A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

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A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby jonathon.e » 28 Jun 2019 20:55

Elsinore 70.3
European Championship ( well it wasn't when I entered )

A Tragedy of many Acts, and a few scenes.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Marcellus, scene iv


There is something I like about triathlons, I am not as good as I use to be, not as fast, not as flexible, bur enjoy what I can get. Whether it is to prove I can still do it, or prove to others that if I can do it, then they can too, I just enjoy it. So why Elsinore of all places ?

I have a theory that if you can race a triathlon distance, be it sprint, OD, middle or long, then you can complete and finish the level above, race a sprint then finish an OD, etc. By racing I mean racing, on the rivet, to the point when a good time is close to the point where you blow up and dnf, or get a slow time. Middle and long is all about cut offs, do the maths and finish the race, get the medal and t-shirt. I enjoy working on the times and speed needed, calculating my finish time as I progress and see how near it gets to my anticipated time I have worked out before the race based on my training.

I chose to go Middle distance this year as I don't have the time or commitment to go long, I can train for Middle without it impacting too much on work and home balance, I won't get a good time, but I will finish. I have never been to Denmark, or Scandinavia for that matter. I enjoy Shakespeare and the setting was based around The home of Hamlet, albeit fictitious.
Copenhagen is a short flight and Elsinore a short 50 minute drive, so quite doable for a weekend break.

Training is always hit and miss, keeping fit for a purpose, and dealing with my injuries on a daily basis. Training plans are generally none existent as a programmed long run could change to a swim if any injury flairs up.

I did my first 70.3 Ironman race in 2001, back then it was a Half Ironman, now called a 70.3, based on the miles you race, yet all the maps, routes, and markers are in Kilometres, go figure that one. However, Mdot branded races always filled up quickly back then, but now it seems you can leave entry to the last minute and still get an entry. Races have evolved, to some it may have taken some of the uniqueness out of it. The pro's get their own start, rather than with the masses. Perhaps the biggest change is with the race start, instead of a mass start, bun fight, melee, aquatic riot, Ironman have a swim start initiative to improve safety and reduce drafting.
At registration you choose which wave you want to start in based on time and choose a coloured cap accordingly. At the start you seed yourself in the group, so I chose 36-39 mins, and opted to start near the back as I was going for a 38 min swim time. I start slow and improve, rather than a fast start and go backwards. The swimmers are let go in groups of three every three seconds. If there is a downside, it is the water entry time is based on the number in the group. Initially my swim group, 36-39 was due off at 9:10 to 9:20, but due to it being a huge group I didn't enter the water until around 9:30. But small things and all that. I think it makes an easier swim, less intimidating to the swimmers who may be nervous and it trickle feeds the cyclists onto the bike course, in theory, reducing drafting.

We had booked into a hotel just a short walk from the race venue, experience has proved that it is better to get close to the venue rather than drive as car parking is limited and the traffic wardens are usually keen, a parking fine when racing at Austria taught me that.

Registration was done on the Friday, slick and easy, waiver form and racing license already printed off. Chose my swim start time and picked up a lovely lime green hat.

Back to the hotel, assemble my bike.
Denmark is a very cycle friendly country, bike lanes abound. At the airport whilst waiting for my bike box to be delivered at the oversize counters, the airport provides a cycle maintenance stand so you can assemble you bike and a low pressure air hose for the tyres, great.
The shutters opened to the delight of a number of people waiting, the baggage handler was not a small chap, who then promptly started to throw the bikes onto the counter, yes throw them. I use a Bike Box Alan case, but some had soft sided boxes, and the look on their faces, of shock and horror was a delight, leaving them mumbling that some one should film it, I did notice that no one personally complained to the handler though. Those of us using Bike Box Alan cases smirked to each other.
The bike arrived unscathed, and was quickly assembled.


Bike racking, bag drop, and compulsory race briefing.

With over 2500 competitors, it gets crowded so, the race briefing was divided into 4, 2 English and 2 Danish, specific times for your race number, bag and bike drop anytime from 10 till 7pm. Bike drop takes the longest due to security and giving out the timing chip as you left the racking area, drop the bags and if you time it right, by the time you have done that a short walk to race briefing. Mess it up, and you get to stand around for hours.
I was pleasantly surprised as to the efficiency of the bike check, a wait of about ten minutes to get the timing chip, off to the bag drop and race briefing.

One of a few things that annoy me is, if the rules of the race stipulate a compulsory race briefing then that is what it should be. Some races have the briefing on YouTube, others a more in depth personal one. There are a number of options the organisers could do, put a timing mat on the briefing entrance door, a random call out of specific race numbers etc. It seems that compulsory to some means optional to others. Fail to attend equals a time penalty, simples. Another fail to show was a certain UK Pro racer Tim Don, on a personal level I don't like him, numerous reasons, I applaud his comeback after his accident, but as a sportsman, not one I particularly like. I am sure a number would have liked to have seen him race, but he was conspicuous by his absence. As for UK pro racers I recognised 2 names, who are these people ??.

Race briefing was a humorous affair, hosted by the announcer Paul Kaye, and the Danish referee, they kept it light hearted, and were specific on rules and violations that may be particularly pertinent to the race itself. Next gripe is a rule that a number of athletes seem to regularly disregard is the ' no intentional littering '. We are visitors, we should leave the area better than we found it. Of course, walk up the first five miles of the bike course and you could easily collect enough parts to either build a bike, or certainly set up a profitable bike spares shop, inner tubes, tires, tools, bidons, glasses, CO2 canisters, pumps, tire levers, bottle cages, all of which I believe is unintentional littering.
Intentional littering is rubbish discarded outside the designated litter zones adjacent to the feed stations. Yet, all the magazines and tri tips advocate attaching elastic bands to your bike shoes, letting them fly off into the road/pavement as you disappear down the road after the T1 exit mount line. I have yet to see any triathlete go back and pick up their broken elastic bands. Small pieces of non bio degradable rubber that litter the tarmac. There are plenty of other options !!! Just a gripe.

There were a few rule changes that I wasn't aware of and of interest, that had changed since I last raced.

Race day.

Clear blue skies, light breeze, ideal conditions at 6:30am.

Off to the race start, check my bags in transition, and then down to bike racking to check the bike and attach my nutrition. Felt the tire pressure, rear ok, but front flat. Pumped up the tire and it seemed to be ok, attached my nutrition and computer to the bike, and thought about the tire. Was it a slow flat, faulty valve, puncture, who knows. Should I leave it, or change it.
Opted to change it, better safe than sorry, as I took off the tire I noticed the tire appeared to be delaminating. I have noticed that it is peculiar to my carbon wheels that the colouration on the tire comes off, but it doesn't on my alloy wheels. As I removed the tire the rubber appeared to be separating.
Hopefully the tire pressure will keep the tire integrity in place. If I get a fast flat then I could end up on alloy rims at best, inner tube replaced in a couple of minutes and off to find Mrs J.

Wetsuit on and down to the warm up area for the swim.
The sun felt hot already, and the water cool as I jumped in to the harbour. I have swum in colder, and it wasn't quite brain freeze territory. After a few minutes, I felt reasonably acclimatised to the water, and it was time to get out and queue for the start.
As I waited in line the sun felt very hot, making me feel tired. After competing for a number of years I can generally notice if I am going to have a good or mediocre race. For the past couple of months I have been feeling tired, not muscle fatigued, but tired in general. When training, although motivated, the inability to get any distance training under my belt and in my legs has been difficult. Occasionally over the years I have turned up at race starts, been tired, had little sleep, and still managed a decent race. One of the curiosities of life I assume.
Prior to the start I had given Mrs J, a list of times I should be finishing the various disciplines, this means she can enjoy herself without having to wait in the wrong place for hours, it is a long day in itself supporting, without having to wait needlessly. The advent of race trackers has made it easier, but they do crash from time to time.
Mrs J does have a tough time whilst spectating, not only has she got to look after Mr.T, the travelling T-Rex, she has to deal with other spectators asking questions such as " where is the finish line ", " where does the course go ", " where is bike racking ". She has got quite adept at dealing with questions in a multitude of languages, she must look like the resident Tri expert, and after dealing with them she has to deal with me at the end of the race.

My hour is almost come
When I to sulphrous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Ghost, scene v


A one lap around the harbour, with an extra extension to make up the distance. The previous years had seen an Australian exit, two lap swim, but, this year they opted for a one lap. The rolling and seeded start, although slow to get going is good, it may have taken some of the originality out of triathlon, but it is safer. Over the years I have been involved in huge mass starts, 2500 competitors at Austria, 1500 at Sherbourne, treaded water next to world champions, but mass starts do not suit my personal swim. I enjoy my own space, I start slow, speed up, and then maintain a nice leisurely pace. Whilst in the water I got knock or hit less than a handful of times, wonderful.
The starter released the swimmers in groups of three every three seconds, down the steps and into the water, again, they removed the diving start, this year too, due to cold water shock, and the number of goggles that flew off people's heads.
A large display counted you down, along with a buzzer, the starter lifted their hands and you were released.
Sighting was easy, large buoys, signs, flags and safety canoeists kept you in line, it was easy to draft behind other swimmers if you needed, provided their sighting was good.
About 200m in, my arms felt tired, nothing unusual in that, usually accompanied by nagging doubts of why I am doing this, give it another couple of hundred metres and normality will set in. Occasionally resorted to a couple of strokes of breaststroke to ensure sighting was correct, and sure enough I dropped into my constant speed, variable noise swim mode, the odd bump at the buoys but nothing too violent.
I think the swim was just slightly over the 1.2m distance, my Garmin registered almost 2 miles, but that was due to satellite drop out, but it just seemed slightly longer, not to worry, it was the same for everyone.
At the exit, you got hoisted out due to the water depth, and there not being a full ramp.

Estimated time . 38 mins
Time taken. . 38 mins

Distance from swim exit to bike exit was looooooooooong.
About two hundred metres to the Change area, then a long run along a sandy path to the bike area, probably about 700m if you include the distance from bike pick up to mount line.

Estimated time. 5 mins
Time taken. . 8 mins


O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!
Ghost, scene v

A one loop affair that left the town, went into the countryside, back to town for some urban riding then back to transition. As the race briefing said, " if you get lost, you deserve a prize "
The route was well marked, even to the point of signs saying ' slow down ', and ' out of aerobars ', arrows, marshals, closed roads, excellent feed stations, and the motorbike marshals even seemed to be assisting with the mechanicals that some cyclists had.
Despite the signs and everything, there were still accidents, one on a straight piece of road, probably the straightest of the route, probably loss of concentration, the second one I saw was in a wooded section, probably caused by the cyclist drifting off the road and into the ditch, ambulances seemed to be quick to arrive to deal with the injured.

I checked the tire as I picked the bike up just to ensure I didn't look an idiot and be fixing a puncture 5 metres out of transition. Jog to the mount line, continued past it for a few metres and off into the wild blue yonder.

The first 10km goes along the coast road, great views across to Sweden, but a steady headwind to contend with. The wind would for me play a crucial part, the temperature rose through the day reaching about 23 degrees, but the wind made it feel cool, unless you hit a sheltered part. I sweat, I sweat a lot, mention exercise and I start to sweat, the wind would dry the sweat to the extent that I didn't realise how much I was losing, only by looking at the salt stains on my trisuit could I tell that I was sweating at all.
I try to make a conscious effort to drink and eat regularly on the bike, energy bar every 45mins, fluid every 15-20 mins. I managed one bar, 750ml of energy drink and about 400 ml of water. I just could not stomach or get anything down. I try not to take on gels too soon as they create a sugar rush and a huge sugar low, so opted to avoid having a gel instead, maybe a good idea, but it could have been bad.
I was looking to average 19mph for the ride, not quick, but sufficient for my needs. The countywide is very like Lincolnshire, undulating, nothing too steep, a few decent bends that require careful handling. So if it was just like home, why was I finding it taxing, I should be hammering it, but, I was feeling tired, I just couldn't up the speed, I have mentioned before about my back trouble, which raised its head in Australia, but the onset was much quicker in Denmark, about 30 miles in, my back started to stiffen, I tried stretching, but the more it stiffened the more power I lost at the pedals. Guess I have to increase the amount of yoga I do now.

I did see some deliberate littering, I just hope that they were some of the 11 competitors that were DQ'd on race day, also some overtaking in the no overtaking zone- ditto. I was managing to keep the average speed at 19mph, perhaps I was wrong to set a target, it could have consequences later.

There was great support from the roadside, families having BBQs the odd DJ playing his thing. What was noticeable was that if you interacted with the families, shouted hello, or waved at the young kids, the families gave a huge cheer. I can manage a bit of French, and German, but Danish is like Scottish, everywhere is spelt Kirkcudbright and pronounced Ecclefechan. Most words seem to be longing for at least three more vowels to go with their 9 consonants. But waving, giving the thumbs up seemed increase the interaction.

The urban part of the route, took in a few speed bumps and cobbled setts, nothing that you would find in Yorkshire, but enough to rattle the bones.

As the ride wore on my back started tighten, no matter how much stretching it was still giving me a bit of grief, glancing at the average speed it showed just under 19mph, so still on track. The urban route, was more undulating and twisting than the countryside, if it wasn't for the back pain, it would have been hugely enjoyable, pushing handling skills on a TT bike, which helps pass the time on the bike, near offs etc.
The run back into town was downhill, over cook the turns and you hit a cobbled section which segregates the road from the bike path, left, right, right again, power on or not as the case seemed to be, and into the bike dismount section.

Sadly not a flying dismount, those days went about ten years ago, brake, stop, slowly swing legs over the bike and walk to the bike catchers.

Estimated time. 2hrs 57mins
Time taken. . 2hrs 56mins 50 secs


A bit of a shorter transition as there was no need to visit the bike racking area as the bike catchers would replace your bike in its original position. Pick up the run bag, shoes off, trainers on and away, no dramas.

Estimated time 5 mins
Time taken. 3mins 39secs


There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Hamlet, scene ii

Basically the run starts off going around the castle, into the harbour area where the race centre was and then out into the old town, up and down the streets, then back to the race centre, repeat two more times, and then at the end of the third lap, you get to go around the castle for a bonus fourth time.
A multi lap run is great for spectators, but can be repetitive for the racers.

I hoped that as I started to run my back pain would ease quickly, however, unusually, the pain was not in the lower lumbar region, but had spread upto my shoulders, feeling like I had a wooden plank strapped to my back. Mrs J, has at the exit of T2, easy to spot as she was wearing a Team T-Rex shirt, orange and black, stands out well.
When I raced in OZ, I entered under the team of Team T-Rex, so as to get team points for the local tri club, the team with the most entrants ( points ), gets priority bike racking and a few other bonuses, I did ask first. If you look up their club on FB it is well grounded, youth, multi sport, She-Rex, MTB, and does a lot in the community. I enquirer about the T-shirts, and allowed me to put in an order when their order went in, I also stuck in an order for a Trisuit. Manufactured by Cannibal in Australia, it was a short sleeved one piece, never raced in a short sleeved one before, and I will admit it was the comfiest trikit I have worn.
I waved at Mrs J, and continued to the castle. The surface of the run was mixed, tarmac, gravel, cobbled setts, and grass. The supporters were all along the route enjoying the sun.

Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
Claudius, scene i

With a multi lap run, you really need to run/jog the first lap. WHY ?, then you can find out where the race photographers are, and try to ensure that as you approach them on other laps you start running, at least pictorial evidence will show you did run for part of the race. Unfortunately, one of them moved on my last lap, so I have some marvellous photos of me strolling along looking dejected.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet, scene v

My back wasn't easing, it still felt rigid as I passed through the race centre on the start of the loop into the town, luckily, part of the route cut through an alley, which didn't have any spectators, and was shelters from the sun. Time to walk, and stretch. To release any back tension, I use a number of techniques, one of which is to bend one leg and cross the other over it, steadying myself against the wall and slowly bend the knee to right angles. This wasn't the best idea, as cramp shot straight up my leg like an electric shock, now I have a wooden back and stiff leg, marvellous. The alley was about 100 m long before exiting onto the street and into the crowds, a shuffle turned into a jog.

Aid stations were approx every 2km, plenty of choice, mainly water for me at first, I tried the energy drink, didn't like it, refused to touch the Red Bull on toxicity grounds, and eventually resorted to coke diluted with water.

Race nutrition is overrated, there is a time and a place for specialist foods, but I believe that there is an over reliance due to media marketing on specialist food. My first LD tri was fuelled on Two Jordan's oatmeal bars and orange juice.

The support around the race route was great, from the cafes in the town to the tri club village on the harbour.

To be, or not to be, — that is the question: —
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? — To die, to sleep, —
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; —
To sleep, perchance to dream: — ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death, —
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, — puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know naught of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Hamlet, scene i

Each lap I got slower and slower, and more and more tired. I felt like falling asleep on the bike, I just couldn't elevate my HR on either the bike or the run, I wouldn't say they the wheels had come off, but more like someone had stolen them and left me stacked up on a pile of bricks.

All good things come to an end, all bad things continue to eternity, the tiredness was clearly seen towards the end on a couple of race photos. As you finished each lap you got a band, three bands later I was pulling/pushing myself around the castle for the last time, for those that were watching the tracker, would probably been thinking ' has he got lost ', but the end drew nigh.
Around the castle, into the harbour, and the finish in sight, jogging down the finish Shute, I could easily have overtaken the guy in front, but why? I would just ruin both our finish photos, so dropped back a little.
I could hear the announcer Paul Kaye, calling each one over the line.
I do recommend Mike Reillys book about his announcing career and the work that goes into it.
" and here is JOHN CAMERON from AUSTRALIA!! No Wait, it says He is from the UK, BUT he is wearing an Aussie trisuit " ( which I was ) " Here is John Cameron from the UK and Team T-Rex because that is what it says here "

Estimated time 2hr 20mins
Time taken 2hr 41 mins.

The photo just before I crossed the line has me head up and smiling, just after I crossed the line my head is dropped, unsmiling with a totally out of it expression ( to some that may seem normal ). But I was knackered, totally wasted.
Some people think that mental toughness is the ability to keep going, for me mental toughness is optimisation, getting the best performance based on circumstances, if that means pulling out to prevent injury, that is mental toughness, to continue and finish despite the time because you are having a bad day, that is mental toughness. It was one of those days, Australia was physically taxing, Elsinore was mentally tough and taxing.
But enjoyable, very enjoyable.
Would it be a race that I would do again, yes.

This above all — to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Polonius, scene iii

A few facts.
Flew BA, Heathrow to Copenhagen, hire car to Elsinore.
Airline baggage allowance meant we used some of it for the bike, but cheaper than budget airlines.
Stayed at Marienlyst Beach hotel, expensive but close to the race.
Only a 1:30 hr flight time, spent more time travelling to from airports and waiting at check in than flying.
Kept all my race gear in hand baggage.
Got airline authorisation to carry my CO2 canisters, unlike a certain pro triathlete who recently Tweeted that she got hers confiscated and expected to get preferential treatment because of who she was. If she had bothered to read the regulations, a simply Email to the airline would have got authorisation, not confiscation. It is amazing how much damage someone can do to themselves when they don't read the rules, I thought they were intelligent.

The finishers medal was a nice affair, with a Viking and the Danish flag embossed on it, on the back of the medal was engraved ' Become a legend ', and typically the T-Rex has borrowed it for safe keeping. The finishers t-shirt left a lot to be desired, a grey shirt with the race logo and what I think is a Viking sitting at a table in the middle, perhaps a bit more thought could have been put into it.
Ironman races get a lot of stick for their high price, but, as with everything you get what you pay for and if it's worth the money you are willing to pay for it. The WTC has enough corporate clout to get a great race venue and close the roads to race on. Three of the race courses I have raced on have been through UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the chance to race on a closed motorway, these are what help make racing M-Dot races worth the money.
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby CCS » 29 Jun 2019 07:35

An epic read as ever.
Great report and loving the precision of your racing - experience is everything!!
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby Jimba » 03 Jul 2019 22:42

I see why it took so long :lol: about to travel so haven’t time to read it, will sit back and enjoy it in a few days.
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby Jimba » 10 Jul 2019 17:46

Well it was worth the wait :)

Fantastic report Jon, I love the detail and the omissions of rule changes so no one can avoid going to race briefings :lol:

Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and so pleased after your trials and tribulations in prep that you came through with a good race.

You must be the most consistent member of this dwindled club :D

Well done.......what’s next 8-)
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby jonathon.e » 10 Jul 2019 22:52

CCS wrote:An epic read as ever.
Great report and loving the precision of your racing - experience is everything!!

Thank you Clare, not quite sure whether it is poise, precision and audacity that gets me through, out if putting estimates of times limits my results ?
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby jonathon.e » 10 Jul 2019 22:59

Jimba wrote:Well it was worth the wait :)

Fantastic report Jon, I love the detail and the omissions of rule changes so no one can avoid going to race briefings :lol:

Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and so pleased after your trials and tribulations in prep that you came through with a good race.

You must be the most consistent member of this dwindled club :D

Well done.......what’s next 8-)

Cheers Jimba,
I think I would miss it too much if I didn't do it, just trying to get the best out of me and trying to find the edge but desparatly trying to not damage myself, I think I would lose out not competing.

As for what's next. Unfortunately work shifts have conspired against me so there are no local,races happening when I am off shift, but a couple of guys at work are keen mtb riders and have asked if I fancy a ride out.
What could possibly go wrong ??
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby Jack Hughes » 21 Jul 2019 10:22

jonathon.e wrote:What could possibly go wrong ??

Insisting on 47x23 as the lowest gear?
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby jonathon.e » 21 Jul 2019 11:54

Jack Hughes wrote:
jonathon.e wrote:What could possibly go wrong ??

Insisting on 47x23 as the lowest gear?

:lol: :lol:
My main concerns being
1. The uphill bits
2. The downhill bits
3. Any bits in between 1 and 2
4. The hospital bill
5. Damage to the bike ( although this may take priority over 1-4 )

Other than that it will be totally peachy if not hey ho pip and dandy.
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby Kevy427 » 28 Sep 2019 21:43

A man who likes attention to detail and precision timings...have you thought about a role directing flying cigar tubes?

An enjoyable read and a few chuckles on an Autumnal evening, just what I need. Well done, young man 8-)
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Re: A race report longer than the race. Elsinore 70.3

Postby jonathon.e » 03 Oct 2019 10:28

Kevy427 wrote:A man who likes attention to detail and precision timings...have you thought about a role directing flying cigar tubes?

An enjoyable read and a few chuckles on an Autumnal evening, just what I need. Well done, young man 8-)

:D cheers Kev, Thank you,
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