Can we just get one thing out of the way first, after that race…. We are definitely organising the Norfolk Superhero Challenge again in 2014!
Thank you to everyone for another simply amazing year, the best bit of all was that the conditions were so very, very perfect on race day and so very sunny in all the photos and so very good for all our tan lines that there is no question that the Superhero Challenge won’t happen again.
After a showery but happy safety briefing (thank you for your tranquillity Martyn) on the Friday night, the long awaited day was upon us, with a much more civilised start time. Our favourite new competitor was the sun, a first timer I think, and our least favourite from previous years, the wind, forgot to enter or it’s cheque got lost in the post this year, and did not take part, which was very pleasing.
When all were assembled on the beach the great excitement was that the sea was calm, flat and really quite warm. After a quick photocall from Harry Cory-Wright and a head count for the record, the gun went off at 10.00. A rather lovely ritual was noted to have resurfaced, someone… (we don’t know who) had bought a nip of Nelson’s Blood (was it you Bruce?) to toast the challenge, as had been done in previous years. Whoever you were, thank you – let’s bring it back! Our swim sponsor, Fenmarc’s MD, Richard Anderson even took to the water to really submerge himself in the event and for that we applaud him. Good luck in your 1st Ironman this week.
That lovely, flat sea soon turned in to a frenzy of thrashing limbs as large middle aged rubber clad people desperately clawed themselves off the beach in order to follow that smooth arrow head to the first buoy. The tip of that arrow head turned out to be last year’s swim champion again, Abbie Thorrington with an improved time of 15.17! That amazing time however, was less than a minute ahead of the men’s winner, Rob Lines who had a time of 16.09.
The field slowly emptied of kayaks with some partners waiting almost 9 minutes for their partners. We were less bunched than in previous years and the long string of kayaks seemed to surge like an eager parade of rubber ducks along the creek, over and up the bank, and re-entering the sea with varying degrees of success. Yet again the splendid floating office of David and Pixie was marshalling the point of the ladies turn, this year not wafting bacon sandwich smells across the marsh as breakfast was obviously earlier. There, from an oystercatcher’s view you would have seen a lovely peel off for all rubber ducks with ladies steering them to the right, whilst those poor boys took the left turn round the long course. A special mention to Lisa Hurrell and Chris Ford, who were one of the teams representing Paragon Print and Packaging (Britain’s premier packaging company), who have always been our wonderful kayak sponsor, who didn’t realise there is a front end and a back end to a kayak.
The winners of the short course kayak, were David Horton-Fawkes and Paula Lawn who swept round beautifully in a sweet time of 35.58. The winners of the long course…… and this is quite contentious, but looking through photographic evidence – we got the result wrong! Whilst our timing systems shows one result, visual recall shows another. Duncan Backus and his West Country based new ringer partner who has recently kayaked around Britain (very fast) Andy Mullins are our official winners! For some reason, Duncan and Andy’s time is wrong and they beat Mark and James Lapping by 45 seconds. Apologies for this. Mark is donating a kayak trophy – up for grabs next year. I feel a great kayak race coming on next year for the mens.
Happily this year, this previously stressful transition from kayak to bike was not marred by hyperthermia or exhaustion, as the conditions were by now calm and getting warmer with the sun burning through.
On to the bike, how much more fun it is doing a 45 mile course with a full field of competitors than training through that boring, wet, cold Spring we had! Our thanks go to Barratt and Cooke – Norwich Stockbrokers, our new sponsor of the cycle with William Barratt taking part in his first excellent attempt. Fat Birds were luckily with us again in the field and on the course this year for all bike mishaps however big or small. I, in particular, thank the F1 style maintenance dudes, for refitting a spare bike of theirs with the pedals and bottle holders off mine which were about the only thing I hadn’t broken in a foolish slip on the road at the start. Peter Flett, of Fat Birds, having pointed out the exciting new double click paddles for gear changes (still not sure about that, was it 1 for up and 2 for down?) went off round the course to mend a puncture for our rivals in the Lady Hamilton as well, not so pleased about that!
We had a new amazing race record, fastest ever P.B.s from most of our ‘elite’ crew. Will Burnham Overy Staithe be given a new status and reclassified as part of the top 3 racing locations in the world – to the list of those volcanic, tropical climes of Hawaii and Lanzarote with perfect conditions, let us add, Burham Overy Staithe? 2012 Lord Nelson winners, Dan Pilling and Nick Toolan reckon they took 10 minutes of their bike time and still didn’t win! WHAT?
Simon Thompson’s well researched enormous pothole had been filled in by the unsung hero Phil Ellis in the pre race build up – thank you both of you. The Norfolk and Suffolk 4×4 response team led by Jim Whiteside were ever present. The whole bike ride, was beautiful, with the dog roses flowering in the hedgerow, the smell of elderflower on the air and Robert Gurney shouting out split times from the verge. Holkham looked gorgeous, beautifully mown and visibility was excellent at the obelisk turn which did not claim any riders thanks to the excellent marshalling by 2 former competitors, Thomas Courthauld, and Matt Moxon and last years winning marshalls pair, Jerry Phillipi and Alge Williams. However all could not be perfect and we sadly had one bad accident with Robert Miller suffering a broken collar bone after a fall off his bike. All our love goes out to you Robert. Also a race losing puncture for one team, Mark Harrod and Abbie Thorrington, who showed great grace and joined the party as VIP medal distributers – having never suffered any such upsets through several Ironmen and other triathlons.
So the winners of the bike with an outrageously fast, surely never to be beaten time, were Niall McCallum and Iain Wilson with a time of 2.07.05. Second were last years winners, 50 seconds behind! All our previous champions were up there within a couple of minutes of each other. The bike is where this race is won.
Finally, the run. Could there have been a more stunning spot to have been in the whole world? Maddy, our mermaid haired marshall who normally defies rain and wind, was embracing the rays of the sun amongst the nudists. Thank you again to Holkham who have once again sponsored our run leg. A special mention to Paul Fletcher, one of our Zimmer crew who overtook his way along the beach picking off his rivals from the bike, how very satisfying that must have been.
Frozen ribena and champagne was available at the mouth of the marsh from the popular marshall crew of Rachel, Matt and Matthew. Special mention from the marshalls goes to Barney Kauffman’s butt cheeks, we do not have the exact details presently behind this story, but Barney, it is a pleasure to have you onboard. The sea was glinting and the sand was harder than usual thanks to Friday’s rain. Even Jess was not panic-ing about the height of the water. The day was perfect. Obviously a few knees blew up, they always do. Some people had very little energy left but the smiles as you came over the line said it all. The fastest run time was achieved by Roger Canhan and Johnny Bland, 1.08.35, an astounding time from Johnny who was apparently the last man in the field on the Friday night drinking beer and playing football with his boys.
Only one more injury occurred on the day, Jess twisted her ankle in a rabbit hole dance floor injury. Thank you to Richard Shaw of Tapping House for his excellent description of the wonderful work that they do and to Simon Wilson-Stephens and Mark Lapping for steering us through the highs and the lows of the day during the speeches, and of course for coming up with this lunatic riddled event.
And so to the overall winners – which were all of us for being a part of it.
For full results