2020 review – racing/training summary

2020 – let’s not try too hard to remember it. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a year, and I know lots of people have really suffered in a number of ways. But, there’s still been plenty to smile about. The real silver lining probably being that this post might be shorter than usual.

Just so Mum can go back and read them all, here are summaries of the previous years;


So, after reading all of those in great detail, you should be up to speed now. The yearly totals;

Running – 2,019 miles (2019 – 2,614)

Cycling – 11,124 miles (2019 – 5,226)

Swimming – 129 miles (2019 – 200)

Total time spent training/racing – 946 hours. This is an average of 18 hours per week, spread across the entire year.

The stand out number is the cycling miles. A shrewd investigator might link this to a prolonged period of the year spend in lockdown. A lot of these miles have been virtual. And what. It’s warmer inside anyway.

Cycling 1,000 miles in one week in October as one part of Three Dickheads on bikes also added a good chunk to that. Not sure I’ll top that 7 day total anytime soon..


12 x 5km parkruns
1 x 10km
3 x half marathon
2 x marathon
1 x olympic triathlon
1 x half-ironman

Obviously, this year was always going to be on the lighter side, event wise. It’s a small price to pay, compared to the sacrifices others have had to make. I’ve missed parkrun the most – the community and social element especially. Everything crossed things will start heading back in the direction of ‘normal’ in the near future.

January – March

Pre-COVID. It feels like a lifetime ago. Unfortunately, work commitments meant we had to skip the annual New Years Day triathlon in Edinburgh. Instead it was a NYD parkrun double down on the south coast, taking in Hove and Worthing. 17:42 was a decent opener for the year.

February was always going to be our highlight of the year, even without knowing what was ahead. We had a 2 week trip to Cape Town scheduled, which would involve little to no relaxation and as much activity as physically possible.

We completed the parkrun alphabet at Zandvlei, as well as taking on Outeniquasbosch – it just flows off the tongue. Holiday wouldn’t be holiday without a race, and we grabbed an entry to the Cape Peninsula half-marathon, where I blew up in spectacular fashion. But it was great fun.

Being a running blog, and not lovestories.com, I’ll spare the finer details, but I can’t mention the trip without adding that we got engaged – no idea why she said yes. Probably because I waited until the end of a 23 mile hike, by which point she was utterly exhausted and caught off guard.

Back in colder climates, I clocked 1:18 at the Big Half, the week before doing my usual 1:30 pacing gig at the Surrey Half. We didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the last race for quite a while.

April – June

We all know what happened next. Clearly there’s not going to be many events to talk about here. We did a lot of indoor riding, with Zwift keeping us sane. I decided (along with the rest of the world), that I’d have a crack at a virtual Everesting. The idea is to climb the height of Everest in a single activity – 9 hours and 2 minutes later, job done.

Strava activity

The world of the individual solo running time trial began to take shape, and I decided I’d love to break 17 minutes for 5km again (I’d only ever done it once). After a few attempts, and with a little help from some great friends, I managed to not only dip under 17, but set a new (unofficial) personal best of 16:47.

Strava activity

July – September

Early July saw the Clapham Chasers triathlon club champs also in a virtual form. With swimming as part of a virtual triathlon a bit of a logistical nightmare, my effort was a 5km run – 90km bike – 21.1km run.

Run 1
Run 2

Later in the summer, restrictions began to be partially lifted, and we were able to travel to Manchester to see our good friends Justin and Gemma, taking in a 10km race at the same time in Tatton Park. I ran 35:51, 10 seconds off my PB. However, it was just great to be back racing, even if it was in a slightly different format with all the social distancing requirements.

From here we headed up to the Scottish highlands for a lovely break with my family. While we were up there, Katie and I rode the ‘Tour du trois lochs’, a 125 miles/200km of some of the most breathtaking cycling I’ve ever done. Added bonus – she only threw one minor wobbly, and it was quickly settled once we bought some coffee and cake.

September saw the triathlon season belatedly kick off, with an Olympic distance race around Dorney Lake. In standard Spraggins fashion, my pedal falling off put paid to any chances of a decent result, as a limped around and back to transition trying to cycle with just one leg – a lot harder than it sounds.

We then headed north for the Outlaw X middle distance event, which saw Katie make her ‘proper’ triathlon debut. This one went a lot better, with both pedals staying firmly attached to my bike, and I came away with a 3rd in AG and a 1:22 half-marathon off the bike.

October – December

Without a doubt, the highlight of the year was cycling the length of the country with 2 great friends. JOGLE (John O’Groats to Lands End) evolved quickly from a pipe-dream to reality in a very short space of time. Ross, Jack and I rolled out from the northern tip of Scotland on October the 12th and 6 days later we’d made it to Lands End, with endless bickering and copious amounts of food consumed en route. An incredible adventure and one I’ll remember forever.

7 days later I found myself on the start line of the CTS suffolk marathon – 27 miles of trails, sand, mud and thankfully no hills. After an over-enthusiastic start, I lost the lead about halfway through the race and ended up finishing 2nd. Probably not the greatest idea post JOGLE, but YOLO and all that. It was also another great opportunity to see my grandparents – something we never pass up if we can help it!

Immediately after this, the 2nd non-sporting life event of the year arrived in the form of Stanley, the border collie puppy. As someone who has never really had any form of proper responsibility, some lifestyle adjustments came along with him, but it’s been an amazing couple of months bringing up the little guy. Give him a year or so, and he’s going to be a demon runner.

The rest of the year passed without any major incident, as restrictions began to ramp up again. Thankfully, I was able to get one more event in – a marathon on the Goodwood race circuit. I’d been fortunate enough to break 3 hours in the marathon for the last 4 years, so I wanted a chance to keep the streak alive. I went in slightly undercooked, but managed to get there, on a windy, cold day.

The highlight of the weekend was Mum smashing her personal best in the 10km event – 57:20!


Who knows what next year is going to bring. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted. Hopefully we’ll have some adventures, races and amazing new experiences. Personally, I’ve got Ironman Estonia and Wales on the calendar – keeping everything crossed that I might get a crack at those.

I so miss the social interaction that comes this training and racing – whether it’s a chat after parkrun or a good old fashioned head to head in the last kilometer of a race. Let’s see what 2021 brings…

5 thoughts on “2020 review – racing/training summary

  1. Fantastic dear Joe, just fantastic!You superstar!!THANK YOU ! Such a life affirming post, so welcome at this truly awful time for the world.Really cheered me up!Love to Katie Phil x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s