Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#7 Issues 52 - 61 1994

Please Do Not Scroll Straight To The Bottom On This Page - 
There's stuff to read first. Thank you. 

Mike Pigg and Karen Smyers speeding to victories on a Caribbean island.


Those were the days of an intense rivalry between Simon Lessing and Spencer/Bill Smith. You have to say Spencer/Bill because Spencer's dad Bill was his most ardent supporter. Bill came to every race, acted as his manager, bike cleaner, bottle washer - he did everything to support his son. I'm sure he would have swum, ridden and run beside Spence if he could have kept up. Simon was from South Africa and Spencer was from Hounslow - they were different.

Yesterday we did a long ride and this morning we swam and ran back from the pool.
Now we're doing an easy ride, then we're going for a massage!
Tom Lillie devised and designed these shirts that we issued to our volunteers.

Sue Anstiss was more our PR person, she connected us with Gatorade and more. Tony Curry was a fixture at every race, here is sharing a cup of tea with Steve Ovett. Kes Aleknavicius turned out to help bike route marking when he wasn't doing one of his innumerable Ironman races or appearing on our front cover. Andy East squeezes in, for some reason sporting Marigold rubber gloves and Dr Rod Jaques started life as a triathlete. We saw his Dr on a 220 entry form so asked him to supervise the  220 Marathon Triathlon. He continued as our medical boss, wrote a monthly column for the magazine  and then went on to bigger things in the world of sports medicine.


This must have been the fourth year of 220 Ironbridging, by now we were getting in a groove. Arrive, Set-up, Race, Prize giving, Street Party, Fireworks, go home. What's next . . . . . . .

Julian Jenkinson:
Oh yes I remember the picture well. Anyway who cares who won it, it was all about what I was wearing! It was the first outing for the all-in-one Speedo S2000 long-armed skin suit, an item not to be worn unless confident of winning. It came in various shades of black and was particularly favourable in hotter climates.

Ironbridge was my favourite race which would have been great if it had not been Hobbo's as well. That year he was in Denmark and an opportunity was to be had. The swim suited me as it was so shallow I didn't have to do much swimming. I did not exit with leaders - no shock there. I think I was off the bike in second with nutty Peter Younghusband who left transition at max speed as expected, but the distance was too far for him. I caught him and then the old man, Dr Tim Stewart. It was one of those very, very rare days when winning was easy. The excitement of coming over the bridge and getting the time check and a whooping crowd was very special.

Speedo were made up, and I would have kit for the rest of my career. Of course the bigger event was the curry afterwards.

Alan Ingarfield and Mark Stenning finish =5th. (With a topless Joe Beer watching?)
Mark Stenning:
I remember absolutely dying at about 9 miles on the run. Alan Ingarfield caught me and he gave me some words of encouragement and told me to run with him. As we ran in, he said we should finish together despite him being clearly stronger. As a young athlete it was great, especially as I think Alan had set a UK record for the Ironman at that time.

I also remember you having all the athletes staying at your house before the 220 races, like Simon Lessing and Carol Montgomery. I used to pick them up from yours to take them to the pool, I still remember Lessing moaning about having to swim at 6am!

Ironbridge Age Group Winners Sporting Special Winner's Sweatshirts.

St Petersburg, Russia, 1994.

The Goodwill Games was created by Ted Turner and his American TV channel CNN. It was a "goodwill" gesture to unite the USSR and the USA through sport (and give CNN something to broadcast). The US had pulled out of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in response to the invasion of Afghanistan by the Ruskies. Russia then boycotted the Olympics in LA four years later. So to make up and be friends the Goodwill Games became a sort of alternative Olympics and nearly 60 countries joined in.

Triathlon was one of the sports and your intrepid reporter took the train from Helsinki to the (then) drab and dismal St Petersburg. Nylon tracksuits and carpet slippers were the style of the day for the general population. The citizens were poor and they knew it. The Mayor flew in to start the triathlon and I noticed some windows missing in his giant blue helicopter. It was a bit of a shock.

Isabelle Mouthon (F) in Russia

A lot of the athletes were lodged at the Pribaltiyskaya Hotel, but the press were at another. Although there was a bus shuttle service between the press hotel and the Press Centre, there was no easy route to the Pribaltiyskaya. I was alone on this particular shuttle one day and wondering how to get over to see the athletes so I went up to the driver and said in my best fluent Russian, "Pribaltiyskaya?", "Taxi?", "Bus?" he understood where I wanted to go, put his finger to his nose and swung the bloody great bus off his route and ferried me over to my destination. I gave him a bunch of roubles, the equivalent of 4 USDollars, he was very pleased.

The triathlon was held just out of town on an army base. Nike were also on the scene doing a spot of Guerrilla Marketing (Reebok were the official sponsors). Laurent Boquillet, the Nike marketing man, was going round town distributing freebies. Here he gave out caps for this photo opportunity.

One of these lads gave me his cap badge in return, I think his name was Vladímir  . . . . . Putin? possibly?


Carol Montgomery, women's winner and £1,000 prime taker.
Lessing leaving the Avon
Our TV race was once again at Bath. Last year's event had been the controversial (to some) first across the line race which Carol Montgomery won with Simon Lessing second. This year the normal male and female races were restored but we set the elite women's wave off 15 minutes before the elite men and offered a thousand of your English Pounds as a prime for first across the finish line. Carol's lead was down to 4 minutes at the start of the run, that was enough, she wasn't caught by Simon (again!)

Annie Emmerson was 4th and later went on to be National Middle Distance Championess.

Regular contributor Dave Bellingham with little Rudy, Ken Maclaren needs a mike to talk to famed middle distance runner Bruce Tulloh, Alf Engers admires Dave Handley's 220 bib, Joe Beer (no, sorry I can't write that, it's too rude).


La Belle France

Yves Cordier finding it's not always nice in Nice.
France Iron Tour
FIT Dream Team; Mike Pigg, Simon Lessing, Wes Hobson, Scott Molina, Jimmy Riccitello
We at 220 tried to be efficient and innovative with our race promotions but I have to take my hat off, Chapeau? to the French for coming up with two excellent triathlon concepts.

First was the France Iron Tour (FIT). This was a Tour de France of triathlons. For a week, a variety of sprint triathlons would be put on each day in a different town. Teams of six representing a club or sponsor would race; sometimes in an individual race and sometimes as a team time trial. After each stage the teams moved on to the next town on a tour round France. There was an overall winner, usually Simon Lessing, and he would collect a car as first prize, how this was divided within the team I don't know.

I reported quite a few of these races, the first time was in '94 and the team to beat was what you might call The Dream Team; Mike Pigg, Simon Lessing, Wes Hobson, Scott Molina, and Jimmy Riccitello, racing for France Info.

Being French there were conflicting egos between the race organisers, led by the wonderfully formidable Carole Gally, and the French Tri Federation officials who would try and insist on their version of how things should go. The whole operation seemed to lurch from one mini crisis to the next mini crisis, but by the end of the week everyone arrived in one piece and there were congratulations all round.

Normally there were no real problems but one morning when the usual FIT - FFT confrontation was going on, the athletes were getting really pissed as they were in the water waiting to start. Tri Aix team member Frank Clarke decided enough was enough and shouted, GO! and everybody did. He knew how to organise them! And didn't he go on to become a proper triathlon organiser when he retired from racing . . . . . . ?

Frank Clarke
What came out of the race was a sense of camaraderie; within each team and also between teams because they were all travelling together, pitching up at a new hotel each night, eating ensemble and on the last night, after the Remise de Prix, the parties would be manic.

At these end of tour soirées my impression was that the North American triathletes weren't used to such craziness, had a low tolerance to beer (one final stage party was in a brewery!) or were not sure how to pace themselves (Is that diplomatic enough?). However, the French and Australians knew how to mosh!

One year the FIT ended in Alpe d'Huez, the drinking carried on in the local bars. French triathlete François Chabaud had been to New Zealand and was standing on a chair demonstrating the Haka. We left that bar and as we walked across the road Simon Lessing stepped forward, put his had up in an official pose, stopped a German registered car and demanded to see their passports. They were a bit bemused as he ran away giggling.

Jimmy Riccitello (not your typical North American) :

I'm hopping about hoping Jimmy  will send some text to go here . . . . . . . . . . .

PARIS Indoor

The other innovative event was the Indoor. This triathlon was staged in an indoor velodrome. A 50m pool was constructed inside the banked track (the water took two days to heat from cold to passable) and round the pool a running path was laid out. I reported on the only two two events that were held, Bordeaux in 1993 and Bercy in Paris in '94. The concept was fantastic. On the plus side; rock music, light show and a capacity crowd of cognoscenti who applauded and banged the barriers with enthusiasm.

The top pro's were invited (women as well!) and they ran heats earlier in the evening to decide the final 16 for the big televised finale. Swim 400m, ride 10k on the track then run 3k on the running path, what could be simpler?

The actual organisation was merde. When 220 organised races we would have half a dozen chiefs and 200 indians. The organisers in France wanted 200 Chiefs and no Indians. Everyone had their own idea how it should go forward so there were always five different rules operating at the same time. Lap counting was a nightmare. I could go on, but at the end of the day the problems were not apparent to the viewing public, if you were't there in person you could watch it live on Eurosport. It was excellent.

These indoor events cost the organisers a fortune to stage. Unfortunately there was no investment from advertisers or sponsors from the triathlon community, perhaps it might be different today. After two events the promoters had lost so much money that this concept was never seen again. Shame.


Powerman Switzerland had established itself as the duathlon on a tough but spectacular course in the forests around Zoffingen. A huge prize purse seduced the top triathletes to come and as a consequence, too many people wanted to race the event. Organiser Urs Linsi then allocated entry spots to other Powerman races that he started or partnered around the world. 220 became one of those partners and we created a duathlon round the Longleat country house estate.

The 7th Marquess of Bath, Alexander Thynn welcomes the Duke of Duathlon, Ken Souza.
One of the new Powerman qualifying races in 1994 was held on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and I got an invite to report it - what a job, but someone's got to do it.

"Here you are John, we've got helicopter you can go and get some aerial shots, if you want" the race director Tom Cooney said. OK, so off I went. This helicopter seemed to be a little plastic bubble with no doors and I was held by straps only secured with Velcro, is this right? Anyway, we buzzed around with me taking snaps. At one point we were very low following the riders down a deep valley. There were a lot of electrical power cables strung up on pylons running parallel to the road - except one.

We hit a power cable that went at right angles across the road. The was a loud crack, we lurched, the pilot said Shit! and landed us immediately on the road. Once landed he proceeded to bang his head on the control panel, repeating the phrase "Oh Shit!", "Oh Shit!", "Oh Shit!" non stop. I jumped out, said thanks very much for the ride, I've got enough pics, and I then hitch-hiked my way back to transition.

I didn't realise that cutting the power cable had started a forest fire which called out half the emergency services on the island and became big news back at the race. I eventually got back to the finish, was looking round for a cup of coffee, when I was besieged by the crew who thought that I was now a piece of toast. My karma must have been good that day.

Ian Sweet:
John - You may not remember but we were invited to Kauai to promote tourism after Hurricane Iniki. (The storm in Jurassic Park is that hurricane). I was working both as the race commentator and the TV producer for the Eurosport show. We had a tropical storm blow through during the race and at the finish line it was like something out of MASH. Over the radio came "Helicopter Down" You got the helicopter trip because your leg was in plaster or you were just recovering from some leg injury or operation. . . . . . . 

American Maddy Tormoen winning in Kauai, she also won at Wroughton and at Longleat in 1994.

This was an interesting bike ridden by Paula Newby Fraser the multiple Ironman winner and at that time, Ironman record holder. It was designed and built by Jim Felt, I'm presuming while he was still with Easton, the tube manufacturing company. The cranks have short articulating extension pieces which lengthen the crank during part of the pedal cycle and shorten it at another. Although her feet turn a regular circle, it is off-centre compared to a regular bike. To accommodate these cranks the bottom bracket is exceptionally high. The wheels are also unusual being only 24 inches.

Jim Felt started building state of the art bikes for sale when he joined up with Answer a components manufacturer. He then changed track and is now a boss at Felt Racing. He probably needs more space to build their line of bikes than when he started in his garage .

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Brazilian, Fernada Keller racing Ironman Hawaii.


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