The CEP Winter Ballbuster is an event steeped in history and tradition – this was the 26th year for the notoriously challenging duathlon event that pits athletes against Box Hill five times. 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.
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.
Following the relentless rain at 2014’s event, Mother Nature decided that she too wished to play her part in 2015, too, with biblical showers pouring from the sky. Puddles then miniature lakes formed, making 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 competitors had to combat; there was wind too. A biting wind, razor sharp and powerfully full.
From the moment that the start gun went off, until his final, victorious step over the finish line, the irrepressible reigning champ Andy Greenleaf stood apart from the other competitors. His time of 2:31:54 was a new course record, and was six minutes faster than his 2014 time. After having caught his breath, Andy then announced that he still feels there’s room for improvement on his time; having been forced to slow down a few times on the bike, due to the soaking wet conditions.
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. 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 10mins. Second place went to Ruth Purbrook (Ful-on Tri) in 3:19:08, who just held off an ever-closing Holly Mcguigan (3:20:43).
In the age groups, Nebosja Jovanovic (Greenwich Tritrons) posted a speedy 2:59:37 to be the only male in the 40-49 age category to go under 3hrs. 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 in 3:11:30. Gavin stayed a consistent 3mins 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 finished in 3:59:34.