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13 May 2015

Junior athlete Jake Challis takes the win at Crystal Palace Tri!

Today (10/05/15) was the First of the London league triathlons of 2015 for me. I went into this race knowing I had worked hard and had tapered well for the race. On the swim I was the first to start (in order of time) and managed to get the the fastest swim by 4 seconds, coming in 30 seconds faster than last year! Once on the bike I powered my way up the hills and, despite my mind yelling to slow down, kept pushing right the way round. Again, I was over 30 seconds faster here compared with last year.

On my run I quickly settled into the rhythm picking up the speed half way round, and for the first time this year I felt strong on the run, managing to get a 1 minute 30 second improvement from last year! This gave me a massive 2 minute improvement over all and my first win of the triathlon season!

Thanks to Zone3 for the race suit and glasses and thanks to JWCT.

Check out the full race results here

12 May 2015

Natalie Thomas shares her first experience of competing in an ETU European Cup last month...

Some of you may have already seen via the British Triathlon social media that I had gained a start in my first ever European Cup race which was really exciting!  I wanted to save all the details for this blog and it was my main focus of the month for me, so I hope you enjoy my tale of an Elite International race.
The race was in a place called Melilla which is a small Spanish city on the coast of North Africa which was not the easiest place to travel to. I had to change flights in either Malaga or Madrid then get a small propeller plane for the final leg of the journey.  I travelled out on the Friday and on this second flight there were many athletes from different countries, meaning a lot of bikes to try and squish into not much space! It wasn’t the best moment seeing my bike being driven away from the plane knowing it was not going to arrive with me, but I was not the only one in this position - there were 6 of us who arrived without our bikes. 
Some were Hungarian athletes who were really nice and we eventually sorted it out together - although it turns out not many people in Melilla spoke much English! Anyway, the bikes didn't take long to arrive as they came on the next flight before we had even left the airport, so all was good.
That evening I went for a little jog to loosen my legs after all the travel and ran all the way to the Moroccan border (not that far, it was only about 2.5km as Melilla is not that big).  On the Saturday I worked out the bike route and cycled it. There wasn't an official ride and it was a bit unnerving riding on the right side of the road on my own, but I liked the course which was a flat 5km loop with some tight turns and a small bridge to go over. 
I also got to go for a swim and test out the course, which was a hard one with roughly a 70m run and dolphin dive before the water was deep enough to swim. Then it was a case of swimming two 750m loops and exiting with the same dolphin dive and run technique which is really tiring!
The Saturday evening brought registration and race briefing - it was great to see someone who I recognised and this was John Petrides who was actually the technical director of the race and took the briefing. This was brilliant as he was really clear and it was easy to understand everything that would be happening (I normally ask John loads of questions when racing back in the UK, but only had a couple this time!). The briefing made the nerves really start to kick in, up until then I had been feeling lots of excitement but now it was certainly a mixture asit was getting very close. 
One thing that did make me nervous was the thought of being lapped on the bike which was 8 of the 5km loops, I knew if I was in a pack I would be fine but still felt worried.
After an excellent nights sleep (which is surprising as many of you may know it's not always easy to sleep the night before a race) I had a long wait until race start at 3pm and spent the day in the hotel room watching the Juniors through the window, checking my kit, eating, keeping hydrated and trying to relax as much as possible.  Then from 1.30 it was check in, pick up swim hat and timing chip, tattoo and kit check (having a photo taken of your trisuit to make sure it followed all of the ITU rules), transition check in, swim warm up then race line up and start. This all seemed to pass really quickly and is a bit of a blur but I do remember feeling more excitement than I did nerves when waiting to be called up to the start line. 
As a lower ranked athlete I was number 22 going into the race, meaning I was one of the last athletes called up to the start. Therefore I didn't have much choice of where to stand and found a random free spot in the middle of the bunch. I would have really preferred to be on the outside. 

The start went really well and having seen some photos I was right up near the front of the field, but started swimming a bit earlier than the others so I lost a few places (lesson leant - it's faster to run and dolphin than to swim). After rounding the buoy for the second lap I think I went slightly wide and perhaps tired a bit, so was dropped from this main bunch arriving in transition towards the back of the field.  Transition was a long 500m run up the beach, up some steps, across a road and round behind a building, I felt exhausted and like my legs did not want to work during this run and I nearly slipped over too which didn't help. 
My race position wasn't going to change much from here as I had missed the packs on the bike, meaning a long 40km of cycling on my own.  I knew from this that the risk of being lapped on the flat but technical course was very high - as cyclists in a group travel faster than a single cyclist - and could see the front pack catching on every lap.  If you are lapped on the bike then you are out of the race and this was looking like it could well happen, but somehow I managed to pull a gutsy and determined performance out of the bag to get round the bike course and onto the final discipline, the 10km run. 

By this time my legs were pretty shot from the bike effort but I just tried to remain relaxed and worked as hard as I could even if it was a slow run. I had finished the race and not just that - finished a European cup race in 19th place. Yes it was a small field, and yes I was at the bottom of the field, but I am very happy with my performance in such a high level of racing and most importantly I have learnt about what my weaknesses are and can now build on this for future races. 
Even though I thought the swim was a strong discipline for me, at this level of competition everyone is good at swimming, so I need to work more on my swimming in open water as well as focussing on my transitions - particularly T1!
It was such a great atmosphere with great spectator support and even the French coach was cheering me which was really nice.  It was nice to chill out after the race with a nice big ice cream and watch the men's race where Brits Gordon Benson, Beau Smith and Elliot Smales were racing - a great race to watch and even better that Gordon went on to win.
This race was a huge highlight of my Triathlon journey so far and I may not be the best at this level at the moment, but I had fun and want to keep working hard and improving to be the best I possibly can be. This should be the same for everyone. Triathlon is your personal journey, we all have our own individual goals and challenges whatever they may be so dream big, work hard and achieve your goals, but most of all have fun doing it.
Check back for Natalie's next blog post on Wednesday 3 June, or read her previous post here.

7 May 2015

Zone3 open morning at Athlete Service, Henley-Upon-Thames

Zone3 open morning at Athlete Service, Henley-Upon-Thames

Zone3 will be joining forces with the swanky store Athlete Service in Henley on Saturday 16th May between 10am-1pm.

Come down and see the Zone3 range and have a chance to swim in the suits in the shops endless pool. Experts will be on hand to give fitting and sizing advice and of course swimming in the suit is the best way to understand why the Zone3 suits are so popular.

 There will be tea and cakes available and swim coaches on hand to give technique pointers so it will be well worth the visit.

There will also be special offers on the day and a competition to win a Zone3 accessory package if you can manage the fastest wetsuit removal of the day! Here is a tip from Spanish athlete Victor Gonzales if that helps:

Please find the contact details for the shop and a contact phone number and email address if you want any information in advance:

Address / Contact:
Athlete Service 

The Oast House
Greys Road Car Park
Tel: 01491 598089

To help you pick which wetsuit is best for you please see

30 April 2015

Cape Town Race Report with Dan Wilson

29 APR '15 - 2007 was a long time ago. Long enough, one might argue, to let the minor detail of the gastronomic offerings of a buffet breakfast at a hotel slip ones mind. Yet since my last trip to South Africa for the Richards Bay World Cup in 2007, myself and Brendan Sexton still go misty eyed when either of us, usually upon surveying the options at a breakfast at any hotel around the world, cares to utter, “Remember the Omelette Man at Richards Bay?” Such was the man’s skill with eggs, it remains one of my most vivid memories of the trip, right up there with going on safari in the national park, perhaps leading to unsettling rumination on my life’s priorities when an appropriately cooked egg rates as highly as seeing an bull elephant in the wild. Jeez the bloke could make a mean omelette though. 

Thus, it was with eagerness for both athletic endeavour and eggs, that I made the haul to Cape Town for race 4 of the World Series for the year. The pre-race preoccupations consisted of the ubiquitous trying to get over jet-lag, trying to loosen up and find some spark, and obviously the highest imperative, trying to find a suitable purveyor of specialty coffee. Such imperative required a trip into what could be described as a less-than-salubrious region on the outskirts of Cape Town, where a small hipsters oasis greeted us in a poignant juxtaposition to the somewhat uneasy settings that surrounded us. Such is the life of coffee enthusiast. 

On to the race. The course was held on the foot of Table Mountain, which understandably by looking at, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. However, the Two Wonders of the Triathlon World were how cold was this bloody water, and would we all be popsicles by the end of 1500m? The answer to the former was ‘bloody cold indeed’ and we never got a chance to test the latter, as the swim was shortened to 750m to prevent us all resembling cryogenic test subjects at T1.  

Commencing said swim, and I had the good fortune to start next to South African Henri Shoeman, who had the additional assistance of both a boisterous home crowd and the fact that he is part fish, so I managed to latch on to first his hip, then his feet, to hitch a good ride through the swim, and exit the frigid waters a few seconds off the lead. The fact that it was only a 750m swim meant the pack wasn’t quite strung out as much as usual, and after a few laps of the bike it was a pack of 40-50 riding the course which turned into game of positioning oneself appropriately into the technical sections, avoiding getting oneself put into the gutter doing so, and listening to the eloquent language of those who disagreed with how the logistics of the previous two elements unfolded. Nothing like the threat of a crash to loosen the lips of even the most politely spoken gentlemen. 

Successfully navigating the bike leg and the obligatory T2 carnage, I got off onto the run and was like a wobbly table at a restaurant – I just didn’t have good legs. Nothing was going particularly wrong, but nothing was going particularly right either, and so the 10km seemed to take forever. It was one of those days where I had to try to be like a transgender cemetery worker, and dig in my heels. I battled through to 22nd, not a great race, which holds me steady at 12th in the World Series. Hoping to garner more satisfaction from other sources, that night I watched my Celtics play in the NBA playoffs (we lost), and had my long awaited indulgence in a South African omelette the next morning at breakfast (terrible). Ah well, can’t win ‘em all. 

From here, it’s back home to Brissie, and another short turn around to Yokohama, which will mark the end of a very hectic first period of racing and travelling for the year. The aim is to get home, and draw out the fitness for one last race before returning to a solid training block after Yokohama. 

Take care friends,

27 April 2015

Better late than never! Getting ready for 2015 with Kit Walker

So it's not been quite that start to the year I had hoped for but I'm starting to feel good training and hopefully get some fitness in time to do some racing.

A coupling of irritating run injuries along with some technical bike issues in the last month and some good old work/life/training challenges all conspired to derail that perfect off season we all dream of and plan for.

There have been glimpses of form across all three sports along with a better focus on some strength and conditioning work but the missing factor has always been consistency. Great training weeks have been preceded or followed by poor ones and holding mental focus has been challenging at times, for the first time I have struggled for motivation and have questioned what I am doing in this sport and why I do it. I have asked questions of myself of whether I want to continue or will it just be too hard? It has taught me some lessons about training and making it work and the amount of pressure I put on myself to achieve what I feel is possible. It isn't possible to be 100% in every aspect of my training every day and accepting that is something I haven't found easy, maybe it's impatience and wanting to see results overnight as many of us do, but hopefully I have learned to see the long term trends and focus more on executing the plan to the best of my ability in the circumstances I'm in and not necessarily what is ideal.

Moving on though and things are coming back together, the time out of the pool has hurt my swim but bike and run seem to be about where they were before and I'm keen to test them out with a number on my back in a competitive environment to see how things stack up.


For this year the race schedule is now taking shape as well. Kicking things off a little later than usual in May but running through to the end of september with some good events on the cards.

17th May - Immortal Triathlon (half iron)
14th June - Eton Dorney Olympic Distance
28th June - Grafham water half iron and triathlon England middle distance champs
9th August - Ironman 70.3 Dublin 
14th September - Challenge Weymouth iron distance and ETU European Long Course Championships 
28th September - the gauntlet at Hever castle  (half iron)

These will be backed up with some other local triathlons, mainly sprint and maybe on Olympic or two and some local run events and club Time Trials.  Goals for the year are primarily to stay consistent in training and avoid any setbacks or things that cause major disruptions especially to my running, other than that Age Group podiums at Grafham Water/70.3 Dublin/Challenge Weymouth are definitely motivating me at the moment.


This year have been some planned and some unplanned changes. I get ridiculously over excited about even the smallest piece of new kit like I'm sure most triathletes do so a near complete overhaul has nearly blown my poor little brain!

Swim - for 2015 I'm very excited to be a brand ambassador for Zone 3 Wetsuits. Having swam in aquasphere suits since I started tri I'm excited to see what difference another suit will bring. Also having the support of a British company who sponsor some of the best athletes in the world is motivating to do it justice. And who can't resist some of the brightest training trunks on the market!!

Brightest trunks in the pool!

Bike - I never planned to get a new bike for this year, the trinity and I have gone through alot together including 5 iron distance events an ITU long course world championship and alot of training time! Sadly though she was flagging a little and needed a replacement. As a bike geek this is very exciting but as someone with a average job and wage it brings it own host of issues.

Being Fitted on the New Bike

Run - run shoes have been my downfall in my past, getting sucked into thinking some would just make me faster and with run niggles and injuries being something I am keen to avoid I plan on keeping it simple, brooks pure cadences worked very well for me last year and are staying as a mile logger and an Ironman shoe, I have done a bit of running recently in a pair of Nike free 5.0 which I am enjoying and have an asics DS racer 10 to try but outside of that if I find something that works I'm going to stick with it.

Love Bright Shoes!

So from here its 3 weeks until the first race day of the year - time to get settled into the new bike and start getting comfortable on that, ensure i keep my run legs healthy and get some work done in the pool! Also need to get in the sea for a quick dip or two.  A lot of work ahead but also some exciting times to see what i can produce this year and hopefully successfully apply all i have learned this far to keep improving.