Hundreds take on the Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge

13th July 2015

Over 1,000 women descended on Eton Dorney Rowing Lake on Sunday, for the Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge, which had something on offer for all. There were a plethora of options available with varying open water swims distances, a duathlon, 5km run and a range of triathlons, from Novice to challenge distances.

The swimmers were first to arrive to a cloudy but dry Dorney Lake and there was only one question on everyone’s mind; to wetsuit or not to wetsuit! The debate could be heard in registration – where Zipvit Sport were providing pre-race energy products – in the changing rooms and even in the loo queue! The water was a balmy 20.5 so it was optional for all athletes, and the field was pretty evenly split when push came to shove.

Our hardy 5km swimmers were first to enter the water before setting off round the 1km loop a gruelling 5 times. Lauren Clark made light work of this Sunday morning challenge, finishing in an impressive time of 1.13:27. Laura Fenwick wasn’t too far behind, coming home in 1.15:30. Third place went toRachel Coleman in a time of 1.20:23.

While the 5km swimmers were splashing around, the 5km runners set off for their one loop around the lake. Aldona Greenwood of Elmbridge Road Runners set high standards for the rest of the field and indeed the rest of the day, finishing in a speedy 22.07. The battle was on between Christina Ciapryna and Laura La Frenais for the two remaining podium positions, with Christina pipping Laura to the post in 25.23. Special mention goes toMichelle Mead and Sarah Hood who were inspired to start running by the #thisgirlcan campaign at the start of the year. Both achieved PB’S, meaning they were across the line and enjoying a refreshing isotonic recovery drink, supplied by Erdinger Alkoholfrei by 10am! Not bad going for a Sunday morning.

Hot on the heels of the 5km runners were our Duathletes, who were completing the same 5km loop around the lake, before cycling 4 laps (21.2km) and then finishing with a 2.5km run. Although this may sound gruelling to most, Catherine O’Dwyer cruised round making the whole thing look far too easy, crossing the line in an impressive 10 minutes ahead of second place, in 1.12:58. Sarah Walker and Lucy Greenlee came second and third respectively in 1.22:05 and 1.22:22.

We then headed back to the water for the start of the 3km swim, where there was a real battle for first place, with only 13 seconds separating all three top spots. Ali Longman, representing the Clapham Chasers, was the first out the water in a time of 41.37, closely followed by Jenny Chaplin in 41.42 andAmy Barton in 41.50.

Hundreds take on the Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge2

The Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge day helps celebrate Women in Sport, and despite everyone there having their own personal goals, whether that was to win or to just finish, there was a real camaraderie between all the athletes making for an extremely positive and supportive environment. It was great to hear the more experienced athletes offering advice to those who were perhaps more nervous about the challenge they were about to take on, and groups of first timers swapping experiences. Many of the athletes at Sunday’s event were fundraising for Breast Cancer Care with a stream of Breast Cancer Care vests crossing the finish line throughout the day. Two athletes who really embraced the spirit of the day were 1500m swimmers Abbie Owens andSamantha Walker who secured joint 1st place, crossing the line in unison, in a time of 22.16. Third place went to Janette Cardy in a time of 23.16.

The last swim race of the day was the 750m sprint where three youth athletes took centre stage, with all three top spots going to athletes under 16, and with only 8 seconds separating them all, it was the closest race of the day! Mika Vennema-Osborne was the first to reach dry land in 10.57 with Amy Pepper and Charlotte Baxterhot on her heels, finishing in 11.00 and 11.05 respectively.

Two waves of the Challenge distance triathlon (800m swim, 31.8 Bike, 7.5km Run) and one relay wave covering the same distance were the next to make their way to the water’s edge. The wind was making itself known by this stage, making the 6 laps of Dorney Lake even more challenging, although on the plus side there was still no sign of the forecasted rain. It turned out to be a great day for Viceroys Triathlon Club who managed to scoop up first and second in the individual event. After coming out of the water down in 7th, Charlotte Saunders soon made up for lost time on the bike where she took the lead from there on, finishing in 1.43:23. Kim Bainbridge then followed suit in 1.51:59. Liz Pudney crossed the line in 1.54:06 to secure bronze position. The Challenge triathlon relay was won by team Psycho Athletes, who completed the course in 2.03:25.

Next up were the speedy sub 1 hour 25minute Sprint Triathletes (750m swim, 21.2 bike, 5km run). This was always set to be a fast and competitive race and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with the top three athletes finishing within 20 seconds of each other and the gold baton changing hands in the final stages.Helen O’Neile was in the lead after the swim with Charlotte Bowsher coming out in third and after a quick transition they were off on the bike course. It was here that Rachel Coe-O’Brien, who had come out the water in 6th, started to pick up the pace, coming into T2 in 2nd place behind Helen. Rachel then flew round the 5km run in an impressive 19.54 to come home in 1st position in 1.12:08, pipping Helen to the post, who finished in 1.12:17. Charlotte was hot on their heels finishing 3rd in 1.12:35.

Three waves of the SuperSprint Triathlon (400m swim, 21.2km bike, 5km run) then followed. Carol Bridge was a class above the rest, finishing over 8 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor in a time of 1.01:15. Second and third place went to Jennie Douglas (1.09:47) and Emily Bannister (1.11:04). Unfortunately it was at this stage that the weather took a turn for the worse, with most of the athletes having to take on the bike and run course in torrential rain. Congratulations to all for completing the race in such challenging conditions, and for still having a smile on your face at the end!

Hundreds take on the Shock Absorber WomenOnly Challenge3

Amongst the sea of Breast Cancer Care vests on the course and in the event village, there were a group of women called Army of Angels. These amazing ladies are all supporting their friend and fellow athlete Karen Bloor, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, by taking part in the event and raising an amazing £8,285 (so far) for the charity, helping Breast Cancer Care to reach their target of £57k. Huge respect to Karen for taking part in the SuperSprint despite her ongoing treatment.

The last event of the day was the Novice Triathlon (200m swim, 5.3km bike, 2.5km run) which is a great distance for those looking to try a triathlon for the first time, or for those nervous about swimming in open water. Katie Francis took to it like a duck to water though, finishing in 28.00. Caitlin Rosbotham took second in 29.12 andSarah Vines third in 31.11. Many thanks to all the partners that helped make the day possible, including Shock Absorber who gave out Shock Absorber bras for those first across the line in the triathlon, run and duathlon!Spatone liquid iron supplements were handing out free supplements to help fight fatigue.

We hope everyone who took part had a great day and that we’ll see you again next year. If you can’t wait a full year to take on another challenge, come join us at Diamond Tri or the HSBC Triathlon, or for another female-only event, we have our WomenOnly bike ride, Cycletta New Forest, on 20 Sept.