Ben Wickham’s Rockin’ Roth Update #4

"My helmet saved my life". A tough week for Ben Wickham as he ends up unconscious on the tarmac as his road to Challenge Roth continues.

Chief Correspondent
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Rockin’ Roth – Part 4 of Ben Wickham’s road to Challenge Roth

When you are preparing for an event like Challenge Roth, you don’t really want to be reporting that, “My helmet saved my life”. But, that is exactly what happened to Ben Wickham last week. He managed to get away with a tetanus shot and some dressings… but it could have been so different.

Check out his video update of the week here. Not long until the 9th July race day now…


With just under four weeks until the gun goes at Challenge Roth, the plan moving forward was to supplement the training load from the week just gone, and end in one last big set. Mostly, this went to plan.

Monday, I didn’t manage to get anything done. The incredible two days previously were great from a training standpoint, but left me mentally exhausted and entirely unprepared for the upcoming week. It’s a cliche that preparation is key, but I know from experience that if I start the week winging it, something will fall down somewhere and I’ll end up missing a set later. Better to skip the recovery set and use the day wisely.

Tuesday was a progressive 10mile run. Great fun. Using the concept of a “royal flush negative split” (see Marathon Talk), I was running progressively faster. Feeling good from a day off, I managed to push this one to the edge. Try it sometime. It’s great training whatever your ultimate pace or distance.

Swimming with my tri club was ace too. Coach Martin builds the sets in eight week blocks, and today was week eight. Hard and fast. Lots of 180m reps (funky pool length!) progressing from steady to all-out. It was so busy it felt like an IM start for the whole session, and I’m pretty sure I hydrated well by swallowing half the pool.

Wednesday, unusually Martin set a bunch of turbo intervals. Starting with a long high cadence spin, then short (ish) reps at HIM, IM and all-out pace. Nothing I love more on a day where it’s 26 degrees outside than to be sat on a turbo.

Ben Wickham Rockin' Roth

Thursday was a return to the open water. As a coached athlete, I find that if I can’t complete an important session for some reason, it often ends up coming back at me somewhere. And so today, last week’s 4k steady came back as 500m hard + 500m cruise x4. On such a gorgeous day I was glad to get this done.

Ben Wickham Rockin' Roth

A quick tempo run on Friday saw out the working week. With Father’s Day on a Sunday, I decided to get my big set for the weekend done on Saturday. 60 miles hard riding on the TT plus a steady 20 miles off the back. Hyper prepared this time,

Ben Wickham Rockin' RothI was feeling great as I rode into the heat of Saturday. Until, well. I found myself careering along the dirt verge at full tilt on a descent. I still don’t know what happened. I suspect I bounced out of a pothole in the dappled shade, but I had the sickening realisation that I was about to hit the road hard when, frankly, I realised I was being helped into a car by a lovely lady called Abby, who was taking me back to her family farm to look after me.

Evidently I hit my head so hard as to knock myself clean out (I was sprawled in the road when she found me), and I’ll be honest I couldn’t really work out what day it was, where I was in the world and whether I was meant to be at work that day. After a lot of TLC I got my head straight, realised I’d had a lucky escape and that all of Abby’s family were setting up for a big family wedding, making their care of this smashed up cyclist all the more wonderfully generous. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

My wife spent the afternoon in A&E with me whilst I got checked out. A CT scan was clear so I was sent home with a tetanus shot and some dressings.
I’d like to take this opportunity to make one clear point though. My helmet saved my life. I completely understand the arguments against compulsory helmet laws, but I dropped my bike sideways and the whiplash of hitting my head to the tarmac clean knocked me out, even with a helmet between me and the black stuff. My ride went from pleasant and sunny to life threatening in an instant. As it was, the next day I got up, climbed on my mountain bike and rolled through the country with my Dad for Father’s Day. There’s a lesson there …

Has anyone reading this got any tips for me running Roth? What are the worst hills? What’s the weather like? Is the swim congested and what are the start logistics like? It’s all getting towards finer detail now, and I want to make sure I haven’t missed anything!

Check back next week for the latest update and in the meantime you can keep up to date with Ben via his social media:

Strava Ben Wickham
IG @bmwickham
Twitter @benjiwickham


John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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