We are not going to mention any New Year's resolutions or ‘new year, new us talk’. Although it is always nice to pause and reflect on the last year. In this email we are going to do exactly that.
We would never have imagined that 2021 was actually going to be harder than 2020 but it was for a number of reasons; mainly the uncertainty, the feeling of two steps forward, two steps back made it very tricky to plan ahead.
The year started off in another lockdown. This meant no Romsey 5 in January. We pushed this back to March in the hope of being able to get back running by then but little did we know it would have to move again. On a personal note, Kelly couldn't stand another lockdown so quickly signed up to join St Johns Ambulance and volunteered at the local vaccine centre (she just needed to be able to speak to people she hadn't given birth to or was married to!) Matt and Debbie as school teachers got to grips with zoom classrooms again, Terry was working as usual as nothing changed for him as a key worker, Sam was furloughed leaving Jo to run the CE Ship! We knew from the last lockdown that we relied on each other for support and quickly got the facebook group active again with workouts, support and guidance to keep us all going!
February came and we were still locked down, Kelly was still rocking her green ST Johns T-Shirt and Jo was looking into her crystal ball to work out when we were able to start planning events again! The facebook group saw daily lives from Coaches Tom, Ant and Kelly providing guidance and information to help with everyone's well being. The Winchester 10K event was then pushed back until October and the hope that some normality would be back soon!
March - Still locked down. We were supposed to be taking a group of people to Lanzarote for a week's training camp so instead of being sad and sitting at home, we decided as a team we would cycle the equivalent mileage in 7 days to get there! That's 2697km if you didn't know which is a long way for 4 people to sit on turbos for a week! Our new events for 2021, The Buccaneer Duathlon and Spring Spin were then cancelled in March and postponed until 2022.
April - WE ARE BACK…well almost! Restrictions were lifted slightly, bizarrely I could swim in a public lane swimming session but I couldn't take part in a very well organised Triathlon so Southampton Fast Twitch Triathlon became the first and only Southampton Fast Twitch DUATHLON. We did worry that this would affect the numbers of people wanting to take part however it had the opposite effect! It was a sell out, even attracting an Olympian and 3 pros! For us as a team it was like Christmas day, we were all back together (albeit 2m apart!) Seeing you guys again, taking part, having fun made up for the past few months of worry and sadness.
May - THREE events back to back… I will never moan about not being allowed to do events again! Bournemouth Beach Race was the first event to kick off May. We love this event as it's super relaxed, mega fun watching everyone run along the sand, jumping the groynes and getting back before the tide turns. Although small in numbers the awesome runners made the atmosphere brilliant and we even had a family take part travelling all the way from Devon! Next was the Hampshire Hilly Hundred with over 750 riders, this was our biggest HHH yet. It seems there was a lot of built up turbo energy on the start line desperate to be let out onto the roads!! We also raised over £600 for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance that day too. Final event of May was the sellout Huntsman. Being the third weekend in May you’d expect the weather to be nice, starting to warm up, gentle breeze, oh no, it was cold, windy and wet! This did not dampen the competitors spirit though; the atmosphere was electric, the field was super competitive and hosted the Royal Navy champs. It's also a PB for Kelly with the most mechanical pickups on the bike course ever!
June - One of our favs, New Forest Rattler over the weekend of 5/6th June. We had the wonderful sportive ride on Saturday (did you know this is the original New Forest Sportive going since 2012?) The weather was perfect for cycling, sunny and still! Sunday had the swim at stunning Ellingham followed by the run out on the lovely trails of the New Forest. We had over 570 people take part this weekend, including a family who live all over the country, to meet up for a birthday weekend! Also a huge well done to TEAM BEN; a group of 40 who took part in several of the events over the weekend raising donations for Alice’s Arc, Great Ormonds Street Hospital and Spread a Smile charities.
The longest day of the year we hosted our new swim event The Sundowner: which saw teams, pairs and solos take on 5 hours of swimming into the night! We must admit, the team rather enjoyed the disco and the free pizza!
July - Two of our most favourite events happened in July along with some footy! Swanage Triathlon Festival took place on 4th July with the team all staying together at the YHA praying a certain football match did not go into extra time as they had to be on site at 3am!
The award winning Swashbuckler was also a scorcher! We sizzled on 18th July and the portable showers came in VERY handy with Kelly spraying down competitors as they ran through the iconic Buckler’s Hard for transition and to finish!
August - New Forest Middle Distance triathlon was another glorious day and another sell out event too! Southampton Triathlon Club hosted their club champs and we had athletes travel all the way from Wigan to take part. There is something really special about riding and running in the New Forest.
Sept - The beginning of September, we held the Bournemouth International Tri; another one of our favourites, starting and ending on the golden sands of Bournemouth Beach. A great turnout with so many disciplines to choose from, there really is something for everyone and everyone seemed to enjoy their branded beach towel as a finisher gift! We are excited to announce this event in 2022 will host the England Triathlon National Championships for the standard distance so we are really looking forward to this next year! We ended September with the closer event Southampton Fast Twitch Triathlon, back to its original format, we finally were allowed back in the pools. A lovely sprint event to end the busy triathlon season!
Romsey 5 was our first mass-start running event back since the beginning of the pandemic and it was rather strange after having 18 months of time trial starts. It was lovely to welcome everyone back. There were some really special performances from Ben Brow winning in an incredible time of 24 minutes and 20 seconds and the wonderful 87 year old Thelma winning her age group for the 7th year.
Oct - Thruxton Run and Duathlon took place on the first weekend of October, always a brilliant event racing around a motor racing circuit as fast as you can! This was the first run that was registered with UKA meaning a number of new PBs were proudly posted to Run Britain. Huge congratulations to all that completed the Mass Attack Duathlon, especially to the 4 friends who travelled from London. During the event they blamed their mate for the ‘silly idea’ however once they had finished and got their medal they were buzzing and were looking forward to the next ‘silly idea’!
Winchester 10K, usually in February but for 2021 it was on Halloween and boy the weather was horrendous! Biblical downpours and winds made it tough but it didn't put off the 1000 finishers. There were some super fancy dresses and big congratulations to our fancy dress winners of the gorilla and zombie!
Nov - A quiet time with no events but a chance to gather our thoughts and start planning for a bigger and better year in 2022! Kelly had a sneaky birthday. A huge congratulations to our crew mate Kirsty Shannon who came third in the ITU World Duathlon Championships held out in Spain on the 7th November.
Dec - Another new event for us; The Wight Winter Wheeler, held over on The Isle of Wight for our Christmas sportive ride around the Island. We saw several of you make a weekend out of the event and travel over for a couple of days to explore the beauty the island has to offer - big thanks to Red Funnel for their help with some discounted ferry tickets. A huge well done to everyone who battled the freezing cold conditions and strong winds on Military Road - I hope the mulled wine and mince pies warmed you all up!
Although having a rocky start to the year and numbers definitely considered lower than previous years, we have ended up on top! There have been so many laughs, we have met some inspirational people taking part in our events and we LOVE hosting events for you all so we thank you for being part of it with us! We hope you have had a good 2021 and look forward to seeing you again in 2022!
The Challenging Events Team