Thursday, 5 November 2015

11th Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon 2013

On the eve of the 11th Isklar Norseman Xtreme lighting and gale force winds battered Eidfjord. At 5am after a 3am alarm call the other competitors and I jumped off back of a ferry into choppy glacial fed fjord. The swim was slow for everyone, not just me thankfully. It was cold but manageable and 254 athletes headed for the fire lit beacon on the shore. T1 was a blur... Although my race support, my wife - Mette Anderson was invaluable and dispatched me swiftly helping me to change into my bike clothing.

Passing Geilo through before the lightning storms

I've never been so cold on the bike
The 40km climb from Eidfjord through the mountain was breathtaking and allowed me to hit a rhythm. It was only on the climb towards the Geilo Alpine ski resort that light rain gave way to a ferocious headwind, torrential rain, hail stones, thunder, lightning and a thick fog throughout the cycle. This was the toughest bike course I've ever raced. Each time I heard a motorcycle approach I thought that it was going to stop me to tell me that the race had been cancelled because it was too dangerous. It was very scary on the wet steep descents and I struggled to hold onto the handlebars in the cold. At one point I lost the front wheel on a bend and then the back followed. I drifted sideways across the bend and I'm not really sure how I bought it back but in that second I felt sure I was about to hit the deck. Cold and wet I made it safely to T2 where I met Mette.
Arriving in Rjukan with just Zombie hill, a 12km ascent and then a further 5km of rough trail climb to the summit of Gaustatoppen, we were fortunate that there was a change in the weather. All the competitors took strength from this and pushed hard for the finish. It’s an epic climb and the Hardangervidda plateau is one of the beautiful places I've ever been to. It’s an amazing feeling to summit and receive the black T shirt. This really is an iconic race.

The remaining 5km up to the summit

Almost there... still moving forward!
One of the unfortunate outcome of the days lighting strikes was that the internal cable car which is normally used to transport finished athletes down from the top of Gaustatoppen was disabled. This meant we all had to hike an additional 5k down off the mountain once we had finished. I did this with a fractured left foot that Id sustained in the ascent.
The Summit of Gaustatoppen
This really is the most 'EXTREME' race that ive ever done...I felt wounded and broken on completion. Despite this…. time will tell, but maybe it won’t be the last time I visit Norway!

 Swim -1.08 hrs Bike - 6.58 hrs Run - 5.35 hrs Total -13.47 hrs

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Kona Bound - 2 Freespeeders already qualified!

With my Kona qualification already confirmed in IM Cozumel, I returned back to the UK to see that Jenny had entered Phuket 70.3 very last minute....

She had already flown out and was preparing to race. Despite her respite after Vegas 70.3, where she achieved 4th pace in her age. Jen was still in reasonable shape and recorded a PB 10k time and won the ‘Shock absorber’ 10km race in Richmond Park.

Phuket 70.3 is a tough one…. With big hills, humidity and heat and it was set to be a real challenge. Like the rest of Team Freespeed though, we seem to relish the tougher events and this was a perfect race for Jen. Despite struggling with an upset stomach, Jenny won her age group very convincingly by 9 minutes – whoop whoop!!

What a result…. Phuket is one of the few races that has qualifying slots for the Las Vegas 70.3 Word Championships and Kona – The World Ironman Championships and Jenny had qualified for both with her placing. Bravo Jenny

2 Team Freespeeders in…. 2 to go…

Friday, 30 December 2011

Ironman Cozumel 2011

My finale for the year was Ironman Cozumel. It was over a year since Kona 2010 and no matter how well your training has gone there is always apprehension, after all an Ironman is a long way. I think this anxiety is a good thing, it shows how important the race is to you. I try to focus this energy on planning my race and performance, setting way markers and goals for each leg of the race.

In the weeks leading up to my departure the weather had been kind and I had been able to do all of my long rides outside. This had been an unexpected benefit because at this time of the year the weather is very unsettled and often cold and wet. My run also felt strong, I’d benefited from a block of very fast stuff so my long Tempo runs felt very easy, even up to 30km.

Treading water on the start into the incoming current was tough. I was 1 row off the front and was prepared for an aggressive start. I wasn’t disappointed, within 5 strokes I’d been kicked in the face twice. The second kick I took in the left eye and it dislodged my goggles. Thankfully one eye was still ok and It was about 2.5km before I had enough space to flip over onto my back, empty the water and reposition my goggles. The swim starts off into the current, but its not long until you’re turning back with the current and this is real help despite it being a non wetsuit swim. I was pleased with a 58 minute swim, despite going a little off course due to the wash and waves created by spectator boats obscuring the buoys.

Quickly through transition where I met Conan Gibney also changing, I striped off my Skinfit plasma swim suit and headed for the bike. Its pot luck where your bikes are racked, and neither Conan nor I had particularly good positions. We had a little further to run than some of the other competitors

Putting this aside, next up was the bike leg. The course was flat, but the difficulty lay in the middle third of the course. It ran parallel to the sea and when the wind picked up we took a battering from the prevailing wind. It was fine for the first 60km lap;however, it picked up on the second and third lap. This is when your body naturally starts to fatigue and I found it harder to hold my speed and watts. I felt for the slower swimmers because they had it progressively harder than those who had exited earlier like the Pro’s who had started 30 minutes before us. 182km later,on my Garmin, I was preparing to hit T2 and felt ok apart from little gastro discomfort. I’d had this before in Kona and knew that it hadn’t slowed me down so I pushed on. I’d gone through 180km in 4h.50 mins, so I was where I had expected to be. Without the coastal winds a sub 4.45 could have been possible.

Heading out on the run, I noticed the puddles around me because it had just rained in town. It was already reasonably warm.... my Garmin was showing 34 degrees when I was on the bike and it felt hotter now. This rain meant the humidity increased and it felt super hot. The pro’s that had hit the run course 30 mins before us suffered more here than the age groupers. I started off my run strong, but after about 14km I was slowing. There weren’t any sponges on the course and I was overheating. Rather than using cups and sponges they had these little plastic bags full of water. I found this very difficult to use effectively, for either cooling or drinking. My pace was slowing, but I didn’t have any idea by how much… My Garmin 310xt had run out battery and it seemed that what with the water problem, stomach issues and watch failure every thing was against me.

In order to help the gastro and water issues, I reluctantly decided to walk for a bit… I hate walking especially because I had come off the bike as 5th Age grouper. This had given me a great opportunity to run down some of the other competitors. It was soo hot, that I thought by giving my body a chance to cool down and allowing my stomach to settle it may give me the respite I needed.

The next 28km was tough for me. I ran and walked when my stomach became too painful. In all, I suspect I walked about a kilometre over the course of the race. It was only after the monsoon storm that I cooled down enough to be able to run properly again. The storm was amazing, it rained torrentially for about 15 -20 minutes. Within this time the whole coastal road flooded, and the side roads became rivers. The spectators disappeared and in some places we were running in calf deep water. Talk about epic…. I was only glad to be heading to the finish. I had no idea of my splits, my position or whether I had done enough to qualify for Kona. I was soaked and felt a bit flat and disenchanted. Two of the three legs had gone well. The last, my strongest had felt rubbish… compared to how I had expected to run.

It was only when I phoned my wife Mette back in London, that she was able to tell me my splits and where I had come. I was 7th amateur overall and 6th in my Age group

Overall 26th Swim 58.39 T1 2.55 Bike 4.54:54T2 2.03 Run 3.15:38 Overall 9.14:09

I was delighted; collecting a Kona slot was the main objective, a Sub 9 hour Ironman and a sub 3 hour Ironman marathon will have to wait. Conan came in few minutes behind me and seeing him really cheered me up. We had both qualified for Kona and this rounded off a super week that we had spent together

2011 Race Season Summary

It’s been a pretty epic season, full of emotion, happiness and disappointments. Like any season one needs to take the rough with the smooth and 2011 will be one that I recall with fond memories.

With Team Freespeed firmly in place, Jenny Gowans, Declan Doyle,Tim Bishop and I embarked on year that would test us physically, emotionally and mentally. The teams focus would be Sub 9 hours within an Ironman distance race for the boys and a 70.3 World Championship podium for Jen. Alongside this Dec was keen to gain Kona qualification at St George Utah .We had set the bar high and our training focus was further speed development.

My focus was to race short distance and mid distance with the view to build speed for Challenge Roth which would be my ‘A race’ of the year. This race was going to be ‘boom’ or ‘bust.’ To add an extra incentive, Challenge even refunds each athlete €250 if they go Sub 9….. How cool is that?

Dec was first up in Ironman St George in Utah, and on a very tough course cruised home in 26th place. This was the first of many successes for the newly formed Freespeed team. Declan had done enough to secure his Kona slot and the season had hardly started.

My first race was the Volcano in Lanzarote, this was almost a home fixture considering that when I'm outside of London, most of my training is done in Lanzarote. For me Lanzarote is like a home from home… It can be beautiful, brutal but it’s always challenging. If it’s not the heat, the terrain or the wind, its relentlessness will toughen you up. I had a promising result, but landed just out side the top 10. Although I was swimming ok and my mountain biking over the winter had kept my bike strong. My running needed more work. I had been training to run 4.17min kms for the last 3 years whilst concentrating on Ironman racing, so I had no idea what I could hold in an Olympic distance race. I left T2 holding 3.15 min kms so it was only a matter time before I blew…. Mentally there and then I made a note to myself that I needed pacier running sets in my 2011 schedule.

Overall 14th, Swim 21.47 T1 2.46 Bike 1:04.37 T2 2.02 Run 39.20 Total 2:10:31

Next up was Ironamn UK.70.3 and the whole team was racing. We had all recce’d the course a couple of weeks prior to the race so knew exactly what to expect… It was a very tough course with 1900m of climbing, quite technical in places which suited me perfectly. Even the run was hilly.... it was more of a cross country run than your normal out and back Triathlon run. We arrived on the Friday before the race and pitched our tents in the rain. This was not a good sign, nor was the fact it rained all day Saturday... Come Sunday the rain had cleared, but left the lake a little cold....Brrrrr! I left my entry until the last minute determined to preserve as much heat as possible. This was a good plan because I had a reasonable swim and exited well up the field. This meant the race was on.... and I set about working my way through the field. I love the hills and ripped through the course, coming off the bike level with a Suisse guy who is now a good friend called Reto Brendli. I left T2 just ahead of Reto and managed to hold this gap for the run, we finished just a minute apart.

My victory added to Freespeed’s performances. Together we dominated the stage. Dec was just behind Reto, Tim was third in his age group and Jenny won the ladies amateur. She out ran last years winner Tracey Cook by 6 minutes and gained a 2 min cushion.

Overall 9th, Swim 30.09 T1 4.02 Bike 2.44.27 T2 1.19 Run 1.26.01 Total 4:45.56
1st Amateur

We had all booked our slot to the World 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas – Yippee!

As we headed towards July the team were on a high and I was feeling good about my entry into Challenge Roth. Then out of the blue, I pick up a virus… 4 weeks in, and after 2 courses of antibiotics there wasn’t any change or improvement in my health. Always optimistic.... I remained confident that if the illness subsided, I would be fit enough to race so I travelled to Roth in anycase. Sadly my night fevers persisted and this took the choice from out of my hands and I had to pull out. I was absolutely gutted; I had been planning this race for 11 months and had endless daydreams and conversations about it. Both Declan and Tim were in good shape, so even without me Freespeed were set to fly…

That day was a tough day for the whole team. Me, because I was frustrated, ill and annoyed that I wasn't well enough to race. Tim because he pulled out on the run, and Declan because despite towing a trailer load of wheel sucking drafters around, missed his Sub 9 by a couple of minutes. hat adowner for all of us....Thank goodness for Erdinger!!!

I've learned to move on quickly after a bad experience. My focus shifted towards Las Vegas 70.3 World Campionships and I also entered Ironman Cozumel in November. Tim entered Challenge Copenhagen and Declan enjoyed his summer vacation training all over the globe.

For Jenny and I our training now centred around 70.3 racing and we focused on building race speed on the swim, bike and run. We already had London Triathlon in the diary and we were set to race on both days to make it more of a challenge.

The team would race in a celebrity relay on Saturday, then again on Sunday. Jenny would race the Olympic distance plus (Double bike and run) and Tim and I would race the Olympic. London Triathlon is a triathlon on a mammoth scale and we loved being a part of it. The organisation and efficiency of the staff at Virgin Active are second to none. Come race day... Jenny crushed the field in the Olympic plus; I hung in there having led off the bike in the sub 2.30 Olympic distance race and ended up in third. This was the first fast run that I’d done in weeks and the next day it really hurt.

Overall 3rd, Swim 25:08 T1 03:10 Bike 56:58 T2 02:17 Run 38:38 Total 02:06:10

Tim had been training hard for Copenhagen. He’s very strong minded and has a talent for being able to really increase his focus when it’s needed. I’ve always admired this about him and knowing this made me really excited to see how he would race. Heading to Copenhagen he said he was ready to let rip...and he didn’t disappoint!! The dream of Sub 9 obliterated…. He smashed it going 8.56 for 19th overall... Bravo Tim – what a result!

With Las Vegas in mind, next up for Jen and I was 'The Pennymatters Classic Triathlon' at Dorney lake. We had been doing lots of faster paced stuff in training and this race fitted in well with our training schedule. F3 organise and a great local series of races which are perfect to test your race technique and speed. Despite a solid week of work and training behind us and without a taper, we both raced very well. Jenny was the first female and I was second male. Things were looking good for both us in Las Vegas....
Overall 2nd Swim 22:50 T11:05 Bike 1:00:17 T2 0.41 Run 34:45 Overall 1:59:39
Overall 1st Swim 22:57 T11:17 Bike 1:06:22 T2 1.00 Run 37:41 Overall 2:09:20

On the spur of the moment we decided to enter a team for the National Team Relays, but neither Tim nor Dec could make it… Fortunately Richard Hobson(our coach) and Sarah Gailey from Fulon Tri came to the rescue, but this did complicate things. We were no longer eligible for the Club category. Instead we changed our entry to the Open category because both Richard and Sarah were not Freespeed members. We had a really fun day hanging out with Tim from Compressport and were lucky with the weather.

There were some speedy teams and we were in head to head with Loughborough University for third going out on the final leg. As last man out, I set off ahead of Tom Bishop from Loughborough. I had about 15 years on him and it wasn’t long before age gave way to youth. We were both running 3.05min kms which I knew I couldn’t sustain. I held on the best I could, but we narrowly missed out on third position by 30 seconds(In a time of 3.19:15)… we all pledged that we wouldn’t let this happen next year and we were up for a rematch

Just two weeks had passed and Jenny and I were on our way to Henderson, Las Vegas to race in the World 70.3 Ironman Championships. Henderson was a fabulous place for a race. It was my first time in Las Vegas and its simply an awesome place to visit. There are so many exciting tourist attractions including the Las Vegas Strip, The Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. To top all this off the race course is a really tough and honest. It was not just a tough bike or run but it was also a non wetsuit lake swim. This meant it was really fair and favoured the all-round athlete, rather than the bike or run specialists.

On race morning we were set off in waves and the previous day’s rain had made the water very cool. I suffer particularly in the cold and so does Jenny. We were held there for 15 mins treading water. I was freezing by the time the gun sounded and consequently didn’t really swim to my potential. This was the start of a catalogue of errors for me and despite picking myself up after each blow I never really delivered the race I should have. Jen on the other hand was on fire coming in bang on 5 hours and securing 4th in her age only just off third. Whoop.. whoop!

Age Group
19th Swim 32.12 T12.57 Bike 2.32:15 T2 1.32 Run 1.27:54 Overall 4.36:30
Age Group
4th Swim 32.18 T1 3.36 Bike 2.45.31 T2 1.37 Run 1.37.24 Overall 5.00:26

We both agreed that we loved the race and the course and its one we’d like to do again. I loved it there and I think that having raced it once I’d fair better next time around.

This was practically the end of the season for the Team; Dec sadly had picked up an Achilles injury and had to pull out of Kona. Tim had raced Ironman Wales with a view to an early slot and had missed out by seconds so was now in off-season mode. I was the only one still training. Jenny and I kept up our swim sessions but she had also eased back her training due to work pressures. In the back her mind she was toying with entering 70.3 Phuket. This had slots for both 70.3 World Champs and Kona. I on the other hand had Ironman Cozumel left to race with a view to qualifying for Kona. Training had gone well and I had only a few weeknds left before IM Cozumel. On one such weekend. I combined my training with 7 hour session (bike/swim) on a Saturday and a race on the Sunday.

It was a great plan, The Jekyll and Hyde Duathlon was a super race (Run 4.2km/Bike 20km/ Run 7.5km) and there were some really fast runners and duathletes. Although I had biked the fastest split I gave away a bit of time to these short distance specialists each run, and came in 4th overall which I was really pleased with.

Overall 4th Run 14.10 T10.28 Bike 31.05 T2 0.27 Run 27.47 Overall 1.13:56

Next up was Ironman Cozumel.....

Friday, 12 August 2011

We are Team Freespeed, the race team of London bike fit studio Freespeed (, was formed in the run up to Kona 2010. The team has big plans for the 2011 season and beyond and is delighted to announce partnerships that will help to support the continued success of the team.

Virgin Active will be the team headline sponsor. Virgin Active is committed to triathlon – it is the title sponsor of the London Triathlon, the largest triathlon in the world - and is the perfect partner for the team.

Team Freespeed Virgin Active are part of Virgin Active’s efforts to promote triathlon to their gym communities – digital campaigns, blogs, workshops and race appearances are all on the schedule to support this mission. The team will use Virgin Active gyms as training bases and will rely on the great pool at the Fulham club for their swim training.

In addition to the headline sponsor, Virgin Active, we are really pleased to be supported by:

Skinfit - Race kit/technical clothing
Sailfish - G Range wetsuit/swim accessories
Compressport - Compression wear
Clif Bar - Nutrition products
For Goodness Shakes - Recovery nutrition
Blue Competition Cycles - Team race bikes
Prologue Bikes - Servicing of team race bikes

Team Freespeed Virgin Active consists of four triathletes pushing the boundaries of amateur racing while holding down full-time jobs. The team has some great results including:

Tim Bishop: First British age grouper at Lanzarote and Western Australia 2010
Declan Doyle: Four-time Kona finisher and first Irish age grouper at Kona 2010
Jenny Gowans: Winner of Norseman Extreme Triathlon 2008 and age group winner at Ironman races in 2007-2010.

and me

Stuart Anderson: First British age grouper at Kona in 2008 and 2010

We each raced twice over the Virgin Active London Triathlon weekend, once in the VIP relay with teams featuring Richard Branson, Nell McAndrew and Stacey Solomon, and later in the individual races.

The season has started well for the team with overall age group wins at Ironman UK 70.3, mixed team winners at HellRider Duathlon and Las Vegas and Kona qualification. Races on the 2011 team schedule include Challenge Copenhagen, 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, Ironman World Championships in Kona, Ironman Cozumel and Ironman Wales.

Virgin Active London Triathlon also went well for the Team, Jenny won the Sprint on Saturday and The Olympic Plus on Sunday. I came third in the Sub 2.30 elite Olympic distance age group race, with Tim just behind me in 4th.

Next up Tim in Challenge Copenhagen... Go Tim!!

Freespeed Dominate - UK 70.3 Wimbleball June 2011

For the first time this season all four of the Freespeed team athletes were down to race at the same event, Ironman UK 70.3. Having been to Devon to practice the course a month ago the decision was taken to combine the race with a camping trip in the beautiful Wimbleball countryside. This looked to be a flawed decision on arrival as 24 hours of torrential rain had left the fields and surrounding roads in a state that had everyone questioning their choice of carbon race wheels.

As luck would have it the rain and wind subsided during Saturday night and clear and chilly conditions greeted the 1600 athletes as they made their way into the freezing lake.

Stuart Anderson Sailfish G Range

This was a good test for the new team Sailfish G Range wetsuits and good swims by the three boys saw them come out of the water ahead of the team fish, Jenny – she’ll get her own back at a future race for sure. In the meantime, all four were on the bike and pushing hard. Stu quickly made it to the front of the age group field and comfortably stayed there until T2, coming off the bike side by side with one other athlete. Dec had worked his way through the field into a good position to attack the run and Tim was well placed in the 40-44 age group. Jen meanwhile was inside the top ten overall, loving her brand new Blue Triad SL and holding a position 3 minutes down on the first female age grouper, Tracy Cook.

Stuart Anderson

Jenny Gowans Blue Triad SL

Once on the run, Stu stormed to victory in the amateur race and 8th overall holding a gap of never more than 30 seconds to the chasing athlete in second place. Dec ran through to 4th place amateur and Tim kept it strong to take the third spot on his age group podium. Jen was struggling to make an impact on Tracy Cook who still held a two minute gap with three miles to go but a late surge brought her to the line in first place and a double amateur race win for Team Freespeed. A dream result and hundred per cent success rate for the team at the awards ceremony.

Jenny Gowans

Tim Bishop

Declan Doyle

Next up was the World Championship roll down and needless to say all four picked up their slots to Las Vegas in September and can’t wait to get out there and race the best in the world.

Team Freespeed Compressport

All of the above wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors and it was a lot of fun to spend time with Tim from Compressport over the weekend – he was also celebrating some great results in the pro ranks. All four of the team are genuinely surprised at how good their legs are feeling in the days after the race.

New race kit from Skinfit has now arrived and custom design training kit is in production – exciting times with a major sponsorship announcement to be made in the next week or so.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


For Goodness Shakes have just launched a sporting legacy initiative called the Bring on Tomorrow Foundation in partnership with SportsAid. The Foundation is supporting tomorrows athletes, today by providing funding and an athlete development programme to 7 talented young athletes who have been selected through SportsAid.

They currently have 3 ‘Elite Mentors’ on board with the Foundation who run training days for the young athletes and will provide advice and guidance throughout the year. These mentors are Liam Tancock, 50m Backstroke world record holder and world champion, Sarah Stevenson who very recently won Gold at the Taekwondo World Championships and Andy Turner, European and Commonwealth 110m Hurdles Champion. These 3 have been chosen as they are competing at the very highest level in their respective sports and are keen to impart their knowledge and experience to the younger athletes.

But they still have one place left in the foundation which will be won through ‘The Final Place’ competition. Any athlete aged 16-23 may enter the competition by visiting the website and submitting an entry explaining why they should win. They must then recruit as many votes as possible to make it through to the last 10. From the 10 highest voted entries, a judging panel, including the 3 mentors will choose the lucky athlete to fill the final place. The prize includes £1000 funding, training and development days with the Elite mentors, a year’s supply of For Goodness Shakes, Foundation training kit and athlete profile page on the Foundation website. Click on the link to enter the competition.

Visit to find out more about the athletes involved and the competition.