The relevance of the name ‘Sundowner’ probably needs more explanation to those that haven’t done this race before. Most races involve setting your alarm clock and rushing, still bleary eyed to race briefing for 07:30.
Not this one! This race starts at the more friendly hour of midday. This is great for getting your kit and race prep down to the finest detail but aren’t you just prolonging the inevitable………….. The fact you have an Half Ironman to do before the Sun comes down?
Luckily for the 6 OTCF athletes the event organisers ‘Freebird events’ threw in a sprint race during the morning for some appetite whetting which helped reduce portaloo queuing and nails getting gnawed.
Now if you ever wanted inspiring before your own race then the Middle distance racers were lucky to have one of the most exciting races served as an apertiff. Two of the OTCF young guns Ben Baugh and Jordan Skelly also joined by Lincsquads rising star Aiden Grocock all of whom have achieved some magnificent results this year went head to head and grabbed all three podium positions.
Ben Baugh managed to close a slender gap from Jordan’s swim on the bike meaning the two left T2 together. These in-form OTCF RT athletes then ran a 17:00 min dead, slightly long, 5K distance to set up a sprint finish with Ben just dipping at the line to be awarded the winner by just one second!
Aiden Grocock impressing the OTCF scouts could only watch his team mates in awe to what was transpiring in front despite putting in the fastest bike leg and a respectable 18:02 minute run himself.
The Sundowner Half Ironman.
Well, how do you follow that! The bar was somewhat raised.
2015 European Gold medalist and race favourite Steve Clark lived up to the hype in what turned out to be a lonely race for him destroying the rest of the field by almost 10 minutes. A gallant effort from OTCF RT teammate Steve Grocock for putting some distance into him on the bike but a 24 mph average for the 56 miles wasn’t enough to prevent Clark galloping past during his 1 hr 24 min half marathon. Clark’s win and Grocock’s 5th place overall including Age group win wasn’t quite enough to mirror the young guns, but still had the OTCF team coming away with the prizes.
Before I go on I think it only fair to mention ex-OTCF Client Alex Bradley (who now races and trains with Oxford University). Alex had a storming race finishing in first position overall on the day. Later that night, when uploading his bike course to Strava he realised he’d ridden a slightly shorter course to the rest of the competitors due to downloading last year’s bike route onto his Garmin. Alex, admirably informed Freebird events to be removed from the results and also got in contact with the ‘second’ placed competitor (Steve Clark) to apologise for his error. There is a post from Alex on the Lincsquad Facebook apologising to all and in particular, Steve. This was a massive shame as you could have thrown a blanket over the two during the swim and their run times were within twenty seconds of each other. Although a few miles short, Alex’s average ride time suggests he was motoring and could have set up (like the sprint race) another epic battle to the line.
Jane Taylor must be a strong contender for Lincsquad’s 2015 female of the year. The Lincolnshire Edges’ overall winner was stepping up to the Half Ironman distance for the first time. Despite a few nerves, (maybe because she was the sole female Lincsquad entrant) Jane put in another incredible performance coming away, yet again with more silverware(and fruit) with her age group win.
Gary Baugh (83rd) appeared to make this event look comfortable but I guess having recently done the full Ironman distance in Austria then this was a park walk for Gary. The long winter hours on the bike saw Gary post the 4th fastest Lincsquad bike time.
Massive thanks to all the OTCF and Lincsquad supporters, this time there were just too many to mention. Please believe us as competitors when we say we truly appreciate it. On races like this it’s those cheers, cowbells & claps that keep you going. I can’t believe any other team had has much raucous support as Lincsquad, thanks to all and get signed up for next year.
Race report by Steve Grocock
thanks for reading