Coniston, Chester and Catalonia – Three Epic Challenges, One Epic Day

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It was a momentous Sunday at St Helens Tri as the club hosted the Rainford 10k six years to the day since the inaugural event in 2013. Full details of how that played out will feature in a special report, but this column covers the Swim run Coniston, the Chester Marathon and Ironman Barcelona. Mark Livingston and Charlie Stirrup took on the unique challenge of Swimrun in the Lake District, an event similar in format to next week’s 2up duathlon in Belmont, whereby teams of two swim and run in tandem. However, the participants have to swim and run in the same kit (even shoes!) and have to stay together for the duration of the event. It also requires extreme endurance to stay out there for so many hours, but the two long serving members (entered for this race as the Terminators) were up to the challenge and finished 12th in a time of 7:44:57. Six members made the trip over the Runcorn Bridge to the Deva City for one of the most prestigious marathons in the country. The ever popular course is mainly flat but features a tough hill a couple of miles from the finish which always serves to put a dampener on those hoping to run negative splits. David Isaac is always up for such a challenge, though, and here he was right into it from the off, clipping away at 7 minutes per mile. Although slowed by the inclines towards the end he still led the club home in a fantastic 3:06:10, giving him a top-200 finish. Ian Orford has always been at or near the front of the club’s challenge when playing the long game and once again he ran a well measured race to finish in 3:15:21, but he was pushed all the way by Adam O’Shea who was closing in on him at the end, as the pair finished less than five minutes apart. Behind them a cracking race was on between Alan McKeegan and Alan’s brother Robert. While Robert held position over the first 30 kilometres, Alan made the pass in the fourth quarter of the race and beat his teammate to the line by just over four minutes with a particularly impressive surge of pace to close the deal. Will Bardin had done quite a bit of marathon running down the years, primarily in an Ironman setting so it was always going to be intriguing to see how he got on in a pure running race. It wouldn’t be long before we got the answer as he finished in 4:01:22; with better conditions he would certainly have beaten the four hour mark.

Nick Hall and Azzam Taktak made the trip to Spain for Ironman Barcelona, widely regarded as one of the fastest courses in Europe. Nick set a cracking pace of 2:02 per 100m in the water and followed that up with a solid 17mph average on the bike to reach T2 in just over six and a half hours. He proceeded to plug away on the run amidst the roars of the crowd to finish in a time of 13:30:06. Azzam was out of the sea in a little over 90 minutes and completed the bike course well before the seven hour mark. Being a veteran of so many long distance races the run was never going to cause him any worries and as he finished under the floodlights along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, he ran into the club Hall of Fame as a multiple Ironman, recording a time of 14:52:49, to round off part one of this week’s report, with part 2 being an in-depth write-up of the BeUrBest Rainford 10k.

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