ITU Gold Coast 2018 bike video

Youtube video – ITU Gold Coast 2018 Age Group bike course

ITU Gold Coast 2018 bike video

ITU Gold Coast 2018 bike video

Video of the ITU Gold Coast 2018 Age Group bike course

Two laps of the course.

Please bear in mind…

  • The course will be vehicle free so I couldn’t take the racing line (unless safe to do so).
  • As a competitor, you’ll be carrying a lot more speed in and out of the turns.
  • I edited out traffic lights as best I could.

Please leave a comment if this was helpful.


GC ITU 2018

Route and racing tips – ITU Gold Coast 2018 bike course

GC ITU 2018


ITU Gold Coast 2018 Strava route

Please use the link to download the GPX file from Strava. If you don’t have a premium Strava account leave a comment or contact me and I will send you the .gpx for your Garmin or alternative device.

Hints and tips:

  • Flat and fast so rear disk and deep section front will be okay.
  • Strong riders will benefit from large front rings and 23 cassette. Use your preferred TT combination.
  • Wind will play a role so check it on race day and adjust your pacing strategy accordingly. It’ll be headwind out to Paradise Point or vice versa.
  • Depending on race day barriers, ignore the road markings. Don’t get sucked into the bike lanes and everyday white lines (there are a lot).
  • Recce the transitions for mounting and dismounting.
  • Turnpoint at Paradise Point was not obvious. I would question the ITU map. Recce this.
  • Recce all lines in/out and through roundabouts.
  • Standard distance competitors should choose an early line (on the right-hand side) before the right hand into Steven St for the second lap.
  • Recce turns back on to GC highway as there are opportunities to hold good speed if you get this right.

If you’d like any more tips, please get in touch.

Have a great race!

Coached Events…

I have had the pleasure of coaching athletes that have taken part in the following events:

140.6/Ironman/Challenge/long course triathlon
World Championships (Kona)
Port Macquarie
Coeur D’Alene
St George
Western Australia
Lake Tahoe

ETU/ITU long course triathlon
Long Distance Triathlon World Championships (GB age group team)
Long Distance Triathlon European Championships (GB age group team)

70.3 triathlon
Big Kahuna
Zell am See
St Polten
Day in the Lakes
New Forest Middle
Lake Stevens
Hever Castle

Standard Distance triathlon
World Championships (GB age group team)
European Championships (GB age group team)
Escape from Alcatraz
Little Beaver
Silicon Valley
Donner Lake
Eton Dorney

Sprint triathlon
Schongau (Germany)
Morgan Hill
UC Davis
Hever Castle
Thames Turbo series

Ultra Running
Western States 100
Winter 100
Lakeland 50 & 100
10 Peaks (Wales)
Lakes in a Day
Rock ‘n’ River 50
London 50K

San Francisco
Milton Keynes
Marathon (Greece)

Half Marathon
San Francisco
Barns Green
Walnut Creek
San Ramon

10 miler
Cabbage Patch

Chevin Chase
Abbey Dash

Cycling Sportives
Paris Roubaix
Tour of Flanders
Etape (TdF)
Nove Colli
New Forest 100
Surrey Rumble
Ride 100 London
Around the Bay (Australia)
Three Peaks (Australia)
Mt Taranaki (New Zealand)
Lake Taupo Challenge (New Zealand)
America’s Most Beautiful
Hell of Ashdown
Fred Whitton
Etape du Dales
Dartmoor Classic
New Forest Rattler
Etape Pennines
Exmoor Beast
Etape Caledonian
Dragon Ride
Soth Downs Way (MTB, two days)
Etape Cymru

Mt Diablo Summit

Open Water Swims
Hampton Court

Ironman UK: Race Day

I slept okay, up at 2:30am and having breakfast by 3am. The nerves got the better of me and I found I had to force myself to eat.

We arrived at transition for 4am (when it opened) and I readied my bike…speedfill aero bottle, bento box (cut up bar pieces and gel flask), watch, shoes with bands. Checked gears and tyres. Dropped special needs bag off with two gas canisters and a spare 80mm tube and hoped I’d never see them again, thankfully I didn’t.

T1 was a hive of activity so I headed for the nearest toilet queue, chatted with a few guys, got rid of a few grams, popped an Imodium and off to swim start. I met up with Rach and got some final last words of encouragement. On the way I bumped in to Helen Smith (from Thames Turbo) who convinced me to head over to the right side of the pack. We sculled our way over and took up a position on the far right.


A last look to Helen, who was pressing start on her watch. Good idea I thought and we were off.

It was a straight 750m to the first left turn buoy and I went out hard but not all out. It was relatively trouble free so I was able to get into a good early rhythm, breathing every two strokes to begin with. The first turn was a bit messy on the inside, so I went wide to avoid the hassle. The second left turn, all going well and we were heading back to shore with the wind, but extremely bright sun which made sighting difficult. I decided to go in to cruise mode and focus on breathing every three strokes with better technique. The pink hat swimming next to me meant I’d caught one of the pro-women.

Swim: Australian Exit

Swim: Australian Exit

I exited the first lap in 31 minutes, upon re-entry I decided that with a more spaced out field I could now take a tighter racing line. I was now comfortable and looking for a draft. It was at that point I felt something wrapped around my foot…weed. I kicked but it clung there. I kicked harder, but it still clung there. I dragged that tangle of weeds around for about 1700m, I couldn’t believe it. In hindsight, I should have stopped for 10secs to remove it. To drag it for so long would have cost me time. Focus!

The second loop was better than the first and I was able to turn tight to the buoys with no hassle. I kicked hard for the last 100m to get the blood to my legs and must have dislodged the weed because when I looked down on exit, it had gone. 1h 03m I was very happy (Target: Beat ironman swim PB of 1h 08m. Aim: 1h 05m with a good draft). I ran past Rachael shrugging my shoulders, arms held out in disbelief…where did that come from? She beamed back and from that moment it was game on!

Swim: 1h 03m (188th fastest overall, 21st in age group)

The answer was that the swim had come from training and it was great to be rewarded for hard work so soon into a race.

Swim: Final exit to T1

Swim: Final exit to T1

A long run to transition lets you gather your thoughts. I stripped to my waist and found my transition bag easily. Wetsuit off, helmet on, shades on, gel flask…go! Gel flask in rear pocket on way to bike. Counted the rows and ran to my bike, got it, ran to the mount line.

Bike: Exiting T1

Bike: Exiting T1

Rubber bands held as they had done in practice, a quick flying squirrel mount that the juniors I coach would have been proud of and I was heading out of T1, bare feet on shoes spinning along.

T1: 3m 15s (3rd fastest in age group)

Once away from the crowd, I put each foot in. Careful to do it between speed bumps. It was on the last speed bump when I heard something crash to the floor. I didn’t see anything. I reached down to my bottle cage, everything was in order…hmmmm, not me then.

Bike: Leaving Pennington Flash

Bike: Leaving Pennington Flash

I turned out of Pennington Flash and started to take note of the watts. This is when RPE can really let you down. You feel so good, even what feels like a moderate effort can be way harder than you should be going. Sure enough, I looked down and I was way over my target watts. I slowed up, paid attention to my watch and sipped water for the next few miles. It was at that moment that I realised the noise exiting T1 had been my gel flask falling out of the bento box as I hit the last speed bump…arrgggghhh. Okay, don’t panic – there’s food on the course. But, only energy bars. I thought about this for a while and decided to eat solids for the first half and then switch to my second gel flask (still safely in my rear pocket) for the second half. I then spent the next 10 minutes calculating what nutrition I had on board, the carb content of half a PowerBar (from feed stations) and re-calculating how much I had to pick up. It pays to know the nutrition content of everything you can get from an aid station. Fortunately this was one of the many things we checked in the days before the race.

This was my thirteenth long course event and it never ceases to amaze me how many riders go out too hard from T1. I just bided my time easing up on inclines to stay under my wattage ceiling – as riders blasted past me, wasting watts that they were going to be preying they had saved later in the day, half way around lap three.

Bike: Keeping an eye on the watts

Bike: Keeping an eye on the watts

So, the bike course was a lollipop stick, three loops and finally a 3km run into T2, with 5249ft of elevation gain. At 31.9km/h, it would give me a time of 5h 40m. The lollipop stick was quick and I averaged about 32km/h, so I banked a couple of minutes before hitting the first loop. I hit the lap button at the reservoir just before the first climb. A crowd was already gathering and a glance down at the watts told me to back off as I was over my ceiling and letting outside influences (the crowd cheering) into my race. No way I was going to mess this up, I had a 1h 03m swim in the bag. I shut them out and those riders around me who were again overdoing it on the climb…crazy. I could even hear their breathing, which told me they were at threshold. Up and over the first climb, another two and I was done. Watts were high and pace had dropped but the fast sections were still to come. The descent off the top was fast and I stuck to my lower wattage target, mindful that there was a bit of wind around.

It was great to have recce’d the course and knowing to gear down before the turn at the Black Dog pub really helped smooth that corner. Going into it hard and exiting well really got the crowd going as well, which gave me a nice boost. The climb out was one to watch as it was easy to over-gas it here having recovered from the descent. The power meter (Quarq Elsa) was a great help again.

Then came the fast sections. The first lap felt the windiest and I got blown about a bit. It was good to see the average speed going up though. I came into the built up areas where there are a lot more twists and turns and was joined for the rest of the first lap by Amy Forshaw, 3rd female. We went back and forth as I eased back on the climbs and she thrashed past me. This went on for a little while and I was aware the group was growing. This was turning into an issue. There were some riders keen to draft and I chatted to one guy who agreed we were picking riders up as we were going past. So, when the majority of them slowed down to grab a drink, I got the last bottle and put the hammer down for a while. I never saw them again.

I crossed the reservoir and hit lap. 1h 36m at 207w NP. Two minutes under target pace and 2w under target NP…result! All my calculations, testing and recce data was stacking up. 75kms into the bike and everything on target. Now it was going to be a test of the training plan, fueling, patience…

Bike: Climbing

Bike: Climbing

The second climb, and again I pootled up as I had the previous lap. The crowd was getting bigger and louder and there weren’t so many riders keen to hammer past me. Things were starting to bite for those that had had gone out too hard.

Descending more carefully off the top due to increased traffic, I hit the (Black Dog pub) corner harder than before and got an even bigger cheer…I was enjoying this. The descent down Belmont Road (A675) wasn’t as windy so I took the opportunity to relieve myself, hoping at 80km/h most of it would fly backwards away from me. Most of it.

Feeling comfortable, I was already going past those who were going to have a very long day and I was mindful that obstacles were going to become more of an issue. Feed stations got a bit tricky but fortunately I got through them all okay. I agree with anti-littering measures but having to dump your bottles close to the feed station means lots of people weaving around while they’re filling their aero bottles. I think it would be better if there was a bottle dump zone some way away (100/200m up the road) from the feed station or have a 200m stretch where it was okay to throw bottles.

I saw Rachael on the Tour de France-like Babylon Lane climb and was happy to report that I felt great! She told me that she thought that I was about 12th in age group. Good to know, but it didn’t really matter I was sticking to my plan. What will be, will be.

I crossed the reservoir again, 1h 35m, 211 NP, 45 seconds between lap 1 and 2. 126km, average NP 210 (still on target!) in 3h 58m, av speed of 31.8km/h. The accumulation of hitting target after target was increasing my positive mental state. I just had to hold it for another lap…

Last time up the Sheep House Lane climb. Again, it was hard not to get carried away by the crowd but I’d banked so much, up to now. Again, the power meter kept me in check. I was mindful of how my legs felt on the climb and I picked my way through people weaving up to the ‘lonely tree’. My legs were still good and I had to hold back – very encouraging.

Off the top, down Rivington Road and a final showboat with the Black Dog crowd…oops!!! Go it all wrongggggg. Locked up the back wheel and was heading for the crash barriers and an increasingly frightened group of spectators…rented wheels, rented wheels, rented wheels…an inch away from impact…one foot un-clipped…I stopped. A quick turn, clip back in and I was all smiles as the crowd’s nervous “wwooooaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” had turned in to a massive cheer and shouts all the way up High Street. ..phew! Great to give the crowd some excitement, but very close and very stupid. Focus!

For the remainder of the lap I had noticed it was harder to maintain target watts and I consciously allowed myself to coast a bit more below my downhill wattage target. I hit lap at the reservoir for the last time: 1h 38s at an NP of 204w. That meant 3x50km laps within 2m 25s…not bad pacing ;-)

No third climb for me, and the crowd in front of the Chapel give you an extra cheer when you carry on Rivington Lane and on to T2. One of the great event memories I have, was approaching a group of local cyclists who all pulled over and clapped me past. I got the feeling that they really appreciated that this was tough. Cheers guys!

BIKE: 5h 42m, target 5h 40m. (84th fastest overall, 16th in age group)

Because T2 was uphill and I ride with very uncomfortable cycling shoes (not tri-specific shoes), I decided to keep my shoes on until I handed over my bike to the volunteers who racked it (badly, they broke my Speedfill aero mounting – how, I have no idea. All I know is that I couldn’t have ridden with it like that and I would have noticed). I then took off my shoes and ran into Rivington High School bare footed (that tennis court surface really hurt!).

Inside, the volunteers were a great help locating my bag and I was quickly on my way. It was running out of T2 that I quickly came across an issue. I carry my own fuel – two Fuel Belt flasks for water and one gel flask. I put the gel flask in my rear pocket of my tri-top (which had been okay on the bike) but now it bounced about alarmingly. I had used this tri-top before, but there was no way it was staying in there this time. I had to carry the gel flask. I don’t like anything in my hands when running but I was going to have to suck it up today. Note to self: when testing kit, all kit means ALL kit, no matter how stupid you think you’re going to look on the Thames towpath.

T2: 2m 06s (5th fastest in age group)

I’d recce’d the run course and knew it was slightly rolling, but easy enough for the first 10km and that settling in, fueling and focusing on good technique were the important bits. A couple of guys went past me and I grew concerned that I wasn’t moving quickly enough. Going by RPE, I didn’t feel fast but checking the Garmin I was running 4:45min/kms comfortably. The target was 5min/km but knowing the lumps came later I had made the decision to bank a little time early on. So, I was happy to hold this pace.

Starting the run at the front end of the race and running along the canal was a bit lonely. A couple of guys passed me (one in my age group) but again I stuck to my plan. I amusingly swapped HR data with an Irish guy running past (he asked)…I was pleased to report 142bpm to his 165bpm! Bye for now, I’ll see you later (at that effort), I thought.

The first 10km was tough but my feet felt great (Newtons with a soft orthotic sole and talc…joy!) and I was fueling well (every 20mins) and the gels started to kick in. Running along the canal, thoughts of how tough this was going to be came in to my head. I used the rebuttals I wrote down. I thought about how hard the club juniors that I coach work, and I wanted them to be proud of me. Lots of ‘what ifs’…personal, coaching, my athletes, those I coach, family and friends, etc.

Leaving the canal there’s a tough incline and I passed two guys walking that had passed me only minutes earlier. At the top, Rachael said I was about 15th in age group and there were a few in a bunch just ahead. Encouraged, I joined the main three lap run circuit and my mood started to lift. Everyone was eye-balling each other’s number belts as they ran out and back, which was easy to do with so few on the course at this stage. I made the decision not to get into it and kept my head down and just kept doing what I was doing. My plan.

Heading into Bolton city centre I crossed into the middle of the road to high-five Jon Heasman (Thames Turbo Speedo Race Team). Just out of interest, I took a time check, he was 17mins ahead when I got to that position on the return. 1 lap down. I passed my dad and his partner (Shirley), which gave me another lift. I tried to encourage a struggling Bella Bayliss with a shout. My average pace was holding. I eased back on the steep section out of the city, which gave me a little extra on the false flat sections.

Run: Lucy Gossage in the background

Run: Lucy Gossage in the background

I ran with first female, Lucy Gossage for her last two laps. We went back and forth a few times as she hammered past me on the steep sections and I would re-overtake her as it flattened off. I thought it was a risky strategy, but it obviously worked for her. The crowd noise for Lucy was huge and a very welcome distraction.

Run: Drafting Lucy Gossage

Run: Drafting Lucy Gossage

On the second lap I got two fresh Fuel Belt bottles and a gel flask from Rachael from the special needs station. Fueling was still on target and my head was up. I just kept focusing on running tall, from the hips, head up and relaxing jaw, shoulders, arms, etc.

Run: Daniel Halksworth coming for a chat

Run: Daniel Halksworth coming for a chat

Around the city centre Daniel Halksworth (winner) passed me on his last lap. He was keen to chat with me about his displeasure about being sent down the finishing chute a lap early. I thought, ‘uh huh, yep, sorry dude, I can’t process your problems, I’ve got my own issues here fella’ :-) and he was gone…mumbling into the distance.

There were a lot more people on the course now and it was hard for me or Rachael to keep track of where I was. It didn’t really matter as this was all about what I could do. I knew my swim time. I didn’t know either transition times or my exact bike split at this stage (I’ll work on this) but I knew it was roughly on target and if I could keep this run pace going I’d be in with a shot of beating 10h 30m and getting a possible Kona slot through roll down. I tend to do the calculations pre-race and then just focus on hitting that pace at the time. Barring incident, the end result should work out.

Run: Bolton city centre

Run: Bolton city centre

The last lap and this was it. I was determined to run the steep hill out of town, which I did. There were a lot of people walking by now. After this, the final rise out of town and I decided this was the point to crank it up to the line (6kms left). I grabbed some cola from the feed station. I love cola but only use it as a treat towards the end of races. A reward. It was in plastic cups, so of course I threw it all over my face…great!

With head up and a last high-five with Jon going the opposite way (the gap now eight minutes between us) I started to search for those with three bands (meaning they were also on their final lap). I noticed a couple of guys in my age group and decided to pass them at speed so they wouldn’t be able to track me. I was flying. It hurt, but I just kept telling myself that I had put together a great race so far and to be able to speed up at this stage was my reward for 135kms of patience. I still had no idea what the result would be, but I was daring to hope. I was mindful not to push it too much. I could feel tightness in my legs and the fear of cramping in the final kms was a very real possibility.

I was constantly wondering whether this was good enough and that if it was there was no way I could ease up. I had to grit my teeth and push on. I was definitely inside myself at this stage. The soft talc soles of earlier didn’t exist anymore, and I could feel every piece of gravel. Preying that my legs didn’t cramp.

Is it really painful? Hmmmmmm, it certainly isn’t pain like when you hurt yourself. It’s not sharp or acute in any way. You can’t point to it. It’s not even like pain/soreness from a hard hilly interval session. It’s deeper and more whole bodied. Pushing a deeply fatigued state, your limbs can start to tingle, your vision narrows and you do go inside yourself. You definitely become more separate e.g. a mind within a body. Like you’re looking out from inside something. I didn’t notice much, even within this loud bizarre spectacle. Ignoring all feed station offerings. I was now just thinking about the line.

And…there it was…I turned a corner and started heading away from it…what!…errr…I turned another corner and there it was again…phew! (word to the course designer…that wasn’t nice!)

Run: Finishing Chute

Run: Finishing Chute

I was hurting coming down the finish chute (as you can see) but I couldn’t take my eyes off the time…10h 13m (and some change I didn’t care about)…eh!? This didn’t make sense. Had the pros set off earlier than the rest of us? No. Confused, I crossed the line…not even celebrating, still trying to work things out with a very mangled brain.

I saw Rachael and my dad and we all hugged. Rachael and I were all teary and open-mouthed about the performance. I asked about my time and she confirmed it. It was a great moment. All the sacrifices she’s made and the help she gives was really pleasing to deliver. You can’t perform at such a level without rock solid support, understanding for what it takes and belief.

I then went into the tent and found Jon (5th, 35-39) and another Thames Turbo Speedo Race Team athlete (Richard Newey, 2nd 45-49). They knew their positions and told me to go out back and ask Richard’s wife to find my position on the tracker. I was a nervous wreck waiting for Gill to bring up the age-group results… 4th..!!! No way. I had to look at it myself. I’ve never seen my name so high on any leader board before. Woah, that could be automatic qualification?!?! I went back into the tent and reported back to Jon and Richard. We all sat around, shattered and bemused. I couldn’t sit still. I had to find Rachael. I went out back and she was there with my dad and we just started jumping up and down. I’d done it, but had I? It seemed that way, but it was all guesses based on past years and the number of Kona slots available in each age group. You’re just not 100% certain. How many slots were there? What if I hadn’t served a penalty, been DQ’d…arrggggghhhhh.

Run: 3h 22m, 4:46/km pace (23rd fastest overall, 3rd fastest in age group).

I was all smiles though. I knew I’d put in a solid performance, hit all my targets and managed to surpass my run pacing target. The thought of an automatic Kona qualification meant years of dream realisations came flooding in. It was a real buzz (or maybe it was the caffeine) and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was soooo happy.

Total: 10h 13m, 4th in 40-44 age group and 41st overall.

Although the Ironman athlete tracker was saying 4th in category and last year this was automatic qualification, I still wasn’t booking the flights just yet. I was 80% sure…I still had to show up the next day at the awards ceremony, where there was a one hour window to accept my qualifying slot and confirm my intention to go to Kona.

After finishing I got a massage, some more to eat and we hung around the finish chute clapping atheletes still to finish, including Helen (who podiumed in her category). We eventually jumped in the car and went to T2 to pick up the bike and transition bag then on to the hotel, a quick bite to eat and bed. I checked the car had petrol and set two alarms that night.

Next morning it was back to the Reebok Stadium and the Ironman expo where there was a nervous wait with other potential qualifiers (and families) all stood around. Finally, a list of category qualifiers was sticky taped to a wall confirming my position and qualification. I could now pay for my slot…85%.

It wasn’t until my credit card was swiped, payment was confirmed and the torn-off receipt roll was being handed to me, that I finally relaxed, well…90%. I’ve still got to get there…

Welcome back to the norm

Welcome back 37 year-old assistant orthopaedic surgeon and father of four (!) Norman Yamada, who this year will be racing sprint, Olympic and half iron distance triathlons.

Based in San Ramon, California, 2012 was Norm’s first season of coached triathlon training in which he targeted Vineman 70.3 as his key race.

This year, as well as returning to Vineman 70.3, he will tackle the infamous choppy Bay swells during the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

As with many athletes Norm is a family man and juggles commitments at home with a busy working life.

Norm took some time out towards the end of last season to support his wife in welcoming their fourth child.

The Yamada Family with new arrival Hana Miyoko Yamada

The Yamada Family with new arrival Hana Miyoko Yamada

Norm said: “My wife was really supportive of my training last year but once things at home had settled down I was keen to build on the fitness I achieved in 2012.

“Toby has helped a lot by modifying my training sessions so I can train more at home and spend as much time as possible with my family.”

Coach Toby said: “Norm is lucky, he has a very supportive family. With such pressures on his time, building peak fitness is a challenge and like many athletes with busy schedules we go for a quality rather than quantity approach.”

Iron Lady Pamela

Heart stopping moments for friends and family (and a coach) as pharmaceutical sales rep Pamela Finney from California crosses the line with five minutes to spare at Ironman Arizona last month (18 November 2012).

The Oakland based, 44 year-old was attempting to overcome a disappointing DNF in her first attempt at Ironman in Nice, France the year before.

Aware of just how much this meant to Pamela, her friends and family gathered around their laptops to cheer her on via the Ironman Live feed.

Rough conditions meant the swim was slow but she made it with over 15 minutes to spare.

Then the fun began… as usual there were a few technical issues with the live feed. For a considerable amount of time during the bike leg there were no split times. For those watching it seemed like another DNF, but just as laptop lids were closing a split time appeared on the screen and hope was re-born.

The drama continued as Pamela pressed on narrowly beating two bike checkpoints at 76 miles (by 20mins) and 93 miles (by 4mins) to finally hit T2 with a minute to spare!

If this wasn’t enough, bringing us all even further to the edge of our seats promising early run splits began to slow to a walking pace and the final midnight cut-off was hanging in the balance.

The live feed again added to the drama by giving a final split time of 16h 11mins. This meant that with 3.2 miles to go and everything she had already been through, Pamela had to dig deep…and run!

For those watching it meant turning our attention away from the splits, and to the final nail biting moments live through the finishing time gantry as ‘The Voice of Ironman’ Mike Reilly welcomed home the final finishers to huge cheers from the local crowd. And then, with five minutes to spare Pamela thankfully turned the corner and was roared over the line in 16:55:54 to achieve her dream of becoming an Ironman.

All smiles down the finishing chute for Pamela at Ironman Arizona.

All smiles down the finishing chute for Pamela at Ironman Arizona.

Coach Toby says: “Completing an Ironman is hard enough, doing it in 17 hours takes a different kind of athlete. Such mental toughness not to step off the course and to keep going is what endurance sport is all about. Doing the training is one thing but if you’re not mentally tough enough then you won’t make it.

“When you’re at the back of the pack chasing cut-offs is extremely hard both physically and mentally. You have to come in under the checkpoint time but you can’t exert too much that it jeopardises your entire race. Maintaining her nerve when faced with such difficult circumstances was truly admirable. She’s an inspiration!”

Pamela Finney - You are an Ironman..!!!

Pamela Finney – You are an Ironman..!!!

For most people completing a single Ironman is enough. But, Pamela is not ‘most people’.

Buckle up everybody…

“My plan for 2013 is to train hard and complete Ironman Nice on June 23rd which is also my birthday! I attempted this race before and didn’t complete it and am going back for some retribution so I plan on taking my experience from 2012 and using it to the fullest to complete Nice! I’m very much looking forward to the whole adventure of it too!

Nathan takes on the world..!

Nathan Pask enjoyed his first taste of international triathlon representing Great Britain at the World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand.

The 36-year-old Londoner toughed it out in windy conditions to finish 39th (4th British finisher) in the hard fought 35-39 age category, Olympic distance event.

“Based on my results throughout the year I had a very conservative swim by my standards. The conditions were tricky. I made up for it with a solid bike leg and then finished it off with one of my best ever runs to date.”

Like many age-group athletes Nathan, a chartered surveyor and company director, fits training around his busy work and social life.

GB triathlete Nathan balances training and working life.

GB triathlete Nathan balances training and working life.

“Having a coach has really helped me go from a weekend warrior to competing on behalf of Great Britain, which in Olympic year makes me really proud.”

As an established runner, the main aims of Nathan’s training were to develop his swim technique and his power on the bike.

“It’s been a very successful first season. Nathan has achieved all his objectives and is really beginning to develop as a smart athlete. I’m really looking forward to working with Nathan in 2013 as he continues to develop his ability to compete on the world stage.” said his coach, Toby.

Chris podiums..!

On his way to his first Ironman next year, ONEraceTEAM’s Chris Wilson scored his first podium, with a 3rd overall place (1st, 30-34 age-group) at the AustralianMurrayMan last month.

Like many of the age-group athletes in ONEraceTEAM managing training and a busy working life can be a tough challenge.

“Working full time and studying for my professional accountancy qualification means I’m pretty time poor. I simply wouldn’t have the time or knowledge to invest in putting together a robust plan like Toby prepares for me.

“I have a tendency to over think problems with training, especially if I have missed a session. Toby is a calming influence on me and seems to always know the right thing to say to bring me back down to earth! This whole experience would have been much more stressful without him!”

Chris fits his training around management accountancy

Chris fits his training around management accountancy

Proving that coaching is truly a global business, Chris lives and works in Melbourne as a Management Accountant.

“Being in Australia, we’re obviously on the other side of the world from each other, so communicating face to face can be difficult. Skype sessions really help with this and make the coaching relationship much more practical.

“Using Training Peaks is a brilliant aid as well. Toby can set up a period of my training and I can keep up to date online or through their mobile app.

“These bits of technology have really helped maintain the communication between Toby and myself and give me everything I need to be able to train consistently week in week out.”

As he continues his preparation for Ironman Melbourne next year, Chris’s next test isCanberra 70.3.

50 miles of RnR

I think I’m currently moving towards ultra-distance racing in a transition away from triathlon and more towards running again, and more specifically mountain running.

Last year’s midnight Caesar’s Camp Endurance Run and this year’s Lakeland 50 may become pivotal races that spawned my love for ultra-running. Only time will tell.

Having now completed the toughest iron distance races on the planet and some unfinished Deca business but still finishing five iron distance triathlons in five days, I am keen to be able to compare an iron distance race with that of 100 mile ultra-run. Which is tougher?

Knowing that I was moving to California and with one eye on filling the 2012 race calendar, I found the Rock ‘n’ River 50. A qualifying race for the legendary Western States 100 (or at least finishing it under 11 hours would give me a 10:1 chance of getting a slot through the ballot). If I did get in to the Western States 100, it would fit well, coming six weeks after Ironman St George (an A race for 2012), but will probably compromise Vineman 70.3, which is two weeks after, but a B category race.

Providing I paid particular close attention to my recovery, the timing of the Rock ‘n’ River would coincide with the ITU World Triathlon Championships three weeks later (I’ll let you know whether this was a good idea) and act as my last long run.
The race also happened to be on part of the Western States route so doubled up as a partial recce as well.

The race is an end-to-end course and like many similar ultras had a coach laid on early in the morning to transport runners to the start. As Rachael was supporting by driving to aid stations along the route, we decided the extra sleep would be more important so we booked a hotel in Auburn near the start.

We called in at packet pick up (timing chip, race number and goody bag) and pasta party on our way to the hotel. We had a couple of questions about the legalities of pacing and on course assistance, none of which we could get an answer to.
Those getting the bus were up at 3am, we got up at 5am.
A 10-minute drive to Auburn Dam Overlook Park and I was donning my race kit in the dark and walking to join the others at the start line. It was dark and cold at the start, so I had a long sleeve top and head torch.

Ready for the start

Ready for the start

There was a short race briefing, which said to follow pink ribbons that marked the course and we were off, 06:30.

My strategy for this, my second 50 miler, was to run the whole distance or as far as I could before adopting a run/walk strategy. The course is downhill and I was concerned how my quads would hold up. I had contemplated quad guards but was unable to sort this before the race.

I started out at a 6-7min/km pace and had the usual smile as most of the field charged past me with their over enthusiasm.

After about 2kms we began a steep road descent down to the river. It wasn’t long after that I could hear shouting ahead followed by more and more people slowing to a group halt. We had gone the wrong way…already..!

Amused, I stood watching the carnage as runners went too and fro, up and down the hill searching for a pink ribbon. The majority of the field was lost. At times like these it is better to conserve energy (do not go charging up and down a very steep hill) and not to act on bizarre comments from those panicking around you, such as: “It cannot be this way”, “It must be this way” or other non-constructive, non-factual, irrational utterances.

In the end, myself and a couple of others amused by the headless chickens, decided to retrace our steps by walking back up the hill. It worked, we found a ribbon (we whistled and shouted to say we had picked up the route) and after 17 minutes we were back on course and I was back to 6min/km pacing.

Soon after, the road wound down to the river and I decided to save my quads and held back as I witnessed a lot of runners opening their gait and hammering down the hill. Perhaps due to the earlier mis-direction and people getting fired up but again I was astounded as to how many runners were thrashing down the hill. So much so that an older runner commented to me, as we were both getting passed, that he expected some people to be suffering later on. I agreed.

We eventually joined the American River and ran alongside it and around Folsom Lake, which was the best part of the course for me.
At the first aid station, the sun was rising so I got rid of my head torch and long sleeve top (in hindsight I shouldn’t have bothered wearing it).

I held back for the first two aid stations and then began to pick up the pace as I was enjoying the trail and fantastic scenery to my left. Unfortunately, picking up the pace meant I had to now go passed all those that had charged from the start line, those that charged after getting lost and those that charged down the descent. This was a lot of people and a lot of calling out, waiting, then passing. I wasn’t consciously racing but testing whether I could run the whole thing, so to keep things positive my thoughts were that if I got held up by slower runners it was probably for the best and I would benefit from it later.

I always test kit as much as possible before using it in a race and for this race I was introducing The North Face Enduro 13 pack (two bottle carriers instead of a bladder, quicker to fill), Injinji Performance Mid-weight Toesocks (my toes beat each other up and my thoughts were if they were individually wrapped it might delay the damage),Saucony Peregrines (grippy and light, even with my orthotics). I wanted to trial this kit but if I were doing this race again because the aid stations are so close together I’d carry a single bottle (either handheld or around my waist).

There were a few inclines along the river route but nothing that caused me to walk (long training runs up Mt Diablo on the Summit Trail served me well). I was going well at around 6min/km or under so continued at this pace.

I walked aid stations eating half a PowerBar (20g of carbs), swapping a full for empty bottle of electrolyte (Heed) and then having two Gu Roctane gels (25g of carbs) per hour aiming to ingest about 70g of carbs per hour. I started this after sipping only water for the first hour. The aid stations were well stocked and managed. Towards the end of the race I was drinking cola and stuffing ice down my front and back to keep my core temperature down (the good thing about wearing the TNF Enduro 13 is that the chest straps held ice on my front and back whilst it melted).

I started to feel some cramping in my quads in the late teen miles so downed aSalstick Cap, which did the trick. The route now joined the American River Parkway for the last 19 miles, which meandered along the Jebediah Smith Memorial Trail, which was a tarmac bike trail all the way to the finish. You could run on the crushed granite to the side if you didn’t want to run on the tarmac. Knowing the surface was going to change, I switched to a pair of Brooks Ravenna 2s, to enjoy a bit more cushioning.

Being on a bike trail, I had to constantly look around so that I could take the shortest route possible, which only incurred the wrath of one path-user and I had to apologise to a couple of other cyclists for causing them to slow down and use greater caution.
At this stage, there were very few runners around, little shade and the heat was relentless. The great thing about this part of the course is that you receive a lot of encouragement from other park users, which really helps.

The good news was that I was holding pace very well and apart from the odd sloshing feeling, in which I backed off the liquid a little, my stomach was holding up great.

When another runner did come in to view, I stuck to my pace and would eventually reel them in. each one a great boost in the latter stages. It’s better to be overtaking than overtaken towards the end of a race.

When I stopped at aid stations, I didn’t check the mileage and didn’t ask for positions, times, etc. I had a rough idea from studying the maps but daren’t look at my Garmin in case it said I had longer to go than I thought. It was only at the 42-mile aid station when someone said: “only eight miles to go”, did I start to calculate possible finish times.

Running on the American River Parkway's granite edge

Running on the American River Parkway’s granite edge

Knowing the wheels can come off at any time during endurance races, I was happy with what I’d achieved up to this point. If I could hold on to the end, then…bonus! I’m sure there had been a significant amount of sub-6min kms and I was continuing to run strong, so I continued with the nutrition strategy and plodded on in the baking heat.

During the last five miles I was yo-yoing with a couple of runners, gradually getting closer and overtaking them. I felt really strong. The volunteers at the last aid station pointed out the finish line but explained I had two miles still to go, an out and back of one mile and I was done.

On the way out along the final stretch, I saw the next runner in front of me. She was returning to the finish line and I concluded I didn’t have time to catch her. We waved to each other as we passed. I rounded the final turn, one mile to go. During that last mile, I too saw a few of the runners behind me and we all saluted one another as we passed.

The finish was the usual low-key affair as a handful of volunteers and supporters clapped me in. I hugged Rachael, who’d been fantastic all day and headed for the river, where I stood up to the top of my thighs for the next 30 minutes. Total time of 8h 19mins, 6th overall and 1st in my age group.

The crowd filled finish chute

The crowd filled finish chute

There was a great spread at the end. I tucked in and chatted with other finishers as we waited for the drop bags to return. Great event.

Now this is who you should get a massage from...yikes!

Now this is who you should get a massage from…yikes!

ITU Long Course Recce

I recently spent a week in Vegas on a friend’s stag/bachelor party. Knowing that I was returning a month later for the ITU Long Course World Championships and to get out in the fresh air (smoking is allowed in the casinos!), I took my bike so that I could recce the course.

There is a lot of information (some more useful than others) about the course and what to expect, here:

2011 ITU Long Course World Championship website

The 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championship was held on most of the course and useful info can be found here:

Ironman 70.3 World Championship, Lake Las Vegas

Also, YouTube has a collection of useful videos:

Ironman 70.3 World Championships YouTube clips

In addition to this I thought I would upload my own thoughts on the course having done a recce last week.


This is a straightforward out and back course, entering from T1 and swimming under the arches to the start line. Keeping to the left of the bouys, it’s about 1.8km to the first right turn, 225m to the final right turn, then return to the Novella, under the arches and exit on the left with a run around the bottom of the lake in to T1. Flat, non-tidal but could get some wind chop depending on the strength of the wind.


Not that much to say on top of doing your own walkthrough of entry to your bike station, exit, etc. Quite a sizeable, flat run into transition and a good flat section to get your feet in after the mount line.


A small loop around Lake Las Vegas, a climb from the roundabout near T1 all the way up to Lake Mead Parkway. We turn right initially and it would be worth doing a recce of the layout of the tunnel that will take us under the road to avoid making a left hand turn back towards the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Watch out for sand and rocks if it rains

Watch out for sand and rocks if it rains
Underpass to get on to Lake Mead Parkway

Underpass to get on to Lake Mead Parkway

At about 10km you’re at the highest point (about 2500ft) of the Lake Mead section, which is a thunderous descent for about 7kms.

Note: The whole lake section is very exposed and susceptible to gusting winds. When I recce’d I was into a head wind (and from the left) going along Lakeshore Road to the first turn point managing about 25km/h in some sections. Then after turn one, with the wind behind me, I was sat up and travelling at 70km/h+. Think Ironman Lanzarote and be prepared to change your kit on race day (make sure you can control that deep section front wheel!). Northshore Road is also exposed, helpful on the way out but after turn point two it was a grind in places.

Wind aside, the two sections around the lake are a time trialer’s delight, rolling hills, nothing steep, fast smooth tarmac surface…enjoy. The main drag (which is steady) comes from the bottom of Northshore Road, right back on to East lake Mead Drive and back to Lake Mead Parkway.

Northshore Road descent, climb up to Lake Mead Parkway, Lake Las Vegas (left)

Northshore Road descent, climb up to Lake Mead Parkway, Lake Las Vegas (left)

Now for the interesting bit. We have to join the River Mountains Loop Trail (seriously worth recce-ing this section), something Alexander et al did not have to do during the 70.3 World Championships.

This is a very narrow eight-mile desert section taking us towards Henderson and T2. It has about three or four short sharp climbs early on, some fast descents with sharp corners worth noting, then mainly open and wind exposed long false flat sections. The field should be strung out by this time but bunches could form and passing will be interesting (pick your moments and be vocal, Brits remember that it is ‘on your left’ over here). Also, if it has rained or rains on race day, sand and stones do get washed on to the course.

These should give you an idea…

Sand on course, first short/steep ascent

Sand on course, first short/steep ascent
Sand on course, fast descent in to sharp left.

Sand on course, fast descent in to sharp left.
Tyre selection...some deep tarmac cracks in places

Tyre selection…some deep tarmac cracks in places
Second short/steep uphill section

Second short/steep uphill section
Fast decent, chicane then third short/steep uphill

Fast decent, chicane then third short/steep uphill
Third short/sharp uphill

Third short/sharp uphill
Steep descent with short/sharp hill

Steep descent with short/sharp hill
Fast descent with chicane, caution: sand on bend

Fast descent with chicane, caution: sand on bend
Very fast descent with sharp left

Very fast descent with sharp left
Pylon alley: Not my idea of a beautiful course

Pylon alley: Not my idea of a beautiful course
Long, long, long straight. If it's windy this will be very slow.

Long, long, long straight. If it’s windy this will be very slow.
Take a right off the trail

Take a right off the trail
Trail exit

Trail exit

After the desert section, we join the main roads, which get more and more suburban as we get closer to T2 (the only part that will attract the public’s attention).

The course goes along another trail for a short period, roll out the blue matting…

Let's hope they finish the course..! Left on to another trail before a railway crossing

Let’s hope they finish the course..! Left on to another trail before a railway crossing

The final section is made up of flats, some gradual inclines/declines, with a notable fast descent at 109kms for about 3.5kms before steadily rising again to the bike finish with plenty of time to get your feet out and spin.

T2 is a 21km drive away from the start and T1, map. Nothing much to add other than to recce as usual.

T2, Henderson Pavilion

T2, Henderson Pavilion


The most notable thing about the run course is that there is very little flat. We will be running either up or down on about a 2% grade. There is little to no breeze and when I ran it in 36-degree heat, I found it very draining. Don’t go out too fast, pace well as the incline and decline will add up over four laps. It doesn’t look much at first but it will be interesting to see how it takes its toll on athletes.

First turn out of T2 area on to Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

First turn out of T2 area on to Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)

Paseo Verde Parkway (downhill)
First turn's all uphill back to T2 and towards turn point 2

First turn point…it’s all uphill back to T2 and towards turn point 2
Back up Paseo Verde Parkway

Back up Paseo Verde Parkway
Up Green Valley Parkway (as far as you can see and then some) towards turn point 2

Up Green Valley Parkway (as far as you can see and then some) towards turn point 2
Down Green Valley Parkway

Down Green Valley Parkway

Running around a new neighbourhood – it’s not going to be the most memorable of run courses, but may attract some spectators other than those you brought with you.


A spectacular desert course that will be especially striking to European competitors.

An unusual eight-mile narrow track that will make things interesting.

The weather will be a massive factor on race day (wind and heat) and you will need to choose kit wisely (difficult with excess baggage charges these days).

You will not need a compact on this course. I’m not a strong cyclist and recce’d the course in a large compact chain ring easily. So, 53/39/25 but stronger riders may want to go bigger.

Wheels: If there is high wind, deep dish rear only. No wind, deep dish wheels or disc rear.

Time trial setup, aero helmet, etc. All the wind cheating accessories you own, you will need it on this course.

Plan how you will get to and from T1, T2 and team hotels. Swap mobile numbers with someone staying at the team hotel or the team manager so you don’t miss any notices going up on team noticeboards. I once turned up to race and the start time was put back an hour, I wasn’t staying in the team hotel so no one told me..!!!

I’m looking forward to the event, have a great race. If you have any questions drop me a line.