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Club History

MTC_OldSchool National Club Relays

If you are a past member or triathlete with information regarding the history of Manchester Triathlon Club please email Dave Leak: historian@man-tri-club.org.uk

How it all started

MTC was set up in 1988 by a guy called John Moore. John was a bikie who worked as a Fireman, and part-time at Harry Hall Cycles. He wanted to get on the national squad, and hoped to be able to do it on the strength of his cycling ability. He advertised for like-minded people to come to a meeting at the Olde Cock Inn in Didsbury, where the Club was formed, and where the weekly Club meetings were held initially.

Amongst those at that first meeting were Rob Arnold, Gordon Jefferies, Alan Atkinson, Mark Pearson, Viv Archer and Dave Leak. Rob became the first Chairman and Mark Pearson was Secretary for the first three months, after which Dave Leak took over. Rob Arnold and Dave Leak are both still members. Rob is still competing regularly, including Ironman Lanzerote 2008. Alan Atkinson, though no longer a member, was spotted at a race recently. He was the first MTC member to complete Ironman Hawaii, in 1987, in the days when overseas entrants weren't required to qualify (Dave Leak had an entry in the 1986 race, but was unable to compete because of injury).

After a year there were about 50 members and we decided we needed somewhere a bit more private for Club meetings, so we moved to the Police Social Club at the Hough End Centre in Chorlton, thanks to Club member Simon Leak, who was a police firearms officer. We stayed there until the new Clubhouse was built at Longford Park.

Club kit

The original MTC logo Sheila Hampson in MTC T shirt - 1990

The design for our first Club T-shirts featured a cartoon athlete running through water carrying his bike over his shoulder. Our first Club colours were a rather shocking pink and blue.

Dave Leak @ Bridlington 1991 Dave Leak @ Ironbridge 1992

Although the kit featured a more restrained logo which was decided, through a competition for its students, by the Faculty of Design at Stockport Tech. The winning design was a triangle drawn freehand with a brush, trailing off into a comet-tail. The result was quite clever because, depending on how you looked at it, it could look like a swimmer's recovery arm above the surface of the water, or a runner's leading leg bent with the trailing leg straight, or the frame of a bike.

MTC second logo

The Club colours were changed to purple and yellow in 1995, then to black and white, and eventually to the current scheme of black and red (Jeff Sherrin said that, in those days, members were happy to leave decisions to Dave Leak until he chose the club colours. He said "After a couple of psychedelic choices, obviously influenced by substances stronger than beer, this topic guaranteed a full attendance & lively discussion, until we all arrived at a group agreement (black)!"

Dave Leak @ Windsor 1995 MTC_OldSchool

Membership fees

Membership fees started at £10 a year and stayed at that rate until Jeff Sherrin took over as Treasurer in 2000. This changed radically that year, when the Gold, Silver and Bronze level memberships were introduced at the suggestion of Mark Tweedie. From this point on the Club started to take control of its own training sessions, and we started to see some structure to Club training.

Club training sessions

Our first official run session immediately preceded Club nights every Tuesday from the Hough End Centre, with a five-mile route around the lake at Sale Water Park and back. In the late 90s Perry Huizer started the training sessions at the Longford Park Track, in the days before the current fancy Clubhouse was built and all we had was a portacabin.

Cycling sessions were, as they still are, from Didsbury clock tower on Sunday mornings, although groups separated according to ability with designated leaders is a relatively recent refinement.

Didsbury Clock Tower - 8.12.89 MTC Photo in MEN - 1.12.89

Our first official swim session was run by Rob Arnold at Victoria baths on Hathersage Road in Chorlton-on-Medlock (the centre closed not long after, and the empty pool was famously used as the scene of a rather gristly murder in an episode of Prime Suspect). However, having seen the standard of swimming I think Rob despaired - it certainly didn't become a regular session, and we subsequently had a joint session with Rochdale TC at Varley Street pool in Miles Platting coached by a guy called Gerry Delaney. Dave Quatermain later became involved in these sessions, and began coaching them in 1995. In 1997 Dave started Swim Conditioning classes at Moss Side for Manchester Leisure but, as these sessions were dominated by triathletes, they were adopted as the official MTC sessions and taken over by the Club, to be joined later by sessions at the Aquatics Centre and Stretford. In 1998 Dave started coaching open-water sessions at Salford Quays, and the Boundary Water Park sessions were added in 2007.

Training weekends

The spring Training Weekends started around 2001 in the Yorkshire Dales. One year it started to snow soon after the start of a planned 50 mile ride, and most of us turned back, suffering only mild hypothermia. A few indomitable souls continued though, and when the police closed the roads they simply went round the road blocks. The roads were so treacherous they had to walk up the hills and slide down them, but they would not be beaten. Some were rescued by the authorities. There were some seriously cold and miserable triathletes that night.

DSCN1351 DSCN1331

Club training races

The Club has also organised long-standing training Duathlons and Aquathlons for its members and guests.

There were two Duathlon courses used - a flat one at Chelford for the winter and a hilly one at Tegg's Nose Country Park (next to the Cat and Fiddle Road from Macclesfield to Buxton) for the summer.

The Tegg's Nose race was started in the early 90's by Dave Bradley, and was later organised by Brian Yarker, who was one of the early Club Chairmen. It was short but vicious, finishing with a run up a track with a gradient of about 1 in 3.

The winter Duathlons, over a 10 mile/3mile course, were started by Neil and Fran Stafford. When they moved to Sri Lanka in 2001 Jeff Sherrin took over.

The Aquathlons were held at Romiley on Saturday evenings over a 1k swim/5k run, and were hosted by Dave Marshall (who was Chairman at the time) and his wife Julie. He described some memorable moments, including the night Club Treasurer Jeff Sherrin left the pool by the wrong door and had to return, shamefaced, to the poolside because he'd ended up in the broom cupboard. On another evening half the field stopped to look after a drunk who'd collapsed in the gutter. The runs were usually lively, because they took competitors past several pubs, and most people (the women were of particular interest to the locals) ran in their swimming costumes.

Club races

The Club's first event was the Knutsford Triathlon in 1990, organised by Dave Leak. Permission to use Tatton Mere was refused, so the swim took place at Knutsford Leisure Centre, with the bike route going through the town to join a circuit in and around Tatton Park (the same circuit used by the current Tatton Triathlon) with the run and finish in the Park.

The following year we moved the venue to Marbury Park near Northwich, using the open air pool, a bike circuit going round and through the Park, and an off-road run in the Park. One of the spectators was the Chief Executive of the South and East Cheshire Health Authority. He was so impressed with the event that he approached the Club and offered to sponsor it as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle. With that support the event grew and grew. It was renamed ‘The Cheshire Triathlon', was preceded by a series of novice Training Days and a blaze of publicity, and featured both an open-water Sprint Distance event using Budworth Mere and a shorter novice event using the pool (until we had the backing the Health Authority we had been refused permission to use Budworth Mere on the ground that, at the end of the war, the US servicemen who had been stationed in the Park dumped their Harley Davidson motorbikes in the Mere, creating an underwater hazard - in the end we got permission on the condition that we sent in scuba divers to clear the course first, though they never found any rusting Harleys!)

In 1994, we put on the country's first-ever women-only triathlon at Marbury Park. This was a pool-based Sprint distance race which attracted about 100 competitors. It was won by Loretta Sollars, with Ceris Gilfillan second.

Marbury Park Women's Triathlon 1994

For years Dave Marshall tried, unsuccessfully, to get permission to use Salford Quays for open water swimming, and the authorities eventually relented when the Watersports Centre was built and recreational use of the docks became inevitable. We put on a Sprint distance race there in 1999, with a bike route that went out towards Eccles and back, and a run around the docks. Club Chairman Dave Marshall came up with the name for the event - The Quays Breeze - and the idea for the commemorative mugs, which said "Me? Do a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. With my reputation?" (an oblique reference to a Paul Whitehouse character from the Fast Show).

The same course was used later the same year for the BTA Sprint Championships, which were organised by Phil Templar, who plagiarised our race information literature!

In 2000 we moved our annual race to Boundary Water Park, where it became The Boundary Breeze. Boundary Water Park was a venue first used by Vic Bickerton and Graham Jefferson, operating under the name of Excellent Promotions (Vic now organises under the name of Fun2Tri, and puts on a race at Marbury Park).

MTC members were also heavily involved in the 1993 World Championships (which started at Rivington and finished in Albert Square, Manchester - Spencer Smith won his first senior title ahead of Simon Lessing, and Michellie Jones outsprinted Karen Smyers for the women's title) and the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which were based at Salford Quays, and took the athletes past Manchester Town Hall and Manchester United's football stadium.

Club members were also involved in putting on a series of aquathlons at Abraham Moss Leisure Centre in the 90s, several children's triathlons around Manchester, and an indoor triathlon at The Galleon in Didsbury in 1999.

Junior Section

The MTC Junior Section was started by Mark Tweedie who, in 2000, produced a Club Development Plan and secured a £5,000 ‘Awards For All' Lottery Grant which was used to buy a secure container at the Longford Park Track and a stock of small racing bikes which were stored in it. In the same year, with support from the Club, Mark organised the first Greater Manchester Series of junior triathlons at Stretford, Irlam and Abraham Moss Leisure Centres. These races produced a number of successful Manchester Triathlon Club junior members, including Samantha Wilson (who travelled from Cumbria to train with MTC) Krystal Hoath, Chloe Holland, Saul and Nathan Elly, and Nina McArthur. The Junior Section was initially coached jointly by Mark Tweedie and Nick Thomas, before Paul Davies and Karen Elly took over.

The Social Side

When the Club started there was more emphasis on the social side, and less on the training. As well as the weekly Club nights at the Olde Cocke, and then the Police Club, there was also a long tradition of drinking after training sessions - for years The Whitworth in Rusholme was where everyone headed after swimming at Moss Side, and the trendy bars of Didsbury were popular after Sunday bike rides, and Rock World in Nottingham was the venue of choice after the National Relay Championships at Holme Pierrepont. The formation of the MTCRRPTU (Manchester Tri Club Rapid Response Piss-Taking Unit) arose from the badinage at one particularly boisterous post-race party on the Isle of Man. A founder member of the RRPTU was Simon McCrum, who was subsequently appointed the Club Social Secretary in recognition of his selfless dedication to ensuring everyone in the Club had a good time, whether they wanted it or not. More recently we've had the Curry Club, which is a monthly get-together in Rusholme after Tuesday swim training.

The Christmas ‘do' has a long and exulted history. As well as being the Club's social event of the year it also included the presentation of all the Club Championship awards, Club Member of the Year, and so on. The first one was organised by Gordon Jefferies at the 'Steak and Kebab' in Didsbury, after which they moved to a place called That Café in Levenshulme, and then to the upstairs function room of the Nag's Head pub, just off Albert Square in Manchester. Here, there was room to circulate and dance, and the meal was a buffet. This format proved a winner and has been used ever since. From the Nag's Head we moved to a club on Oxford Street, the name of which no-one can remember, and then to Solomom Grundy's in Withington from which the party tend to move to the house of Club Chairman, Clio Kirwan, who lived round the corner. Now, the ‘do' is held at Longford Park, and we have a live band.

The MTC matrimonial agency

MTC would like to think it has played a part in a number of romances between athletes who have met through the Club. There have been several MTC marriages - Nick Thomas and Jo Weeden, Dave Preece and Cliona Kirwan, Steve Clayton and Cathy Atkinson, Damian Thacker and Amy Cheshire and Mark Roberts and Hannah Lancashire spring to mind.

Some notable MTC members

Alan Atkinson: Alan was a founder member and the Club's first Ironman, finishing Hawaii in 1987.

Rob Arnold: A regular competitor in Masters' swimming. At the 2001 ASA National Masters Championships (competing in the 40+ category) he won the 800m freestyle in 10.01, took silver in the 400m IM in 5.35 and took bronze in the 1500m freestyle in 19.08. He was also 6th in the 400m freestyle in 4.50 and 5th in the 100m butterfly in 1.08.

Portsmouth Triathlon

Emma Carney: Though not strictly speaking a member, Emma is the most successful athlete to be associated with the Club. After the Commonwealth Games in 2002 Emma based herself in Europe for the rest of the season, staying initially in Manchester with Perry Huizer and Carine van Schie, and then spending the rest of the season living in London with Dave Leak and Rani Stewart, and training with the likes of Stuart Hayes, Michelle Dillon and Richard Stannard, who all lived locally. Emma was elite World Champion in 1994 and 1997, and was ranked world No. 1 from 1995 to 1998.

Doug Clarke: Doug's achievements as an MTC member are clear to see from the club records board. He has twice been the fastest British age-group athlete at the World Ironman Championships.

Salford Triathlon 2006 - Doug

Ros Dunnington: Ros holds a record which is probably unique. In 1995 she had a clean sweep of age-group duathlon titles (40-44 age group), from Club Champion to World Champion - she won the Club, Regional, National, European and World titles. At the World Championship, held in sweltering temperatures in Cancun, Mexico, she caught the American favourite, Missie LeStrange, on the final run to win by 14 seconds.

Karen Elly: Another phenomenal Masters swimmer. At the 2001 National Championships she won her age group (40+) in the 200m freestyle in 2.16.49 (0.28 seconds off a national record) and the 1500m freestyle in 19.23.12 (2.51 seconds off a national record). In 2002 she set a new world record for the 40-44 age group in the one-hour postal swim with 4,325m and won her age group in the 5000m Swimathon with 1.08.19.

Martin Elworthy: A phenomenal natural talent who achieved some incredible results on minimal training. His bike training was a ten-mile ride to work, but he excelled at middle distance. He was national age group champion (30-34) in 1996 and finished 6th overall (first non-professional) at Ironbridge when it was a big international event, attracting the likes of Greg Welch and Ben Bright. He decided that wasn't good enough and retired soon after, though he remained involved in the Club, helping to set up the website. He still holds the 30-34 Club record for a 25 mile time trial with 54.41.

James Gilfillan: James was an MTC member for three years while he was at Manchester University, sharing a house with Chris Hoy. James is an elite athlete who has won numerous triathlons. He recently made a comeback and finished fourth in the elite race at Windsor 2009 as well as some very impressive performances over middle distance. His sister, Ceris, started her triathlon career at MTC's women-only race in 1994, and went on to represent GB at the 2000 Olympics.

Rachel Hamilton: Rachel (sister of one-time Irish Champion Alison) was an Irish elite who was a member for a while she was working in Manchester.

Perry Huizer: Amongst his numerous claims to fame Perry has the highest ever Ironman finish for an MTC member. He finished 10th in his first Ironman, which was Ironman Almere in Holland in 2002 where he recorded 9.25.29.

Gordon Jefferies: Gordon was a founder member and a very gifted triathlete, with an Olympic distance best of under two hours in the early 90's. He represented GB as an age grouper at the World Long Distance Championships in the days when it was held at Nice. In 2000 he was involved in a horrific accident while out cycling, when he was hit by an oncoming motorbike. He ended up spending months in hospital and nearly lost a leg. Although he has recovered more mobility than the doctors believed he could, that put an end to his triathlon career, though his kids became promising juniors, and competed in the races organised by Mark Tweedie. His son James once beat Alistair Brownlee into second place.

Southport Triathlon

Shirley Leak: Shirley had a brief but spectacular triathlon career as a result of a chance remark by her son Dave (when she was helping out at Boundary Breeze) to the effect that there was not much competition in the older women's age groups. Shirley did three triathlons at the age of 70 - Boundary Breeze, Windsor (where she won a national age group title) and Cancun, Mexico (where she took second in the 70-74 age group in the World Championships).

Dave Loughran: As well as being an accomplished competitor, Dave tended to be at the forefront of technological advances. He had one of the first clip-on wheel covers which gave a disc wheel effect without the cost, as well as one of the first forward-facing seatposts. He set up his own cycling equipment business and now owns Planet X.

Charles McCulloch: Charles is MTC's answer to Lance Armstrong - a triathlete who made his name as a cyclist. Club Chairman Brian Yarker suffered a heart attack, which he later blamed on trying to stay on Charles's wheel on one of Charles' fist ever bike rides.

In 1999 Charles won the Manchester and District Time Trial Association's championships at 25, 50 and 100 miles and the Best All Rounder (BAR) title, with an average speed over the three distances of 26.408 mph. These were the days when cyclists looked down their noses at triathletes, and Dave Leak went with Charles for moral support when he went to the annual dinner to collect his trophy. In 2000 Charles was the M&DTTA 25 mile champion and set the 50 mile record with 1.47.30. In 2001 he took an age-group bronze medal in the 3000m pursuit at the World Masters' Track Championships in 3.38.6.

In 2009 (as a vet) Charles won silver medals at the National 25 mile championship (where he lost by a single second to Michael Hutchinson in 50.50) and the 3000m pursuit at the World Masters' Track Championships (40-44 age group) with a time of 3.39.063 minutes. He also lowered the Manchester & District 50 mile record to 1.43.50.

Mike Nichol: Mike is MTC's highest placed finisher at Ironman Hawaii. He left Manchester to live in San Diego, and is reputed to have been a training partner of Jurgen Zack. The October 2009 issue of 220 Triathlon Magazine (issue 239) had an article about the fastest age-group Ironman finishers over the past 10 years (page 86).  Mike Nichol was the only man to be the fastest in back to back years (1999, 2000)! Out of interest ex-MTC member Doug Clarke made it 4 out of 10 for MTC finishing as the fastest British finisher in 2001 and 2005.

Dave Quatermain: Better known these days for his coaching, Dave had a long and illustrious history as a competitive open-water swimmer. In 1997 he was the first man in the 28.5 mile race round Manhattan Island in New York, with his (now) wife Phillipa as his coach. He had three attempts at swimming the Channel (1994, 1995 and 1996) which, though he got within spitting distance of the French shore, were ultimately all unsuccessful due to hypothermia. One attempt was the subject of a documentary shown on BBC2.

Damien Thacker: Damien was one of the Club's top athlete's, but his main claim to fame has to be competing in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he represented Guernsey. He also represented Great Britain at four World Age-Group Championships and two European Age-Group Championships, and once competed in all four races at the National Relay Championships, finishing top five in three of them!

Mark Tweedie: Mark was the Club's first real star. He raced elite, and his results at Grand Prix events include wins at Bridlington (1991) and Shropshire (1992), and fourth at Windsor (1992). He went to the World Championships in 1992 (first GB age grouper and 12th in the 20-24 age group) and 1993 (second GB age grouper and 11th in the 20-24 age group). He was fifth overall at the World Student Games in 1992 (where Perry Huizer was competing for Holland) recording 1.53 for the Olympic Distance, and he was selected as a member of the GB elite team at 1999 Home Nations Championships on the Isle of Man. He was the NW Triathlon Champion in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

In 2000 he produced a Club Development Plan and secured a £5,000 Lottery Grant which was used to set up the MTC Junior Section. He organised a series of Junior Triathlons around the Manchester area. It was also Mark who first proposed the three-tier membership scheme. In 2002 he was appointed as the new British Triathlon Association Regional Development Officer for the North West and West Midlands Region

Mark Seddon: The man who beat Joss Naylor's record in the elite class in the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon by winning it six times in a row.

Carine van Schie: In addition to a successful triathlon career Carine won a masters age group pursuit world title at the World Masters Cycling Championships, allowing her to wear the coveted rainbow stripes on her jersey. She has the jersey framed on her wall in Holland.

Jacqui Slack: Jacqui is a current MTC member who after having considerable success as an age-group athlete took the step up to compete in elite events.  Starting in 2007 with the British Series taking in events such as Blenheim, Windsor and the National Elite Champs and progressing through to European Cup, French Grand Prix, World Cup and hopefully World Series.  As she is also pretty handy on a mountain bike she's also racing as a Pro in Xterra events with a goal to one day race and medal at the Xterra World Champs in Hawaii. You can find out more about Jacqui at www.jacquislack.com

MTC can also boast a number of highly successful triathletes over the years. It is impossible to name them all, but here are a few:

  • Aimee Backhouse
  • Andrew Booth
  • Chris Clarke
  • Doug Clark
  • Tariq Djeddour
  • Martin Elworthy
  • Jeremy Gilmour
  • Paul Hawkins
  • Perry Huizer
  • Gordon Jefferies
  • Rachel Jones
  • Mike Little
  • Nina McArthur
  • Daniel McParland
  • Mike Nichol
  • Steve Pennington
  • Jason Pickford
  • Mark Roberts
  • Mike Shackcloth
  • Joe Skipper
  • Paul Skipper
  • Jacqui Slack
  • Chris Standidge
  • Damien Thacker
  • Nick Thomas
  • Josh Tompkins
  • Mark Tweedie
  • Carine van Schie
  • Vicki Wade
  • Dave Winder
  • Roger Witz-Barnes
  • Alex Young