Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#5 Issues 31 - 41 1992

We reported lots of duathlons in 1992; ITU world champs in Palm Springs (from the previous November), British National champs in Burnham on Sea, ETU European champs from Madrid, (Spencer Smith won these two) our Fabulous Fairford Flyer :- ) ITU champs in Frankfurt and Powerman Zoffingen. 

New Zealander Matt Brick seems to have started most of them and won a few as well. Matt was a good friend of 220 and wrote learned articles for us and one year reported Ironman Hawaii, as seen here with Tracey Brick, acting as navigator. 


Ben Bright
Ben writes:
I only realised after reading this blog that 220 Magazine had started in 1989, I assumed it had been going for much longer, I guess that’s just an indication of how established 220 was by the time I came to the UK in 1992. Then I was 17 years old and had just won the Australian National Series. The sport was really strong in Australia but, luckily for me, the big guns like Brad Beven, Greg Welch and Steve Foster were focused on the US season. Prior to the start of the season I made a deal with my parents that if I won the series they would let me leave school a year early and go to France to race professionally. I didn’t really think I could do it and they probably thought there was no chance whatsoever.

I crossed paths with a swim coach called Brett Sutton. He asked me if I would like to be coached by him, and along with swimmers Lach Vollmerhause and Collette Gunn, we formed Brett’s first triathlon squad. Brett developed quite a large squad on the Gold Coast and some of the professional athletes he worked with had raced for clubs in France so it was a natural progression for more of us to head over there. As it is today, there wasn’t enough money on the Australian circuit to be a professional, so there were two options – France/Europe or the US. Brett had made some contacts in France and it was possible to be supported and if you were good enough, paid to race for a French club. A group of eight of us went to Macon in central France. I had a contract with the Tri Club Maconnais which paid for a two bedroom apartment for the season. Of course it ended up with all eight of us staying there. Once everyone had won a bit of money, we branched out and got another apartment and split things up, but the first month was a bit cramped.

The first season racing in France was a real experience and an education. The first race I did I crashed on the first corner (no idea where the course went), did the rest of the bike with my 'bars pointing at 45 degrees and held on to the win by seconds despite being desperate for a poo the last 4k of the run. Then Brett decided some of us would head to the UK to do a half ironman in Ironbridge. It’s so long ago that I remember very little about the race apart from having no idea where I was going (nothing new) and the camera motorbike crashed on the run right beside me. I held Scott Balance and Glenn Cook off on the run, and I needed to poo (again) so ran through the finish line and straight to a portaloo. The main thing I remember about the race was how well it was organized and how friendly everyone was. The other thing I remember was how important 220 Magazine was to the triathlon scene at that time. It seemed that 220 was the heart of the sport in the UK.

Later that year a few of us came back to race in Bath for the final race of the season. We caught the ferry from St Malo to Portsmouth and I recall Ken McLaren picking us up and driving us to Bath and showing us around. The other thing I remember was that there was flooding just prior to the race and the water in the river was absolutely freezing, around 12 degrees, and I almost pulled out after the first 200m of the swim. Rob Barel ran me down for about three minutes to the win the race.

In the years following I’d come back to the UK at least once a season to race and John and the crew always looked after me well. I got to know his family and I really looked forward to coming over from France where I felt a bit isolated. There were some pretty good post race parties as well! Somehow I’d get the magazine sent out to France and it was a real honor to have my name mentioned or even get a picture in there.

*I was going to title Ben's piece "Ben Bright Talks Crap" but good taste got the better of me.

1992 started with a spring duathlon series; we helped Bath Amphibians Castle Coombe race, the BTA National Championships at Burnham on Sea, Robin Brew's Thame Duathlon and finally our own 220 Fairford Flyer.

We took 1,000 entries for the Swindon triathlon that year, had a TV company film it for Sky and some sponsorship from the Manchester 2000 Olympic bid coffers. However, our work on organising the 1993 ITU World Championships in Manchester was thwarted when 220 was disallowed as we were deemed persona non grata by the ITU. Our course was hijacked by the BTA and was passed to an cycle race organiser who had no knowledge of triathlon and as a consequence it was a bit of a shambles (In my opinion).

So, Swindon, John Lunt's Windsor, Ironbridge and Bath completed this year's 220 Triathlon Series. Ian Sweet  introduced Bath when it was filmed for BBC Grandstand, we had no sponsor for Bath but put £12,000 into the prize fund and dropped a bundle, so nothing new there.

Matthew Belfield 

Our April issue had a graphic make-over, a new logo and new look that took it away from being a fanzine to look more like a proper mag.

The Fairford Flyer

Spencer Smith, Glenn Cook, Matt Brick and (hold on, I'll find out).
The Fairford Flyer duathlon was held at the USAF base at Fairford in Gloucestershire. The base was normally non-operational but was a strategic base for the USAF because the runway was long enough for their big B52's. We got to take it over for a weekend and had a lot of fun. On Saturday we staged a symposium with World Duathlon Champion Matt Brick talking duathlon and ace time trialist Alf Engers dropped in to talk cycling. More experts talking nutrition, shoe technology, bike maintenance and somebody spoke on swimming (swimming?). After all that, a barbecue and some people took advantage of the accommodation on site.

Barbara Brewer, Donna Peters, Liz Downing, Alison Hamilton.
First thing Sunday some ancillary events; a load of loonies from the Human Powered Vehicle sect had a race and a world speed record was set where your man hit 56 mph. A wheelchair athletes race and a 10k for runners before the big duathlon. Our friends at the  TV production company were getting quite used to our sort of racing and they brought in cameramen and motos that had Tour de France experience so they made a good job of it. Bits were shown on the BBC, ITV and the whole race on SKY.

Really excellent venue, big thanks to the American Air Force Commander for letting us in.


Glenn Cook (on the left)  Ironbridge run.
Aussies invade Ironbridge. This year reduced by 50% to a half Ironman distance, we started the race in the afternoon so that it would finish in the dark and we could repeat our firework display that terminated last year's festivities. This was the start of the Sutto Squads participation in some of our bigger races. They must have liked something about the events as they kept coming back year after year.



Rob Barel came into T2 and someone shouted out "Get Yer Skates On! You're three minutes down". So he did :-)
Bath went well but nearly didn't. The rainy season had come to Avonshire and the river looked a murky brown due to saponified cellulose (or so we were told) and was very cold. Dutchman Rob Barel went over the top of a car, broke a shoe plate, said sorry to the driver and went on to haul Ben Bright in on the run. All good television!

Chris Ray and Jack Maitland (I looked hard at this last photo and I can’t get it out of my mind that Jack has one huge ear! Trick of the light as they say, like the Simon Lessing photo from Dover where he’s coming out of the water with a condom on his head instead of a swim cap. . . . . . . just an illusion.


Brett Sutton

Sutto Speaks: Back in the early ninety's Australia was the hardest place in the world to race. You would go to a small race 1,000 AUS Dollars first prize and you would run into the greatest names in triathlon. I was training young kids, and so even a great race saw them get at best only enough money to pay the petrol bill. So we sent one of our squad, Shane Johnson, to France to check out the scene, as we all knew nothing. He came back with the news of the promised land, two, three and sometimes four races every weekend all with money. Unlike the USA the travel  was much easier, the train system very efficient and you could receive help from race organizers. We made a plan to go in 1991 with a full team of four guys and four girls. We stayed at Macon with our to be great friend Sylvan Dafflon, who I later trained.

The next year we brought over eight men and six women and split it up between some in the north and some stationed in the south of France, the next season we all based out of Alp d' Huez and we added Hamish Carter, who raced for you in England at Bath. Unlike today France had the most sophisticated system of professional races. One, two, three and four star races with prize purses to match the star rating. One season I counted 300 races with prize money, it made ever other country look sick, there was little federation interference and it was fantastic. Now, well it has been decimated, a massive price was paid to accommodate the federation's control of the sport.

The reason for coming to England was novel I suppose and had nothing to do with racing. Living in a small provincial town in France with four boys, the oldest 21 and youngest 16 was very very difficult.  We had a guy that spoke perfect French so we thought we would be OK but he was very shy, even in English, so when in France he clammed up and couldn't organize anything. We were always very home sick for Australia. We went to a race in Dunkirk and I could see the morale of the troops was absolutely rock bottom. So I said to 'em if we have a good race and get some money, let's get on the ferry and go to England and see if there is a movie and a Kentucky Fried Chicken place there. The boys  were elated, raced like champions and so we hit that ferry and were sitting in the movie theatre with a bucket of KFC the next night. We had a ball and on the way home and the further we got away from Dover and the closer we got to Calais the boys and girls said, "I wonder if there are any money races in England, we could break our trip up a couple of times if there were, and we could get our KFC".

That trip started us to investigate. We got a copy of a 220 Magazine sent to us, and Benny seen this 1/2 ironman in a place called Ironbridge, he said "Coach I wonder if Ironbridge has a KFC, as the race got money, maybe you can contact  this John Lillie guy and see if he would like a bunch of Aussies to come over and show the Poms how good we are" and that was the start. I contacted a Mr Lillie, who was not just  pleasant to our cause but put his hand in his pocket and brought a team of Australians to England. Not only that he found them accommodation, a KFC for me and to Ben, great happiness a McDonald's as well. Ben had his favourite pre-race food, much to the dismay of all the English looking after us. It's one thing that the coach scoffs down three pieces of unadulterated fat, but Ben all of seventeen was not only doing the half Ironman but had the bus stop at McDonalds - two cheese burgers and a thick shake on the way to the race.

One of Sutto's squads. The Dudes from Alp Doo-ez; Sylvan, Luke, Marc, Ben, Chippy.
The other Brits sat in the car incredulous quizzing me, his coach, on how could I let a kid this young do the hardest race in Britain? To be fair he did look like he was thirteen. You will kill him, was the consensus, "How can you let him eat such rubbish before a race, and how do you expect the poor boy to perform?" Well I had become quite used to  such attacks and I remember clearly the scene like out of a movie. I answered by asking Ben "You happy with the burgers?" "Coach I've been waiting three months to eat this, I'll be on fire today" was his answer. I turned to one of the Brits and said "He will be on fire, you watch him" with which I was hit with "Do you know that our best long course guys are racing?" Mate I didn't see Simon Lessing on the start list, so Ben will kill 'em. "But have you seen the course it's a very tough 90k".

By this time Ben was getting a bit pissed off and said "Mate, the tougher it is the less chance you Brits have, I love a hill and 90m is even better for me to smashed 'em on the bike". They looked at this skinny kid and just laughed as the unknowing do before being cleaned out. "We have Glenn Cook, Robin Brew, Julian Jenkinson, all terrific riders" they said. Ben with half a cheeseburger hanging out his mouth said, "Good I'd hate to beat up on avo guys, they won't see me on the bike, that's for sure. Because I don't run so good so I'll need a four minute lead". They smiled again when one of our girls, Bianca said, "Don't laugh, he is very strong, a bit like me really, I'll put four minutes into 'em too, as I don't run so good either". So silence rained. Then in the race Ben Bright completely decimated the men's field on the bike, cheeseburgers and all, and Bianca was a little out because she put nine minutes on the girls on the bike. The 220 and Aussie  connection was born".

John Lillie: I remember them all being very polite, especially Ben. He came out of the swim behind Robin Brew but as he passed him on the climb out of Ironbridge, he had the very good manners to give Robin a little wave and say a cheery, "Goodbye".


Wet Suite Care

Joe Beer

Joe Beer - 220 Contributor for 21 years and inaugural 220 Coach of the Year 2005

I joined the happy 220 gang as a volunteer helping with bag stuffing (the stuff of nightmares) and helping out at events like the Wroughton Duathlon and Bath Triathlon. It really felt like the centre of triathlon, there was no other proper mouthpiece to talk, walk and write about all things triathlon so the magazine was UK triathlon. It was great to be "in the know" - amazingly many faces from then are still in and around the sport today.

The test products, new from the USA and the like were always piled around various places in John Lillie's house - it was like triathlon's Willy Wonker Land. Seeing product beyond my wildest dreams was amazing, like titanium seat posts and skinny wheels.

My first article appeared in September 1992. It used the practical findings of my degree dissertation to advise triathletes about morning training nutrition. I followed it up with heart rate training, various supplements and stuff that John would ask me "to write something about that" - this has been followed every month since then, and it is still my longest running magazine affiliation. My first articles were sent in on type written paper, then later 3.5" discs through the post - the postman was the key to getting things to 220.

One of the coolest things I remember was being asked if I could lend a spare bike to "Steve" to use for training. It ended up meaning that I lent my bike to Steve Ovett to use for training for the Fairford Duathlon. His class would not rub off on me, but the thank-you card from him was a very nice memento.

Oh Simon, not the 'Tuck' position again! At least take your helmet off!

Your link to the future click here

1 comment:

  1. Yes Mr Sutton the English guys were dismayed at Ben Bright eating McDonald's as you left all the leftovers and rubbish in my front room, along with empty packets of M&Ms . The pleasure was all mine Debbie Gunning


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