CEP Winter BallBuster Event Report

9th November 2015

An event only for the tough!

The Human Race Events team knew that we were dealing with a rare and unbreakable breed of athlete, when so many began showing up shortly after 6am on Saturday 7th November 2015, in the rain and in the dark. These hardy souls were preparing themselves, mentally and physically for an assault on the infamous and testing Box Hill… five times. Fortunate then that event partners Spatone were on hand to dish out complimentary samples of their iron supplement at registration; ideal for anyone feeling fatigued or with low energy levels.

The CEP Winter BallBuster is an event steeped in history and tradition – in fact, this was the 26th year for the notoriously challenging Duathlon event. One of the toughest endurance tests in the UK, the event demands an 8 mile run, followed by 24 miles on the bike, with a final, punishing 8 mile run to finish off. It is because this particular duathlon is so gruelling (constantly going up, around then up Box Hill again), that it has become an absolute must-do event for every competitive multi-sport athlete in the country. This year the event sold out in weeks and 570 participants stood together on the start line, with one common goal – just to get over the finish line in one piece.

To make the CEP Winter BallBuster even tougher would seem a tad sadistic then, and to the sane, perhaps even an impossible task. This year though, Mother Nature decided that she too wished to play her part. Sending rain showers the like of which had not been witnessed since the days of Noah and his Ark. Water pouring from the sky as though this was the last day that clouds were ever going to be able to produce it. Puddles, then miniature lakes formed; connected by flowing torrents of water, that made every step just a little bit more energy-sapping and each turning of the pedals that extra bit more demanding. It wasn’t just this deluge of water that this year’s CEP BallBuster competitors had to combat; we had wind too. Wind that gusted at such a strength that even the great Sir Ben Ainslie would have been unlikely to wish to attempt to sail in it. A biting wind, razor sharp and powerfully full.

Who then, would be able to dig deep within themselves to produce performances worthy of the podium? For 2015, title partner CEP were giving prizes to the fastest three overall males and females in the event; as well as for the fastest three males and females in the age categories: 40-49; 50-59 and 60+ (though sadly we had no females over 60 taking part this time around). All prize winners will be contacted by Human Race Events in due course for their measurements, ahead of being sent their well-earned rewards. Prizes were as follows:

  • 1st: CEP Ultralight Run Socks
  • 2nd: CEP Ultralight Short Sleeve t-shirt
  • 3rd: CEP water bottle and pair of wristbands

From the moment that the start gun went off, until his final, victorious step over the finish line, the irrepressible Andy Greenleaf stood apart from the other competitors as a true Titan of this magnificent event. His time of 2:31:54 is a sensational, new course record, and was 6 minutes faster than his time in much more favourable conditions last year. However, what Andy achieved can’t truly be summed up by numbers alone – he was a long way ahead of the field virtually from the get-go; this was an internal, mental battle; as much as a brutal clash with one of the toughest Duathlon courses in the UK. To have witnessed him pounding the roads with both trainers and tyres, was a feat to behold – a huge well done from all of the Human Race Events team. After having caught his breath, Andy then announced that he still feels there’s room for improvement on his time; mentioning that he had been forced to slow down a few times on the bike (for corners and descents mostly), due to the soaking wet conditions. Duathletes of the UK… you have been warned!

Coming in second place was Chris Nicholls (2:43:37), who impressed with two very quick runs and produced the third fastest cycling leg of the day, to lay down a very well balanced, fast and consistent three phases of the race. Chris was chased for most of the day by Dan Bradshaw (2:47:00) who laid down the fastest 24 mile bike leg of the day; and who rather interestingly ran a quicker second run section (49:09) than he did for his first (50:04).

On the female side, Ali Moult (Rugby Triathlon Club) was the class athlete in the field. Storming home in a rampant 3:07:59, to win by more than 10 minutes. Her dominance of this field can be highlighted by the fact that not only did she post the fastest run time (51:02), but that her second run (56:07), after 24 miles on the bike no less, was the 5th overall fastest 8 miles by any woman in the event. Second place went to Ruth Purbrook (Ful-on Tri) in 3:19:08, Ruth managed to just hold off an ever-closing Holly Mcguigan (3:20:43), who took 3 minutes out of Ruth on the final run, with a strong bike leg and much faster transition times.

In the age groups, Nebojsa Jovanovic (Greenwich Tritrons) posted a speedy 2:59:37 to be the only male in the 40-49 age category to go under 3 hours. He was followed home by Mark Lloyd (Harwich Runners) who had lead at one point on the bike leg, but finished in 3:00:25. Alan Thurston (Army Triathlon Association) completed a fast 40-49 male top 3 with his 3:01:06.

Louise Dobby took the 40-49 title for the women, flying around the testing course in 3:25:26, Louise’s bike leg time of 1:22:27 was brilliantly quick and no one could catch her after that. Vikki Silversten (3:31:10) and Kim Bainbridge (3:31:47) of Viceroys Triathlon Club, fought long and hard over the second and third places, exchanging the lead a number of times – only for Vikki to pull away over the closing 8 mile run to win by a whisker.

For the 50-59 Men, there was only ever one winner, Gavin Fisher taking the title (and the CEP Ultralight Run Socks!) in 3:11:30. Gavin stayed a consistent 3 minutes ahead of John Coverdale (3:14:19) virtually the whole way around, a lead that was built up on the first 8 mile. John did catch a rapid Michael Impey (3:16:00) though, breezing past him in T2 and on the final run.

In the 50-59 Women, Jo Gundle (Bicester Tri Club) dominated the elements, the challenging 5 time ascent of Box Hill and her fellow competitors by putting in a great time of 3:36:40, fully more than 20 minutes faster than anyone else in her age category! In the battle for second and third, it was Christine Meek (Ealing Triathletes) who found just enough to cross the finish line in 3:58:28 – a mere one minute ahead of Alison Gordon (Jo’s Tri Team), who completed the CEP Winter BallBuster in 3:59:34.

The 60+ Men were lead home by a stunning performance from Brian White (Team Trisport), who finished in 3:25:49. Brian was the only 60+ athlete to post a run time under the hour mark, blitzing the field with a 55.24 on his first leg. Stephen Roberts (Owestry Olympians) came second, in a time of 3:31:35 it was his supreme cycling section (1:27:41) that saw him finish ahead of Cedric Clemerson (3:46:41).

On a day when taking to the start line took real guts and all finishing athletes covered themselves in well-earned glory, we just wanted to say well done and thank you to everyone who took part. It was inspiring to witness so many competitors stay with it, persist and deliver. Special mention to Human Race Events staff member Flo Morgan-Wood (4:40:39) who battled hard all day, overcoming illness and the elements to earn her second, much coveted CEP Winter BallBuster hoodie – a true badge of honour given to all finishers. The full set of results for the event can be found here.

All that remains to be said is quite simply, “Wow!” We were blown away by the achievements of so many – and it is following days like Saturday 7th November 2015, at the 26th running of the CEP Winter BallBuster that we can truly and genuinely say: “This is why we do what we do”. A special day, with performances and an atmosphere that will live long in the memory.

Many thanks to Zipvit Sport and ProperCorn for providing finishers with energy drinks and protein recovery bars; as well as popcorn. We don’t think that our competitors would all have made it round without the on course boost from the Zipvit Sport products and the allure of the popcorn and a protein recovery bar at the finish. Don’t forget to use the code HR1 to claim 25% off your next online Zipvit Sport order.

You can next join us for the magnificent Off-Road Series, featuring trail runs and duathlons at: WildMan (21st November), IceMan (5th December) and MudMan (5th March). Don’t forget you can get 15% off WildMan (21st November), by using the PIN code: BALLBUSTER15.

We hope to see you at an event soon – and an enormous thank you once more to all of our CEP Winter BallBuster competitors for 2015. We salute you.