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Mon 26th Sep 2022
Ely Monster Middle report(s)
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 23rd August 2011

Tags  Ely  |  Monster Middle  |  Monster Racing  |  Sam Gardner

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Not one but two reports from the inaugural Ely Monster Middle Triathlon, which we've seen and heard a lot of very positive comment on in its debut year. Certainly one to consider in 2012 if middle distance is your thing.

Hayley Turner from Monster Racing, the event organisers reports first - followed by Sam Gardner who separately updated us with his race winning report.

Monster Racing ( staged their inaugural Middle Distance Triathlon on Sunday in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The event was run in conjunction with the Kings School who worked closely with Monster Racing to showcase Ely in what they hope will become a nationally recognised event.

Sponsors Eastern Counties Finance have worked in partnership with Monster Racing this year, piloting their Duathlon Series earlier in the year right through to the big Monster Middle at the weekend. Involvement from ECF meant that big names from all over the UK sought out the event, including 2010 female UK Ironman winner Yvette Grice.

Incorporating as many local businesses as possible, the event kicked off with Ely Riverboat Cruises leading the swim, with Matthew Smart from ECF and the Mayor of Ely on board. The swim leg took in the picturesque route from the bottom of Waterboard Hill along past the Cutter to the Amherst Field. Athletes benefited from the fast flat fen bike and run routes, many achieving personal best times. Event winner in a time of 4:00:02 was Sam Gardner (Snow & Rock); Female winner was Lucy Gossage (TFN Tri Club).

The event was described as `Iconic' by one of the Pro Athletes racing, who wasn't alone to comment that the swim leg was probably one of the best swim legs they have ever endured on a Half Ironman distance triathlon. A spokesperson for Monster Racing commented: “ We have received extremely good positive feedback from competitors and supporters. We hope Sunday's event has firmly placed us high up on the middle distance triathlon event calendar, for its organisation, it's fast PB course and it's beautiful setting. We hope to put Ely on the map attracting people to the area who otherwise may never have visited. We were delighted to have so many big names at our first event.”

Monster Racing will be staging a Duathlon Day early next year as well as their Monster Middle again next August.

Pos Men Women
1st Sam Gardner (Snow and Rock) 4:00:02 Lucy Gossage (TFN Tri Club) 4:18:02
2nd Robert Brundish (Tri London) 4:02:24 Yvette Grice (Bodyworks XTC) 4:22:37
3rd Matthew Ellis (Human Performance Unit) 4:07:40 Libby Free (Metropolitan Police Tri Club) 4:36:44


Men's race winner Sam Gardner also updated us on his day:

I was scanning the UK race schedule a couple of weeks ago, looking for a local 1/2 Ironman distance to use in my warm up to Challenge Henley, when I found the Monster Middle distance race a new race for 2011. As with any new race, things can always go one way or the other, luckily this was well organised, and supported and should go from strength-to-strength in the next few years.

The course was changed a couple of times in the week leading up to the race, due to road works on the bike course and flooding on the run course, but the final course they used was great.

As a skinny mountain bike guy, I look forward to some stiff climbs to gain some time on my rivals, but I knew this wasn't going to be the case in Ely. Instead it must have one of the fastest bike courses of any half in the UK.

The roads were generally quiet and meandered through the fens alongside the big drainage ditches that make up the landscape. Very pleasant when the sun's out and it's not windy.

The swim started 1.9km downstream of transition and there were coaches laid on by the organisers to get there, or it was a pleasant 20 minute stroll along the tow path. The mayor of Ely city (it has a very nice Cathedral making it a city, and certainly worth looking round if you race next year), started the race and we headed back up the river with the mayor in a barge leading us. Passing past various boats and marina's and under bridges made it a fun swim. In my first outing in my new 2XU Project X wetsuit I was very excited and swum well, unfortunately just missing the pack ahead, but coming into transition less than two minutes behind the leader and 15 seconds behind the main pack, in ninth place.

A quick T1 and I exited transition in fifth, just behind two other athletes and I was soon in third. Reeling in the two leaders however took another 20 miles. Matt Ellis one of the local favorites was the last rider for me to catch and after 40 miles he was still riding 10 metres behind me, just out of my drafting zone. Eventually I managed to put some day light in between us in the last 16 miles, and built a lead of 2 mins 17 seconds by the start of the run.

So far it had all gone to plan, I had concentrated on my nutrition on the bike, consuming a litre of energy drink, 1 bar and 2 Viper gels, I felt strong but on such a flat course there's no recovery and in many ways it's harder than a hilly bike. I had tried to keep my cadence high on the bike to preserve my running legs, but it's always funny how your body reacts on the run.

Luckily, I seemed to find a good rhythm straight away, I tried to concentrate on good form, and keep a bit of energy in the bag if anyone got close to me. It seemed a long way out to the turn point and when it came I counted in my head until I saw second place coming towards me, if my seconds were correct (I didn't wear a watch), I had about 5 minutes gap. I then knew I could relax a little and enjoy the second half of the run. The athletes coming towards me on the out-and-back run were full of encouragement and lots of high fives were exchanged.

In the end I finished in 4:00:02, if only I'd not enjoyed the last mile as much I'd have made it under 4hrs! Oh well.... I treated my self to a hog roast roll and a well deserved pint from the caterers, and contemplated how to spend the very generous prize purse that the race had.

All in all a very well organised race and a lot of fun, if 4 hours of pain can be that. Next stop, Challenge Henley......

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