Race Report: Andrew Williams

Event: Madrid Marathon
Date: 27th April 2024

In an attempt to get some spring sunshine and a weekend away, I entered the Madrid Marathon and embarked on a short and insufficient training block. The trip, which took place in late April, got off to a bad start in that one of my two supporters who were joining me failed to get a passport in time which reduced us to a party of two; this proved to have a consequence on the race itself as I felt more obliged to stay out later and have a few too many beers on the Saturday night immediately before the race…oops.

Alas, the day of the race itself was bright and sunny and armed with a grande latte from Starbucks I embarked on the 2 mile walk to the start line – it was at this point I realised that Madrid was not a flat city and I may have underestimated the challenge that lay ahead. The marathon itself is part of a wider event that also includes a half marathon which started at the same time as the marathon and a 10km which I was fortunate to see the climax of as I was making my way to the start line. One last toilet stop and I managed to locate my starting corral alongside the 3.45 pacers (ambitious!).

The race forms part of the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ running series which essentially meant that there was lots of loud music throughout; crossing the start line whilst ‘Highway to Hell’ blared out, certainly felt appropriate given what was to come. The first 5km took us north out of the city passing Real Madrid’s stadium ‘The Bernabeu’ and was almost exclusively uphill. The fact that the half marathoners were running alongside us at the same time meant the course was incredibly congested and I was already slipping behind the Garmin ‘pace pro’ time.

The course then wound its way back into the centre of Madrid through tunnels, over bridges and past a huge number of cafes which looked incredibly enticing. Unfortunately, the only refreshments I was set to enjoy that morning were water, Gatorade and SIS energy gels. Just after going through 19km the half marathoners broke off leaving the course a lot less congested which was appreciated, however, at this point, with the sun beating down, it was beginning to get warmer and the first signs of feeling uncomfortable became apparent.

I struggled on to the 27km mark where there was a well needed drinks station where the Gatorade shuffle was enabled. I wasn’t the only one struggling with a fellow competitor stepping off the course and taking his number off at this stage. Quitting was not an option for me and I was grateful for the tree cover providing shade as we worked our way through the Casa de Campo before looping back towards the city centre via another massive hill.

It was as I went through 34km that the uncomfortable feelings began to manifest themselves and a decline became inevitable. A lone Portaloo came into view which was just what was needed and I was so pleased that I had thought to pocket some toilet tissue as I was leaving the hotel room that morning as it was well needed. Apologies must go to the runner who was waiting to use the Portaloo after me for I had just turned it into a biohazard.

The final 8km was all about staying alive as the sweat was starting to cause chaffing issues everywhere. I employed a tactic of walking up the hills and shuffling on the flats and down hills with a renewed aim of coming in under 4 and a half hours. I’m glad to say I achieved this with quite a few minutes to spare, partly due to the help of a man dressed as a pirate with a megaphone who forced me to sprint alongside him 300m from the finish line. After deposing of him as he went back to encourage another hapless victim I stumbled across the finish line and promptly vomited right in front of some spectators. Shrugging off the advances of the first aiders, I made a beeline for the goody bag and refreshments table in search of some water and a banana.

Despite being accosted by fellow runners who wanted me to take a photograph of them, I managed to get some food and also found my mate Paul. The 2 mile walk back to the hotel was less spritely than the walk to the start of the race and this time punctuated by a trip to McDonalds.

After a quick shower, it was time to tear up the town and drink as much Spanish lager as my depleted stomach could take, which turned out to be quite a lot. Hills were mostly avoided as we stuck to streetside cafes and rooftop bars with the odd strip club thrown in for good measure.

Race Report: Fiona Dowthwaite

Event: May Flyer
Date: 12th May 2024

The May Flyer is always such a well-run, relaxed sportive, set in the Surrey Hills, and as usual, we had a good Viceroys presence.

There were 2 distances to choose from – 90k with 1100m of climbing or 162k with 1900m of climbing. Too much climbing, and way too much climbing in my book….but to the hills we went!

Our merry band of Pinks all rode together at a fairly punchy pace for about 40k until the riders doing the shorter course did a left turn and the crazy hillbillies continued on for more punishment.

Having got Staples and Pitch ticked off, we stopped for a refuel and were serenaded by musicians and replenished with homemade sandwiches and cakes at the lunch stop. That all got a big thumbs up from us!

More undulating terrain and the last big bad boy Coombe to climb with tired legs.

Back to Cobham we went and the short cycle home to complete a very enjoyable day.

Race Report: Alan Parker

Event: RideLondon-Essex 100
Date: 26th May 2024

With an arrival time of 6:45 am and a start time of 7:45 am, we drove to Battersea Park and parked the car before setting off (parking was £5.80 for over 3 hours). We then kitted up and cycled across the river and down the embankment towards the start line.

The event was very well organised with clear signs directing you towards the different staging areas. We joined our starting wave and awaited our time to start.

The atmosphere was exciting with thousands of riders from all around the world. We made our way towards the start line and just before Waterloo Bridge, we were off. This is a closed-road event with lots of marshals positioned along the route.

We headed northeast as we headed out of London. The route weaved its way through London, through tunnels and over bridges out into the countryside. The weather was generally dry however due to heavy rain the night before and light showers throughout the day roads were wet.

Unfortunately, I suffered 2 punchers within the first 20 miles! So I recommend taking enough tubes and gas cylinders. I only had 1 spare tube on me but I was lucky that another Viceroy helped me out with a spare tube. There were so many punchers and breakdowns on the route, the most I’ve ever seen on an event like this. I know it’s probably down to the amount of riders but I believe the weather conditions were the main contributor.

As I mentioned the event was very well organised, however just be aware of other riders as some of the country roads are a little narrow. The route had 4 food/welfare stations along the way (25, 55, 73 & 88 miles). We did the 103 miles however you could have chosen to do the 30 or 60 mile routes. The food/welfare stations are clearly signposted and very well run by the organisers. I would say however that they were only giving away the standard items; gels, bananas and High 5. Due to the amount of riders, the staff were only allowing you to take 1 item from the stands. A lot of riders chose to stop at local convenience stores to purchase food and drink which in hindsight would have been a better option.

We didn’t stop at the first and last stop as we pushed on towards the finish. On the way back into London we faced a fairly strong headwind which caught some people off guard as they passed through the dual carriageway back into central London.

We finally turned onto Tower Bridge where crowds of people lined the bridge cheering riders on as we passed over the finish line. It was a great ride, with spectacular views of London and the Essex countryside. Lots of locals from the small towns and villages cheering you on as cycle through.

The route is rolling with one 4% climb at about the 20 mile mark and another lesser climb (but longer) on our way back into London.

This is the second time I’ve ridden the Ride 100 and I would recommend it.

“It was alright” – Alan Parker

Race Report: Peter Mountford

Event: South East Swim Run Series
Date: 19th May 2024

SwimRun, as the organisers explained, was invented by the Swedish as a way to explore their landscape. Swim to an island, run across it, and then swim to the next. Don’t know why they couldn’t just have used a boat but that would have stopped the 100-odd of us gathering at QuaySwim in Mytchett to leg it around the lake and jump into it a few times.

This was an intro event with a 2.5K or a 5K option, normally these things go on far longer. It was very much hosted as a friendly event, it’s more about exploring than a race, unfortunately, Sheena did not see it that way, so I geared myself up to get smashed by her swim power.

Sporting my trisuit, trail runners, swim hat, whistle and pull buoy, I was ready for action. As I looked around at the start line, I noticed I was one of maybe three people wearing a trisuit, the professional looking people around me were all sporting swimrun neoprene wear (yes, this is a thing and possibly your next bit of additional kit you never thought you needed). I suddenly felt that I might be about to get pretty chilly.

The klaxon went and off we all dashed for the first 1km trail run, the entry to the lake came soon enough and I heeded the advice of the organisers, taking it slow entering the water. You, like me, might have thought why bother bringing a pull buoy, turns out it keeps your bum up when trying to swim in trail runners, wonderful invention. Six hundred-odd meters later I exited the water and trotted off for 500m to the other side of the lake where I gently flopped back into the water to swim the last 400m back to the start.

Leg one of two complete, so around we went for a second time. Now I know what you’re thinking, was Peter putting on a brave face to stop the shivers or was he a smug git because it gets bloody hot running in neoprene? Smugness was the order of the day!

I crossed the line, as predicted behind Sheena, and after some gentle South African banter, we posed for photos and had some cake.

If you’re thinking of signing up for the next one, you only really need something to swim in, a pair of running shoes and a whistle. The whistle is mandatory in case you get in trouble. If you’re thinking of going for a longer distance event then definitely get a swimrun wetsuit (I was only smug because we stopped at 5K) and a pull buoy.

All in all, a really enjoyable event and we will be going to the next one in Richmond.

Event Report: Ethan Aspin

Event: Club Ride to Brighton for Fish and Chips 🐠 🍟
Date: 18th May 2024

My alarm blasted away at 5:45am. Funnily enough, I awoke from a nightmare about being late to meet up and missing the ride! Fuelled by ambition, I managed to set off and meet up with the Viceroy’s crew at 7am.

8 of us showed up all eager for a mega ride. We rode at a solid pace of around 26km/h but you can bet there were a few toilet and snack stops along the way.

The consistent pace scrambled as we shot up Ditchling, with Jason and Euan absolutely blasting up the hill. After that large effort, we happily made our way to grab some fish and chips at Brighton Pier with many opting for a coke to revitalise the sugar and caffeine levels.

Brighton definitely has something going for it – anti-cyclist dogs and drugged-up cyclists going around the pier without the need for a handlebar to name a couple!

As we set off back to London, energy levels returned, and a few hills and coffee stops later, we made it back to our respective homes after being in the saddle for 200km.

Kudos to Euan for taking on 99% of the headwind and setting the pace, and Jason for buying 7 cokes and 1 flat white. Cheers!

Race Report: Larissa Clay

Event: The Roc Wales
Date: 11th May 2024

Marit, Lance, Laurence and Lara took on The Roc Wales on Saturday 11th May as part of The Roc Trilogy series of events. Wales is the first race. 1.5km sea swim, followed by a 49km bike to Snowdon, 12km hike (or run!) up and down Snowdon, 49km bike back, before a final 1km run along the beach to finish. The weather turned out rather hot.

Lance was first out of the water, with Marit, Lara and Laurence all close behind. Lara could have done with some cold water training, it was so cold she couldn’t get her breath.

Lara rushed to the mountain overtaking Lance on the way, some might say she overcooked it slightly! Onto the mountain, Marit was hot on the heels of Lara, storming to the summit and catching Lara on the way down. Both high-fiving Lance and Laurence not far behind, reassuring them that the summit really wasn’t that far, secretly very grateful the scramble to the top was done for them!

Laurence took a little detour at the top, wanting to take in some further sights! Then again near the bottom in a beautiful lake to cool off.

The bike back was tough. Legs were shot from the mountain and it felt all uphill with a headwind. It was quite some relief to enter Abersoch, but then just for fun, there was a 1km beach run. The atmosphere on the run was probably the only thing keeping one foot in front of the other, before the finish line applause, a massage, and a drink from the bar, in a boat, on the beach!

A really tough event, especially early in the season, but that’s what makes the achievement so much better.

Event Report: Euan Robertson

Event: Mallorca 312
Date: Sat 27th April 2024

Riders: 8500
Bike: Road
Routes: 167/225/312km

I arrived in Mallorca a few days early to ease myself into the 312 by riding a few scenic routes prior to the race. The roads and landscape were magnificent and raised my excitement for the big day. The first day I did quite a bit of climbing, including the most famous climb on the island called Sa Colabra. After that, I gradually eased off for 2 days and did Cap de Formentor before an easier recovery day prior to the event.

There is a large expo that opened on the Thursday where I picked up my bib number and which offers a large number of assorted items for purchase such as cycling jerseys, socks and lots of other stuff. Previously, I had heard horror stories from some Viceroys members and others that the 2023 event was not very organised. Fortunately, this year was far more orderly and structured. I can’t fault the organisation at all.

The big day came around and it was a 4 am start for me. The official start was 6:30 am but people arrived very early to make sure they got in the right queue and not stuck at the back of the line. I managed to cross the line at about 6:45 am which is a good start time. Off we went!

The first 25km were fast and flat before you hit the mountains which were all in the first half of the ride. The gradients were relatively easy – estimated 6% average. Everyone was taking it steady up the climbs for obvious reasons. The scenery was fantastic and fortunately for us, it was warm but not too warm and the clouds kept the sun off us. In the mountains there aren’t any flat roads – it’s just up and down repeatedly so you just have to ride at a comfortable pace. It was a little windy on the day and so the descents had to be negotiated carefully. I saw a few crashes on the road so you just need to ride within your limits and be aware of other people who are not.

The feed stations were very good. They served cold Coca Cola, sandwiches, gels, fruit and organisers were happily refilling bottles of water for riders. They didn’t have any energy drinks or electrolyte mix so I’d recommend bringing a your own. I stopped at 3 of the feed stations but I believe there were 7 or 8 in total.

Towards the end of the mountains, the coastal scenery was fantastic, and the roads were lovely. After that, you are then on to a lot of long rolling hills and flat sections where the trains come along at significant speeds. Quite often on the flats, bigger groups were riding at 45kph+. You had to find the right group for you so you were not killing yourself just to stay on the back. At that point, there were still another 100km+ to go. There were still some climbs, but they were mostly 100m kickers just to get over.

I finished in just under 11 hours (Garmin) which was 11:30 official clock time. I was ahead of my goal of under 12 hours. It takes a little time to recover after such a long ride, but they had free pasta, drinks, and ice cream for refreshments. You could even get a massage for free, which I took advantage of and it worked wonders. The expo was buzzing at this stage as people were finishing. They had music and lots of other things going on. It took me a bit of time to get my appetite back after the ride but the pasta was just what I needed in the end. It was a really fantastic event, and I really enjoyed it.

Arguably, the 225 gives the best views without the extra distance so many people choose to do that. 8500 people is a huge amount and the only thing to be aware of is that some people do push past on narrow roads and descend too fast. My advice is to be very careful and watch your surroundings.

Other than that, it’s a great event and a fantastic trip in general as you also have the opportunity to enjoy the quieter days to do some other rides.

I flew out with my bike on British Airways and it was very easy. I also got the public bus from the airport to Alcudia where I stayed which turned out to be a smooth journey.

Note – the 2024 event sold out in 6 minutes. I didn’t get a place. However, many people either get injured, can’t go, don’t train or for whatever reason return their place. Those places then go back on to a “marketplace” for people to purchase and I found it very easy getting a spot that way. So don’t be disappointed if you don’t get one in the first entry sale.

Race Report: Sam Holloway

Event – Dorney Sprint Triathlon ATW / DorneyLakeEvents
Date – 4th May 2024

A bit apprehensive coming into this one, with a few firsts and experiments.

This would be my first open water swim of the year and first wetsuit swim of the year. Not really recommended, but not a lot I could do about it, unless you enjoy being cold. Also, this would be my first ride in anger on my new (to me) TT bike, I was fairly happy with my position but still had a fair bit of uncertainty.
Oh well, we’ll be fine!

Races at Dorney are always a pleasure, a combination of a closed course with a slick operation makes for a great venue. The marshalls were extra supportive and attentive. There were plenty of first-timers too and I was more than happy to share some tips and answer any questions in transition for the newbies.

Swim – 750m 11:21
As expected, fricking freezing! Entering the water before the start it took a few moments before I could get my face in the water and do a few strokes. I then spent the next few minutes doing what I could to get acclimatized and ‘warm’ whilst the rest of the wave entered the water. So a few swimming strokes, some sculling with kicks, just to get the blood going and comfortable in the wetsuit. Maybe a quick wee. 3,2,1… we were off!

I tend to like a strong start, as swimming is my strength, and try to get out in front. One swimmer to my left was off like a rocket and I tried catching his feet but he was too quick and soon out of reach. He ended up being 2 mins quicker. I then swam solo following the rowing buoys and the rope under the water to the far turn buoy. Here I was starting to feel the strong start bite me a bit and was keen to settle the heart rate plus give my shoulders a bit of break. I eased up a tad and another swimmer started touching my feet, I decided to ease up more to allow the other swimmer past and then sit on their feet for some of the return leg down the lake. I started feeling stronger again once I settled the heart rate and shoulders started coming back to me (inspiring confidence for other races this year.)
Not my quickest time but for a first outing, pretty solid. Exited the water in 3rd.

T1 – 1:53
Out of the water and run across to the bikes, stripping the top half of the wetsuit on the go. Arms were quite fatigued so a little trickier than normal.

It was quite painful running on the tarmac with frozen feet, thankfully I was quickly onto the grass area where the sprint transition was set up. As it was cold, I opted to put socks on but because I couldn’t feel my hands or feet this was an absolute nightmare, ended up on my arse putting them and my bike shoes on.

Helmet and sunglasses on, unrack the bike, and out of transition. No flying mount today as I hadn’t practiced that on this bike, also whoever decided to put the mount line on a slight hill is a bit crazy.
Exited transition P4.

Bike – 19k 30:48
Ok, anyone who has done a race at Dorney knows it’s a quick course and with little to no wind, it was ideal conditions. I spent the first ‘out’ settling my heart rate and trying to get comfortable. I could see 3rd place not far ahead and 2nd quite a way ahead.

Everything was going fairly smoothly up until the second lap. I’m not sure what happened but I think my saddle tilted down slightly over a small bump, this had the effect of putting a lot of pressure on my arms, back and neck holding the TT position and I felt I couldn’t push the power as easily. Also, I struggled a bit with reaching for my water bottle (maybe an upfront hydration pack needed).

I was keeping general pace with 3rd but he was slowly getting ahead.

Reaching the end of the 4th lap I reached down to take my feet out of my shoes ready for the dismount, again a little trickier on the new bike, it was at this point I realised I still couldn’t feel my toes. This would be fun.

T2 – 1:02
Safely dismounted before the line and a short jog to my racking position, trainers on, again slightly tricky when you can’t feel your toes. And out.

Run – 5k 18:43
Off we go, I could see 3rd place maybe 400m ahead. So that was my target. Dorney can be a bit mentally tough as it’s flat out 2.5k and back 2.5k but I had a target to chase so it wasn’t too bad.

I still couldn’t feel my feet so running was a little more awkward, but I caught 3rd just after 2k. On the return I could just make out 2nd but he was easily 1k ahead so it was just about securing 3rd and posting a good time.

I was feeling pretty great, so continued to push all the way to the line.
Over the line comfortably in 3rd. Woo!

Finish time 1:03:49
Overall 3rd/208
Age Category 2nd/53

A bit rusty around the edges and big gains to be made on the bike, but very happy with how it all went.

Race Report: Tracey Mills

Event – Hart Triathlon Series
Date – 6th May 2024

What a day! Very, very wet and the support crew hid in the cars!

• 🌧️ personal rain cloud, standard issue
• 🏊‍♀️ didn’t get my toes tapped 💪🏻
• 🚴🏻‍♂️ didn’t fall off 💪🏻
• 🏃🏻‍♀️ overtook some people and kept running 💪🏻

First event back from fracturing my pelvis in crash at the Age Group Worlds in September  – safe to say I was initially pretty nervous of the rain…soon forgot once on the bike.

Finish time 1:18:19,
Age Category 2nd
Overall 71/177
Female 16/74

Tears of laughter and fun with friends = priceless 🥰

Race Report: Tim Ferguson

Event – TCS London Marathon
Date – 21st April 2024

Boarding the train at Surbiton it felt as if the event had already begun, with the train heaving with supporters and runners, everyone in a relaxed mood.

Arriving at Blackheath and the scale of the event really unfolded. This is a huge park and it was overwhelmed by a sea of runners.

The advice from the expo was to join a queue for the portaloo and by the time you reach the front, you’ll need it, good advice.

At 10:28 my wave started and despite all the advice, I went off harder than I’d planned. After 10km I settled into a rhythm and maintained a consistent pace until about 32km, then it drifted slightly for the last 10km.

The event itself is truly magnificent, having spectated many many times, I had no idea how inspiring the crowd would be. Tower Bridge is just jaw-droppingly incredible. It’s hard to express how overwhelming the sounds and sights that confront you as you turn onto the bridge are. I wanted to stop and take it all in, but I also wanted to break 4 hours…

Between miles 17 and 20 was the first time I began to really feel the fatigue and for the first time was concerned that my pace was dipping and that breaking 4 hours would now be a struggle. In reality, although my pace did drop, it wasn’t by nearly as much as I thought and there had been nothing to worry about.

Running down the embankment and scanning for Big Ben, knowing that it would be a right turn followed by a left turn then 380 yards to the finish. To my surprise, the famous clock didn’t really come into view until quite late, about mile 25. That last right turn was a turning point, finishing was guaranteed and sub 4 hours seemed extremely likely. Again the noise was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and the energy from the crowd carried me through to the finish. However my first question upon receiving my medal, and what a magnificent medal it is, was to ask how to withdraw my ballot entry for next year!

Reflecting on this race, it is unquestionably an unforgettable experience, if you were there and cheered on random strangers then thank you, it means the world to us.

London Marathon 2024 Tim Ferguson
London Marathon 2024 Tim Ferguson
London Marathon 2024 Tim Ferguson