Whitesands Challenge 2017 – The Finale

Whitesands Challenge 2017

Or should it be called the Ponty Challenge with the Doyles, Tierney’s, Platel’s, Aston, and Williams’s no fewer than 9 valley boy’s n girl took part!

But whatever the event that kicked it all off is no more! Yesterday was the finale and what can we say!!!

Well I’m not sure if its age catching up with everyone or the fear that Phil Stonelake was going to show up and beat everyone one more time but the “competitive bunch” all decided to form teams, with much thought going into tactics and formations and little for friendships.

With most keeping their line ups and even the fact that they were entering top secret and only decide to tell us at registration, which is very frustrating! Now after 7 years of having a range of pretty good to tremendous weather 2018 didn’t start great, a downpour through registration failed to dampen the enthusiasm and was nervously ignored like the elephant in the room but to be fair once the race started the rain stopped and it was OK and could have easily been considered a pleasant day (In Siberia)

Now as the competitors lined up for the start of the end there was the usual tale telling going on with the usual suspects being concerned that another maybe obtaining and advantage and on this occasion it was kindly pointed out that 3 persons were not wearing life jackets. Two I feel by genuine mistake, whilst the 3rd culprit was almost certainly trying to gain an unfair edge anyway enough about Steve!

But the most common question at the start was “What we are going to that second buoy!” yes the paddle out was tough, fairly long and with the wind against you it made it a “challenge” funny enough. However Ben Phillips, Pricey and Jeff made easy work of it. Ben and Jeff with the knowledge that their day was done as they hand over to team mates whilst Pricey who started tapering in 1998 had to soldier on! Following these top 3 watermen was the rest of the pack who came in quick and fast. Now we had identified coming in via the surf as the most dangerous and would cause some difficulty. One of these being birthday boy Martin Davies who travelled down from Carmarthenshire to celebrate his 40th with the Challenge being his first multi-sport event he must of feared at one stage that he wouldn’t see his 41st! But a selfless act by female competitor and ex Whitesands lifeguard Sarah Thomas, who diverted from the race to rescue Martin. Who said after that he was extremely grateful to Sarah but he had to keep telling her that he was good for the kiss life – Once a lifeguard always a lifeguard! Anyway both put the incident behind them and carried on with the race.

The Bike

Conditions weren’t great the road was wet and therefore slippery and there was a nasty head wind (so we’ve been told) the first controversy of the day happened at the first relay tag (Kayak to Bike) between Ben and Simon Davies who is normally a stickler for rules and regulations! Simon failed to rack his bike and was out of T1 prior to being tagged, technically a disqualification offence.

Other than this the bike went well for some! Favourite in the ladies category Helen Platel had a puncture and was passed by hubby Carl who put his head down and pretended he didn’t see her. (Whilst muttering I knew I should have asked Pricey to Kayak) Simon’s chain kept coming off (Karma) and Paul Owen battled through the pain barrier of cramp! The second indiscretion on the bike was Carl Platel who flew into transition like a cowboy riding a rodeo bull with the rest of the cowboys running to save him and hold down the beast. Carl defended his actions immediately by saying “it’s not my fault it’s these wheels they were going to fast” I thought that’s what brakes and pre-empting were for!

Meanwhile in the rest of the field saw a young lad by the Name of Ieuan Cooke who had a respectable mid table kayak start to fly through the bike, Carwyn who’d come out of retirement to ride for the man-up team said a bike passed and he thought at first it was a car and when he looked up and saw “Cooke GRB” on the arse of his tri-suit and thought “let him go”

The Run

Cooke kept up his quickest bike of the day to have the quickest run and claim the Solo Winner a new name to the shield! Although he was a very reluctant winner, couldn’t make up his mind if he wanted to be at the presentation or not, Whilst Will Chant was praying that by some miracle he would forfeit his award and Will would be promoted from 2nd to First! But no Sorry!

Whilst the most emotional award of the day went to the first Veteran – Steve Williams, 8 years of pain, misery and heartbreak the man who made coming second not such a good thing! Finally claimed a solo win in his category on the very last challenge – Roy of the Rovers type ending.

Whilst the other battles going on included the ladies teams now if there was an award for the most excitable team it would be to the ladies winner “The Fillies” every transition was meet with screeches and screams of excitement but behind all this noise and fashionable wellies were 3 very good competitors in Sarah, Lindsey and Luisa.

However the challenge always has been about having a go and an introduction to multi sports and competing in an event in a relaxed atmosphere, but saying all that the route is not exactly easy! And it was great to see on this the last event all those who were new or fairly inexperienced in such an event having a crack, the likes of Sally Rees (even if she did have a running cortege equal to Forest Gump, The Davies brothers from Carmarthen, The Doyle Family and the MOT failures. Although it’s worth pointing out that the anchor leg of the MOT failures (Kieran Owen) had a sleep, lunch and dinner whilst waiting for his Dad to return but once he set off on the run he didn’t hang about and over took 6 others to claw back some respectability but as Dad Paul said he still finished the bike before those who did not take part – very true! And what better way to spend a morning for a day than to compete with his son, and something the son will fully appreciate in many years to come!!

Now probably the most competitive category was the open team and we were left with a moral dilemma. The first team to cross the line (Been there done that) made up of former winners Ben, Simon and Andy Holcroft should have been disqualified, then the second place team consisting of Dan Jones one of the few people to Kayak through / around Greenland, Carl Platel (professional athlete) and Chris Fogarty the military man that can run a bit! Should have also been disqualified for Carl’s behaviour! Leaving the winner as Team Man-UP UK consisting of Jeff with a broken foot, Carwyn the original Steve Austin and Harvey who helped to lower the team’s average age to 118 years!! But in the interest of integrity and to avoid cries of favouritism and learning from the mistakes of the Tour de France we didn’t want a hollow victory – So the Ex Champs became the new team champs and well done to them.

And last but not least the ladies champion was/is Sarah Thomas another who it took a while to build up the confidence to compete. Sarah had a 3 minute lead going into the run on Helen P, would this be enough!! Well Helen caught up with Sarah and ran with her for the last section finishing 1 second behind her. Helen commented that she received outside help on the bike and it was not in the spirit of the challenge to cheat!!! At last someone (the ladies) showing the way in sportsmanship. I’ve never know the ladies to put bricks in each other’s, kayaks, tie show laces together or hide paddles!

So that brings an end to the Whitesands Challenge 2010 -2017 it’s brought us a few laughs, raised a bit of money in the early days, introduced a fair few of the regulars to what is now their way of life. Highlights have included Year 1 – Steve turning up in tight shorts, Year 2 Craig’s inability to take a corner, the French tandem team! Ben Sutton’s bike, Jeff Tierney’s helmet, Jackie’s Cocktail parties, the fancy dresses, Kate and Jo’s Kayak wipe out, the online Banter, The tactics imposed, Linus’s longest day effort! The cowgate incident the caravan calamity, the 4am lost Zulu, Adrian coming in on the bike! Steve’s Kayak getting nicked absolute classic.

For me my favourite year had to be the heat wave of 2013, the heat, plenty of charity teams, the caravan chaos (which had nothing to do with us) and bikers jumping the hedges and a great party but it was great to hear yesterday from the likes of Carl, Helen, Jeff, Ben Sarah plus messages from those who couldn’t make it like Claudine, Ant and Adrian and plenty of others how much they have enjoyed the challenge and the inspiration it has given them, Well from us it has been a pleasure and really enjoyed your banter and support.

As this is the event that started it all a massive thanks to all those who not only helped yesterday but during the early days. Particularly Mal, Coxy and all at Porthmawr Surf lifesaving (excellent turn out yesterday) plus St Davids City Council for the use of the land, Rhys Price and Voyages of Discovery for sponsorship, John Williams and his assistance to get the event off the ground, and the many, many, many Marshals that have stood out there time and time again there are far too many to mention (because we will miss some) but a special thanks to those who have helped at every or nearly every challenge like Kate, Ali, Ann, Pricey (in setting up) Adrian and Mark Barton

It’s been emotional and we will continue to promote the have a go attitude with the Pencarnan runs and a few other projects lined up for 2018.

The last award presented yesterday and he has asked that we do not mention this as he’s a modest fella. Went to Carwyn for “Life Time Achievement to the Challenge” not only has he spent 8 years running around setting up the course, transporting kayaks around the county, making a bike racks, finishing gantry’s he has also managed to Hold the course record in every discipline, plus winning every category from Overall to Veteran, Team and Tandem. Now I have to end this living eulogy here as I’ve just accidently deleted the text message from Carwyn and can’t remember what else he said in the last 36 lines.

The Results

Name Cat Kayak Bike Finish
Been There Done That Team (1) 12.09 37.55 1.04.28
Dan/Carl/Chris Team (2) 14.01 39.48 1.05.22
Ieuan Cooke OM (1) 17.17 43.07 1.07.15
Man-Up Team (3) 13.47 43.49 1.11.06
Will Chant OM (2) 14.19 44.43 1.14.37
Steve Williams Vet (1) 14.29 46.27 1.15.45
Mark Price OM (4) 13.10 43.50 1.16.46
No Frills Team (4) 19.25 47.43 1.18.30
Andrew Petersen Vet (2) 17.47 49.21 1.20.22
Dan Doyle OM (5) 18.05 50.54 1.20.24
The Fillies Female Team (1) 19.50 50.20 1.20.30
Rob Tierney Vet (3) 18.05 49.23 1.22.08
Josh Doyle OM (6) 18.05 52.10 1.27.45
Neil Doyle OM (7) 18.05 52.08 1.27.57
MOT Failures Team (5) 20.25 1.04.28 1.32.27
Mairwen you B’tard Female Team (2) 22.16 56.30 1.37.00
Sarah Thomas OF (1) 22.36 58.46 1.37.16
Helen Platel OF (2) 17.35 1.01.44 1.37.17
Wayne Davies OM (8) 22.44 1.02.30 1.38.19
Martin Davies OM (9) 23.16 1.02.08 1.39.55



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