The Giant's Tooth is a great way to start the new year. It's a 3-mile race with 400ft of ascent, around Ogden Water reservoir and all off-road - a class C fell race.
It was a beautiful day, fairly clear and cold. There were big grey clouds in the sky as we drove towards Halifax, but above the race area the sky was blue. We left nice and early, but in the end it was touch and go whether we would make it because we got stuck behind a tractor.
Make it we did however, and mid-day saw us lined up at the start with our numbers pinned on, and plenty of nerves all round as for 3 of the 4 of us this was our first fell race.
The terrain was mostly not too rough underfoot , but the ascents certainly were steep. Heavy rainfall the day before made the downhills especially nice and slidy!
The course is very well marked with plenty of marshalls who were all unfailingly encouraging and enthusiastic. The last one tried to comfort me with the news that the steep slope ahead was the last uphill before the finish but I was too zoned out by that point to understand what she said, so I was somewhat surprised to turn a corner at the top and see the finish ahead of me. I'd been convinced that there must be about another mile to go! I really must get into the habit of looking at the course route beforehand!
Prizegiving was in the pub at the end of the lane, with chip butties to keep us going until all the results were in. It turned out to be a good day for the Sri Chinmoy AC women's team - Amelia was second lady, Bhauliya was first lady V40, Nurari got a spot prize, plus we won the lady's team prize. Here is a photo of the girls with their haul (I am behind the camera).
Aside from the prizes, one of the best features of the race was the friendliness of the locals. We'd all enjoyed it and said we'd try and come back next year. "Why not next week?" was the reply.
A group of us from Run and Become had been working hard at the Marathon Expo, and we opted to run the relay rather than attempt the full 26.2! Our aim was just to beat Dhavala's solo effort in London of 3.14, which we did, by around ten minutes. The Edinburgh Marathon site has a few thumbnail pics of us so here they are (full versions will be less fuzzy but you have to pay for them:)
Amelia ran the anchor leg of the marathon- on finishing she was presented with not one but 5 medals but she graciously agreed to share these with the rest of the team.
Overall the Sri Chinmoy AC team came 18th out of over a hundred entries and also set a new club record for the event by beating Hyamallar's all-boy team, but we have agreed not to mention that in this report.
Our total time was 3:06 and we placed 18th in the team relay (though some confusion at the start means there is a question mark over those results - I'm sure not all the teams started at the same time!)
The legs were:
ROGER Princes' St. - Victoria Pk - 7.7 miles 50:46
BHAULIYA Victoria Pk - Marine Dv, Silverknowes - 4.2 miles 32:58
SHYAMALA Marine Dv, Silverknowes - Ocean Terminal - 5.6 miles ??:??
DHAVALA Ocean Terminal - Portobello Beach, Kings Rd - 3.5 miles ??:??
AMELIA Portobello Beach, Kings Rd - Holyrood Park 5.2 miles ??:??
Agnes from the Sri Chinmoy AC in Edinburgh recalls the amazing journey of her first Ironman Triathlon - completed in the debilitating heat and humidity of Malaysia!
"Taper, taper taper." I recalled Tarit's advice. Do you the meaning of the word taper? Rest for 3 weeks before the race. Believe me, your body will be grateful to you!
Here I am on the day before the race, muscles soft like a jelly. Where did all the countless hours of training disappear? I could not feel even one moment of the hard work in my legs any more. I guess the regular massage, healthy nutrition, Megabhuti's liver cleansing once a month, and a taper did the trick. My longest training ride was very easy - forty three miles along the race course on Sunday a week before the race. The beauty of the nature was stunning. Sandy beaches, Malay villages, palm trees, small islands, I was really lucky to be here in this heaven for more than two weeks with plenty of time to acclimatise and relax. Luckily for me, no big hills this year! The bike course has been changed. On Friday two days before the race, Andreas from Switzerland, Robert from Czech Republic, Linda from Hungary and myself moved to Kuah nearer the race start. I left behind my dear room-mate Julia from Oxford, who was very patiently sharing a room with me, my bike, and all the race gear which was lying just about everywhere.
After Neil almost crashed into me on the bike during the Portobello Sprint Triathlon, because I could not see him from my pony tail, I knew the biggest and only sacrifice had to be done - I had to cut my long hair for safety reasons. Julia was happy to do that.
So finally I was ready for the start. That day I was hundred percent sure that this race was nothing to do with me, but was 99% God's grace and 1% help from all my dear friends and family who coached, massaged, advised and encouraged me and who fixed my bike! All the credit goes to them.
As the party was on Friday afternoon I did not feel like going anywhere. Finally after Robert's third phone call I made it out from my room. Linda, Robert and myself arrived at the pasta party - once there I was really grateful for this. It was so inspiring to chat with all these great athletes. First we met Roger Price from Houston - it was his 27th Ironman. Diane and Debbie were excitement for my first race - we all exchanged really nice and kind words of encouragement during the race.
Next day. Finally we ended up at the same table as Zsuzsanna Harsanyi, Petr Vabrousek and famous Jason Shortis. Zsuzsanna is a Hungarian professional. She was second, her time 10:16:24. She is sweeter than the sweetest. And none of the photos is doing her any justice. She is much, much nicer. We spent hours together chatting about everything. Petr is a Czech professional. He was fourth in a time of 9:00:06. He is also extremely kind. He stopped during the race to asked a Danish guy who was struggling if he was ok. A real sportsman. We were all totally impressed by Jason - he was first in 8:36:33. He was racing at our Sri Chinmoy Triathlon Festival in Australia (He is Australian). Eventually all of them were holding the torch, smiling for the photos, it was a great evening.
The day before the race we had the bus tour on the course, the race briefing, and the bike and gear check-in. I managed to get myself together and concentrate on sorting out my stuff, and not forgetting anything from my cycling and running kit. I was a bit nervous but not for long. We went for a nice meal with Linda, who decided to stay longer and help on the race. That was absolutely terrific. While Linda was trying to get some bananas for me from the night market, I went to the race info once again - I was feeling OK. I read the "Spiritual meaning of the Triathlon" by Sri Chinmoy and a card from my dear friend Alison (Ironman New Zealand finisher) before I went to bed. Alison's message: "All this time training and waiting and now the moment is near. Put your foot on the accelarator and get into third gear. Good luck in Langkawi. Put all your training to good use. But most of all enjoy the experience, you will love it."
The Ironman Langkawi begins with a two lap swim in Kuah bay, which starts and finishes alongside a giant eagle statue. The three-loop bike course is fairly flat and is followed by the four lap run course. Total swim distance is 2.4 miles followed with bike ride of 112 miles and finished with a 26.2 mile marathon run.
Dawn. No thoughts. No feelings. No emotions. I just exist. I knew I am where I am supposed to be doing what I am supposed to do. First time in my life, I really trained for a race and I could feel why Sri Chinmoy puts such an emphasis on importance of physical fitness. I experience how does it feel being surrounded with healthy, fit bodies, focussed minds and determined vitals. It was an overwhelming, pure and powerful energy. I was all gratitude for the privilege to make it to the start line. All of us, the pros and the newcomers, had the same goal - to transcend our own limitations. The goal of Self-Transcendence.
Three hundred athletes from thirty six countries started together in the warm waters of the jetty. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed the swim. I had time to bask in the sunshine and send my greetings to Surya the Sun-God who would accompany me today, the whole day long. Well my first shocking experience was when after the second helf point turn I noticed that I needed 47 minutes for one quarter of the loop. God, I won't make it within the cut-off! I will have to stop the race! Cut-off time for the swim was two hours tenty minutes. In a pool my time was tragic, very slow, 1:36. Probably the current was the reason for my even slower swim in the open water. I was paddling as fast as I could. The way back took only 17 minutes with the help of the current. I was out in four hours three minutes, and very happy that the first task was over. I was still in the game.
Finally on my bike, everything went along very well in the first lap. I was fascinated with Chris Lieto's speed - Bryan Rhodes and Jason were far behind him on the bike. Rebecca Preston was the first girl - it was amazing to watch the pros in action. I saw Robert who was going very fast - Andreas was enjoying himself, smiling and asking how am I, it was nice to get some extra encouragement.
The disaster struck in the second lap - there was no water at the aid stations - my mind was in a state of complete panic. On the next aid station I wasked for water, they said "it's water". Great! Relieved. I poured so called water on my head - it was an energy drink. My hair, glasses, jersey, bike, everything was sticky. I would need to pedal for five or six more hours in 40 degrees heat without water. On top of all this my gear shifter refused to move. LAter on Sean in the bike shop told me that the cable probably got stuck. I felt totally helpless. The ambulance was passing with the fastest speed past me with the sirens on. I saw a few athletes lying on the grass. My body was fine but I started feeling dizzy from heat and lack of water. Suddenly I remembered Scott Balfour's advice - "stay calm whatever happens" - so I kept on repeating this. I was so grateful to him for all the advice, coaching, inspiration. He did Kone and other Ironmans - he's world champion in his agegroup, and Scott shared his top secrets with me - "stay calm whatever happens".
A few tears were rolling down my cheeks when I reached the Kali Temple - Kali is my favourite Goddess. I prayed to her, "Mother..... please don't let me die here, please save me". Mother Kali listened to my prayers - from that moment on my gearshift was working. then we had water at all the water stations.
I was pacing myself on 14 miles per hour on the bike, so finally I finished the bike just before the cut off time in 10 hours 24 minutes. Cutoff was 10 hours 30 minutes. I was delighted that I could walk after more than eight hours in the saddle. At this moment I knew I would finish - I had six and a half hours for the marathon. One and a half hours each lap and thats it. I changed slowly , realising that my legs and arms were completely sunburnt. I guess the girls did not put enough sunblock on me after the swim. Soon I had a high fever, but kept on running. I did not want to end up in medical in case they told me to stop. I was so happy to see the others who were struggling on the run - some of them were already finishing. It was just great to have all these people running there on the running loop. I was just copying others - they all had ice cold sponges on their neck, chest, shoulders - so I soon looked like a body builder with all the sponges under my jersey. I was soaked but still I felt I had a really high fever. I started getting well-known muscle pain in my quads. Bioplasma, arnica and energy gels; I stuffed all these in my face with hope to get over it. And then I remember the verse from Sri Chinmoy's triathlon song - "I run with the smile of the beyond" - the whole song is:
"I love my great triathlon, it shows my heart-gold-vision-dawn, I swim in the sea of silver light, I cycle along the road of gold delight, I run with the smile of the beyond, my inner cry God-treasure-diamond"
So I started smiling even more, I started chatting with everybody. In the fourth, final leg I had my own team - we were all running together it was just great. How I wished that everybody would finish.
I had the greatest cheering crew - many Hungarians like Linda stayed over in Langkawi: Piroska, Tamas, Andrea, Jozsi, Laci and the Ironman finishers Andreas from Switzerland and others who waited for me at the end.
Just before the finish, Linda gave me the Harmony Torch (see www.worldharmonyrun.org - Ed.) it was great to run with the torch through all the crowd, it was so beautiful. The flame was really nice, big, and you could really see the flame from far away in the dark night. I was just so happy. A few athletes came to me after the race and thanked me for the moral support. I felt really honestly privileged to be a member of the new world - the world of Ironman and Ironwoman. People with iron bodies, oneness hearts, sweet smiles.
My family had a most exciting day, waiting for the news, results and pictures on the web site. They were all so happy to see me smiling in the first picture of the second bike lap. My mum wrote: "Daughter, you know very well that I don't fancy all these stupid races, but this was really something special, I am really proud of you."
I would never even make it to the start without the help and inspiration of all these people. Tom Chambers, representing GB in Olympic Distance Triathlons, was one of those who gave me the starting kick. At that time, in the months after my dearest cousin's passing, I didn't want to run or swim, didn't even dare to buy a bike, and at that time one day he came to the shop and reminded me that I said at the beginning of January that I would like to do a triathlon. He said "I bought three pairs of shoes - and you didn't do any triathlon?". So at that moment something just clicked in me - I knew that I had to do something with my life and I knew that Milan (my cousin) would be proud. The very same day I bought a trainging diary and the very same night I wrote my training schedule and on Monday I bought my bike and this is how I started - very, very, slowly and steadily - crawled - all the way to the finish line in Langkawi!
Thanks to you all without whom this dream would never come true, and most importantly gratitude to my teacher Sri Chinmoy for his blessing and his smile - full of joy and pride.
Agnes finished the Langkawi International Ironman Triathlon in a time of 16 hours 28 minutes, the cut-off time was 17 hours.
View full article »
Marathon Experiences 2004
In the summer of 2004 the Sri Chinmoy Marathon team held a global gathering in New York. On August 25th we staged our third "Self Transcendence Marathon" in Rockland State Park.
Sri Chinmoy started the race at 7am then almost a thousand runners set off on the epic 26.2 mile journey. Among them were many members of the Sri Chinmoy AC from the UK - here are their finishing times, pictures and race stories. Congratulations to Dhavala Stott of Edinburgh for winning the women's race in a time of 3:10:57 and for being the fastest British entrant, beating all the men by some distance!
Click on a runner's name to read their account of the race.
This was my first multi-terrain/ hill race and I felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension as we neared its remote starting point in the car. Snow lay on the surrounding hills and a watery sun shone through hifh cloud. On the ground, melting snow and sticky mud caught out more than one vehicle as they attempted to park on the steep hillside off the road. The sound of revving engines and voices rose into the cold midday air in an otherwise still and quiet rural landscape. I had travelled down from London to run as part of the Sri Chinmoy AC team with Roger from Cardiff, who would also be running, and Ed from Bristol who would be cycling.
We gathered with the other runners shortly after the finish of the junior race. The race director's breath hung in clouds as he addressed us in a lilting Welsh accent. Most of his words were carried waway on the breeze to the hills before we had a chance to hear them, until the word 'go', loud and clear, generated a burst of friendly jostling and animated chatter as we started off up the first hill.
We gathered with the other runners shortly after the finish of the junior race. The race director's breath hung in clouds as he addressed us in a lilting Welsh accent. Most of his words were carried waway on the breeze to the hills before we had a chance to hear them, until the word 'go', loud and clear, generated a burst of friendly jostling and animated chatter as we started off up the first hill. The ground was wet and stoney to begin with, but gave way to deep mud and splashy puddles as we turned a corner following a farm track into the fields.
Snowy hills unfurled invitingly before us and I wondered where our destination, the mast of the race title, could be. My attentions was soon consumed by mu feet, howerver, as the path headed steeply downhill. The mud was thick and slippery from recent snowmelt and hid loose stones and rocks. In high spirits, we charged down the track into woodland and splashed through a stream at the bottom. From there the gorund sloped up hrough tussocky fields and out onto a road. The gradient continued and I began to struggle somewhat, especially when I waw where the road was leading - to a steep exposed hillside and the bright grey sky above. Once there, the hill reduced me (and many other runners!) to a walk, hands on thighs. We were rewarded a the top vy a panorama of low, snowy hills and distant rain-fraying clouds. The going eased for a while before climbing steeply afain to the mast that marked the 'mearly halfway' point. Skirting the mast my legs felt tired and unwilling, but the sight of a lonf descent cherred me. i passed a cyclist heaving his bike over a stile and he soon overtook me on the descent as gravity pulled us faster and faster over the ground that blurred beneath our feet. I caught hasty glances at the rolling, snow-covered landscape below us to the right as my descent became less controlled and my eyes watered. We turned a corner into a farmyard where the owners had put up balloons and a colourful sign to welcome us (the race, I presumed) to the farm. I had barely a moment to read it and register surprise at the bright, artificial colours after focussing for so long on snowy grass and the mud under my feet. The continuing gradient pulled us on past some bystanders taking photos of the runners, through an extremely boggy field and over a (by this time) welcome stretch of road. A light misty rain fell but with no noticeable wind it did not feel cold. Soon we were passing the 5 mile marker and reached the final hill, the same we had descended near the start. I struggled cheerfully up the familiar route, through stream and mud as fast as my legs would go. Try as I might, I did not seem to be making much headway, but the runners in front of me did seem to be getting closer so I pushed on. Up the final tarmac path to the finish line I was elated to still be in one piece!
pic: Amelia just after crossing the line (photo by Balavan)
Roger had finished in 10th place in 47.55 and Ed had finished second cyclist in a time of 51.18. We managed second team place overall and were generally pleased with our results! Roger had knocked 5 seconds off his previous best on the course, Ed had written well on a testing course for bikes and I was just very happy to have finished, not last, in just under an hour. Whilst the uphills had been punishing, they had brought with them the delights of a few seconds of magical, fleeting beauty at the top and the sheer joy of hurtling back down as fast as you could go. I enjoyed it immensely as had almost everyone else I saw or spoke to.
An atmosphere of relaxed satisfaction filled the gnetly buzzing prize-giveing ceremony. Happily, we ate mars bars and talked and drank steaming hot tea. My lungs felt stretched and clean from breathing the cold, wintry air outside. The race winners collected their prizes and we ambled back to the car as it all drew to a close. A few cars had to be shoved out of the mud on their way out of the field and the sun dipped lower behind darkening woods as we made our way home, sore but happy!
View full article »
Ras Mynydd Troed 2006
Five of us happened to be in Abergavenny for the weekend - one local keen to get a South Wales league race under his belt and four visitors from Edinburgh and London keen to sample what the Black Mountains had to offer in the way of testing climbs and stunning views. The five protagonists were Roger, Amelia, Tarit, Dhavala and Bhauliya and they were accompanied by Shyamala who nipped to the top of Mynydd Troed with her camera - her shots will end up in our gallery at some point.
Roger was first home in a time of around 1.18 with Tarit (gaining fast on the last climb) just a minute or so behind. Dhavala was third lady and almost came second, being overtaken in the final descent. Amelia, in her first "class A" fell race, breezed in looking as if she lived on the fells but suffered a back spasm later that kept her laid up for a while - no surprises that the tough climbs claimed at least one victim, albeit one who bounced back pretty fast and was back out racing two weeks later in Edinburgh. Bhauliya had a good run but went a little further than planned when the runners ahead of her took a wrong turn and she was led down an "alternative route" - still she looked very happy at the finish.
Organiser Dick Finch put a great race together with three stiff climbs and awe inspiring views so our thanks go to him. He also dished out some prizes to the Sri Chinmoy AC ladies for being the furthest travelled competitors!