proof that age is no barrier - winning the prize for top 60 year old in the Sittingbourne 10k some years ago, shows there is still life in the old fox yet! In fact swim, bike, run…..well, long may he remain a Strider hero and long may his reign continue!
Lynne Hacon

Having enjoyed most sports as a youngster, Lynne had a sabbatical from sport for several years until she returned to running and joined Sittingbourne Striders in 2003. In 2012 her husband persuaded her that Triathlon was the future and he brought her first road bike. It gathered dust for the first few months until her husband announced he was going to take part in the 2013 Outlaw Half, a middle distance triathlon in Nottingham. Faced with the prospect of supporting her husband Lynne decided to take part instead. She hasn’t looked back since and over the last few years Lynne has raced form Olympic to Full distance triathlons and has taken over an hour off her original time for the Outlaw half event.

Lynne is proud to have represented Team GB in the Age Group Team at ETU Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships (Walchsee 2016), raced in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships (Chattanooga 2017) and qualified for the ETU Aqua bike European Championships (Ibiza 2018).
Lynne is a member of the main committee as the Activities Organizer and is Level 1 BTF coach, looking to qualify as level 2 in the near future.
Lucy Hewett

Having run for many years on her own, Lucy always considered clubs for elite people only but soon changed her mind when she joined the Striders in November 2014 and realised what a friendly, helpful bunch they were! With running as her first love, bike growing as her new love and always struggling with the swim Lucy tapped into the knowledge of other members and took advantage of the clubs training sessions in the 3 disciplines before she attempted her first half triathlon in May 2015…The Marshman at Lydd.

Since then Lucy has been an active member of the club taking part in 5 Aquathons; 3 Duathlons; 3 Sprint Tris; 1 Olympic; 3 Half Tris; 5 Half Marathons; Brighton Marathon (GFA place London); London Marathon (GFA place London); Ride 100 & Ironman Full Triathlon Vichy. Lucy was delighted to be presented with Strider of the Year and Joint Triathlete of the Year (shared with the amazing Lynne Hacon) at the club awards in 2017. If I can be of any help with anything please ask! 🙂
Ross Pilcher

Prior to joining the Striders, Ross had already dabbled with a sprint Triathlon back in 2014.

“I was already a keen swimmer, and had just bought a second hand road bike, so the idea of shuffling around the run didn’t seem too scary.   I remember it being a wet and cold affair, and much harder than I’d imagined, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The next logical step was to join a club as it seemed much more fun to be able to share my new found love of triathlon with like minded individuals”.

Several years on Ross has managed to add to his tally of events, having worked his way up from numerous Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons to the longer Half (70.3) and Full (140.6) distances, which include the Owler 70.3, Outlaw Half, Ironman Vichy, and Lakesman full.

He’s a regular on our club rides, and can often be relied upon to assist with roadside repairs.
Rachel Ward

Hi everyone, my name is Rachel Ward. I am 45 and a mother of 2. My other half, Andy Baptie, and I joined the Sittingbourne Striders Tri in 2016.

Having joined the Sittingbourne Strider’s 3 years earlier, I was ready for a new challenge and Triathlon seemed like a natural progression.

I loved it instantly - everyone was very welcoming, supportive and inclusive. I remember my first ride to Headcorn and up Hollingbourne Hill - I thought my legs were going to combust!!

My first triathlon was a Go Tri event in Herne Bay - lots of fun and very well supported. I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to give triathlon a go. I then did the Tonbridge Sprint, Cotswolds Sprint, Outlaw Half, Leeds Castle Sprint, and Bewl Sprint. I like the Sprint distance!!

I was asked to join the Tri committee in late 2016 and have the (somewhat dubious) honour of publishing the Championship results this year.

I have not been quite so busy this year, (the dreaded plantar fasciitis) At least I can still swim and ride my bike. I did Leeds Castle (Sprint) in June, and was most surprised to achieve 3rd in my age cat.

I hope to do another triathlon this year and maybe progress to a Standard distance at some point. Ironman distances do not appeal at the moment!!
Paul Williams

Paul has been a member of the Striders since 2000 and after many years of road racing including currently 37 marathons and many more Half Marathons started his triathlon journey with a few pool based races at Whiteoak in Swanley. 5 years ago he started competing in open water events and won his age group at the Outlaw Middle Distance event on his debut at the distance. He has also completed the IM 70.3 in Lanzarote.
Paul was Club chairman for 5 1/2 years from 2012 and although no longer resident in Sittingbourne remains passionate about the club and as one of the more senior (in age) members hopes he acts as a role model to others to prove that age is not a barrier.


Ride Leader First Aiders

Qualification: First aid at work certificate
Valid 11/11/2017-11/11/2020

Neil HaconRoss PilcherLucy Hewett
Bradley ClaytonPaul BowditchLynne Hacon