East Fife Tri Club

Race Report, March 31 2015

Stirling Triathlon club hosted the Duathlon events on Sunday 29th March, including the sprint distance Scottish Duathlon Championships. 

EFT members Jane Askey and Sandra Tulloch took part, once again doing the club proud.  Jane gave another fantastic performance and was first in her category in the sprint distance event, qualifying for the Sprint World Duathlon Championships which takes place in Adelaide in October.  Well done Jane!

Sandra opted for the standard distance race - which included a 10k run, 42k bike, 5k run - finishing 3rd in her category and delighted to achieve a podium place.  Competitors hoped that the rain would hold off but unfortunately not and so the bike legs proved challenging in wet and cold conditions.  


Excellent results for both – very well done!


Race Report, March 2015

The annual Arbroath Smokies 10 mile race took place on Sunday 1st March.  Subjected to strong winds, runners battled against it for the first half of the race.  Tracey McPhee finished with a time of 1:35:38 and Lynn Hardie, 1:38:44.

On March 8th the delayed final race in the series of the Monikie Winter Duathlons took place.  Conditions were finally favourable with low winds and slightly warmer temperatures, and East Fife Triathlon club were once again well represented.

Finishing times on the day were: Andrew Brierley 1:10:45, Sandra Tulloch 1:19:13, Kirsti Sharrat 1:20:44, Alistair Hood 1:23:28, Sally Newman-Carter 1:31:20, Rebecca Trengove 1:36:06 and Jane Askey in 2:04:14.

Results across the whole series were added together to provide overall winners. Prizes were awarded to Sandra Tulloch who was second female and also second in her category, Kirsti Sharrat who finished second in her category, and Jane Askey who was first in her category. 


15th March saw the increasingly popular Alloa Half Marathon. Fine conditions and light winds provided the perfect setting for the 33rd race, which is immensely well organised and supported by the local community.  Adrian Wood finished with a time of 1:40:52 and Sally Newman-Carter achieved a new PB, finished with a time of 2:00:23



Is there anything Tougher than Puffer?

It seems a long time ago now, but back in November, Team Captain Scott rallied the troops and put together a band of misfits to participate in Strathpuffer 2015…

The Strathpuffer started in 2005.  The organisers say ‘it was meant to be a one off local event’, but word of a great race will always get around, and it has now obtained legendary status as one of the toughest mountain bike events in the world.

The race is a 24 hour event with competitors striving to complete as many of the 11km laps as possible within the 24 hour period.   It is usually open to solos, pairs and teams of four, but this year, it being the 10th anniversary, they allowed 10 teams of 10.  This is a great opportunity for those who may have been keen to give it a go but were concerned about the extreme nature of the challenge.

As it is held in January in the north of Scotland, around 17 hours of the race is held in the dark.  This is not just a test of speed and mountain bike skill but also an incredible test of endurance, especially for the soloists, but indeed for all riders and their support teams.

When Scott pitched the idea to us, a few of us expressed concerns that it may be a challenge too far for us newbies to mountain biking.  As triathletes, our primary cycling discipline is often road biking, and whilst some of the team had had experience, a few of us were basically starting from scratch.  But Scott’s assurances of ‘Oh you’ll be fine’ coaxed us into signing up.  We had 10 weeks to prepare ourselves, so started setting up some regular rides around Falkland and Tentsmuir to gain experience, build confidence, and get to know the rest of the team.

Given that 10 of us would be taking it in turns to complete laps, we knew that for us, the challenge wasn’t so much ‘extreme endurance’ as it was ‘extreme organisation’ and emails flew back and forth over the months in order to source kit, arrange transport, discuss logistics, determine plans, and eventually it looked like things were coming together… until disaster struck.  In quick succession, two team members were forced to pull out due to injury and illness, with only a matter of days to go!  Panicked at the thought of having to take on more laps each, we needed to find replacements, and fast! A quick recruitment drive amongst East Fife Tri Club members gathered two ‘willing volunteers’ and we were back to full strength again! Until…

Scott Urquhart.  The Team Captain.  The Driving Force.  The Gatherer.  The Motivator.  The Man who said ‘yes it’s hard but you’ll be fine!’ told us 4 days before we were due to travel north that he was ill and couldn’t come after all.

More cynical team members might have suggested that he’d planned it all along.  The only one of us who had competed before, had he cajoled us all into it, knowing that in fact there was no chance he’d put himself through *that* hell again!?

No no, we’re sure he was genuinely ill and he’d probably have produced a doctor’s note if we’d insisted.  His disappointment was evident and even knowing he wouldn’t be coming with us, he still took the time to give us advice, send us kit lists, remind us of the plans and generally annoy us with incessant messages asking us ‘What’s happening now? Where are you? What are you doing?’ all weekend.  There was no cutting the Captain out!

And so it came that, extreme weather warnings aside, we intrepid travellers started the journey to Strathpeffer, ignoring Windy Wilson’s facebook warnings to stay off the A9.  We needed to get the camp set up before dark, so Neil, Dave, Rhona and Sally set off from Cupar on Friday morning, spirits high and vehicle suspension low. 

Arriving in Strathpeffer at 3pm to pick up our car passes, we were greeted with heavy skies and steady snowfall.   We tried to pretend that we didn’t mind, but a night of camping was ahead of us and it seemed like snow perhaps wasn’t going to help warm us up.  A short drive back to Contin and the race site, and we found ourselves in a frustratingly slow queue.  Getting several hundred vehicles on site is difficult at the best of times, but with snow and icy conditions, the marshalls certainly had a challenge.  Of course discovering that we had been waiting in said queue for over half an hour RIGHT NEXT TO our designated campsite without knowing it added to the frustration.  But whatever, we’re over it.  It’s fine.  

Team work makes the dream work, and the tent – or marquee - was up in half an hour, tables up, kit out, and most importantly, kettle on.  We had some time to kill before wave 2 (Mandy, Elise, Gavin and Jamie) were due to arrive, so we headed to registration to pick up our numbers and make friends with Guy Martin.  What a legend.  He must have been sick of folk asking for photos with him, but he just grinned and beared it! 

All signed up and registered, we headed to Contin Village Hall for an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet.  Carb loading is one of the most fun things about racing and we weren’t going to miss out on copious amounts of mac and cheese.  We patiently waited for 7 minutes that felt like 57 minutes (because it was) and maxed out on everything that was available – you’ve got to get your money’s worth!

By the time Wave 2 arrived, we were back at camp and doing a spot of team building over a drop of port, and lamenting that we didn’t have any cheese.  But Wave 2’s arrival got us back to important business – discussing how to set Sally up with Guy Martin.  After a plan was formulated, we set about planning our running order for the big event the next day. 

This was no easy task.

The first decision was who would go first?  This was a scary position for 2 reasons:  1. The start of the race was a Le Mans style run from the road to the start line where our bikes would be waiting for us, held by team members, and the melee of runners in a mad dash added to the pressure.  And  2.  The premier rider was the guinea pig of the race, going in blind, unaware of what the course was like and whether we could survive it.  Going round the table, it seemed as though everyone had a reason (excuse) not to… “I’m really not comfortable running in my cleats on this ice”, “I’ve got that injury that prevents me from running”, “I’m not supposed to be doing a day time lap”, “My cat’s ill…”.  Sally’s excuse factory was not working as quickly as everyone else’s and without a valid reason not to, she became the lucky first rider.

Next we had to consider the light.  Ideally we’d have liked to get everyone around the course in daylight at least once, so as to be better prepared for the dark shifts, but with each lap expected to take around an hour, and darkness drawing in by 5pm, we knew that a maximum of 7 of us would get that chance.  Plucky Ol’ Neil and Dave put themselves forward for the night shifts and everyone else breathed a sigh of relief. As some of us would have to do 3 laps, we also had to consider the pros and cons of doing double laps versus dragging ourselves out a third time in the wee hours.  We knew we had to be able to allow for changes, even at the last minute, so this really did mean that everyone was going to be ‘on duty’ throughout the whole of the night.  If there was ever an event where teamwork and comradery was essential, this was it.

And our first test of comradery came soon afterwards… all sharing one big tent, could we put up with each other’s snoring?!  We did wonder if the van would be a viable sleeping location, and so Gavin valiantly offered to test it out to see if it proved warmer and drier than sleeping in the tent. It did.  Now we know.

Early the next morning, after a cold and damp night of restless sleep (except Gavin) we awoke to find that Jamie was missing!  Was he ok? Had he come to his senses and done a runner?  Had he gone to buy another suitcase? Had he been eaten by bears?  Probably bears we decided, but anyway, we were soon distracted from this by the discovery of fresh snow overnight. So pretty! Ahhhh! Loook! Oh, we have to ride through this. 

But more pressing was our need for breakfast, so Mandy volunteered for duty and got the kettle on and the porridge cooking.  Perhaps sniffing out the brewing coffee, Jamie appeared, unscathed from his walk(!) and before long, our final missing link, Vicky, arrived from her cozy hotel and the team was complete!  We spent our time doing final prep on the bikes, kitting up, and nervously smiling as if trying to convince ourselves we weren’t all crazy.   A welcome distraction from our nerves came in the shape of Dougie Vipond and his camera crew, for an interview for the Adventure Show, scheduled for airing on the 10th March.  Even if we don’t make the final cut, I’m sure we’ll all be glued to the TV for it to relive the whole weekend again!

At 9:45, with tensions high, we made our way for the race brief, and armed with this information (that settled no-one’s nerves) we back-tracked to the running start line for the Le Mans Sprint.  Knowing her limits, Sally positioned herself towards the back of the runners and held her breath for the call. 10am: GO!  The Sprint developed into a trundle as several hundred people squeezed along the track towards the awaiting bikes.   The team yelled, Sally rode, and we were off!

The course is a mixture of terrain and starts on a steady climb on the fireroads through the forest before veering off onto bike tracks, of varying width.  It takes you through streams, over narrow, hair raising bridges, up sharp inclines, down rock slabs, through thick sludgy mud, around boulders and rocks, over tree roots and under snow covered branches.  It is beautiful, with stunning scenery throughout, but relentless, with almost 900ft elevation gain and difficult technical sections.  If you’re not out of breath climbing the hills, you’re holding your breath in fear over the rocks and ice.  Experienced and proficient mountain bikers may make light work of it but I’m sure no-one would say it is an ‘easy’ route, especially under the conditions of this race.

But we made it.  All of us.  We all survived.  There were mishaps and crashes and injuries and hyperthermia.  A surprising pattern emerged when the dark laps proved more popular than the daylight – perhaps it’s better when you can’t see what you’re hurling yourself towards.  Jamie learnt the hard way that clipping in can be scary, by tumbling over the Bridge of Thighs into the stream below, but still smashed his lap time.  Gavin taught us that picking up your bike and running over the technical sections can actually save time.  Vicky and Elise showed us girl power with absolutely storming lap times.  Sally took on the only double shift but regretted it afterwards.  Mandy lit up the whole forest with her grin after finishing her night lap.  Rhona cared for us all night, feeding us, supporting us, greeting us all back in after every lap.  Neil and Dave took on the difficult night shift on a one on one off stint.  Vicky brought us all back from the edge when fatigue, sleep deprivation and cold meant that we had no-one out on the course for a while, and she dragged herself up and out to remotivate us and spur us all into action.  Timing the last laps was crucial to maximise our result – the last lap must be started before 10am and finished before 11am to count towards our tally.  So Neil took the penultimate lap and blitzed it, overtaking his hero Guy Martin on the final descent, to ensure Dave had maximum time to complete.  And complete he did!  A PB brought him home with 10 minutes to spare, giving us a finishing result of 22 laps.

Did we win?  No.  Not even close.  Are we proud of ourselves? Oh yes. And did we enjoy it?  We loved it.  Like childbirth, we’ve all forgotten the pain, and can’t wait to do it again.  We’ve been bitten by the bug (and fortunately not frostbite) and are already planning quad teams for 2016. Yes that’s right, we want to increase the challenge and intensify the pain.  I guess we’re daft like that.

We’re also immensely proud of fellow club members Alistair and Andrew Hood, a father and son team competing as a pair and managing an impressive 24 laps.  Hindered by mechanical problems and sharing a bike for much of the race, they still persevered and managed 21st out of 77 pairs. An excellent performance by both!  Further, we’re delighted that another local team, the Muckyriderz,  and Gillian Pratt, all from Leslie Bike Shop/Bikers Boutique won the quads and female solo respectively!  Fife was very well represented indeed!

Full Team List:

Captain - Scott Urquhart, Elise Methven, Sally Newman-Carter, Rhona Graham, Mandy Palmer-Norrie, Vicky Olusanya, Gavin Waterston, Dave Connacher, Neil Pirie, Jamie MacDonald.

For full results click here.

Race Report, February 2015

Sunday 8th February saw round two of the Monikie duathlon winter series, at which members of the club enjoyed superb conditions. Despite frosty temperatures, the blue skies and light winds encouraged a fantastic turnout. The format consists of a 4km run, followed by 21km bike and finishing with another 4km run. The third and final round in the series will take place on 8th March. Overall winners of the series will be announced after the final race.

Well done to Sandra Tulloch who had an excellent race, finishing second with a time of 1:20:34. Kirsti Sharrat finished in 1:24:48, Sally Newman-Carter in 1:35:54, Rebecca Trengove in 1:37:12 and Jane Askey, finishing first in her category in 2:06:32.

Adrian Allan finished in 1:21:50 and Alasdair Hood in 1:28:28.


Elsewhere, Neil Pirie took part in the Velo Sportive Tour of West Calder on Saturday 7th February. This was a 100km ride down to Biggar and back. He finished in just under 4 hours and was delighted to cross the line in the lead group of 3 riders. 

Race report, January 2015

2015 got off to a tremendous start for Fiona Lothian who took part in the New Years Day triathlon in Edinburgh, organised by Edinburgh Triathletes. Finishing 1st in her category in a time of 1:25:37 (9:24/44:06/30:38) Fiona put in a superb performance in extremely difficult and windy conditions.  A fantastic start to the year!

The second round of the Monikie Duathlon series was due to take place this weekend, but was postponed due to the severe weather. The series will continue in February and the final part will instead take place on 8th March.

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