Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Penrith Triathlon

Anth Labram cutting a mean shape on his way to victory

All photos taken by Stu Mair.

Well, there it was. A rapidly-organised triathlon in our very own town. Who could resist the charm of such an event? Some of us had done no specific training, no planning, no long build-up to the big event, not even a dip in the pool to see how things were in the arm department...It almost had all the minimalist allure of a fell race.

In keeping with the lack of forethought, the nerves beforehand crept up and kept on going. By the time I was in the pool (funny hat on head, oversized goggles slipping about), I could have been on the Olympic nervous-panic team....Will my cycle shorts stay on the lower body, or will they fight to stay in the pool as I make an undignified exit?...Will I don my swim googles for the run instead of the hat?...

The questions loomed large.

Karen poised for the off

With no earthly idea how long it would take to swim 400 m, I'd over-estimated, which meant I was first in the pool. This worked out well, so in no time, I was on the bike, squelching slightly and a bit gritty in the foot department. So far, so good. Anth creamed past on the edge of town, wearing a helmet that he'd borrowed off Darth Vader.

I wobbled on, past familiar faces marshalling the route. This wasn't like a fell race though. Normally I can have an entire conversation with someone as I'm passing. This time, there was the odd snatched word drifting off into the wind...."..Welllll...." or ..."...going..." I wonder what they were saying...

Meanwhile, back in the pool, Wacker (anchor man of Team ER) was cracking out a scorcher of a swim. In a shade over seven minutes, the half-man, half-fish was in and out, ready for a swift turnaround with Tony the Wheels. Fate played a cruel hand though, when Tony found the regulation Ullswater Community College drawing pin on his way to the event. It had been busy reducing his tyre pressure to a heavy yawn, and it looked like the game was up. With a 20 minute transition that took in Wacker's bike shed and back, it was all to play for. With the second bike, Tony was able to get back on the road. John B then took over from Tony, and ran the second fastest 5K of the event.

Half-man, half-fish

With the running shoes on, I was now ready for the 5K. Well, the upper half of me was. The rest had decided to morph into potato-legs. It was all a bit debilitating. Resigned to shuffling around the taped course, mostly watching Karen steaming along as if this was the first exercise of the day, it was just a case of finishing and not lying down for a nice rest.

Karen on her way to the fourth fastest run of the day

So that was that, the first Penrith Triathlon, but hopefully not the last. The triathlon newbies, Karen and I, decided that we did enjoy it (although that was a few minutes after the event).

Anth was the winner, in a time of 1 hr 15 mins (or was it Darth Vader?).
After a ponderous run, I tottered in at 1 hr 37, and Karen, 1 hr 45. Team ER would have come in about 1 hr 28 without the little pin.

Congratulations to everyone who took part. Thanks to the organisers, Sarah and Phil Graham of Arragon's Cycle Centre, Jeff Marshall of Eden District Council. And thanks to the marshalls, many of them Eden Runners on their day off. A big 'ta' to Stu Mair for magic photography and the odd "aye, grand, lass' as I lolloped past.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


So, after thinking for a moment along the lines of ''Wait for me mate, I'm getting off too!'', we had an uneventful flight to Bratislava, some 5 hours by road from our holiday destination.
We were met by Marek our driver, and, with the trailer loaded with our bags off we went. I now know, after two hair raising taxi rides in Bratislava, that Mareks driving was typical of the local style. In his case it seemed to be that overtaking (or undertaking for that matter) could only be done following endless tailgating of the vehicle in front; the act of overtaking ALWAYS involved pulling alongside and then changing gear to finish the manoeuvre, usually in pitch darkness with no obvious clues as to whether we were approaching a bend, or falling off the edge of the world.
I was lucky enough to be sitting immediately behind him for the entire journey too!
Perhaps he knew we were 'bricking it' because he did stop twice for the toilets within about ten minutes, leaving me with the uncomfortable thought that he'd been asleep the first time we stopped!
He came good for us though on arrival at Tatranska Lomnica, when we found our accommodation. Unfortunately it was locked up for the night with no sign of life! My contact, one Jaroslav Pec, had told me that our late arrival after midnight would not be a problem. I've subsequently emailed him to say that though it wasn't a problem for them, as they'd simply shut up shop and gone home at 10 PM, it certainly had been for us, as we trailed around until David got us into a former communist built hotel nearby for the night at about 1:00AM.
This hotel had padded corduroy (OH Yes!) doors to the rooms, which Jan thought we could have had fun with if we'd brought our Velcro suits. The breakfast was good though and the views brilliant, then off went Karen, Katrin and I, to find Jaroslav Pec. We looked in the laundry, were sent to the kitchen, then the restaurant, then reception, to be met with blank stares and Slovak shrugs of the shoulders. I accused blokes in the reception area of being Jaroslav Pec, and just the opposite of that film when everyone wanted to be Spartacus, no one wanted to be Jaroslav.
We did however get booked in and held a room lottery for some very good accommodation, then out to the hills!

We trudged up the foothills of Lomnicky Stit, our local mountain, to the cable car stop at 1751 metres for refreshment, then the fun began with a circuitous route back which we could run on, well, at least until Katrin took a tumble and sustained deep cuts and grazes to hands and legs. Fortunately none of the blood dripped onto her dazzlingly yellow running shoes. This showed up our lack of first aid kit ( I think we had a Stanley knife and some fruit gums between us), although we did later on meet a very pleasant German lady who insisted on sticking plasters to most of Katrins available flesh! Now, for a country which produces such technical stuff as BMW and Audi, you would think their sticking plasters would stick, but no, within 5 steps the plasters wilted like a Tory MP caught with a call girl, but 'thank you kind German lady', if you ever read this, it was the thought that counted.
End of day two saw us in a local restaurant, I ordered a starter of bread, lard and onions, fully expecting it to be something like bread with onion gravy and a bad english translation, but no! It really was bread, liberally spread with lard, and piled with raw onion. Generously I offered tasters to everyone, but very few accepted. At about 8p it was the cheapest starter I've ever had, and I thought about that a lot as I burped and belched my way through the sleepless dark hours to dawn.............(next up, the BIG TANTRUM IN THE TATRAS, AND FURTHER TRAGEDY STRIKES)....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tatras Tomfoolery

While we wait for Andy's blogging extravaganza, here's the trailer....

Monday, August 18, 2008


This is just an advance trailer for the Tatras Trip we've just got back from, to tickle your taste buds for terrific tatric tomfoolery, tragedy, trauma, trips and tripe (well, onions and lard really), there will shortly be some blogging going on featuring a potted story of our trip, starting with the blind panic, sweaty palms, white knuckle fear and terror when the bloke two rows in front of me, just before we started taxiing for take off pressed the 'fetch a steward' buzzer above his head and announced '' I wish to get off, I do not wish to fly on this aircraft today'' - WHAAAAATTTT!!!
(to be continued...........)