Race Report: Stewart Fry

Event: Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg
Date: 29th June 2024

With the Triathlon season well in flight, it was time for the first 70.3 of the 2024 season – my preferred race distance.  Having searched for new places to visit that wouldn’t require a flight and little interest in going to Bolton! I settled on Ironman Luxembourg which is a ~4.5hr drive from Calais after a Channel Tunnel train ride – meaning no hassle of packing bikes into boxes, the risk of things not arriving and the tension of putting it all together the day before the race… and of course being able to take as much equipment/tools as you want!

A couple of triathlon buddies were also keen, so we made a weekend adventure of it!

I have tried plenty of race brands over the years, but there is something that always draws me back to Ironman events.  They are not the cheapest, and they know how to milk you for every last £ – and god forbid you need to ask them for any flexibility – but this aside, when you get to one of their races, you know a big show is in town and it starts from the event village all across the course and even how they engage the local community!  The guaranteed closed roads also make the rides far more competitive and safer for all.

As to the race, Luxembourg 70.3 is a good balance of challenge vs speed – a river swim (in the Moselle), a rolling bike with ~800m of climbing and a very flat run course along the river bank – out and back – all hosted in the town of Remich which is the wine region of Luxembourg and on the border with Germany (the river being the border).  The race also offers the unusual experience of racing in 3 countries in 1 event!  And is a super beautiful place.  The roads in Luxembourg are fantastic and the place is super clean!

The day before showtime was registration and bike racking. Transition was in a field, which seemed to have been recently mown/prepared, and was pretty bumpy, thankfully carpeted, but the chances of twisting an ankle were very high, especially in bike shoes! With 2500 racers starting, it was also huge, so it was certainly going to be interesting.   The sun was shining for this part, but all weather reports were aligned – heavy rain, thunder and lightning were coming…with heavy rain scheduled overnight and for race morning and the risk of more thunder… We all went to bed apprehensive, as we knew lightning/thunder would cause the swim to be shortened/cancelled. In the middle of the night, we heard some of the loudest thunder ever and awoke to a monsoon first thing!

Getting ready to race in the rain is always a different and more stressful process than a nice mild summer morning – wresting a wetsuit on a wet body isn’t easy! But we were all at the start on time after a limited amount of faffing and drama!

I lined up at the back of the 30-35min swim group – aiming for a 35-38min swim time. It was a rolling start so seeding is important and there is no need to believe I would turn into a dolphin overnight.  Swimming is my weakest event and something to endure and not waste lots of energy on – there will be plenty of time later in the day to push things along.

2500 people lining up to start is always an impressive sight, especially with so many having brought their supporters along – it makes you feel like a superstar! With the gun fired the early racers were off… 10min in and we saw the first person pulled out of the water – it was scary to see someone look like they couldn’t swim go in so early. The emergency crews were slow to react and two people waiting to race jumped in to help the person. This elevated the heart rate more than one would want when adrenaline is already flowing. The bleeps gone – I dived in.  As normal, I set off too fast and 100m in I realised I was pushing myself too hard, with my breathing all over the place. In my early days of tri this would have caused a panic, but I’ve learnt to slow everything down, focus on the next few strokes and forget everyone around you.

The swim was a bit of a bundle as it was ~500m downstream, a full 180° around buoy and 1000m against the current, followed by another 180° and 400m back. This caused the buoy turns to be very congested and both shorter legs were proper bundles of people swimming over each other and bumping together. I got a kick to the face and an elbow for my trouble. I know they have to get a lot of people onto the course, but it seemed the gaps between entry were too close and a rectangular course with only 90° turns could have solved the issues.

I was out the water in 37mins, so about where I expected to be on an average swim. It was a long transition (6mins), across the bumpy, and now muddy, transition carpets and out onto the bike course.

I knew from my research that the first bit of the ride was going to be super fast – 35km flat as a pancake out and back along the river – and Luxembourg roads in general are great – so it was time to go full TT and put the power down. Even though the rain was falling, it was still a reasonable 17°C so good overall conditions with a low wind. The danger would come on the technical descents and sharp slippery corners.

The climbing all came over 25km after the first flat section, so it was all about watching the power. Unfortunately, someone had stolen my Garmin bike computer in transition (I should know better than leaving it in my bento box), so I only had my watch and feel. Hills done, it was rolling back down into France for a bit and then back along the river to T2. I was pleased to be getting off the bike in 2hrs 30mins. Good speed and didn’t feel I had burnt my matches!

Another long transition ~4mins this time!

And out onto the run. 3 x laps. The first thing I noticed was the size of the crowds. It really is an international race – with big attendances from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and France, plus a decent contingent wearing the Union flag on their numbers and many other countries! Lots of fantastic support especially through the main town.  It had finally stopped raining and the sun was breaking through and the temperature was rising.

The run was flat and as always in a 3 loop race it’s all about pacing and not letting the laps play on your mind. The first few kms flew by and I felt great, but experience told me not to fall into the trap of running a fantastic 10km only to struggle in the last half and throw all the good early work away – so I backed off the pace a little, stuck to my nutrition plan and drinking a cup of water at every aide station. 2 laps in and I knew I was on for a great half marathon and still feeling strong – coming home in 1hr 34mins.

My final time was 4hrs 52mins, which is only 6mins slower than my fastest ever 70.3 (which was on an incredibly flat bike/run course with tiny transitions). I was 15th in my age group (of 215) and 222nd overall from 2500. It was a competitive field! I qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo New Zealand (Dec 24) at Weymouth in September 23 on a similar bike/run course and ran/biked much faster in Luxembourg but finished further down my age group!

I noted at the finish my bloody trainer!  Hadn’t noticed in the race, but I had badly cut my foot in the swim.  A trip to the St Johns Ambulance (Lux equivalent) required some Steri-Strips and strapping – plus some tissues for my tears about my beautiful (and expensive) carbon On running shoes. Then back to our Airbnb and out to the pub to watch England put Slovenia to the sword (sort of) in the Euro last 16… and of course, a few celebratory beers!

Race Report: Sam Holloway

Olympic Distance Double Header

Coming into this season I wanted return to some “longer” distance racing with the Olympic/Standard distance event. It’s been a few years since I had really done an Olympic distance of 1.5km Swim – 40km Bike – 10km Run, and with it being an Olympic year, why not! I entered Eastbourne back in January but got suckered into doing Windsor too from a bit of peer pressure, and also the draw of British champs. Unfortunately, they were back-to-back weekends.

Event: Royal Windsor Triathlon | British Championships
Date: 9th June 2024

Even though this is one of our local ‘big’ races, I’ve never entered. I thought I should give it a go, especially as it’s hosting the British Championships it should have a strong field of competitors.

Massive turnout for this one, well over 1000 in the Olympic distance and it was noticeable, very congested in all areas of the event.

Swim – Downstream swim in the Thames for 1km, absolutely flying with the pack, close to 1:00min/100m. Unfortunately, after the turn buoy it turns upstream and this is where it turns into survival of the fittest, and a bit of a washing machine, we caught some of the slower swimmers from previous waves and I lost sight of the faster guys in my wave. So had to dig in hard solo from here.

Bike – Pretty solid, feeling as comfy as you can be pushing hard on a TT bike. The only complaint was the sheer number of competitors on the course and it being on open roads, led to a few ‘dodgy’ situations, and a couple of hold ups.

Run – Consisted of 3 out and back laps up and past the castle and then part way down the Long Walk. This is where it fell apart. My body was not having it, and my pace was falling every lap.

It was a great experience racing such a stacked field at an iconic venue and to come away with 2:18:24. 10th /147 in Age Group and 47th /1349 Overall I was actually very pleased with.

The week following Windsor was all about recovery and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to be honest, I had some very sore calves and I think I twinged something in my right arm on the swim. Thankfully some very restful days, a couple easy swims and some easy running sorted me out and I was feeling fairly fresh for the following Sunday, maybe not 100%, but ready to give it a good bash.

Event: Eastbourne Triathlon | World Age Group Qualifier
Date: 16
th June 2024

I entered this race towards the start of the year, and I thought it would suit me great, it includes a tough sea swim, and a lumpy, slightly technical bike course.

The day prior and on the journey down I was receiving updates from the organisers on the weather and the potential for the swim to be canceled, it wouldn’t surprise me considering the weather we were experiencing that weekend was terrible.

On arrival the swim was still being debated, with the current plan for a shortened, 750m swim, and altered course. Great, at least that’s something. The sea state was wild, strong westerly winds were whipping up some quite big swell. Even a small bit of chop is quite noticeable when swimming.  So, looking at the conditions, I was feeling a bit apprehensive, and that’s from someone quite confident in their swimming ability.

15mins later, cancelled, and new plan announced. We would do a duathlon.

So, reset, it would now be a Run – Bike – Run. In the back of my mind I had always considered we could be doing a duathlon, so I had remembered to pack socks in my kit bag, and was mentally already prepared for this to happen. Other than putting socks on, not much had changed, maybe a slightly more run focused warm-up and a slight re-organisation of transition area.

Run 1 – 5km – Having never done a duathlon I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I knew I had to pace myself, and that’s what I tried. I tried to keep a controlled pace and made good use of fellow competitors to draft on the windy exposed sections of the run. Averaged around 3:55/km which felt sensible.

Bike – 36km 800m Elevation. Straight out onto the bike and straight uphill and into a strong headwind. I chose a road bike for this course and the field was heavily skewed towards road bikes vs TT bikes. On a calmer day it’s probably quicker on a TT bike especially if you’re confident descending, but today it was pretty even, the wind on the cliff tops was brutal it was an effort to keep momentum even on the downhills.

Run 2 – 10km – Survival mode activated, again! My legs were done, it was now quite hot too. I ended up running slower than at Windsor with a 42:40. I’ll admit there were a couple of moments I contemplated throwing in the towel on that final run. But you know our motto, NEVER SHOW WEAKNESS. I forged on doing what I could, and even managed a little sprint finish.

Came away with 2:19:39. 8th in Age Group and 48th Overall. I definitely could have done with the swim to split the field up and play more to my strengths.

Between Eastbourne and Windsor, I’d sooner do Eastbourne again. I felt the organisation and delivery of the event was much better, and the closed road bike course was a big bonus, also there were some quite nice freebies 😊

Back to Sprints now for the rest of the year!

Coach’s Corner



Pre-Race Bag / Rucksack or Box

Lots of Triathletes have boxes that they put all their kit in prior to a race.

Box: I bought a collapsible plastic box, which is good for storage and gives easy access to my triathlon kit, however, it is awkward to carry whilst you are trying to walk with your bike. Also, I find you have to remember to put your wetsuit in last otherwise there isn’t much room for anything else.

Rucksack: I would recommend that you get a large rucksack. A rucksack you can put on your back and still walk your bike. Rucksacks also have outside pockets and things that you can attach waterproofs and pins and allsorts to. They are also relatively expandable, so even a wetsuit should fit with some ease.

Transition Opening

When making your way to transition with your kit have your helmet fastened to the tri-bars or handlebars of your bike, so it doesn’t fall off and you don’t need to worry about it.  At most events you will be asked to present your helmet before you are allowed into transition as a form of safety check, therefore, having it at the bottom of your bag won’t be very helpful for either you or the marshal.

Get to transition an hour before it closes and 1 hour 30 minutes before your race starts, if you don’t you will be rushed for time to set up.  It’s better to have extra time waiting around, you can check things / warm up / stretch or just relax before the race.

If you don’t leave enough time and you have anything that needs correcting or particular attention you will panic and forget to do those crucial little things that could make the difference between a smooth transition and a time consuming one.

Setting Up Your Kit in Transition

Once you have found your allocated transition space – a white label with your race number on it will denote your transition place – look for permanent landmarks to distinguish where your bike is located within the transition area.  This landmark could be a tree, an ice-cream hut, or you could be lucky enough to be at the end of a row, but regardless of landmarks you need to be sure what row you are in.

To make identification of your slot easier you could place a bright coloured top or jacket on your bike, some Triathletes attach a balloon to the railing where their bike is held, but be warned some events do not allow such obvious markings so don’t become reliant on these aids.


Check that every gear works and the breaks too are working and not rubbing;
Make sure the gear is in the small ring at the front and a middle ring at the back;
Place in the forward position the pedal for your stronger leg.  This is the pedal on which you press down first;
Ensure the tyre pressure is correct for the conditions of the race; (this will be less pressure if it is wet and more if it is sunny but don’t over-inflate the tyre);
Set your speedometer to how you want it to read during the race;
The bike should be securely hung over the railings, either by its saddle or by its handlebars, just make sure you are able to release your bike quickly from the position you select;
Make sure your water bottle(s) is/are full and in place.

Cycle Helmet:

Unclip the helmet from the tri-bars / handlebars;
Place the helmet facing upwards, either on the floor by the side of your bike or on your handlebars/tri-bars, with the straps unclipped and hanging over the side of the helmet, ready for you to put straight onto your head.


If you are wearing glasses place these on top of the helmet with the arms unfolded.

Cycle Shoes:

Place at the front beside your bike wheel with the straps undone;
Shake talcum powder inside so it is easy to slide your feet into them (remember your feet will be wet from the swim). 
You can have your shoes already clipped in with the Velcro straps wide open. 
Tie the shoes with elastic bands so they stay horizontal to make it easier to jump onto your bike.

Running Shoes:

Place beside your bike, with laces undone and the tongue released and folded back;
Again shake talcum powder inside to aid sliding your feet into the shoes. 


Have a small towel at the head of where you have placed both sets of shoes for you to stand on, this will help soak up some of the water that will run from your wetsuit;
In the event that it is raining or there is a threat of rain during the race, cover both sets of shoes with a plastic bag, not too tight so that you struggle to uncover the shoes quickly, but tightly enough to keep in place if it is windy.




  • Tri-Suit
  • Pre-assigned Race Numbers to be pinned to Tri-Suit, both back and front
  • Safety pins
  • Race belt – not every event allows these to be used, but if you can, use one.

The Swim:

  • Wetsuit
  • Pre-assigned Swim Cap
  • Extra Swim Cap – it is highly recommended that you wear 1 swim cap under your goggles and the race swim cap over your goggles, to eliminate the chance of you losing your goggles in a mass start
  • Swim Goggles
  • Baby Oil – you’ll struggle enough putting the wetsuit on, it’ll slide off with a good helping of baby oil
  • Vaseline – you’ll be amazed where that wetsuit can rub!

The Cycle:

  • Bike – it has been known for this item to be forgotten!
  • Cycle Shoes – fact, this item has been forgotten!!
  • Cycle Helmet – you won’t be allowed to race without it
  • Pre-Assigned Race Number for bike and helmet
  • Sun Glasses – it has been known to be sunny during a British held triathlon!
  • Water Bottle
  • Sports Fuel Gel
  • Talcum Powder – try getting your feet into any shoe whilst wet, let alone cycle shoes!

The Run:

  • Running Shoes
  • Water Bottle
  • Sports Fuel Gel
  • Pre-Assigned Timing Chip – not every event issues these
  • Pre-Assigned Identity Bracelet – not every event issues these


  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Plasters
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandage
  • Surgical tape
  • Blister kits (2nd skin)
  • Bin liners
  • Plastic bags to put over your shoes if it rains
  • Anti fog spray for swimming goggles
  • Energy gels – at least 4 – and replace for next race
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Towel
  • Flip-flops
  • Bag for wetsuit
  • Windproof for cycling
  • Puncture kit, i.e. Spare tubes and tyres
  • Tyre levers
  • Bike tool
  • Alan keys
  • Pump
  • Lube spray for your gears
  • Gloves for cycling and normal gloves (in case the conditions are wet/cold)
  • Baseball hat (in case the conditions are hot)
  • Suncream
  • Aftersun
  • Toilet paper
  • Pen
  • Space blanket
  • Mars Bar or other food snack (jelly babies)
  • Washing up bowl to stand in whilst you take your Wetsuit off to get the sand from between your toes – if the venue has a sea swim.


  • Spare tracksuit
  • Three T-shirts
  • Warm top
  • Drink for after the race preferably coke as this helps kill any bacteria from the water and provides you with sugar.  Recovery drink.

SPARE KIT and EQUIPMENT (in the event of mechanical failure / breakage / loss):

  • Watch (if applicable)
  • Heart Rate Monitor (if applicable)
  • Trisuit
  • Swim Cap
  • Swim Goggles
  • Cycling Shoes
  • Running Shoes
  • Socks
  • Safety Pins
  • Water bottles
  • Sun Glasses


Make sure you look at all aspects of the race course, be it the lake / sea for the swim; the cycle route (always a good idea to actually drive round it); and the run (again drive round it if you can beforehand).

This way you will have no surprises on the type of terrain you will be cycling / running on and what hills / bends / turns / corners will greet you so that you can change your race pace accordingly. 

With the swim it is important to know where the marker buoys are and if there is a current or wind how it will affect the swim in order to keep within the buoys.

With all the above dealt with you should be fully prepared, enabling you to concentrate on your race, do well and most importantly enjoy it.


July 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the Viceroys July Newsletter where we highlight all the main events, news and things you need to know for the month ahead! But before we get into July, let’s take a look at the best bits from June.

The highlights of the past month have got to be the 24hr Swim Relay (catch up here) and the Viceroys Club Championships, exciting race report coming soon!

Once again, we’ve had an amazing series of Race/Event Reports (catch up here) featuring the Martian Race, Vätternrundan, Free Tri Series Walton, the Grafman, the Bull Ring 200, Madrid Marathon, May Flyer and RideLondon-Essex 100.

Plus, Coaches Corner is back with Coach Ralph’s top tips for transitions along with a couple video examples. If you have any requests, please do let us know.

So let’s get to it then, here is EVERYTHING (well almost everything) you need to know…

Sunday 30th June
Location: Thorpe Park

It was fantastic to see so many VTC members in our very own starting wave at this years Viceroys Club Champs and the encouragement and cheering throughout the course was spectacular!

Big congratulations to this year’s VTC Club Champions, Anna Chapman and Sam Holloway, and every single Pink on the start line! We can’t wait to do it again next year!

Sunday 15th September
Location: Woking Pool in the Park

It’s that time of the year again to get excited about Club Relays! You know what comes next, so please read below and send us your details.

For club members who have not taken part before, get involved! This is our annual club relay event where we get together, race our hearts out in teams and enjoy a morning with lots of laughter and encouragement from your club mates. You will be finished before breakfast time so no excuses for not taking part!

PLUS!! We’ll be holding the end of the season P-A-R-T-Y later that same day!

What you need to do: Send Marit your preferred discipline + timing, for example 400m swim/10mins, or send details for all disciplines that you are happy to do.
Email address marit.sormus@gmail.com

Swim 400m time
Bike 20k time
Run 5k time

Teams are put together based on your swim, bike and run times. The goal is to balance the teams as much as possible and make it challenging, sorry we meant fun, for everyone 🙂

Please could you send your details before 30th July so we will have enough time to get the teams together and then readjust them (we all know it’s going to happen).

Sunday 15th September
Location: TBC but SAVE THE DATE it’s going to be EPIC

Don’t worry, we will still have various Viceroys things going on after this date, but it’s always good to finish the triathlon season with a party while the weather is still spectacular!

We’ll release further details next month, but for now, please save the date!

Date: Monday Coached Session (Date to be confirmed)
Location: Shepperton Lake

Are you looking for a new wetsuit or have thought about trying a Zoggs wetsuit? Well now you have the chance.

Triton Outdoors are giving Viceroys club members the opportunity to try out Zoggs wetsuits during a Monday coached swim session. Provisional date is 29th of July and we will capture information (type/size) beforehand.

Keep an eye on the club app, date confirmation and additional communication will be shared there.

Sunday 18th August

Our Retro Jersey ride has earned its place as an annual event in our club calendar.

So get your retro club jersey ordered so you can pretend to be our very own Chris Lillywhite winning the Milk Race back in ’93!

NB: buy your jerseys early from AliExpress

Saturday 24th August

Join us on our social ride following the famous ‘Randonnee’ route around the island.

If we can group up in a few cars, we can park them near the ferry terminal and go over as foot passengers. The ferries run regularly, so it’s normally straightforward to coordinate and it’s a fantastic route around the island, especially the stretch along the spectacular Military Road on the SW coast!

Race Report: Ophelia Vesely

Event: Staffordshire 70.3 Ironman
Date: 11th June 2023

I’ve had my heart set on completing an Ironman ever since starting triathlon, but I thought a Half Ironman would be a good challenge itself, so signed up to Staffordshire 70.3 with some friends from university. I was pretty confident about my ability to finish the race given I was comfortable with those distances and had done other endurance events (although no triathlon longer than a sprint distance), but had very low expectations of my times.

The entry prices are very expensive as the race takes a huge amount of administration, road closures, equipment, etc. Granted, you do get a lot of freebies with your sign-up like food, drinks and a T-shirt or having a tree planted, but it still seemed a bit steep compared to other race organisers.

Unfortunately, about 8 weeks before the race I got Achilles tendinitis so running in the build-up was minimal. It seemed every tester run just sent me back to square one in recovery. This meant my race day plan was to not do the run at all, given my main race of the season (World Sprint Championships) was only a month after.

The day before I spent travelling to Stafford via 3 conveniently delayed trains, meeting my overheating family in the car who had driven there to support me and rushing around the split transitions to get everything in place. Getting out of transition one minute before it shut was a wonderfully relaxing way to spend a birthday.

After good food and a good sleep however, I was ready to give it my best shot and woke up at 05:00am on race day feeling pretty stress-free given my low expectations! That didn’t last long though as I stood in the Portaloo queue hearing the swim time I wanted to self-seed myself in (the 30-35 minute wave) was being sent off. I eventually entered the water in the 40-45 minute slot and quickly found a good rhythm, keeping within my aimed pace despite having to swim around quite a lot of people. Leaving the water after 1.9km I got stuck behind dawdlers on some uncomfortable matting over rocks but executed T1 fairly efficiently.

Onto the 90km bike, the first 10km was pretty nasty, stuck behind people on tight and potholey roads. Then I realised sub-3 hours might be within reach given the run would be a write-off anyways. The ride was pretty rolling in terms of hills with an incredible amount of side-line supporters. It was a nice, thankfully shady route and I absolutely loved it. My ankle started to hurt at kilometre 20-30 but lessened as the ride went on. I’m not sure if I could’ve ridden at this speed if I was planning to run a decent half marathon after, but it was a good lesson in what my body can cope with. My only complaint was that my trisuit gave me chafing but it wasn’t too painful and peeing on the fly might not have helped but getting off the bike is a waste of time when racing (sorry to the competitor overtaking me at this point).

Rolling into T2 in 02:58:22 I was very happy with myself and the pain in my ankle had gone so began the 21.1km run. The heat hit down hard but the town centre atmosphere carried me for a few kilometres. Then the pain set in and I slowed down to a jog. After another kilometre or so I realised that although I certainly felt fine otherwise to keep racing, it wasn’t worth the damage to my tendon. So, I pulled out of the race and walked about 3 kilometres to the finish line through many frustrating “GO ON”s and “KEEP RUNNING”s which was pretty mentally crushing. My family were a bit surprised to see me on the outside of the finish chute and not in it, but had also been expecting me not to even start the run.

It was nice to try out an official Ironman event and I definitely plan to be back for more – the organisation and atmosphere were otherworldly.

Race Report: Ethan Aspin

Event: SOWS Race Series
Date: 27th June 2024

The Shepperton Open Water Swim Race Series returned to Shepperton Lake on June 27th with 750m, 1.5km, and 3km distances being offered. Apparently, the race series hasn’t happened in 5 years but they’re back for good, and perfect timing for it! There isn’t anything better than finishing work and going to a sunny lake feeling hyped for a cheeky race.

About 70 people pitched up to Shepperton Lake, with about 40 taking part in the swim. Everything was well organised, there was food and drink by the lake, and the staff were very friendly.

Regarding the race.. if you think you’re a great swimmer, you might have to attend the SOWS Race Series to be humbled! The quickest time for the 3km was 39 mins! There were some incredibly fast individuals and I was extremely impressed by the pace. I tried my best and finished in 54 mins but it’s probably safe to say I could’ve shaved off a couple of minutes if I didn’t eat 2 bacon halloumi baps before the race! 🍔

If you’re interested in the next SOWS race, it’s happening on July 18th. Perhaps cya there!

Event Report: Richard Keogh

Event: 24hr Swim Relay | Level Water
Date: 8-9th June 2024

This June marked the third year Level Water has hosted their 24hr Swim Relay in our beloved Shepperton Lake. For those that aren’t aware, Level Water is an amazing charity that helps bring the power of swimming to children with disabilities, by allowing children to develop strength, coordination and confidence in the water.

Pre-Event Planning

With this event hosted in our local Shepperton Lake, this was also the third year running that the Viceroys have taken part in this event. This year, VTC entered across three teams, with a total of 24 club members!  Ahead of the event, VTC Swim Captain Rachel Hall helped get us all in line with her trusty spreadsheet, arranging all our swims and kit for the event (thank you once again, Rachel!).

Saturday Into Sunday

Getting onsite early, the team set up camp next to the lake and navigated tent space real estate with our neighbouring teams. Once settled, and with the three VTC teams registered, the rest of the team began to filter in ahead of the start of the event.

As the countdown began, at exactly 12pm, the first swimmers from each team entered the water. With lots of photos and videos taken, the non-swimmers headed back to camp. At the turn of each hour, the team would head to the lake entry point, and cheer on the swimmers as they came out of the water and exchanged with the next three VTC swimmers.

As the day turned into night, all swimmers needed lights on the back of goggles, and lights inside their tow floats. The lights also switched on on the turning buoys in the water and the lifeguards, as each kayak lit up in the water. The night swims brought a completely different feel to the swims, and for those lucky enough to be in the water during the 3-4am slot, they saw the sun begin peaking back up over the tree line as you swam around the lake.

As the sun continued to rise, our beloved Lance cracked open his portable grill, and got to work on feeding our camp with bacon and eggs, something I know we all very much enjoyed and appreciated!

Closing Out The Weekend

With the final slot of 11-12am on Sunday, Level Water outlined all the money raised as part of the weekend (a whopping £135,000), and the impact it would have on those whom they support. In the final hour, all teams that had entered the event took to the water one last time, that’s almost 500 swimmers! This included our very own llama, who dedicatedly swam around the lake under the care of Carla and Marit.

With that being a wrap for the swims, the tents came down, the kit was packed away, and snacks taken home/eaten. The event was another huge success for Level Water and one we looked forward to next year!

Race Report: Sheena Mountford

Event: Martian Race 👽
Date: 16th June 2024

The Martian Race is where War of the Worlds meets Mars Attacks, only this time you’re running for fun and not for your life, just a small difference!

It’s was a real family day out as there’s a 2km Mini Martian race (kids), this year a lion even did the run, then a 5km, 10km and 21km option.

The start/finish line was in the beautiful McLaren Technology Park and every year we’ve done the race, there’s been gorgeous sunshine, they must pre-order it.

The course begins through the open fields of McLaren Technology Park, the start funnel was much wider this year, so plenty of space for Peter to overtake and me to be overtaken, although you do have to keep an eye out for the odd hole in the ground. Then it was under the trees through Horsell Common (watching out for tree roots), over the famous War of the Worlds sandpits (watching out for aliens), and back into the sunlight at Heather Farm.

Heather Farm is the turning point for the 10km and as you begin to loop back, you get to enjoy the Heather Farm wetland area as you run along board walks and over little bridges. And just as you think you might melt in the sunshine, you head back into the cool forest and a welcome water station is not far off.

Almost half of Horsell Common is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, so even though I was exhausted, the various changes in scenery were pretty amazing.

Coming towards the finish line, with an enthusiastic lion running the last 20 meters alongside me, I was greeted with a lot of cheers and a medal. This year, as it was my birthday, I was also greeted with a lovely bottle of champagne! Not a bad way to celebrate!

Such a fun event and the early bird entry prices are amazing! Plus, you’re supporting local charities through Woking Lions (hence the 🦁).

Event Report: Jason Gardner

Event: Vätternrundan
Date: 15th June 2024

Vätternrundan 2024: The Epic Adventure of the VTC Team

This year, our intrepid VTC (Viceroys Triathlon Club) team embarked on the world’s largest recreational bike ride—a whopping 315 km journey around Lake Vättern in Sweden. The lineup: Richard “The Resilient” Hill, Nick “The Speedster” Christian, Marit “The Machine” Sõrmus, and me, also known as “The Last-Minute Airport Resident.”

Pre-Race Shenanigans: British Airways vs. The Bike

The adventure kicked off a day before the actual race when British Airways decided that road bikes weren’t their cup of tea. While Nick, Richard, and Marit began their leisurely four-hour drive from Stockholm to Motala, I found myself with a new friend at the airport, both of us staring wistfully at the arrivals board for what was hopefully going to be the arrival of our bikes on the next flight.

Nine hours, one newly hired car, and a friendship forged in the fires of airline-induced frustration later, we rolled into Motala just after 9 PM. Thankfully, my stellar teammates had everything ready for me, including a much-needed evening meal and, most importantly, a beer. With my bike hastily assembled by another team effort worthy of an F1 pitstop (untested, naturally), we hit the sack by 11 PM, dreaming of the next 4 AM alarm that awaited us.

Race Day: 5 AM Start with Perfect Weather and “BA Buns”

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (well, sort of), the VTC squad rolled out at 5 AM sharp under perfect blue skies. The weather was decent: a bit windy, but with beautiful views around Lake Vättern that made every pedal stroke worthwhile. The plan was simple: stop at all nine feed stations to stave off monotony and prevent our feet from seizing up and get the job done. And to our utter delight, not one person had to shout “hole” for at least the first 180 km—the road surface was impeccable, a stark contrast to the pothole-riddled roads of Surrey.

We maintained a strong pace, joining forces with pelotons exceeding 40 kph, pushing our average speed well over 30 kph for the first half. There were a few touch and go moments with some slightly inexperienced riders hanging on for dear life on the back of a 50+ well organised peloton but we all remained upright with some careful manoeuvring (including a strong dash to the front by Mr Hill in the quest to avoid any further danger!).

The feed stations provided a delightful array of water, electrolytes, blueberry soup!!, and the soon-to-be-famous “BA buns”—those tasteless, dry-as-a-desert buns you get on a British Airways plane (in a wrapper) that, while not exactly gourmet, were a step up from energy gels and shot blocks.

To break up the food monotony, we were treated to a feast of meatballs and mash in Jönköping (104 km) and then lasagne at Hjo (171 km). These were washed down with more blueberry soup and, of course, more BA buns!

The Windy, More Elevated, Hard Second Half

As we entered the second half of the race, the wind decided to crank up the difficulty level. Despite the battering from head and side winds, even after 200 km and in the absence of larger pelotons (all trains had left the station by the halfway point), our quartet managed to maintain a 30 kph average between the food stops – quite some effort on tired legs. Getting over the 200 km marker was a great boost, albeit quickly flattened by the next marker at 205 km indicating 110 km (a mere “long” Saturday ride) to go.

The penultimate stage, between feed stops 7 and 8, was a brutal stretch of continuous elevation in high winds. Marit, ever the optimist, didn’t want to know what lay ahead but soldiered on with the reassurance that the end of the hill was (somewhat) near (yes, course it was Nick!) 😊.

Despite all this we remained a tight group all the way through with everyone making massive efforts on the front, not once did we split so the training clearly paid off. The continual reapplication of chamois cream really paid off on this ride (thanks for that tip, Euan!).

While this was not a closed-road event, the marshalling and signage were top-notch, making it unnecessary to rely on our Garmins—a relief, given our concerns about battery life.

The final section was a blast, with each of us taking turns at the front, pushing through the pain and fatigue at over 35 kph. Richard lost his sense of humour, which is a rarity, with 15 km to go, but we dragged each other through the final, seemingly endless, straight to big smiles as we could see the end.

The Grand Finish: VTC Victorious

Crossing the finish line, side by side in our pink VTC kit, was a triumphant moment. It was the longest ride any of us had completed, and doing it together made the achievement even sweeter. From airport delays to headwinds that could knock over a large mammal, the VTC team conquered it all with grit, determination, and a good dose of humour….and of course, the BA buns.

Race Report: Alison Lyons

Event: Free Tri Series Walton (IntoTri)
Date: 19th May 2024

This is a lovely, FREE, very relaxed triathlon, with children over 7 years even able to enter. Plus, it’s as local as it gets at the Xcel Centre. For adults, you can do a Senior Short (400m swim, 10k bike, 2.5k run) or Senior Long (400m swim, 20k bike, 5k run). Considering most triathlons cost about £40 to enter, I was amazed and excited that this one was free. 

My triathlon journey started aged 49 years young, post Covid, in 2021. I could only swim breaststroke (but always wanted to learn front crawl) and had never been on a road bike (never mind in cleats).  But I had run two marathons (slowly – 5hrs ish) and loved outdoor sports. Roll on 3 years and I had somehow managed to have been talked into entering a Half Ironman in July 24 (eeekkk).

So I thought I had better do some training…

My objectives for the Walton Tri were as follows:

  1. Swim.  I had taken swim lessons all winter (Full Stream – Lee, Riverbourne Leisure Centre Chertsey. Brilliant), but I was still not confident at front crawl (more of a reflection on my in-ability rather than Lee’s coaching). So objective 1 was: can I do the whole 400m doing front crawl without panicking??
  2. Complete the triathlon
  3. Get my legs used to the brick transitions (swim to bike and bike to run)
  4. Have fun
  5. Practice the transition
  6. Learn from it.

The venue was great. Easy parking, swimming pool clean. The pre-day online registration and race briefing was efficient and helpful, and the marshalls were very relaxed on the day (they are always keen for marshalls). Plus lots of excited kids which gave it a good vibe.

So I arrived early, racked my bike, sorted my stuff, chatted to my fellow competitors, quick loo trip and I was ready. I did ask a particularly muscly young man next to me if he had ever done a triathlon before.  He looked at his tri bike with tri bars and lots of fancy paraphernalia and said “Yes.” Ha ha – a bit embarrassing for me. Never mind.

Swim: We had to queue up by our expected finish time, so I headed straight to the back. Chatted to the others at the back and realised I might be quicker than 3 lovely Chinese ladies (similar age to me) and 2 guys, who all convinced me they were definitely only going to do breaststroke. So I shuffled up the queue to position 6 from last. When you are not great at swimming, I find it really stressful slowing other people down behind me. So the swim was all about a positive mental attitude, calming myself down during the race, slow breathing, not panicking. I can do this!! I quickly got overtaken by the 2 guys (their breaststroke was quicker than my front crawl). That’s OK. The rules are you let people overtake before you turn, which was fine, and actually it was nice to know the faster swimmers were ahead. I managed about 50% of the swim front crawl and 50% breaststroke. So that’s fine, pleased with that, and onto the bike.

Transition was not timed, so I relaxed changed into my bike stuff and dried between my toes.

Bike: I am confident on this. So I hit the road with my Wahoo Element on to see if I could maintain a consistent 25km/h plus speed. The bike route was lovely. Flat, well marshalled, easy to navigate. Two loops of a course turning at a lovely church. I waved and cheered the 3 x Chinese ladies (plus one other lady) cycling on the other side of the road, and they waved and cheered back, which made us all giggle. There were some roadworks with traffic lights, which got me twice, but I welcomed the break to rehydrate (note to self – must practice rehydrating whilst cycling more). Bike done. Pleased with that. Onto the run.

Run: By this time I was feeling a bit tired, the sun was getting hotter and I hadn’t practiced much running recently. So this was going to be all about getting round. The route was along the river, a bit shaded, nice support, so all good. 2 laps. This is where I need to kick in my mental support. I can do this. This is fine. Keep going Al. With one foot in front of the other, a positive mental attitude, and congratulating my fellow athletes as we passed, I got round. With the obligatory high five jump, ‘jazz hands’ wave and smile whenever I saw an official photographer.

So by 9.15am the tri was done. It would have been lovely to chat to the Chinese ladies, but they had done the shorter route and were long gone. I was second to last overall (in front of the other lady on the bike), so had a lovely chat with her at the end (similar age to me, she had completed a Half Ironman before). Our bikes were the only 2 left in transition, which made us laugh. We congratulated each other on how fabulous we both were and then headed off for bacon sandwiches.

A great event, very well organised, lovely marshalls, very relaxed and nice routes. And Free!! The next one is 14th July.

Alison Lyons (aged 52). Not yet quite ready for World Champ Qualifiers, but getting there 😊

PS. Alison has since done another Free Tri and knocked 2 minutes and 20 seconds off her time! Whoop, whoop!