Stowmarket Striders feature: ‘It’s intense - but worth it’
Ron Ames, Mick Jones, Steve Robinson, Haley Suttle, Scott Williams, Laura Hicks (not pictured), Anne and Grayhame Fish have travelled as far afield as Chicago and Vancouver to compete at major competitions.
The athletes are largely self-funded and have to go through a qualification process in order to be selected.
“The training is intensive,” explains Suttle, who put in excess of over 300 hours and 3,000 combined miles for run, swim and cycle training this season, while juggling full-time work.
“I train hard on my turbo in my garage twice a week, use both track and road for run training, and swim three times a week in the pool, or open water in warmer weather.”
Encouraged and supported by friends at Stowmarket Striders, the training has paid off for Suttle, who in her first year representing Great Britain came 11th in her age group (FV50) at the Sprint Distance Triathlon, in Lisbon, with a time of one hour, two minutes and 57 seconds.
Suttle also finished 14th in the Walchsee ETU Challenge Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships Half Ironman, which she completed in 5.51.50.
Having only competed in a handful of local triathlons previously, Suttle hopes to get selected for the European Middle Distance Championship in Denmark this year, after qualifying with a second place at an event in Holkham early this year.
Anne and Grayhame Fish have represented Great Britain no less than 13 and eight times respectively, first in 2001 for Anne and 2007 for Grayhame.
“I really can’t remember how it began” says Grayhame, “Anne started doing them first and somehow convinced me to give it a go.
“We both helped Ipswich Triathlon Club with the timing at a very early Stowmarket Triathlon. Anne said she would give it a go and used our daughter’s mountain bike the following year to do her first one, which was Culford Novice Triathlon 1995.
“Interestingly she was last but has never been last since.”
Now aged 68, Anne has gone on to achieve no less than three second place standings at European Championships at Sprint distance events, although her most favourite moment she says was finishing ninth in Chicago last year at the Standard Distance.
“There was a very strong field particularly the Americans and racing in Chicago with the wonderful backdrop of the skyscrapers and sunshine and an awesome bike course through an underground road system,” she said.
Ames has been a member of Stowmarket Striders for 10 years and said he “would never have given triathlons a go if I hadn’t start running with the club, they helped me reach the level I’ve achieved.”
He started off locally with Wattisham triathlon, but has gone on to represent Great Britain three times, including the World Championships sprint distance in Hyde Park, London 2013, where in the MV65 he came a notable 28th.
However, his favourite race was Geneva where the open water swim took him across Lake Geneva and cycling though the closed roads of the city with the backdrop of the Alps.
“A totally brilliant experience that I will never forget” he commented.
Ames is an admirer of the Brownlee Brothers, while his next goal is to qualify for the 2018 European Sprint Triathlon.
Being selected to represent Team GB is a demanding process, as Mick Jones explains.
“You can only use a race which was completed 18 months before the race you wish to complete in the following year to submit for qualification,” he said.
“You then have to wait until the following January to hear whether you have been selected.”
Taking into account the training necessary towards the build-up for the qualification race, athletes need to be in peak physical condition for up to two years before the race itself and maintain that level throughout in preparation for selection by the British Triathlon Federation.
Jones is a middle and long distance triathlete, taking on the demands of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run in the European Full Distance Championships in 2015 to finish an impressive 13th in his V40 age category.
For Jones, the structured training sessions at Stowmarket Striders really complement his gruelling training schedule: “Striders have some great swimmers and cyclists who can help you in all aspects.,” he said.
“I find swimming my weakest element but I received some very good advice from fellow athletes which helped a lot.”
Stowmarket Striders is not just for elite athletes, though, and has a very active triathlon group competing at all levels, from novice to experienced, welcoming anyone to come along and give it a go.